Into the Unknown
Part VI: Bad Decisions
After about an hour, Allen was back on his feet. Although he was better in body, I could see how stressed out and uncomfortable. Although I hadn’t heard the details, I’d heard him and his mom argue just after he had gotten up… I wanted to go and give him a hug — and a slap on the face for whatever he’d done — but with his parents around I didn’t.
Around nine Mr. Martin came back to inform us it was time for the visiting parents to leave as the gates would be closing soon.
“Guess it’s our time to go.” My mom said, giving me a kiss.
“How about you come to my house, we have plenty of space and you’ll be more comfortable there.” Ian proposed.
“Oh we wouldn’t want to impose ourselves.” My gran said.
“I insist.” Ian said with a smile. “Beside, it seems little Jason’s gotten quite glued to you, Ms. Campbell and I left my crowbar to pry him off at home.” Jason had spent all evening making himself cozy with my grandma who hadn’t seen through his act.
“Alright then.” She answered with a chuckle.
As they left, I saw Ian and my mom walking side by side, talking and laughing. I took out my phone and texted her.
There’s not something going on with Ian, is there? <
It took a few minutes for me to get an answer.
> We’re just getting a drink.
OMG. Please tell me you’re not hooking up with him. <
That’d be totally awkward for my girlfriend’s dad to be my stepdad. <
> Relax peanut, it’s just a drink. >.>
> Caroline, don’t give me sass.
I closed my phone and joined the others in watching a movie. A little before bed time, I noticed that the light in Allen’s room was still on so I went upstairs to see him. But first I grabbed some ice, aspirin and a cold water bottle. I knocked on the door and he invited me in. I slipped through the door and found him sitting at his desk, fiddling with his tablet..
“Hey Allen. Got you some ice and aspirin.” I put down the bottle, tablets and the bag of frozen peas on his desk.
“Thanks.” He muttered.
“Can I see?”
He nodded and I came closer and examined his face. There was some swelling and his nose was a little bent, probably broken. Splotches around his nose had turned a darker color, most likely due to bruising.
“You should probably get it checked by the doctor.” He looked visibly uncomfortable at the suggestion. While Doc Venus had made me very comfortable, I remembered Allen was xenophobic in the fear-based sense of the word. “We could get you into a clinic in town?” I then proposed.
“No, that’s too much fuss. If it continues to hurt I’ll see someone,” he said.
I nodded. “Can I give you a hug, you look like you could use one.”
“I think Sage needs it more… I fucked up…” he trailed off.
“There’s plenty of hugs to go around. But do you want to talk about what happened?”
He hesitated, shifting uncomfortably.
“I… I kissed them…”
“Oh. Okay.” I answered a little surprised.
“They didn’t want me to either, I feel terrible. I don’t know why I did it. I… can we talk about something else?”
“Of course.” I gave him a hug and he leaned against my shoulder.
“Thanks,” he mumbled.
“You should get some rest. Do you want me to get you anything?”
“No, you’ve done more than enough. Go hang out with Charlie, she probably needs to reminded to eat her veggies or something,” he said, attempting a joke.
I let out a chuckle. “That she does. Call me if you need anything.” I put a hand on his shoulder and lingered for a second. “Goodnight Allen.”
“Thanks again, goodnight Caroline,” he replied.
I left the room and went back downstairs, getting myself a drink before bed. Since Charlie was still in the shower, I kneeled down before our bed, silently praying for Allen, so they he would receive the guidance he desperately needed. As much as I wished to help him, what had happened was for him to process and figure out the meaning of.
After two days of getting cold shoulder, Charlie was practically glued to me all night, holding onto me super tightly in her sleep like a security blanket. When dawn came, I had to pry her off by force in her sleep so I could make breakfast.
Mr. Martin came back right after a quick breakfast with the flood of parents and guided us all to the auditorium. In the crowd I saw Allen and his dad walking side by side, his mom was mysteriously absent. I decided to talk to him, quickly stuffing my pride bracelets down my pockets. I doubted he’d ever seen the trans and ace flags, but I opted for the side of caution.
“Hello, Mr. Allen.”
“It’s Mr. Reynolds actually, but don’t worry about it.” He answered with a smile. “Legally, I’m Allen’s stepfather, but I’ve been taking care of him since he was a little munchkin.” He rubbed a hand on Allen’s scalp. “You’re Caroline, aren’t you?”
“That’s me. Caroline Campbell.”
“Nice to meet one of Allen’s friends.” He said. “I would’ve spoken to you yesterday but after the debacle I got quite caught up I admit.”
“Understandable, Allen’s your son after all,” I answered. “I know yesterday went badly but it’s the first time anything like that has happened here. I’ve been doing my best to look after everyone – make sure they eat their veggies.” My eyes drifted to Charlie who stuck out her tongue at me.
“Haha, little young aren’t you?”
“I’m fourteen, but my mum made sure I knew how to look after myself from a young age. Plus it’s a farm-girl fourteen, it’s like a seventeen in term of city girl maturity.” I joked. “I’ve also been going to church with Allen.”
That last part was a lie, which was bad but I’d repent later. Making Allen’s stepdad happy and confident was more important. And in truth I had offered Allen to join Charlie — who wasn’t a believer but came for me anyway — and I at church but he had always found an excuses to avoid it, most likely struggling between his faith and his new found mutanthood.
“Oh, you’re devout Christian?” He sounded genuinely surprised at the news..
“That I am.” I didn’t bother mentioning I was anglican and part of an extremely liberal congregation, knowing he and Allen were southern baptists.
Our conversation was cut short as we reached the auditorium and took our places. I joined my mom and grandparents.
“How did your evening go last night?” I asked her in a whisper as the last people found their seat.
“It might have been more than a drink…”
I blushed at the thoughts. I looked around Ian was noticeably hungover, clearly having drank quite a bit. Still he did his best to be amicable to the other parents near him.
“Seriously?” I asked, a little grossed out.
“Caroline…” She sighed.
“Presentation’s starting.” I pointed out, cutting that conversation off.
The headmaster, who had so far stayed in the proverbial shadows, came on stage and greeted the audience before launching into an explanation of the school’s history, it’s purpose, mission and the programs available to enhance the lives of their students; both as heroes and as civilians and individuals.
I saw that there was an empty seat next to Charlie so I snuck off to join her.
“I can’t believe our parents hooked up… So weird and gross.”
“Come on, it’s not a big deal.” She said, putting a hand on my shoulder.
“But it’s weird, I don’t want you to be my stepsister.”
“Caroline, they got a drink and had sex, that’s it.”
Seeing as she wasn’t too supportive, I mumbled something impolite in annoyance and left her to join my mom in the tour of teacher-parent chats. Maybe I was over reacting?