“Why do you sleep with these guys if you know they are jerks?”
“Because I hope they will someday fall in love with me.”
“I think you can fall in love with your clothes on.”
“Dream a little dream with me.” She chuckled nervously, her eyes filled with self-doubt. “But I’m done with this love crap. Throwing in the towel.”
“It’s worth it, though, Faye.” I stared into her eyes, which were red from crying. “The heartbreak is worth those few moments of happiness, and the pieces of the shattered heart can be put back together. I mean, there will be cracks and scars, and sometimes this burning memory of the past, but that burn? It’s just a reminder that you survived. That burning is your rebirth.”
“Have you been born again?”
My eyes moved to Elizabeth’s house before they locked with Faye’s stare. “I’m working on it.”
She thanked me, then climbed out of the car to get into hers. “Tristan?” she said, wiggling her nose.
“Tonight I was pretty immature and broken, but you handled it like a champ, kind of like a father to my childish ways. Charlie was lucky to have you as his dad.”
I smiled. She had no clue how much that meant to me.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “And I’m sorry for calling you an asshole.”
“You didn’t call me an asshole.”
She nodded. “Trust me. I did. One more thing as a thank you…” She hurried over to Elizabeth’s bedroom window and pounded on it. When Elizabeth opened the window, I couldn’t help but smile. She was always so beautiful. Always. “Hey, Liz?” Faye said, looking at her sleepy best friend.
“Give this guy a blow job tonight as a ‘thank you’ from me.” She smiled, leaned in, and kissed Elizabeth’s cheek. “Night, babe.” With that, Faye hurried away, seeming much happier than when she’d been crying not too long before. Sometimes all a broken heart needed was a bag of shit and a little fire.
Elizabeth climbed out her window, walked over to me, and I wrapped her in a hug. “Did you do something good for my bestie tonight?” she asked.
“I think so.”
“Thank you.” She pulled me in closer and rested her head on my chest. “Babe?”
“What’s that smell?”
“Trust me…” I looked down at my socks, which had at one point been white, but were now semi-brown. “You don’t want to know.”
“Well, don’t just stand there staring at me. Aren’t you happy to see me?” Mama smiled, standing on my porch with a suitcase in her hand.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, confused. I glanced toward the BMW sitting in front of my house, wondering what in the world my mother had gotten herself involved with now—or more likely, who.
“What? Your mother can’t come visit? You haven’t been answering my calls, and I missed my daughter and granddaughter. Is that such a crime? You won’t even give me a hug hello!” She huffed.
I leaned in to hug her. “I’m just surprised to see you. Sorry I haven’t called, I’ve been busy.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Is your forehead bleeding?”
I ran my fingers across my forehead and shrugged. “Ketchup.”
“Why is there ketchup on your forehead?”
“I WANT TO EAT YOUR BRAINNNNNS!” Tristan said, walking past the foyer as he chased after a zombified Emma with spaghetti noodles in his hands and ketchup dripping from his face.
Mama’s head tilted to the left and her stare followed Tristan. “I guess you have been busy.”
“It’s not what it looks like—” I started, but Emma cut me off.
“Grandma!” she screamed, running to the door and jumping into Mama’s arms.
“My little sweet pea,” Mama replied, wrapping Emma in her arms and getting covered in ketchup. “Well, aren’t you a messy thing today?”
“Mama, Tick, and I were playing zombie and vampires!”
“Tick?” Mama turned to me and raised an eyebrow. “You let a man named Tick into your house?”
“Are you really judging the type of men I let into my house? Do you not remember some of the men who walked into yours?”
She smiled wickedly. “Touché.”
“Tristan,” I called. He came over, rubbing his fingers through his ketchup-filled hair.
“Yeah?” He smiled my way before turning to look at Mama.
“This is my mother, Hannah. Mama, this is my neighbor, Tristan.”
His stare met mine, and I watched his lips turn down for a split second, almost as if he was disappointed in my word choice. Soon enough he was smiling and shaking Mama’s hand. “Nice to meet you, Hannah. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“That’s funny.” Mama nodded. “Because I haven’t heard a word about you.”
“So, should I join you all in the awkward silence, or should I wait by the car?” a man joked, walking up the steps of the porch with a suitcase of his own. He wore glasses and a mustard button-down shirt tucked into dark jeans.
Mama must’ve been on a nerdy boyfriend kick. I wonder if he’s a wizard.
Extremely awkward silence.
The man cleared his throat and held his hand out toward Tristan, probably because he noticed Tristan wasn’t giving him an intense look of confusion like I was. “I’m Mike.”