Living with Jackie Chan

Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles Read Free Book Online

Book: Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jo Knowles
the hell?”
    I jump and turn around.
    Larry is standing in my doorway in his boxers.
    “What’s going on?” he asks.
    I look down at my fist. “Sorry,” I say.
    He steps inside the room. “What happened?”
    I don’t know.
    He lifts his head when he hears the cries above us, then looks back at me.
    “Oh,” he says quietly.
    Arielle appears behind him, wearing an oversize T-shirt that comes to her thighs.
    “Everything OK?” she asks. She has this sweet, concerned look on her face.
    And it’s too much.
    Too much.
    I shouldn’t be here.
    “I’m sorry,” I say.
    “No, don’t be. I understand.” Larry motions for Arielle to go back to bed.
    “I’m such an asshole,” I say.
    “No.” He reaches out to put his hand on my shoulder, but I move out of reach.
    “I’m sorry,” I say again. Because I don’t know what else to say. And I am. I’m sorry for a million things. For everything.
    “Josh,” Larry starts, but there’s nothing he can say, either. He knows he can’t change the past.
    Finally, above us, the crying stops. We both look up, and our eyes follow the sound of footsteps crossing the ceiling. Then the rocking.
    Creak-creak, creak-creak.
    I feel my body relax, like a balloon deflating. Larry reaches over and squeezes my shoulder. “Everything’s all right now. Try to get some sleep.”
    “Sorry to wake you.”
    “No worries,” he says. “Let me know if you need anything.”
    He shuffles back down the hall and closes his door.
    As soon as I sit down on the bed, Clover pads over to me and leans against my arm, purring. I wipe the side of my face and wonder if I started crying these silent tears before Larry came in, or after.

 
    Arielle is making chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast. Larry can’t stop grinning, and I can’t stop feeling like I am the biggest third wheel in history. Arielle acts like my being here is no big deal, though. And that last night never happened. She sips her coffee and tells Larry, who refuses to eat the pancakes and downs his smelly egg shake, how life is unpredictable and he should enjoy food, especially when she makes it. But Larry says he can make his life more predictable by taking care of his body, and tries to convince her to have one of his shakes.
    I’m tempted to remind him of the pint of ice cream he finished off by himself, but don’t.
    “What is a true karate man?” Larry asks me.
    “You?” I answer.
    “Should I give you a printout so you can practice?” Larry asks. “As soon as you get the katas down, I’ll be testing you for your blue belt. You used to know this stuff, remember?”
    “Yeah,” I say. “Not really.”
    “I’ll leave a copy in your room. We’ve got a whole year together. If you practice every day, you could really move up fast. Maybe even make it to brown belt. That’ll look great on your college applications, too!”
    “Larry, ease up,” Arielle says. “He’s been here less than a week. Karate may not be his thing.”
    “Impossible,” Larry says. “He’s a natural.”
    Arielle rolls her eyes. “I’m just saying.”
    Larry stands and leans forward to kiss the top of her head. She reaches up and pats his cheek. He glances over at me and winks.
    I take that as my cue to go to my room.
    I flop on my bed and check my phone for messages.
    Caleb:
wuts up? y haven’t u called?
    Because I don’t know what to say.
    Dave:
ashley wants 2 break up. call me.
    Who the hell is Ashley?
    Mom:
sorry i missed call. love u. next time leave message.
    And say what?
    I finally decide to text Caleb back:
sorry. nothing 2 report
    I won’t have time to call Dave until after “camp,” so I just text:
call u l8r.
    I decide to delete my mom’s message. Is she not capable of dialing my number and calling me herself? Still nothing from my dad. I know what they will say when I finally talk to them: “We wanted to give you some time to settle in.”
    Right.
    The truth is, my parents are afraid to talk to me face-to-face. We all

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