The Death of Lila Jane(7)

By: Teresa Mummert



“I’ve been back in town for two days. Danny and I broke up. How did you not notice I was here?”

I peered around the door, cocking my eyebrow. “Seriously? You’re gone all hours of the night and sleep all day. How would I know?” My mind had been so preoccupied lately that I wouldn’t have noticed if Dad had grown a second head. “Sorry about Danny. I’m sure he will get over whatever it is you’ve done this time. Maybe now you can focus on school.”

“Speaking of school, you ready to go back?” He took another bite of the apple before tossing the core toward the garbage can. It missed, bouncing off the edge and rolling toward the island. I glared at him before rolling my eyes and grabbing his trash for him and dropping it in the can.

“It’s good to see you’ve been practicing. Dad will be pleased,” I snorted before continuing our conversation. “It’s nice to get out of the house.”

“That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. Make some friends and have a little fun.”

“Oh, sure. Mom would just love that.” I rolled my eyes as I pictured her clutching her pearls as if she may faint at the very suggestion.

“So don’t tell her.”

“You’re telling me to lie to mom? Me? The girl who once confessed to your crimes because I thought I was going into anaphylactic shock from an allergy to deception?” I narrowed my eyes in disbelief that he would even suggest I do something like that. It would be suicide. Pure and simple.

“No more of a lie than mom and dad assuming Danny was short for Danielle and not Daniel.” He winked and I couldn’t help but chuckle at how far they’ve gone to ignore their own son’s sexual orientation. “I’m just telling you to live your own life, Lila Jane. You’re not a kid anymore.” Patting me on the shoulder, he disappeared into the den, leaving me wondering if I could actually tell a lie without throwing up on my shoes. One thing was for certain, I didn’t want to be like my brother. I’d rather lie to the world instead of lying to myself.





THREE


KADEN


May 5, 2013

I laid on the narrow, twin-sized bed, staring beside me at Taylor, in awe of her beauty. Her dark, messy hair skimmed the tops of her sun-kissed shoulders. Her smile was broad and bright, with nervous anticipation of our next kiss. Her hazel eyes looked into mine before they fell on my lips and back to my eyes again.

We’d been dating for six months and she was the one person in the world who saw me, the real me. I’d spent years carefully constructing the walls around my heart to keep others out, but Taylor refused to walk away. She thought my attitude was endearing and refused to give up on me even when I’d given up on myself.

She was the one person I had, besides my mother, who I could confide in. But we still didn’t talk about my biggest fear, losing the people I loved. It was a cloud that hung over us, drowning even our happiest memories in darkness. There was a reason I was hesitant to let Taylor in. She wasn’t like anyone else I’d met before and her baggage was suffocating.

I kept my fingers tangled in hers, pulling them to my mouth and pressing my lips against the soft skin of her knuckles. Her cheeks blushed as she scrunched up her nose, sucking her lower lip between her teeth and biting down softly.

“I love you,” the words fell out of my mouth without a second thought of the repercussions. She laughed as my eyes widened at my surprise confession. “I can’t believe I just said that,” I rambled, shaking my head and wondering if I could play it off as a joke.

“I already knew.”

“You did?” My eyes locked onto hers again as she nodded, her expression serious now.

“Of course. You didn’t have to say it. I saw it. I felt it. But I’ll take your secrets to my grave. All of them.”

My heart clenched in my chest, tightening like a vice around her words. “Don’t say that, Tay.” A warm tear slide down my cheek into the blanket below my head, but I didn’t attempt to untangle our fingers to wipe it away. I wanted to hang on to her for as long as possible.

“It’s the truth, Kaden.”

“No.” I rolled to my side and placed my palms on either side of her face, holding her just inches from me, her sweet honey-laced sigh engulfing me as her breathing increased. “I want the lie.” There was nothing worse than feeling helpless. I swore I’d never let anyone make me feel this way again, after my father. But here I was, unable to fix things. Unable to fix her. I’d failed as a man and I wasn’t even an adult yet.

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