Sweet Little Thing(5)

By: Abbi Glines

Jasper, however, ignored the comment and continued to glare in his mother’s direction. Then he turned his attention to me. “We’ll need drinks if we don’t want to choke on our food.”

I felt my face heat from the nasty tone in his voice. “I’m sorry. I was waiting on your conversation to end before I interrupted to ask what I could get you.”

“It’s okay, love. He’s just testy because his girlfriend Maisie ended things with him while she’s off gallivanting in Europe for the summer. He’ll recover his broken heart soon enough and be as charming as ever. And I’m Sterling by the way.” Sterling had a nice smile that displayed perfect white teeth. His brown hair had golden sun streaks in it. Like the others, he looked like he belonged to this set. But he was nice.

“Maisie broke things off? Do her parents know?” Portia sounded horrified.

“She’s a twenty-one-year old woman, Mother. I don’t think it matters if her parents know or not. Now let’s drop the subject.”

“I’ll take a coffee. Black,” Sterling told me with a kind smile.

“Same,” Tate said from across the table.

“Milk,” Jasper added, turning his gaze my way, a small apologetic smile touched his lips. He was odd. His attitude went from angry to nice so easily.

I turned to look at the quiet guy. The one who had to be named Winston since the other names had been taken. He made me nervous. His boredom made it feel as if he judged everything quietly. “Water,” he said without making eye contact with me. His nonchalance made me feel as if I didn’t exist. I was beneath him. He was making sure that message was delivered loud and clear.

I hurried from the room with their drink orders. When I started waiting tables at Pizza Pit four years ago, I’d been thrilled to get that job. Now I was thankful I had the experience. Because never once in those years of daydreaming had I thought I’d be waiting on people like this. I was supposed to be in college getting my nursing degree. And my mother was supposed to live a long time. She was supposed to be there to watch me grow up and make my way in the world. And to always be there for Heidi. Mom and Heidi were supposed to be my home. I’d never imagined this would be our future.

My dream of someday working in the pediatric ward of a hospital would never come true now. I had more to worry about than lost dreams. When mother died, she left Heidi to me. And I wouldn’t let anything happen to take that smile off Heidi’s face. A face that should have looked like mine. Although our eyes were the same color, not much else was the same. Heidi was different, but beautifully so.

I didn’t use the French press for the coffees because they didn’t ask. I used the fancy machine that normally sat on the kitchen counter collecting dust to make them each a cup of coffee while I made Portia’s the way she always insisted. I took one of the frozen mugs from the freezer that Portia had told me were for Jasper’s milk two days ago when she asked me to freeze them. I thought the icy mugs sounded nice. Ice cold milk. I almost used one for the water that Mr. I’m-Too-Good-For-Others had asked for, but decided against it. He didn’t deserve any special treatment.

Wheeling a cart from the pantry, I used it as a drink tray, placing each of their drinks on it. I was kicking myself because I should have used this contraption for their meals. I could have taken all four plates at one time, but I hadn’t thought of the cart until I went into the pantry to get the coffee cups and saw it there.

Walking back into the dining room I heard Portia say. “All summer? But why? You normally travel in the summer.”

My stomach dropped. Surely she didn’t mean Jasper was planning to stay here all summer. A few days of this I could take, but an entire summer?

I briefly closed my eyes and pictured Heidi’s sweet smile. I could do this. I could do anything.

I WAS GIVEN ONE DAY OFF every week to visit Heidi. The place that Portia paid for her to stay had family day on Sunday, and I visited rain or shine. We ate picnics I had prepared outside under the oak trees at the home. We played kickball, and I pushed Heidi on one of the many swings in the large backyard there.

The facility was always full of families and visitors. Heidi had one friend, however, that didn’t ever have family visit. She also had Down syndrome. Her name was May.

It bothered Heidi when May was left alone, so we made her a part of our family. I gave her the same special cookie treats I gave Heidi, and she played with us every Sunday. It was what I looked forward to every week. It was all I looked forward to.

But today, I wouldn’t be able to see my sister. Today, I would miss my visit. When I called Heidi to explain, she was sad. She didn’t say so, but her voice was quieter. It hurt my heart so much. I hated this. I also hated the people outside at the pool keeping me from visiting my sister. They were all spoiled, wealthy, rude, and full of themselves. All of them.