The boy wasn't there today, though it didn't bother me as much as I'd expected. I'd only noticed because the only way for me to get to class on time was to drive by the diner and pass that corner of Way St and Ward boulevard.
It was easy to shrug off the sinking feeling in my stomach that worried whether he was alright or not, because of my knowledge of the boy. He'd be back tomorrow, he always was.
Though, what wasn't as easy was trying to keep my knee from bouncing in the lecture hall. It wasn't as easy to wait until 10:40 when class ended, and it wasn't easy not to let my mind wander back to that boy. I didn't even know his name, for shits sake.
I noticed Eli glancing over to me from the end of the row of students, who were all paying attention. The very fact that they didn't even acknowledge my existence at the moment made me feel a bit better about paying attention to Eli rather than the lecture.
He mouthed something and offered a gentle smile my way, and even though I didn't understand what he said, I smiled back and mouthed something back. I wasn't sure exactly what I'd said, though Eli seemed to know, and he grinned for a single moment before looking back down to his messy binder full of notes and sheets of paper with scribble-drawings. I wish I knew what I meant to say.
The current lecture was on marine biology, just reviewing the small topic of classification and things of the sort, though it was semi-hard to understand through the thick accent of my German teacher. I'd never actually liked the beach all that much, but fish and underwater plants intrigued me to a point where I felt that I'd just have to take the class, which turned out to be an okay decision because it was the only class that Eli and I have had together all year.
I usually didn't let my mind wander in this class, however today I found it harder to focus than usual. Something was eating away at the corner of my mind.
The class ended somewhat early due to a call that worried our professor. She had a look in her eyes that only anyone else feeling the same way could interpret.
I decided to head home and watch my brothers for my mom, since she did say that she needed to head to work today and I knew that she hated leaving Ashton alone with the boys to care for him. They didn't take many things seriously, and would neglect Ashton.
While I drove home, I made sure to drive by that street lamp to make sure that the boy wasn't there. Just to check. Surprisingly, he was, though today he decided it'd be better to leave his hair floppy and un-gelled, a brave statement, really. He'd always looked good when he was clean and organized, though he was letting go today. IT was an okay look for him.
I didn't stay by that street lamp, just staring at him, though I wish I could've. I headed home and sighed when I heard screams from inside the house when I pulled into the driveway. No, not screams of terror or pain, screams of argument. I never really minded when they kept it to themselves, but when the whole neighborhood could hear them, that was another story.
Inside, my mother and father were both standing alert in the kitchen, my mother pinching the bridge of her nose and my father clenching the side of the counter. I'd seen this scene way too many times before.
"What's wrong now." I muttered as I brushed past my father and tugged open the fridge. He huffed, quite loudly, as if he wanted the whole house to understand how exasperated he was, and took a step back, relaxing his shoulders slightly.
"Nothing, Harley. Your mother and I were just talking about Ashton's medical bills. That's all." He said gently. I rolled my eyes and shoved a closed cup of applesauce into my hand, shutting the fridge with my hip and plucking a spoon from the counter top full of drying dishes.
"Yes, of course. Use Ash as an excuse for your issues. Smooth one." My attitude towards my father wasn't the nicest, though there were times when we did get along and where I actually enjoyed his presence. Now was not one of these times.
I could practically feel his frustration behind me, though I turned to my mother and gave her an apologetic smile before leaving the kitchen, that applesauce cup still gripped gently in the palm of my hand. Ashton's room was originally upstairs, though we had to move it downstairs after everything had happened. It was hard for him to get up and down the stairs in a wheelchair, after all.
I'm sure he heard my voice from the kitchen, though I hopped in front of his door with a large smile anyways, stating a pitiful, but ecstatic, "Surprise."
He sat in his room near the bookshelf, curled up in his wheelchair with a two or three books strewn across his lap. I knelt in front of him and held up the singular cup of applesauce with the spoon resting on top of it, placing it in his lap. He looked up and smiled at me, his lack of front teeth making me crack a wide grin of my own.
He was small in size and was topped with a messy mass of blonde hair on top of his head - as if someone has lathered glue over a tangled ball of yarn and gorilla glued it to his scalp. It was adorable.
"Harley." He simply stated, though you could tell in his tired eyes that the 7-year-old was excited. He threw up his arms and wrapped them around my neck, which forced me down into a much-needed hug. I'd always loved Ash's hugs.
"Ashton." I copied him, and stuck out my tongue at him when our hug had dispersed. He seemed paler than when I last saw him.
"I missed you, where've you been?" He looked down into his lap as he spoke, another smile meeting his lips and presenting his invisible front teeth. He grabbed the cup and held it happily before looking back up at me. His eyes were bloodshot, something that a seven-year-old should really not have to deal with.
"I've just been out and about, bud. Eli says hello." I sat down in front of his wheelchair on the floor, crossing my legs into a little comfortable basket in which I dropped my hands into my lap. He used to be an extremely smart kid, and had always excelled in any subject put in his way. Ever since he had to start homeschooling, mom could never get him to put much effort into academics. My dad suggested that it was the lack of social interactions that put in into this haze, though we all knew in the back of our minds that with the wheelchair came a state of depression. 661Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡjSmlzVY4dx
He wasn't used to rolling himself around at first, and would always convince himself that he was merely sitting down rather than being forced to, and would push himself up and out of that wheelchair, only to fall helplessly. It broke every single one of our hearts when he'd stare at his useless legs - and sometimes I'd overhear him praying at night for some kind of miracle to help him. It was a miracle all in his own that he still believed in a God while we'd all given up on one years ago, when we got the news that the disease couldn't be fixed.
My mother, though, blamed herself for his disease, which had been finally diagnosed after the seemingly endless nausea and spasms that he'd experienced. We'd known before the doctors said that the virus was Polio, though it was a hit that none of us came back from. She got us all the vaccines right after the diagnosis, having been a anti-vaccine activist, which blew up right in her face. She seemed to hope that it would help Ash, but it didn't. It was indefinitely incurable.
"I've missed Eli, too." Ash muttered as he reached for my hand and squeezed it in his own smaller ones. They were terrifyingly cold.
"He is going to come see you guys soon, I promise. I'll force him to." He scrunched up his nose as reached up with my other hand and poked it gently.
"I sure hope so. It's getting boring here." He shrugged and dropped my hand back into my lap, his hands now squeezing his knees. He had a small, yet hopeless, smile on his lips.
"I'm sorry, Ash." I sighed softly and looked into his glistening little blue eyes, "I'm really sorry."
Author's Note: Hey, Hi, Hello!
I'm typically really busy so if you actually like the story, I'll update as fast as I can. I like to make my chapters around 7-10 minutes long, but with school and everything it's a lil' hard. Since this is only my second chapter, I thought I'd introduce myself.661Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡVx0Widluv5
I'm Lili, I'm 16 and I really, really like dogs. That's all there is to really know about me.
I hope you like the story, and like I said, it'll be updated soon. I'm also already coming out with an accompanying book called A Girl Named Harley, which is basically everything from Dakota's point of view. Chapters for that will be released soon. Thanks!661Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡy1l12QRPC1