Count On Me(7)

By: Melyssa Winchester

Kayden Walker is no better than the friends that lied to get me in the parking lot. He just did a good deed for the day by taking me home; otherwise, he’s the exact same way he’s always been, at least for the last eight years.

I watched out the window a little and he stayed parked there. He’s probably calling up Dillon and the others, apologizing for what he did to them. Letting them know that next time they wanted to come after me, he wouldn’t stand in their way.

He never should have stepped in back there. He should have kept on walking when Dillon called to him. They could have done anything they wanted and no one would be fighting. I could have gotten home some other way then his car, where it was warm and for a little while, comfortable.

I don’t think he realized just how close I came to speaking to him in the driveway. I wanted to say things because I was feeling pretty comfortable, at least until he said sorry for the names people call me. Everything changed after that and now I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to speak in front of him again.

It’s probably better that way. Come tomorrow morning, everything will go back to normal. We’ll pass in the halls and ignore each other just like we always have. It’s been that way for years, but now it upsets me and I don’t want it to. I don’t want Kayden and his stupid words to affect me.

I know what I need.

The first time I came home from school in tears, baking had been my mom’s way to make me feel better. She’s pretty short, so she grabbed one of the kitchen chairs, hopped up on it and grabbed all the stuff we’d need to make cookies. We sat in the kitchen, putting it all together and making some of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. She dished out advice while we waited and by the end of the night, I went to bed with a smile on my face and a full belly. The kids and their taunts were behind me, at least for another day.

It’s one of the only times I can remember eating them. Mom never bought the packaged ones because I had issues with food or more specifically, with processing foods with harsher textures. Up until about a year ago, she would mash up everything I ate because anything chunky I couldn’t eat at all.

I feel pretty bad about it. She works so hard to make sure that Tristan and I have everything we need, and because I’m the way I am, she has to bust her butt that much harder. Sometimes, when I think about all the things she does for me; it’s easy to see why she might blame me for the way things turned out. I’m not sure she signed on for this when the doctor told her she was pregnant.

The front door opens as I slide myself off the counter, but before I can get my bearings; I feel arms wrap around me, spinning me around and the high pitched giggling is a giveaway to exactly who’s behind it.

I love my little brother. When all of this starts getting to me, Tristan is the one bright spot. I can’t help feeling happy whenever I’m around him. If I wasn’t happy, he would definitely find a way to fix it. That’s how amazing he is. Tristan is a miracle baby. After they had me, my parents were told they couldn’t have any more kids and then six years ago, along came my little brother. I love him more than anything.

With the way he’s hugging me now, I’m starting to think I don’t need the cookies after all.

“Belle! I painted the coolest picture in art today! You totally gotta see it!”

Tristan is what doctors like to call Neurotypical, which in human speak means, he’s pretty normal, but when he talks about art, it’s like you see a whole other side to him. He fixates on it, which makes him a lot more like me than anyone wants to admit.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Show me already!” I say, jumping up and down with him to show how excited I am. It’s acting like this now that everything from earlier fades away. I’m me and I’m okay again, but more than that, I’m back where it’s safe.

He races off in what I hope is the direction of his backpack and almost slams into my mom in the process. She’s doing it again. She went to the store, grabbed a whole bunch of groceries and is trying to carry them all in herself, instead of just calling ahead and having me meet her.

Grabbing two of the bags off the pile that are stacked over her head, I place them on the counter and watch as she follows suit.

“Thanks honey. I really wasn’t trying to buy out the store.”

“I figured, but you just can’t help yourself.”

“This time, it’s all on your brother. When did he learn how to pout to get his way?”

“The day you brought him home, I think. He’s just smart about when he uses it.”

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