“I’m sorry. For the things I said today.” I wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to say, or if it made me sound like I was sorry he was gay or something. But it was too late, and I would just deal with how he reacted.
“No, don’t be.” He ran a hand through his brown hair and looked away from me. “When I asked if you were gonna be home tonight, I was upset. But it was because you’ve been gone so much lately, and the other night, when I thought you were going to stay home and eat with me, you left. I just haven’t seen you very much. I kind of missed you.”
“Oh, Milo, I am sorry!” My eyes filled with tears.
He had just missed me, and then I had been so horrible to him. I had been gone a lot lately, thanks to Jack, and I hadn’t even really considered how Milo felt about it. No, scratch that. I did consider it; I just didn’t care. I had to be the worst sister in the world. Really.
“Let me finish,” Milo interjected quietly. “But… you were right. I am attracted to Jack. And guys in general. I just didn’t know how to tell you, or even how to tell myself, I guess. So that’s why I’ve been so distant lately.”
“You know I love you no matter what, right?” I threw my arms around him. He squirmed a little but let me hug him. “I am so sorry I haven’t been around! I promise I’ll spend more time with you!”
“You don’t have to.” He pulled back from my grip but stayed close to me.
“I know that! I want to! I’ve missed you too. And I’m just so sorry for everything.”
“You can quit apologizing,” Milo said, not unkindly. “You didn’t really do that much wrong.”
“I still feel horrible.”
“Yeah, I get that.” He smiled, and I laughed a little.
“We’ll hang out tomorrow. I promise.”
“Okay,” Milo yawned. “I really need to get to bed, though. It’s way past my bedtime.” He got up and started walking to his bedroom.
“Okay,” I nodded, feeling genuinely sad to see him go. “Hey, Milo? I love you.”
“I know.” Then he disappeared into the darkness of his room. I went into my room and changed into my pajamas.
I curled up underneath my covers, and for the first time in a long time, I cried myself to sleep.
- 8 -
At school, Jane poked and prodded me, then repeatedly told me that I looked like hell. I’m sure it had to do with how terrible I slept, and all the strange dreams I couldn’t quite remember. They were mostly a blur of images that I couldn’t decipher, except for one clear image: Peter’s eyes burning through me.
Of course, I couldn’t explain any of this to Jane. It still was a struggle for her not to mention Jack, so I couldn’t either.
Milo had seemed to return to his normal self, much to my relief. When we got home, he started talking rapidly about a new recipe he wanted to try out.
Last night, I’d managed to forget to eat anything, and at lunch, I had still felt too tired and out-of-it to eat. But once I was in the safety of my apartment listening to Milo rattle of a list of tasty ingredients, my appetite came back full swing.
We went to the grocery store to get his recommended supplies, but I was too hungry to wait, so I ate a pear in the store. Milo looked embarrassed, even though I insisted that I’d pay for it (and I did).
Taking the groceries home was always a project because we had to take the bus with arm loads of bags. I wished Mom would spring and buy a car, but it didn’t seem like it was in the cards.
Jack hadn’t text messaged me yet, and I tried to pretend like that didn’t bother me. All through supper, while I attempted to help Milo cook, I had to constantly fight the urge to check my cell phone in my pocket to make sure it was on or I hadn’t missed a message.
After my incident cutting my finger (which apparently hadn’t been that minor since I still required a Boba Fett Band-Aid), Milo left me with all the easy jobs, like washing vegetables, measuring ingredients, and buttering bread.
His supper was ridiculously good. We sat at the table, where I promptly devoured everything.
Mom woke up, and we offered her a plate, but she just shook her head and hurried out the door. We’d seen her for a total of ten minutes that day, but I imagined that if we were to add it up, we saw her an average of an hour a week.
“You should really go to culinary school,” I told Milo. “You’re amazing. This is definitely something you should do for a living.”
We were still sitting at the table, and I had one knee pulled up to my chest, which was getting more uncomfortable the more I ate. I had already cleaned one plate and had started on a second, but my eyes were larger than my stomach.
“I’ve kind of looked into it.” He shrugged modestly, and he didn’t have a clue what an amazing cook he was. Milo never believed he was good at anything, no matter what I told him. “I don’t know.”
“Well, you still have a few years to think about it, but you’re too good to keep this hidden from the world.” I took another bite, but my stomach screamed in protest. I forced myself to push my plate away, knowing that I would explode if I continued eating.
“What about you? You’re graduating before I am. What did you have in mind?” Milo turned the tables on me, and I squirmed a little. He knew my grades at school, and he was constantly trying to talk to me about my future, but I avoided it as much as possible.
“I don’t know.” Lately, with everything that had been going on with Jack, I had a new found appreciation for paranormal studies and biology. “Maybe I’ll go to med school.” I had meant it as a joke, but Milo just nodded, like it would make sense.
“I could see you as a psychiatrist,” Milo said. “I mean, not anything that had to do with blood or surgery.”
“No, that would definitely be out,” I agreed readily. When I saw all the blood on Jack’s nonexistent wound, I had to fight the urge to vomit. “But I can’t imagine me being a psychiatrist.”
“Really?” He raised an eyebrow, as if it seemed like an obvious choice to him. “You’re a pretty good listener, and you love figuring people out. Everyone is like a puzzle to you, and you’re trying to put all the pieces together.”
“I guess that is true.” Essentially, that’s all I’d been doing for the last few weeks, but until Milo had said it like that, I didn’t realize that’s what I did.