It doesn’t seem so bad at first. But maybe that’s just because I had Owen to deal with. I had to get him home and, by the time I reached our apartment, I was so weary that I simply fell into bed and closed my eyes.
On Friday, Owen was bouncing off the walls. He ate so much popcorn and pizza and candy yesterday, not to mention the milkshakes we kept making, that he woke up complaining of a stomach ache. Then the sugar rush came and I could only be grateful that he slept most of the night. I ran myself ragged chasing him, barely stopping for a moment to glance at any of the messages I had gotten. Before I went to bed, I noticed that there were several waiting from both Hazel and Allison, but I couldn’t bear to deal with them, so I slipped into sleep to avoid thinking about it.
Now it’s Saturday. I automatically scan the items that are being handed to me, feeling like a zombie. I don’t know if I manage to smile at the customer as they leave. I’m waiting for the moment when I can leave too, but I don’t know how much longer I have, whether it’s minutes or hours. Lifting my wrist feels like too much effort, and the only reason I’m working at all is because my body is on auto-pilot.
“Have a good day,” I say to the next customer as they go; I don’t even remember scanning their items.
I need some time to think. Please leave.
I can’t get his quiet, blank words out of my head. I remember looking back to apologize, and he had just stared at me. I’ve never seen him look so empty.
I did that to him.
I’m not upset that he told me to leave. He had every right to. But, in all my wildest imaginings, I hadn’t thought he would react like that to the truth. If I was lucky, he would understand. If I was terribly unlucky, he would yell and tell me he never wanted to see me again, son or no son. Those were the two extremes, and I had expected to fall somewhere in the middle.
But what I got…
I shudder. So blank… So deeply sad… What did I do to him?
Suddenly, a hand lands on my shoulder. I jump with a gasp and swing around. Alicia, the floor manager, takes a step back, startled by my reaction.
“Sorry,” she says. “I didn’t mean to scare you. You know it’s ten minutes past your shift, right? You should be going to clock off.”
What? Where has the time gone? I glance at the time on the register, suddenly remembering that that’s something I can do. It’s past four, which means I’m finished.
I’ve been waiting for the moment that I could go home. But, now that that time is here, I’m dreading it. I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to face the fact that I’ll probably spend the rest of the night thinking about Grant and that look in his eyes.
“Jessica?” Alicia asks gently. “Is everything alright?”
“Yeah,” I hear myself say, my lips moving without permission. “Sorry, I didn’t sleep much last night. I spent all day chasing Owen around the apartment.”
Alicia draws back, satisfied with that explanation. She waves me off, toward the back of the store, where I can clock off and grab my things.
Before I know it, I’m standing outside the store. I barely remember getting there. Dazed, I look around.
Then Allison steps in front of me.
For a moment, I wonder if maybe my mind has finally snapped on me. I blink at my friend. She has someone else with her, a lithe woman with curly brown hair, dark skin and a kind face.
“Allison?” I ask, blinking. “What are you doing here?”
“Staging an intervention,” Allison declares with her no nonsense attitude. She huffs at me. “I’ve been sending you messages since Friday morning. Why haven’t you replied to them?”
Right, I forgot about those messages waiting for me. I fish my phone out of my pocket. There are several more messages there, and even a missed call. Most of the messages are from Allison. I look at her blankly. Why is she trying so hard to get in contact with me?
“I was at work,” I point out.
“You weren’t yesterday,” Allison huffs. She links her arm with mine. “Come on, we’re all going to my place. Georgia’s driving.”
Georgia? I wrack my mind, wondering why that name is so familiar. Didn’t Allison say this was the woman that Kyle’s friend, Ethan, loves? Or was it she who lo
“Sorry, I know we’ve never met,” Georgia says with a gentle smile, and I instantly like her. She has a soothing demeanor, and I sway toward it like a plant to the sunlight. “I hope you don’t mind I’m here.”