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"Seems pretty deep."

"Huh?" I asked, startled. It was lunch break, and as usual, I was eating with Eric.

"You haven't been doing anything. Just staring at nothing. I hope you did nothing of that while teaching in class."

"I was just thinking. And no, I wasn't like this in class, even though I'm sure the students would learn more from me quiet than from you teaching."

I felt something hit my shin under the table. "Are you going to tell me about it?"

"I saw my sister this morning."

Eric looked like he had been hit and run over by a truck. "I thought you'd never..."

"No. She was banging on my door, crying and all. She was the one who went to see me. I told you I'd never see any of them again. I don't even know how she knew where I live."

"So what did she want? Why's she crying?"

"I'm getting there. God, you sure like gossip a lot."

Eric only grinned at me.

"She was apologizing and stuff, you know? Which really didn't matter at all to me because everything's beyond apologies for me now. All I want right now is to forget about them. She kept saying how sorry she was for everything, you know, with tears and all. And I just let her. I just wanted her to finish up her act so she could leave me in peace..."

"But she didn't do that."

I gave Eric a dirty look. "No, she didn't do that. Eventually, the reason why she was there to see me came out." I paused and sighed. "She's pregnant and she said Mom and Dad would kill her when they find out, and I told her, 'so?' "

"You did?"

"Yeah, I did. I mean, what did she want from me? Protect her? She wanted to stay with me at least until my parents have calmed down, and I told her that she couldn't. Four years! I moved out of that house four years ago, and one of them comes to see me only because she needed something from me. I told her that if she was a stranger I would've let her stay but that I knew the kind of person she was."

"Isn't that a little cruel?"

"More than a little. I told her she created her own problem so she should solve it and that she was one of the reasons why I left that house so why should I let her stay with me?"

I felt it again. That fire, that rage, I could feel it burning inside me.

I continued. "Of course, she was apologetic and wouldn't stop crying, but that's just not enough for me, you know? She had always been like that. Kiss my ass only when she needed something from me." I snorted. "I won't fall for that anymore. I told her to go home and that I don't care what happens to her or them. But she wouldn't leave, you know? I closed the door in her face and went out the back door when I had to leave for work. And I was right, you know. I had always thought that if ever one of them looked for me, it would be because they needed something from me, not because they really wanted to see me. Not that I hoped for them to want to see me. Never. All I wanted was to forget them. They just wouldn't let me."

We were silent for a while, our food growing cold by the second. Eric stared at me with a thoughtful expression, and I wondered if maybe I had gone too far and driven one of my friends away with what I did.

"Do you... feel bad about it?" Eric asked.

I leaned back in my seat, looking up at the ceiling above. "No, as a matter of fact, no," I said quietly. "I actually felt a little pleasure with what I did." I looked back at him. "You must think I'm such a cruel guy now, huh? Tossing some girl into the streets."

"Sister, not just some girl, and she's not exactly in the streets yet," Eric said. "Don't worry, Ron. I understand why you did what you did. Both of us know the kind of things that happened while you were living with them. Just don't let it consume you. I'd be really worried if you start acting like them."

"That's just it! I'm worried about that too. I know what I did is wrong, but I feel like even if I have the chance to do it all over again, I'd still do the same thing. To any one of them."

Eric reached out a hand to squeeze my forearm. "Maybe sometimes we just need to be a little vindictive. Don't worry. I'll keep you in line. I'll be your conscience, Ron. I'll think of something for when your sister comes back." 


 

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