Never Been Loved(6)

By: C.M. Kars

She promptly opens it up and starts to read, not even looking up when the elevator dings; the doors open and she just walks right out, not even bothering to look up. She’d walk right into a suicide fucking bomber if he were standing in front of her. I break out into a sweat watching her open the inner doors of the lobby and walk outside, spilling bits of sunshine on the tile in the space between the outer and inner doors.

I need to let her go, and just as I’m about to step over and out of the elevator, my phone buzzes, like

I’ve become the divining rod for the perfect place for cell phone reception. I don’t even have to look at it. I’m already late in picking up Matty, Mom’s bound to call to make me hurry my ass up.

Slamming my hand against the side of the door, feeling the numb-tingle travel up my hand into my wrist only to get that throbbing pain, I press the button to get to the basement.

I get to my car, my shitty blue Honda that’s seen better days, and known better drivers. I glare at the car seat in the back through the window, hating that it’s there, that the kid is always on my mind even when I can’t see him.

Strangling the leather of my steering wheel, I screech out of the underground parking lot, brain on automatic as I fiddle with the radio to catch the rock station. The kid likes rock music for some reason, and

I figure I’ll try and keep him calm with guitar riffs and screeching vocals.

I find myself easing on the gas as I get closer and closer to the palace, my childhood home. I roll down the window to get some of April’s air in, let it swirl in the confines of my car, washing out the stink of fast food and the remnants of Aly’s perfume. I stare into the rear-view mirror, hating that car seat with all I’m worth and what it means that I’m now a father – have been for the last three years instead of the uncle I’m supposed to be.

Life has a way of kicking you in the balls and watching you struggle to catch your breath, only to wind her foot right back and do it all over again.

Inevitable that I get to my old house, and stare at it like a stranger would. The stone steps that I have no trouble walking up, but Matty needs his whole body weight on one leg to heave himself up with. Those awful stone lions on either side of the door that are more pretentious than the gold-leaf plated door knocker resting on the dark green polished wood of the door. Large windows covered by gauzy curtains that always reminded me of hospitals when I was younger until I turned eighteen and learned the truth of what hospitals really taste and smell like.

I walk my way up the steps and refuse to make eye contact with the far window in the upper east corner. Her room, as it’s been for the past three years, preserved and embalmed like the room is a living thing and the rest of Jules hasn’t just floated away.

I knock, wait for ten seconds and ignore the cold flush in my body that might mean something’s wrong. Blood sugar levels can either go up or down, my body lacking the hormone insulin to get it into my cells, where it needs to be. Both a high or low feels like getting donkey-kicked, makes your brain fuzzy, and makes me so fucking tired that I need to nap to recover.

I hate that my survival is dictated by a vial of hormone in my fridge at home, and another one I carry in my pouch that I need to use right after I eat. I hate that I could die if my sugar drops too low, and I’m too nauseous to eat to save my own ass.

What I hate most of all? That my sister’s kid is diabetic, too. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

The door opens and it feels like the temperature hikes up ten degrees. Mom hates the cold, and I don’t know why she sticks around Montreal when she has enough money to move anywhere she wants to. I think it’s just to screw with me.

Yeah, most likely just to screw with me.

“Hunter? Is that you?” she asks. Like she gets any other visitors to the house. The woman hardly lives here anymore, but keeps the brick monstrosity for bragging rights only.

“Yeah, it’s me,” I say, looking around the foyer for Matty to come around the corner any minute. I stare straight ahead and will myself not to let my eyes travel up, up, up the grand staircase. I will myself deaf to the imagined sounds of Jules running down the stairs to ask me for a ride somewhere, all that time ago, when we were still in high school, and I got my license before she did.

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