What You Know Is True

Chapter 15

Kennis was confused when I walked into Mayell and handed her the Grimnoire. She took it from my hands slowly and flipped through the pages half-heartedly.

“Why are you giving it back?” she asked, holding it to her chest.

I shrugged and rubbed my left arm. “I don’t need it, and uh, I didn’t really buy it, so . . .” I hadn’t really planned my apology out like I should’ve. I hadn’t planned my escape route like I should’ve either, in case she decided to call the cops or hit me over the head with the book.

“I’m sorry. Really, I am.” She looked me over for a moment and gradually smiled.

“You should be grateful I didn’t report you before and aren’t now.”

“I know.”

“You know what would have happened if I had?”

“Yeah, I know the process. Been there, done it.” For some reason admitting that to her made my neck hot. She already saw me as a hoodlum, and I was giving her more reasons to believe so.

“You need to cut that crap out now, kid. It’s not good. The consequences get worse as you age,” she said, and then sighed. “I don’t know you, but I don’t think you’re really that bad. You just need to make better choices.”

Any other time I would’ve told this lady off for talking like she knew me and what was best for me. I kept quiet because, truthfully, I wasn’t up for arguing. And I knew she was right, I would admit that.

“So you’re not turning me in?” I asked.

She rolled her eyes and laughed. I felt offended and was ready to tell her so. “It doesn’t matter. The fact that you brought it back and apologized is enough for me. But don’t do it again.”

“You won’t ever see me back here after today,” I told her, and she let out this loud laugh that erupted across the store, causing some customers to stare at her.

When she was done I said, “That book’s a rip off. It’s not real magic.”

“I never said it was,” she answered as if it was obvious, making me feel stupid. “If I did, I apologize. I just didn’t want to sell it.”

I wasn’t sure how to feel about that, and I didn’t care to. Better to leave before I felt even more like an idiot than I already did. I waved good bye and said thanks, quickly leaving Kennis and that book for good.

x x x x

I hadn’t expected to see Louie when I got home. Mama never mentioned he was coming back that day, so when I saw him walking downstairs, I felt a little startled. He stopped where he was and stared at me with a forlorn look. I imagined my face was red as I smiled sheepishly at him.

“You’re home now?” I asked. He looked down at his shoes when he answered, “Yeah.”

“That’s . . . great. I’m glad you’re home.” I guess he decided it was safe to come back. I was happy. Even if he hadn’t, I was going to call him to come over anyway, because I needed to talk to him.

I told Louie to come out to the backyard, and we sat on the steps of the patio deck. I was actually surprised when he sat beside me. I thought he would stand on the other end, far away from me. I studied his face and saw it was less bloated and his nose looked the same, not crooked from when I hit it. He had pale, purple bruises on the side of his chin and cheeks. It was one thing to beat up someone who threatened you, but when it was your own brother who you knew you were stronger than, the guilt made you want to jump off a bridge. I was tempted to do just that. I didn’t see how apologizing would be enough. For him or for me. But I had to start somewhere.

Without another thought I told him, “I’m sorry.”

“What?” He looked at me as if I had punched him anyway, and I tried to remember when the last time I sincerely apologized to him was. I was starting to see exactly why people hated me half the time. I really was horrible.

“I’m sorry for always hitting you. For treating you like crap,” I said. He kept twisting the hem of his shirt and somehow we were able to look at each other without turning away. “I went to Josee’s grave yesterday and, I just, I just lost it. I broke down. I’m sorry you had to be mixed up in her problem, and that you had to see her kill herself. It wasn’t right, and I’m sorry you always felt like we didn’t like you, but you know what? Maybe it was better that way, because at least it was me and not you Josee . . . hurt.

“And I know saying sorry isn’t going to make up for everything, but I am. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for everything.” All the blame and detest I used to have for Louie had slowly gone away, and I felt even more like crap for ever thinking he was the worst person I could’ve been related to.

I began panicking when Louie didn’t talk for a long time. I thought, this was finally it. We wouldn’t be okay or ever move on.

Eventually he did, and his voice was so soft I almost missed what he was saying. “Not everything’s your fault, so don’t blame yourself, okay? Don’t.”

“I know, but –“

“I should’ve said something when I first what she did to you, but I didn’t,” he said.

“You were just a kid.”

“So were you and she still, she still ---!” His voice rose and I thought he was going to start crying and yelling. He merely shook his head and gazed at the ground. “Remember when I told you I didn’t really hate you? I wasn’t lying. I’ve never really hated you, and I still don’t.”

“You’re a better person than me,” I said, grinning a bit. “I don’t hate you. I’m sorry about what I’ve done to you.” I meant every word I said. I was a crap brother and it was mostly my fault he had problems too. I knew it was. I wasn’t going to be like Josee. I was going to fix this the right way.

Louie was quiet, staring at the ground as he thought before speaking. “Are you going to tell Mom and Dad about Josee?”

I hadn’t given it much thought, because whenever I did, I ended up wanting to rip my brain out. “I know I should, but I don’t know when, ‘cause I don’t want to think about Josee right now. I can’t handle any more.”

“You do it when you’re ready,” Louie said. “When you do, I’ll be with you if you want.”

“And you know I’m always here if you need me,” I said quickly, and I imagined Louie was going to laugh at me because of the look he gave me. Instead his face turned a bright red and he smiled, but his shoulders were shaking.

“Oh, God, don’t. Don’t cry, man.” He laughed at me, but it was choppy and mixed in with a sob as the tears came. I didn’t think twice as I hugged him tightly, and he clung onto me as he cried into my shoulder. For once I felt like I was doing something right.

Maybe things weren’t going to be perfect, but everything was going to be okay.
♠ ♠ ♠
*sappiest ending e v e r*

I hope this ended well. Thank you (and you, you, you, and you times 2 . . .) for reading and those who commented. You're all l♥vely.