FRANNY’S house that afternoon. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I wasn’t allowed.
Once my parents had me home that night, they wanted me close.
And I understood. I did.
If ever there was a time to hold your loved ones close, this was it.
But Franny’s grief didn’t stop flowing just because more people were lost. If anything, I feared that so many traumas in a row would be too much for her, and I didn’t know if I could live with myself if she fell over the edge.
After one night at home, I found that the worry was too much, and I put up one hell of a fight until my parents agreed to let me leave the house.
Of course, their stipulation was that I took Gram with me.
I had a feeling that they were more interested in getting her off of their backs than keeping an eye on me.
I just hoped Gram would be able to dig down deep and find her usually missing people skills.
“On second thought, maybe you should wait in the car,” I pleaded as I pulled into the driveway and noticed that Franny’s doorstep wasn’t empty.
“Are you kidding me?” Gram asked as she spied Blane for herself. “The hunk is here which means this is just getting good.”
“You are the last thing either one of them needs right now, Gram,” I argued as nervous butterflies took flight in my stomach, the tips of their wings scraping at the lining and making it burn.
I had no idea what I was going to say or do, and now that Blane was here, that problem was compounded tenfold. Fathoming what he was going through in that moment was completely beyond my capability.
“You don’t know that,” Gram huffed, her silvery hair looking a little scraggly since her hairdresser had cancelled her usual standing Wednesday appointment due to the circumstances.
She was completely outraged, but in my book, if they cancelled school for the day, Gram’s hairdresser could cancel her hair appointment.
“Just stay in the car, Gram,” I reiterated, rolling down the windows and shutting off the ignition.
Before she had a chance to answer, I shoved the door open with my foot and jumped the short trip down from the inside of my blue Jeep Cherokee.
She was old, but reliable. Kind of like the woman still seated inside of her. That’s all I could really ask for.
I gripped my keys hard, the ribbing digging painfully into the flesh of my palm as I ascended the final steps at the end of their front sidewalk. Blane turned to me, whereas before he’d been just staring at the closed front door, his hands tucked into his pockets.
“Aren’t you going in?” I asked quietly, surprised I even managed to force the words past my lips.
“I’ve already tried,” he responded. “She won’t see me.”
“Blane, I…” I started, unable to finish.
“I’ll be back tomorrow,” he said instead of waiting for me to make sense of my scattered thoughts. “Hopefully she’ll see you today, though.”
With a casual wave, one worthy of acquaintances, he stepped down off of the stoop and headed for his motorcycle.
I fought with myself, unsure of whether I should bring up his dad or not, but something told me I should say something. Anything.
“Blane!” He turned back to me, waiting to hear what I had to say. “I’m sorry about your dad,” I finished lamely.
With a nod, he looked to the blue sky and then answered, “Me too,” before finishing his walk to his bike, throwing his leg over, starting it up, and seating his helmet on his head.
The door creaked open behind me, Franny’s mother Gina filling its void. As I turned to face her, her kind eyes softened even further.
“Franny’s not feeling up for company today, honey. I’m sorry,” she apologized.
“That’s okay,” I agreed. “Could you just make sure she knows I came by?”
“Of course,” she nodded, her eyes softening into the bags under them.
I needed Franny to know she wasn’t alone. That no matter how many times she turned me away, I would keep coming back.
After one last