Roads: Chapter 16

Title: Roads
Chapter: 16 of 43
Author: Sheryl
Rating: R
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: Isaac paced, alone in his room, for the first time sharing it with no one. Zac was in with the little ones, Tay’s absence having seriously gotten to him. Isaac knew better than to even try to sleep.
His mom had finally sent him to bed, claiming no good reason for everyone to sit up. Ike knew she’d sent him away for an entirely different reason. He’d heard her crying before he even made it up the stairs.

Chapter 16

Diana gazed at Isaac, dozing in the chair, Avie on his lap, sound asleep. He’d been a huge help, keeping the little ones under control. God knew, she was barely under control herself, she’d have never been able to do it alone.
Walker had been gone, for what felt like years, talking to the police, trying to get some sort of grasp on where Taylor might have gone. They’d given the plate number, and the car’s description, but so far nobody had seen anything. The one comfort was that the car hadn’t been involved in any accidents, as far as anyone could tell.
Sighing, she thought about waking Ike, telling him to go to bed, where he could at least be comfortable, but in the end thought better of it. Sleep wasn’t easy to come by, she was sure, she wouldn’t wake him unless she had to. Smiling a little, the thought “He’s an angel” flitting through her mind, she smiled at her sleeping son, and reached to take the little one off his lap. She’d barely touched her, when his eyes opened. “She’s okay, you can leave her if you want to…” He spoke softly, not wanting to wake his sister.
Diana shook her head, “No, I’ll put her to bed. Why don’t you go on to bed too, try to get some good sleep?”
He shook his head, mute. His eyes spoke voluminous, and she nodded.
She understood. There would be no real sleep for her tonight, either.

A few minutes later, Avie safely tucked into bed, beside her sister and brother, the three of them sharing their mom and dad’s big bed, in hopes of mutual comfort, Diana sank down on the couch next to her eldest son.
He reached for her hand, squeezing it gently. “He’s gonna be back, mom, he’s gonna be fine. You know that, don’t you?”
She smiled. “Thank you, baby, I hope that’s so.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, pretending to watch TV, then he nudged her gently. “Mom, when I fell asleep, just now, I kept…” He stopped, voice breaking, and she saw a glimmer of tears in his eyes. “I kept dreaming he came back… then I’d wake up, and he’d still be gone. Over and over. Mom… I can’t even start to tell you how sorry I am. This is all my fault.” He rubbed hard at his eyes, she didn’t need to see him crying. “I never should have said that.”
She shook her head, slipping an arm around him. “Isaac, you may have said an unfortunate word, but I… no, honey, no blame lies on you. Trust me. We all said a lot of things we didn’t mean.”
He nodded, disengaging himself gently from her embrace and settling back against the couch cushions. “So,” He turned to her smiling gently, “We sit up together, do we?” She smiled back. “Yes, I guess we do.”
They sat back, both lost in their own thoughts, both keeping silent, each, for the sake of the other, pretending everything was okay.

Zac lay staring at the ceiling. He couldn’t sleep, no matter how hard he tried. His mom had even given him a Benadryl, and he still couldn’t sleep. Somehow, it seemed to him, that this was all his fault.
He’d been the one to get all weird on Taylor, he’d been the one that made him feel so bad he had to run out and get into trouble. He’d left Taylor with Jessica, he should have known better. He’d been the one who started it. It was even him that had gotten into Taylor’s stuff, back in that hotel. If he hadn’t followed him, none of this would have ever happened.
He refused to listen to the tiny voice in his mind, the voice of reason, telling him that none of it was his fault. The many tones of guilt drowned out that one tiny voice. Taylor was gone. The police couldn’t find him. His dad couldn’t find him. He had to be somewhere.
Sighing, he closed his eyes again, snuggling closer to Mackie. He’d moved in here with the little ones, his own room too empty without Tay, his vacant bed seeming to stare accusingly at him. Mackie slipped an arm around him, cuddling close, and Zac felt a smile creeping onto his lips in spite of his misery. He thought, that with Mac here, he might even be able to sleep.

Isaac paced, alone in his room, for the first time sharing it with no one. Zac was in with the little ones, Tay’s absence having seriously gotten to him. Isaac knew better than to even try to sleep.
His mom had finally sent him to bed, claiming no good reason for everyone to sit up. Ike knew she’d sent him away for an entirely different reason. He’d heard her crying before he even made it up the stairs.
Feeling terribly guilty, as if it all rested on his shoulders, he’d crept the rest of the way to his room. His fault. All of it. No matter that she had told him differently, it was his words that had sent Taylor running. How could he have even thought such a thing? Let alone said it. Frustrated and scared, he couldn’t sit down. Somehow, some way, he had to find his brother. He’d been driving. Where could he be? He didn’t have money, Isaac knew that. And the car had been on a quarter of a tank. He could only have gotten so far. But in what direction?
He glanced at the clock. After midnight. He couldn’t call anyone. Nobody needed him waking them up because he was too edgy to sleep. He’d have bet money that Tiff was up, though. Maybe she was online. She lived online. Nodding, he switched on Taylor’s computer, and signed himself on. Sure enough, there she was. The seed of an idea forming in his mind, he began to type to her.

Amanda too, lay sleepless, listening through her open door to the even, heavy breathing of the boy, asleep on her couch. She’d mulled over the story he’d told her, for what felt like hours, curled up in a chair, watching him sleep. He certainly looked ragged, and she didn’t doubt for a minute that he’d been through hell and back. But from what he’d told her, all he was doing now was hiding. He’d given up.
His lack of effort was what was driving his family insane. Not the drug problem, not what he’d done to Zac, they’d already gotten through that, judging by his words. It was his apathy, his lack of any motivation that was sapping their patience and strength. He was becoming a burden. She could understand their short tempers and frayed nerves. Watching someone you love die by inches was horrible, and the helplessness you felt easily translated itself into anger. Especially when the person in question was letting themselves die, and making no effort to stop it.
She knew. She’d been right where they were now. Sighing, she thought back to what she’d said to him. He’d rapped out the story, mechanically, robotically, as if all the meaning had been leached out of the words. She didn’t doubt it had. He didn’t appear to care about much, least of all himself. She’d listened carefully, letting him finish before saying a word. She knew that her response wasn’t what he’d been looking for. He’d been looking for sympathy.
What he got was practicality. “Taylor, sounds to me like you’re doing a wonderful job feeling sorry for yourself.”
He’d looked at her, wide eyed, shocked. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
She’d noticed he was shivering, whether with cold, or reaction she didn’t know, but she had reached up behind him, pulling the quilt along the back of the couch over him. “Means that it sounds to me as if you’ve been going along expecting everyone to cater to you, coddle you, and take care of you, but you’re not doing a damned thing to help yourself. Can I ask you something?”
His eyes had narrowed, and a decided crease had formed between them. He was mad. Still, he nodded. “Go ahead.”
“Well, Taylor, how long has it been? Since you got home?”
He scowled at her. “Couple months.”
“Okay, how do you feel? I mean physically? Are the aftereffects of coming off the Valium gone?”
He’d nodded. “Pretty much. I still get sick when I ride.”
“Okay, carsickness. How’s your head feel? Can you remember things?”
He’d nodded again, cautiously. “Pretty much.”
“And how’s the confusion?”
“Mostly gone.”
“So…” She’d paused for a minute, trying to judge his mood. “You feel pretty good, overall?”
“No, I don’t feel good. But I feel better.”
“So is there any reason you have to sit in the house and stare at the walls?”
He’d simply looked at her, for what felt like an age, and then turned his face away. “You don’t understand.”
She’d let it go, preferring to remain silent. She did understand. She understood exactly. But at this point, she didn’t feel he needed to know that. Instead of pursuing it, she tapped him on the shoulder. “It’s getting late. Have you eaten at all today?” He’d told her no, and although balking somewhat, had let himself be talked into eating a little. It hadn’t been the best idea, an hour or so after he’d eaten, it had all come back up.
She wasn’t sure why, he didn’t seem sick to her, she suspected it was either nerves, or habit. She’d eyed him critically, from the bathroom doorway, noting his lack of surprise, or real distress. Shaking her head, she’d tossed him a washcloth, handed him a glass of water, and remarked curtly, “When you’re done, come on out to the kitchen. I want to talk to you.” She’d felt a little like a bully, but she couldn’t shake the suspicion that it was all some sort of play for attention.

Tossing and turning, now, she replayed those events and more. What was she going to do with this kid? His family must be frantic. God knew what kind of trouble she could get into, having him here. She didn’t need this. The talk she’d had with him hadn’t helped much. She’d asked him to call home. Flat refusal. She’d asked him to let her call his home. Flat refusal. She’d tried to find the number, and was triumphantly told that it was unlisted, and she’d never find it.
Wanting to smack the smug look off his face, she’d struggled to keep her voice even. “Taylor, I could call the police and tell them you’re here. I’d bet cash money that they’re looking for you.” That had given her the first real glimpse of the boy inside the attitude, that she’d seen all night.
His eyes had gone far away for a moment, and then he’d looked into her eyes, with an expression so lost, and so hurt that it was all she could do, at that point, not to hug him.
He’d smiled a little, and told her softly, “Amanda, I really wish you wouldn’t. I honestly don’t want to know that they never even called. I don’t think I could take that. Amanda, they don’t want me. My mother told me. She told me.”
She’d had no words for him then, but had put the phone down, and led him back into the living room. He’d fallen asleep a short while later. She wished it was as easy for her.

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This fictional story is hosted at The Gifted Ones,
with permission from the author, Sheryl.

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