28: Tyler

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28. Tyler

I falter when I walk into the kitchen and see my dad sitting at the table, mug in hand. There is no newspaper between his fingers however and the unusual sight makes me frown. He looks up and places his cup gently down on the table. His fingers link together over the slab of wood and I continue on, opening the fridge and taking out the orange juice. I pour myself a glass and keep my back towards my dad.

"Is Ethan okay?" he asks.

I turn and take a sip of the bitter juice. "He'll be fine."

My dad nods and then takes in what I'm wearing. "Going out?"

"It's Saturday," I say. "That's the normal thing to do."

"With who?"

I narrow my eyes. "Just a friend. Does it matter?"

"Of course it..." My dad sighs. "Look, Tyler, just be safe."

"Why wouldn't I be safe?"

"Because you never think twice before you do something, and you know it. You go for something without even bothering to understand the consequences."

"I'm just going out for the day!" I scoff. "What's so bad about that?"

My dad just gives me a look. But there's something to his look that makes everything worse. It's as if the answer is obvious and I'm supposed to know with just one glance in his eyes. My dad eventually sighs again and I realize that he does that a lot now.

"I'm not an idiot, Tyler," he says quietly. "If you don't get yourself out of this then I'm getting the police involved."

They're already involved. I refrain from saying that out loud. Instead, I down the rest of my juice and slam the cup on the counter.

"Don't worry," I say. "I always get myself out of things like this."

My dad's eyes follow me as I walk out of the kitchen and continue when I slip on my shoes and slide a coat over my shoulders.

"Come home, Ty," he says. "Make sure you come home this time."

I tense up at his words. This time. Because last time was a mistake. Last time was supposed to be locked away in the past.

"I'm not going to do shit like that again," I say. "You know that."

"I thought you'd stopped fighting but apparently I don't know as much as I once thought," my dad says and I hear a chair scrape against the floor followed by heavy footsteps. "I know it was hard," he says, a few feet away from me, but I don't look up. "It's not easy finding out you're adopted. I know that. I know you won't run off again and not come back but I can't help worrying, Tyler. You did it once; you could do it again."

I finally blink and shove my hands in my pockets. "I'll be back late."

The door clicks shut behind me.

***

There's a continuous beeping beside Ethan's body. His chest rises and falls calmly and every part of him is hooked up to machines. There's a tube down his throat, a needle in his hand and bandages all over his body. I can't help but notice how similar he looks to Franny's dad.

Dead. They both look dead and the fact that they actually aren't just makes it worse.

I perch on the edge of Ethan's bed and place a hand over his forearm, the only skin available.

"I'm sorry," I mutter. "I got you into this mess. I fucked all this up and now I'm fucking everyone else up. I don't know what I'm meant to do, Ethan. I can't fight my way out of this and running won't do anything. Carl doesn't care anymore; he'll hurt whoever he can to get to me. But I can't continue to hurt people just to get to him. There's no way to break him down. There's nothing. This is just going to turn into a dead end."

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