Issue 92 Jan 2021
The walls are an irritating white and Eli hates them so much that he wants to tear away the paint to get at the harsh grey drywall underneath. He could rip that away, too — right down to the wooden support beams and the copper piping and the multi-coloured wires that run through the entire building.
He could, but he’s strapped down to the bed and his wrists aren’t strong enough to snap the padded restraints.
So he sits there, staring vehemently at the bright walls and the broken ceiling and his bag on the chair in the far corner, until the door flies open and his mother makes her entrance.
“Eli,” she sighs, half disappointed and half exhausted. Her hair is as much of a frazzled mess as her marriage, held together by a thin elastic precariously close to slipping off. Her clothes are loose, baggy, and Eli realizes belatedly that she’s still wearing the Pokémon pajama pants he got her for Christmas as a joke. The bags under her eyes are so prominent that he almost feels guilty for costing her even more sleep.
“Stay safe and be good,” Andrea’s mom said as we hopped out of the black SUV.
“We always are.” I grinned back.
Andrea lingered for a moment, peering into the car. I leaned down to hurry her along in time to see a serious look across her mother’s face.
“Yeah, I know,” Andrea said, slamming the door. She turned her back to the car and rolled her eyes.
“What was that all about?”
“You know. Mom stuff. Always worried I’m gonna get into trouble or somethin’.”
I nodded. Moms always assumed the worst the moment we left their sight. What could happen? I mean, we were both fifteen years old and had never been in any trouble at all. Well, except the one time in first grade when I shoved Billy Anderson to the ground for yanking on the new girl’s curly pigtails at recess. Which didn’t actually count. Even Mom wasn’t mad.