The Space Between Us(5)By: Anie Michaels
“Ok, maybe I'll see you in the morning.”
“Ok, see ya later.” He turned and walked down the porch and I closed the door.
The next morning I waited in the front family room, peeking out of the window, until I saw Asher pass my house. As he walked by, I saw him look over towards my door. I could tell he was contemplating waiting for me or just continuing on his way. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw him continue walking. After the way he saved me yesterday, the cookies, and the way he seemed to be too nice, I just couldn't bring myself to walk to school with him. I didn't want him feeling like he was obligated to be nice to me. I didn't want anyone feeling like they were obligated to me in any way. At that moment, I mostly just wanted to blend into the background and forget everything that had happened to me.
I kept my head down at school, sat with my drawing pad during lunch and recess, trying to let my pencil occupy my thoughts instead of the fact that even though I was lonely, I didn't want to befriend anyone. I walked across the field on my way home when Reeve came running up behind me.
“Charlie!” I turned to see her and she had a big smile on her face. “Hey, do you want to go to The Range with me today?”
“Uh,” I hesitated. “I didn't get a chance to ask my dad yesterday. He's expecting me home.” I said as I gestured towards the alley.
“Ok, well, let's walk to your house and ask your dad then.” She started walking with a determined gait. We walked to my house together and there was not even one moment for me to get a word in. She talked the entire time, filling me in on all the kids in our class, what had happened on the latest episode of the television show she was watching, and how she had gotten a great deal on a new pair of jeans at a trendy store in the next town over. Her rate of speech was baffling and also comforting because I didn't have to say anything.
We went into my house and I called my dad, who agreed I could go with Reeve as long as I was home for dinner. He sounded excited and relieved that I had made a friend, and he probably would have let me leave the country with her if he thought it would have made me happy. I put my book bag on the counter and we left, walking back the way we had came. Halfway across the field Reeve caught me off guard by asking me a question.
“So, what does your dad do?” The silence that came when she paused for my answer was strange. I appreciated her incessant talking.
“He works in construction.”
“Like, building houses and stuff?”
“Yeah, mostly. Offices. Anything really.”
“That's cool. What does your mom do?”
And there it was. The moment I dreaded with every person I encountered - having to talk about my mom.
“Nothing. She died.” Reeve stopped walking and her mouth gaped open. I couldn't look her in the eye, so I stared at the ground, hoping she'd recover quickly and continue talking about unimportant, distracting things like she had the entire way up until now.
“She died?” I nodded my head, not saying a word. “How?”
“I can't imagine not having a mom,” Reeve said quietly as she started walking slowly.
The Range was actually a pretty cool place; there was nothing like it back home that I had ever seen. It was part coffee shop and cafe, part arcade, part pseudo-library where the no talking rules were lifted. There were board games, video games, books, a few computers to use the internet, couches, bean bag chairs, there was even a hammock in the corner of the reading area. There were mostly younger kids there, sixteen and under, it looked like. Obviously, once kids got their driver's license they found cooler places to hang out.
Reeve led me to where the counter was and we both ordered a soda. Reeve then headed towards a table where a few girls sat. I hesitated, nervous about sitting with a bunch of girls I didn't know. I missed Lucy immediately. Reeve sat down and motioned to the chair next to her. I sat down and tried to smile without looking like I was in pain.
“Guys, this is Charlie. She just moved here,” Reeve said excitedly. I gave a small wave to match my small smile.
“Hey, Charlie. Where'd you move from?” A blonde girl across the table asked.