Home > Loving Valentine : A Novella

Loving Valentine : A Novella
Author: Samantha Young

 

1

 

 

Micah

 

 

AGE 16

 

 

* * *

 

I was heating soup on the electric hob when the electricity went out.

Dread filled me because I knew it wasn’t a power cut.

My mom hadn’t paid the bill.

Cursing under my breath, I waited for my eyes to adjust to the dark before moving through the room toward the window. Peeking out, sure enough, I saw lights on in the apartments on the opposite side of the building.

Feeling resentment and aggravation build up inside of me, I forced it back down and found the camping lantern I had buried in the back of my closet. Once it was on, I poured my lukewarm soup into a bowl and tried not to hate my mom.

Two weeks ago, she’d taken off with some guy she met online. Some shithead that didn’t care my mom was an alcoholic addicted to painkillers so long as she gave him what he wanted. Mom said he was taking her to Florida to the beach, and they’d be back in three days.

She hadn’t returned.

And she wasn’t picking up her phone.

My job at Billy’s Burgers would barely pay even half the bills now, never mind when school started in two weeks and I returned to part time. I was determined not to quit school.

But if Mom didn’t come back soon, I might not have a choice.

A knock at the door made my stomach lurch. If it was our landlord, I was screwed. Another knock followed it. Harder this time.

Then, “Molly? Micah?” a familiar voice called.

It was Mrs. Fairchild. Relief and embarrassment filled me in equal measure. Getting up off the couch, I wavered over answering the door.

“Micah?” she sounded really worried.

Mrs. Fairchild was Mom’s childhood best friend. They grew up in South Glastonbury together. Both their parents had money, so Mom and Mrs. Fairchild went to a private school. But when my grandfather died, it turned out he was hiding he was in debt up to his eyeballs. They took everything. My grandmother couldn’t handle it. Turned to drink. While Mrs. Fairchild went off to college, Mom moved into her own place and worked in a fast-food joint just like I was now. I never met my grandmother and I didn’t even know if she was alive or dead. All I knew was that not long after the sperm donor responsible for impregnating my mom took off, I was born. Mom’s dependency on alcohol was a gradual thing. I’d been dealing with the worst of it since I was ten.

Last year, Mom hurt her back on a cleaning job and got addicted to the painkillers her doc gave her.

Things had gone downhill between us.

Then three months ago, Mrs. Fairchild moved back to South Glastonbury with her husband and daughter. The Fairchilds were lawyers. She wanted to check on Mom. Our situation shocked her. She’d been coming around a lot and even gave Mom money.

Little did she know Mom would use it to take off on me.

Humiliated that Mom didn’t love me enough to stick around, it took Mrs. Fairchild calling my name in rising concern for me to open the door to her.

Relief flooded her pretty face. “Micah. Thank God. Are you okay? I’ve been calling your mom…” her voice trailed off as she looked beyond me into a dark apartment lit only by my camping lantern. She pushed into the apartment. She was nosy like that. “What is going on here?” her voice was tight. Concerned. Annoyed.

I shrugged.

Mrs. Fairchild’s eyes narrowed. “Micah, where is your mother?”

Unable to meet her gaze, I shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“How long has she been gone?”

“A few weeks, I guess. She said her and some guy were going to Florida for the weekend but… she never came back.”

Mrs. Fairchild let out a stream of curses that surprised me. She was always so proper and ladylike.

“I’m sorry. Forgive me. But this is unacceptable.” She gestured around the apartment. “You have no electricity.” Suddenly she marched across the kitchen and pulled open the refrigerator. It was empty. “Oh, for goodness’ sake, Molly, what are you thinking?” Mrs. Fairchild slammed the door shut and strode past me toward the apartment door. When she turned to me, the light from the hallway shone in her blue eyes. They were bright with unshed tears. “She has a good kid… and she leaves him all alone.” She shook her head and I flinched in embarrassment. “Oh no, no… don’t you take this on yourself. This is on Molly. Not you. Now.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Go grab your things. Pack everything that matters to you.”

“Why?”

“I’m not leaving you here, Micah. You’re coming home with me. You can stay with us until we can reach your mother.”

My voice was hoarse with emotion that pissed me off. “What if you can’t reach her?”

“We’ll figure that out later. For now, let’s just go home.”

 

 

It was about a twenty-minute drive in Mrs. Fairchild’s gold Lexus SUV from South Green to her house in South Glastonbury. The Lexus had white leather seats. I’d never been inside a vehicle so fancy in my life. It still had that new car smell.

A twenty-minute drive and it was like driving into a different world entirely. It was greener around here for a start. The houses were nicer, with more land around each of them; the buildings and gardens well maintained.

I couldn't believe my mom grew up in this neighborhood.

We’d passed a lot of houses that were average-sized. But the street we’d pulled up to stood out from the rest. It was a quiet court, surrounded on three sides with large New England Style houses and lots of trees. The drive we’d drove onto belonged to the biggest house of them all. While the other homes were clad in painted wood siding, this house was a red brick with varying triangular rooflines, a circular drive, and a three-court garage.

“Holy shit,” I muttered under my breath, looking up at it.

Mrs. Fairchild’s lips twitched. “Micah.”

“Sorry. I just…”

“I know it feels worlds away from what you’re used to. But I promise, we’re just like any other family.”

I raised an eyebrow.

Mrs. Fairchild chuckled. “Okay, as a family we’re like any other family. As people… we’re financially blessed compared to many others. But we don’t take it for granted.”

“You don’t have to apologize or explain it to me. You work hard for what you have.” Even if they only had it in the first place because they had a step up in life to begin with. But I didn’t say that out loud. My mom was proof that a step up in life at the beginning didn’t mean a damn thing if you didn’t take a hold of the opportunities offered to you.

“We do. Come on in. Jim was ordering take out when I left and he always orders way too much so there will be plenty of food.”

My stomach grumbled at the thought.

Striding through the double door entrance after her, I drew to a stop, taking in the spacious hallway, the wide staircase that led upstairs, and the warmly furnished rooms on either side of me.

“We’re home!” Mrs. Fairchild called as I followed her through a family room, a library room, and a dining room to get to the kitchen. The kitchen stretched along the entire back of the house and there were sliding doors that led out into a backyard with a pool. They covered the pool for winter.

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