Knocked Up by Brother's Best Friend(8)By: Amy Brent
Jonah began to shut the door, but the lawyer stopped him.
“Wait!” He held out a large tan envelope, “The deed. It’s yours now. Everything’s already been signed over. It just needs a signature at the bottom to make it official.”
Jonah stared at the thing like it was a snake or some other poisonous animal but it was clear that Hawkins wasn’t going to leave without completing his mission.
Reluctantly, Jonah took the envelope before the lawyer finally turned and walked back down the front steps. We both stared at the thing for a long time, neither of us moving.
“Are you going to open it or not?” I asked for the tenth time in the past half hour. I’d been sitting across from Jonah at the small kitchen table, the envelope unopened between us. Still, no answer from my big brother. We hadn’t spoken about the other bombshell the lawyer had dropped on us yet either. But it sat there, heavy and waiting. An explosion that I knew was coming even if I didn’t know when.
“Remember when I was eight?” The memory hit me abruptly as I picked at the edge of the peeling linoleum top of the table. “Peter Thompson kept picking on me. Every day at the bus stop he’d shove me and one day I came home–.”
“Covered in mud.” Jonah interrupted, finishing the sentence. He shot me a rueful grin. “You were so dirty mom wouldn’t let you in the house and I had to hose you off outside.”
“I was so mad at him.” I shook my head, thinking about it. How it had seemed like the end of the world to eight-year-old me. I’d had a crush on Peter since the first grade. My heart had been broken, or so I’d thought.
“Yeah, but you wouldn’t tell anyone what had happened.” Jonah chuckled. “I can still remember your face. Covered head to toe in muck but you wouldn’t open your mouth.”
“He ruined my favorite dress,” I muttered with a laugh as the memory rolled over me. “You followed me to the bus stop every day for a week. Spying.”
“Hey! Not spying! Just doing my brotherly duty.”
“Aka spying,” I said, but with a smile to soften the words. “I still don’t know what you said to Peter but he never messed with me after that.”
Jonah looked guilty for a minute but then shrugged, “I just told him that if he didn’t leave you alone I’d tell everyone that he still wet the bed.”
“What? That’s awful!”
“Sure, but true. I used to babysit the Thompson brats for extra cash. I knew the truth.”
We both laughed together but after a moment the sound died, that terrible silence rising up again in its place.
“Quinn, about mom and dad…” Jonah started, but then trailed off after a moment and I could see him struggling to find the words. In the end, I shrugged.
“It’s like you said, Jonah. They haven’t been our parents for a long time. Hell, you raised me after they left us. They don’t deserve our tears. They don’t deserve anything from us.”
“No. No, they don’t.”
“But it still hurts.” I didn’t even realize the truth of those words until I spoke them out loud. Jonah shot me a sympathetic look.
“I know, little sis.”
I closed my eyes, and behind my lids, I could see it all. The memories of my parents were vague. Hazy. They had never been a solid part of my life, even the few times they were around. As a child, I know Jonah shielded me from the worst. When I’d come home from school and mama and dad were passed out on the stain splattered couch, needles on the table in front of them. He would take me away to stay at a friend’s house, or the neighbors. Or take me down to the springs to play.
When they had left, it had almost been a relief for me. It had been harder on Jonah. I remembered that. By then, he’d practically been taking care of me singlehandedly anyways and we’d kept it quiet, forging our parent’s signatures, telling the neighbors they were just away for a short trip. We’d lied until Jonah had turned eighteen and could legally take care of me. And he’d been taking care of me ever since.
Even now, he was trying to shield me. More worried about my reaction than dealing with this shit himself. But I was an adult now. And Jonah had a life of his own. It was better that way.
I glanced at the envelope, Jacob Mayhew scrawled across the front. I didn’t really remember my grandfather at all. He’d died when I was just three or four. A name was all he was now, but the thought of him had me glancing back at the envelope. Maybe I would grieve later for the parents I never knew. Maybe I had grieved for them when I was ten years old and realized they’d abandoned us and were never coming back.