The Death of Lila Jane(6)

By: Teresa Mummert



Now it was his face that seemed to redden from my words. “Yeah. You know what they say. The only thing constant is change.”

“What a shame,” I repeated his words, earning me a broader grin.

“I gotta get going. Promise me you’ll let me take you to school on your first day.” He took a few steps backward as he waited for my reply.

“I’ll ask my dad,” I conceded as he turned and walked back up the sidewalk toward his house.

I grabbed the mail, flipping through it as I slowed my pace back to my house.

“It’s a hot one today, Cher[20],” a voice called out, startling me and sending the mail fluttering to the sidewalk below.

“Shoot,” I muttered, bending down but keeping my knees pressed together as I tried to gather the envelopes in my short dress. I could hear footsteps on the gravel of the street, thudding in time with my troubled heart.

“A little jumpy today, ya?” Daven was at my side, gathering up the mail for me. I stood, thanking him as he handed it over.

His face was freshly shaven for the first time in weeks.

“I just didn’t see you out here.”

“You’re not wearing your glasses. How’s ya mamma ’n ’em[21]?”

“Everyone is doing well.” I hesitated, unsure if I should ask him about how he is doing, knowing this past year had been a rollercoaster. My eyes went to the blurry, black Impala and I squinted trying to bring it into focus. “Really cool car. Is it new?”

“Naw… that belongs to my nephew, Kaden. He’s probably about your age. Came to stay with me for a bit while he gets sorted out.”

“Oh.” I furrowed my brow, trying my best to appear surprised. “He has good taste. Looks better with the side molding. The SS is too plain.”

A smile spread across Daven’s face and I felt mine heat. I must not have said that correctly. I knew I should have checked a few more sources or, at least, looked at a few pictures.

“I never pegged you for a car buff.”

“Oh… I’m not. I just… I am going to be getting a car of my own soon and those older cars are safer.” My voice trailed off as I looked at the ground between us, the papers in my hand rustling as my fingers shook. Safer? They didn’t even have airbags, did they? God, if I couldn’t talk normally around Daven, how was I going to be able to speak to Kaden?

“Well, maybe my nephew can take you out for a drive later, ya’? Let you see what you think. In turn, maybe you can show him around town. I know I’d be grateful not to have to worry about school shopping tonight.”

Now it was me who had a grin I couldn’t contain. “Sure. Maybe.” I shook my head. “I mean, it’s whatever. I’d have to ask my parents.” I shrugged as I took a few backward steps toward my home. “Merci[22],” I called out before turning my back on him so I could silently squeal, crumpling the mail in my hands.

“F'sho[23].”

I was disappointed I didn’t get to see the boy himself but soon, if my father approved, I may just get to sit by his side in that big car. My mind flashed to the wide bench seat and I was once again thankful he hadn’t chosen the SS model that came with the bucket seats. I wondered if he’d done that on purpose and then frowned thinking about all of the girls that have probably slid across that seat to snuggle into his side.

“What are you pouting about?” My brother asked as he bit into a ruby red apple. I closed the front door behind me and rolled my eyes as I tossed the mail on the table inside of the door. I turned to face him, making sure he had a clear view of my mouth before I began to speak. When he was seven, a viral ear infection of the cochlea had left him partially deaf. He quickly learned to read lips, making his condition virtually unnoticeable, masking his insecurity.

“I’m not, Elik. Why are you here?”

“I live here, remember? And I can tell when you’re lying. You do that stupid, I smell something rank face.”

“No, you live at college and maybe I smelled you. You practically bathe in that crappy body spray,” I groaned as I disappeared into the kitchen, pulling open the fridge. I heard his feet shuffle across the floor behind me. Physically, he was the male version of me, with short, slightly darker hair and dark eyes. He could do no wrong in my parent’s eyes because they often looked the other way. He was an athlete who studied round the clock to become a lawyer, just like our father.

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