I sat with Tommy at our usual table at Simmie’s. I loved the smell of coffee all around me. “So, I’ve been thinking about getting a job.”
Tommy looked at me in surprise. “What?”
I smiled. “They’re looking for a new barista here, and I was thinking I’d apply.” Though my passion was cooking, it wouldn’t hurt to have some experience working when it came time to apply for more serious jobs.
“But, I mean, why? Your parents give you more as an allowance than you’ll make here.”
That was probably true, but that wasn’t the point. “I don’t earn my allowance. I want to earn my own money, not just live off my parents. I’m sixteen now. It won’t be that much longer before I’m moving out. I can save this money for after high school.”
Tommy laughed a little. “I can’t really picture that.”
I frowned at him. “What do you mean?” In truth, I’d never thought seriously about moving out on my own, but certainly I would. People didn’t just live with their parents forever. “This’ll be good for me, you know?”
He shrugged. “I just can’t imagine you making it on your own or whatever. I can’t imagine anyone just walking away from the kind of life you’ve got.”
“Are you saying I’m spoiled?”
He ran a hand through his hair. “This is coming out wrong. I just meant, you’ve always lived this really sheltered, cared for life. I can’t picture you leave that.”
I rushed to my feet. How could he say that to me? “So you are calling me spoiled. You’re unbelievable, Tommy. How about you get lost, okay?” I started to storm out of the café, but his hand caught my arm.
“Loralee, wait.” I looked at her pleadingly. Why did I always put my foot in it? “I really didn’t mean that you’re spoiled. I know you’re not.”
She looked up at me, frustration evident in her face. “Then how can you say stuff like that? What does that even mean, if not that I’m spoiled?”
I let out a harsh breath. “I don’t know! I just honestly can’t imagine going off on my own and walking away from all that money. With the way my family is…Loralee, I’m sorry.”
She sighed softly. “Okay, Tommy, I believe you. I accept your apology.”
I smiled weakly at her. “You know I don’t mean half the shit that comes out of my mouth. I have some kind of foot-in-mouth disorder.”
That brought a small smile to her face. “Yeah, you do.” She reached over and took my hand. “Let’s go walk a little bit before we need to head home.”
We went back behind Simmie’s and walked by the water for a while. We didn’t talk much, and I knew we weren’t really okay. One of these days, I thought, I’m not going to be able to apologize enough for the stupid crap I say.
We took the same cab back to Newcrest. Loralee got dropped off first and then I sat in the back in silence for another twenty minutes or so. I didn’t look out the window. I didn’t want to see the nice houses slowly get worse and worse.
When the cab finally came to a halt, I paid the man and went into the house.
“You’re home early,” my father said with a grunt. “Did you get in a fight?” There was a definite edge of hopefulness to his question. He’d never liked that I was dating Loralee.
“No, we’re fine. Just had a bad day.” I went into the kitchen and made a small bowl of cereal. The last residents of the house had planned to refurbish the place a little, so they’d ripped up the linoleum floor, exposing the plywood underneath. They’d never put down anymore linoleum or anything else, so we were left with the plywood.
He made a soft noise. “That girl is full of herself.”
I sat down on the couch next to him. “You haven’t even met her.”
“Exactly. She’s too good to come around here, isn’t she?”
I rolled my eyes. “I haven’t invited her, Dad. Leave off, okay? Is Mom asleep?”
“Yeah, she wasn’t feeling good.”
I ate the rest of my cereal in silence then washed the bowl in the kitchen. Mom never felt good. There wasn’t a cure for her pain, just treatments that didn’t really seem that effective.
I went into my room and sat down at my second-hand computer. It took a while to boot up, but I was finally able to bring up lot prices in Oasis Springs. The minute I graduated, I was out of here.