My hands formed fists, and I pounded them against my side. My nostrils flared, but I tried to contain my anger from her comment. I hated that Kellan had to step in and save us so often from ourselves. He deserved to be far, far away from this lifestyle. “I’ll pick up some more things and drop them off after my night class.”

“You live an hour away. You don’t have to drive back out here.”

He ignored me. “Any requests?” he asked.

“Food would be good,” I grumbled, along with my stomach.

He reached into his backpack and pulled out two brown paper bags. “Food.”

“You cooked for us, too?”

“Well, kind of.” He took the bags and dumped them on the countertops. Random food items, uncooked. “I know when you came to stay with me for a bit we watched a lot of that cooking show where they just give you random supplies and you have to make a meal. Alyssa told me you thought about becoming a chef.”

“Alyssa talks too much.”

“She’s crazy about you.”

I didn’t argue that.

“So,” he smirked, tossing a potato my way, “I have a bit of time before I go to work. Make something happen, chef!”

I did too. He and I sat eating my fancy grilled cheese with ham, three kinds of cheeses, and a garlic aioli sauce. On the side, I made homemade hash browns with a spicy, bacon flavored ketchup.

“How is it?” I asked, my eyes glued to Kellan. “Do you like it?” Without thought, I placed half of my sandwich in front of Ma. She shook her head.

“Diet,” she murmured, eating her last Cheerio.

“Dang, Logan,” Kellan sighed, somehow tuning out Ma’s comment. I wished I could do that. “This is amazing.”

I smirked, a spark of pride. “Really?”

“I bit into the sandwich and literally almost died from how good it was. If I believed in Heaven, it would’ve been solely due to that sandwich.”

My smile widened. “Right?! I kind of outdid myself.”

“Fucking brilliant.”

I shrugged my shoulders with that smug look on my face. “I’m kind of amazing.” I couldn’t thank Kellan enough—that was the most fun I’d had in a long time. Maybe someday I could go to college… Maybe Alyssa was right.

“I gotta get going though. You sure you don’t want a ride anywhere?” Kellan asked.

I wanted out of the apartment, that was for sure. But I wasn’t certain if my dad would be stopping by, and I didn’t want him alone with Ma. Whenever he was alone with her, her skin was always more purple than when I left her.

It took a certain kind of demon to ever lay his hands on a woman.

“No. I’m good. I work at the gas station later today anyway.”

“Isn’t that like an hour walk away from here?”

“No. Forty-five minutes. It’s fine.”

“You want bus fare?”

“I can walk.”

He dug into his wallet and put money on the table. “Listen,” he leaned in closer to me and whispered. “If you ever want to stay at my dad’s place, it’s closer to your job…”

“Your dad hates me,” I interrupted.

“He doesn’t.”

I gave him an are-you-fucking-kidding look.

“Okay. You might not be his favorite person, but to be fair, you did steal three hundred dollars from his wallet.”

“I had to make rent.”

“Yeah, but Logan, your first thought shouldn’t have been to steal it.”

“Then what should it have been?” I asked, growing upset, mostly because I knew he was right.

“I don’t know. Maybe asking for help?”

“I don’t need anyone’s help. Never have, never will.” That pride I had was always so harsh. I understood why some called it the deadliest sin.

Kellan frowned, knowing I was in need of an escape. Being in that apartment so long had a way of driving one crazy. “All right then.” He walked around to Ma and placed his lips against her forehead. “Love you, Ma.”

She kind of smiled. “Bye, Kellan.”

He moved behind me, placing his hands on my shoulders, and softly spoke. “She’s even thinner than the last time I saw her.”


“That scares me.”

“Yeah, me too.” I saw the worry weighing heavy on his mind. “Don’t worry, though. I’ll get her to eat something.”

His concern didn’t vanish. “You look kind of smaller, too.”

“That’s just because of my high metabolism,” I joked. He didn’t laugh. I patted him on the back. “Seriously, Kel. I’m okay. And I’ll try to get her to eat. I promise to try, okay?”

He released a weighted sigh. “Okay. I’ll see you later. If you’re not back from work when I stop by tonight, I’ll see you next week.” Kellan waved goodbye and before he stepped outside of the apartment, I called his name.

“Yeah?” he asked. I shrugged my left shoulder. He shrugged his right.

That was how we always said, “I love you” to one another. He meant so much to me. The person I someday dreamed of becoming. Yet still, we were men. And men didn’t say, “I love you.” Truth was, I didn’t say those words to anyone.

Clearing my throat, I nodded once. “Thanks again. For...” I shrugged my left shoulder. “Everything.”

He gave me a soft smile, and shrugged his right. “Always.” With that, he left.

My stare fell to Ma, who was talking to her bowl of milk. Figures.

“Kellan’s the perfect son,” she muttered to the milk, before tilting her head my way. “He’s so much better than you.”

Where’s Sober Ma?

“Yeah,” I said, standing up to take my food into my bedroom. “Okay, Ma.”

“It’s true. He’s handsome, and smart, and takes care of me. You don’t do shit.”

“You’re right. I don’t do shit for you,” I mumbled, walking away, not wanting to deal with her crazed mind that morning.

As I walked, I became startled when a flying bowl glanced off my left ear, and shattered against the wall in front of me. Milk and shattered glass splashed all over me. My head tilted back toward Ma, and she had a sly smile on her lips.