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Thirteen - Weak Man

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Haley

"It's past your curfew," he finally says, voicing my vaguely conscious concerns.

Why? Why does my dad have to place a curfew on me? I'm seventeen for God's sake, not seven. Even most seven year old's don't have curfew these days.

Despite the fact that I'm really annoyed with my dad's stupid curfew right now, I'm kind of glad Xavier doesn't find it weird. At least he's not laughing at me. Speaking of which ... I have never heard Xavier laugh. Or even seen him with a creepy toothy grin on his face. Considering how hard I find to keep a smile off my face, this boy must be superhuman to be able to not-smile all the time.

"Say something."

His request shocks me, and I have to make a deliberate effort to not make a fool of myself -- something that seems very hard around Xavier. 

Oh my God, oh my God, Xavier is asking me to speak. And here I thought he probably hates that I'm such a blabber-mouth.

"I'm just thinking," I say, letting my sane side take over my tongue for a while. "How can mothers be like this? I mean ... my mom left me because she wanted to live life on the high-road and my dad wasn't ambitious enough for her. She always complained about his boring job, and how we can never afford to go to five-star restaurants and eat appetizers that cost as much as my dad's car. And then your mom ... how can she put you through all this? Doesn't she care how much her actions hurt you? It's just ... I thought moms were supposed to be the epitome of selflessness and here ..."

"It's not true," Xavier says. "I don't know about your mother, but my mom does care about me."

Wait a minute ... is this boy really saying what I think he's saying?

"I don't blame her for wanting to be happy," he continues, unaware of my disbelief. "She's only human. And she still tries ... sometimes even fighting dad for me. She can't help me, but I know she wants to. I'm her only family, and she's all I've got."

"You have me too," I blurt out, instantly wishing I hadn't. 

Xavier looks at me and I realize our arms are still intertwined as we sit side by side on my porch. 

How freaking romantic, oh, my God!

"I'm glad I do," he says softly.

I swallow, frozen under his grey eyes that always remind me of the stormy skies. God must have decided to paint his eyes with the same paintbrush that he used to paint grey clouds. That can be the only explanation for the striking similarity between the two, in terms of beauty and intensity.

"I should go," he says to my dismay. "It's a surprise your father didn't tell me to leave, so I should be grateful and do so myself."

Oh, yeah, my dad is definitely doing it because he's so kind and not at all because I promised to spend my entire life following his curfew as compensation for today.

I smile at Xavier, who gently pulls out his arm from mine, leaving me to feel a void where it had been. 

"See you in class," he says, rising to his feet.

"Yeah," I jump up too, burying my hands in my pockets. 

We stand there awkwardly -- again, how romantic! -- before Xavier finally nods and speaks a good night greeting. I awkwardly return it, and he turns around to walk away. I enter my house again, which feels as warm as an oven after being exposed to the chilly outside wind for so long. I lock the door and make my way silently upstairs, glancing towards my dad's closed door.

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