You know, Janelle, with Apollo it came easier. We were never as close as we were when he was young, but he didn’t stay distant. And I didn’t have to force it. He grew close to me on his own.
But you, Janelle… you only grew more distant. It’s like you didn’t want anything to do with me. More than that, it felt like something had turned you actively against me. I couldn’t say what, and I didn’t have any proof of that, but what else was I meant to believe?
Leo thought I was making things up in my head—it was my insecurities getting the better of me again.
I wasn’t crazy, I swear. I’m sure you’d affirm it. You started pulling away from me.
Maybe I shouldn’t have forced it. Like Apollo, maybe you’d have come back to me eventually. But something about the way you had started to look at me… it made me desperate, I think.
I started planning.
In the meantime, your brothers were bonding.
I didn’t know what I could do to get through to you, Janelle. But I figured that something had made you turn away from something about me—it was personal, clearly, it was about me. I just had to make you see that being me wasn’t all bad.
Where was I most me? At home, maybe, now, but you were always seeing me at home, and clearly that wasn’t fixing anything.
And I wasn’t really dating anymore, and I wouldn’t have wanted to take you on one of those anyway—that would just be weird.
So the shop it was.
It seemed to be going well. You were engaging with me. We weren’t chatting, really, but you were at least spending time in my general vicinity. Looking back on it, maybe that was more because we had driven over, and you had no way of leaving… But still! At the time, I saw it as a victory.
You didn’t do well with the customers, really. You alternately berated them or ran away from them, but I think that’s just because you could be shy. And you didn’t really have any sales experience—maybe that was my fault, I should have had you get a part-time job or something.
I don’t know what happened then. Like I said, we weren’t getting along great, but we were cohabitating, and that was far better than it was at the house. I practically couldn’t withhold my smile—only my years of sales experience kept a sultry look on my face instead a full-toothed grin. But something changed—whatever emotion in you that had been driving you away from me just bubbled and billowed until it overtook your entire face, darkened it into a sneer. I had never seen you like this before. I knew you had some opinions on the world, and you had your standards, but family had always been first for you.
Not anymore, I suppose.
Or maybe you thought you were supporting your family. Like you said, you felt I was dragging the whole family down, not just you…
I didn’t know you had felt that way. Did the rest of you kids feel that way?
I fought the urge to cry. And to take one of these customers, some of who, admittedly, would likely take me to the backroom if they had half a chance, to that same backroom. Creator, I was so hard not to fall back into those habits, Janelle. Only the thought of Leo back home—the thought of falling into his arms and sobbing instead of falling into someone else’s was only marginally more appealing, but it was, at the end of the day, more appealing.
So I finished my shift.
And then I went home.
And I fell into Leo’s arms. And I cried. And I woohooed.