Chapter no 23

The Teacher


OF COURSE, Kenzie’s house is much larger than mine. It’s practically a mansion.

I’m pretty sure two or maybe even three of my houses could fit into Kenzie’s. Even her lawn looks prettier than ours—green and lush, even though everyone else’s grass seems to be wilting as the fall goes on. Does she have fake grass on her lawn? Is that a thing?

I hover by the walkway of her house, still on my bicycle. The windows of her house are dark. Her parents both have some high-powered jobs, like lawyers or CEOs—I’ve heard her bragging that they are never home as she plans parties that only her exclusive guest list of friends are allowed to attend. Only the school’s elite have been inside Kenzie’s house. Hudson and I used to make fun of those parties. Now he’s probably, like, the guest of honor.

I pull off my backpack. I fish around in the small pocket until I pull out the house keys I’ve been carrying around since I swiped them from her bag. What I’m contemplating is risky. Kenzie’s parents might not be home, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some sort of elaborate alarm system. Or perhaps a pit bull will leap out at me the second I cross the threshold. That sounds like the kind of luck I usually have.

No. It’s not worth it. My life won’t be better if I get mauled by a pit bull.

Instead, I continue on my way home. When I get there, my mom is sitting on the sofa, reading. She loves to read, which was something that drove my father wild. You like spending time with your books more than you like spending time with me. I don’t think it was true, but if it was, could anyone blame her?

“Addie.” She looks up when she sees me, and she sticks a bookmark inside her book. I always dog-ear pages, but she hates doing that. She treats her books so delicately. “You’re home early. Are you ready to go visit your dad?”

Somehow I almost forgot her plan to drive out to the cemetery today to visit that asshole’s grave. This day just keeps getting worse and worse.

Especially when my mother stands up from the sofa, looks me up and down, and says, “Did you seriously dress like that today at school?”

“Yep,” I say, because I just don’t want to tell her the story about what happened to me. It was embarrassing enough to live it, I don’t want to share it with anyone else—even my mom.

She rolls her eyes. “You can’t dress like that at the cemetery. Why don’t you go change your clothes?”

I dump my backpack on the floor. “No. I’m not changing.” “Well, you’re not going like that.”

“Fine, then I won’t go.”

“Adeline!” she exclaims. “That’s a terrible thing to say!”

“I mean it.” I tug at the hem of my sweaty gym T-shirt. “He was always drunk, and he hit you. He doesn’t deserve for us to visit him.”

My father was terrible. For most of my childhood, he was drunk. Even though people made fun of Hudson for his dad, I would’ve taken his embarrassing father over mine in a heartbeat, Polish curses and all. My dad never even held down a job—even as a school janitor. Every time somebody gave him a chance, he would show up drunk for work and get fired. My mom supported us through my whole childhood.

I was at Hudson’s house studying when I got the call from my mother that they found my father at the bottom of the stairs, not breathing. And I didn’t even feel the slightest bit sad.

“Addie,” she says quietly, the lines under her face deepening, “he was still your father.”

I don’t budge from my spot in the living room. I’m not going to change. Not for him. If she forces me, maybe I’ll go, but once I turn eighteen, that will be the last time ever.

“Fine.” Mom’s shoulders sag. “We don’t have to go.”

I’m shocked. My mother is super stubborn, and I thought for sure we were going to be arguing about this for the next hour. I can’t believe she just let it go like that. “Really?”

“Really. But please get changed. You smell terrible.” “Okay…”

She offers a smile. “And let’s go out to dinner tonight. We could both use a night out.”

I can’t disagree with that sentiment.

You'll Also Like