Into the Fire
“I know this. I’ve been studying that damn memory book all morning. Rob, he plays basketball.”
    “Yeah.” I try not to back away or show how scared I am of this change, this anger. “Look, Jer, you can’t expect yourself to learn everything in one morning.”
    “The longer this takes me, the longer I have to play recluse. I’m already going crazy sitting in this house. Mom is being so helpful I want to scream. If she tells me one more time how ‘beautifully’ I’m doing, I’m going to flip.”
    “That’s just Mom trying to help. She can be overbearing, but she means well. I think she’s so used to healing people at the hospital that she doesn’t know how to handle situations where her Phoenix powers don’t help.”
    “Can you talk to her, please? Get her to back off?”
    “I’ll try, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. You’re her baby, and you’re the first one she’s had to help through this.”
    He looks at me and squints. His hand reaches for mine, barely resting on top of it, like a feather. He’s trying to feel. “I’m sorry if this is hard on you because I went first.”
    I shake my head. “Don’t sweat it. I knew it was going to happen. Male Phoenixes are reborn at sixteen. I can’t change that. It’s silly to even think about it.” But I am. I’m the big sister. I’m supposed to go through the life-changing events first and then help him through them. This is all backwards.
    He takes his hand back and we stare at each other, neither knowing what to say. I need air. I need to take a walk and get some distance. “You think you’ll be okay if I—?” How do I politely ask to get away from him?
    “Go. I’ll be fine. I have studying to do anyway.”
    I feel awful, but I can only handle Jeremy in small doses right now. If I fall apart in front of him, it will only frustrate him more. “Thanks. I won’t be long.” I grab my car keys and head out. I don’t even have the door closed when Nick walks up the front steps.
    “Hey.” He smiles at me.
    Crap. He can’t be here. “What’s up? I was just on my way out.” I try to shut the door, but he peeks around me.
    “Jeremy home? We were supposed to check out that new underground band on YouTube. He said they’re awesome, but I had trouble finding the link. He was going to download some of their stuff for me.”
    “He’s still sick. He’ll have to show you another time.”
    “I know he’s got mono, but he was supposed to burn a disc for me. Do you know if he got around to it? I figured he might get bored spending all that time in bed, you know? I would.”
    “He didn’t mention it. He’s been sleeping a lot lately.”
    “Did you forget something?” Jeremy walks into the living room.
    “No. I’m going. Sorry to make you get up.” I hope Jeremy will take the hint and walk away.
    “Hey, man.” Nick waves. “You don’t look that bad at all. Feeling better?”
    I put my hand on Nick’s chest to stop him from going inside. “It comes and goes. Sometimes he’s too weak to get out of bed and other times he looks perfectly normal. He’s highly contagious though, so you better not come inside.” I look back over my shoulder. “Get back in bed, Jer. You don’t want to collapse on the kitchen floor because you’re overdoing it.”
    “Right.” He nods and points toward his room. Man, he’s a sucky actor. I shut the door behind me.
    “If he’s so sick, why are you leaving?” Nick asks.
    Great question. “I have to go pick up his prescription.”
    “A prescription for mono? I thought you stayed in bed until it passed.”
    “His fever’s been really high. He has a very severe case, so his doctor prescribed a steroid.” Thank God Mom’s a nurse and I know all this off the top of my head.
    “I can pick it up if you want…since I don’t have anything else to do now.”
    “I don’t want to bore you with a trip to the drugstore. Besides, I already called it in. It will take me five minutes, tops. Just run in,

Similar Books

Shift

Rachel Vincent

Nothing but Blue Skies

Thomas McGuane

Linda Ford

Cranes Bride

A Girl Like You

Maureen Lindley

Nights of Villjamur

Mark Charan Newton