Count On Me(8)

By: Melyssa Winchester

She laughs and the room goes silent as we both set to work unloading the bags and putting everything away where it goes. That’s another thing that we do because of me. We have every area in the kitchen labeled. Three years ago, my Uncle Joe gave me a label maker and I went around making labels for everything until eventually it became so obsessive that everything had to be put away exactly as it’s labeled.

My mom calls them Belle quirks, but that’s because she’s too nice for her own good. It’s clearly evident that I’m crazy. I don’t have the heart to correct her though, so quirks it is.

“Honey, where did that bruise come from?” she asks as she points to my shoulder.

Crap. I knew there was a reason I liked wearing my jacket so much. Now I’m going to have to tell her everything that happened today, something I don’t want to do.

“I bumped into something at school, no biggie.”

“What kind of something? Those look like fingers marks.”

I’m getting nervous. I can feel my heart starting to pick up under the scrutiny of her gaze. I really don’t want to talk about this, not when it’s still so fresh. Tristan bringing his picture in right now would be perfect. I need a distraction.

“Isabelle Reagan, tell me what happened right now and don’t even think about lying.”

“Some of the kids…”

“The kids at school did this to you?” she asks, cutting me off before I can tell her everything despite my very strong urge not to.

“Yes, they did, but it’s okay. They were just goofing around. Kayden got me out of there before it went too far.”

This stops her in her tracks. I haven’t mentioned Kayden’s name since he stopped coming over. For me to bring it up now has to knock the wind right out of her.

“Kayden Walker?”

“There’s only one Kayden, Mom.” I answer before turning back to the groceries, putting them away, hoping she’ll drop it now that she knows Kayden brought me home.

“Are you sure it was nothing?”

“Yes. Just kids goofing off. They grabbed me a little too hard, but I’m fine Mom, I swear.”

She’s gonna fall for it because she truly believes that if something were the matter, I would bring it to her.

“Okay well, I’ll finish up in here and start making dinner. I was thinking Irish stew tonight, that sound okay?”

“Yeah, sounds fine.” I say backing out of the kitchen and going in search of the artwork a certain little brother promised me. As long as I keep myself focused on that, then the events of earlier and more importantly, the ones that happened with Kayden can finally leave my mind once and for all.


The minute I step through the door I can tell what kind of night it’s going to be and it puts me even more on edge.

Littered all over the room are beer cans, some of them crushed to bits, others tipped over and laying in place. There’s an assortment of liquor bottles placed on the bar, looking more drained than they did this morning before I left. The worst part is, the person passed out on the floor in the middle of it.

Dean Walker, my brother. The man that’s well on his way to earning the proud title of town drunk. Sadly, this is a scene I’ve come home to more than once and nothing good ever comes of it.

I have to admit lately, Dean’s been doing better, if there is a better for my brother. He managed to land himself a full time job, even cleaning up his act for it, which if you know Dean, is a big thing. For the first time since our mom split, I started to believe things would even out again. That instead of coming home to a passed out drunk brother, I’d come home to a real house, with someone who actually gave a shit.

It’s not that I don’t think Dean cares because I know somewhere underneath all the mess, he does. All of this shit is just what happens when you’re twenty-five and get left to raise your kid brother alone, but is it so wrong that just once I’d like to come home to a clean house? To have a brother that’s awake and smiling instead of passed out or angry?

I’m gonna have to wake him up, but I really don’t want to. That’s how it always starts. I wake him up, try to sober him up by tossing him in the shower and getting him something to eat, but instead of being thankful, he starts to tell me what a piece of shit I am. It doesn’t take long after that for the beating to start, but that’s not all Dean. He usually pisses me off so bad that I push back, just not with words.

Yeah, I definitely don’t wanna wake him up right now.

I figure the reason he’s home now, instead of at work the way he has been, is because he lost his job and I definitely don’t want to be on the receiving end of the rage he’s got over that.

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