CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and SIXTY
Wednesday afternoon — 4:17 p.m.
“Did you hear something?” Noelle looked up when Nash came in the room at Seth O’Malley’s house.
She and Teddy had been lying around in the den reading old mystery novels.
“Dad called the house,” Nash said. “Sandy’s awake. They think she’ll make a full recovery. He said that we should expect that it will take a …”
Nash’s voice caught but he continued, “ … long time. A long time.”
“That’s wonderful news,” Noelle said.
His eyes filled with tears, Nash nodded. He cleared his throat.
“Listen,” Nash said. “I wanted to say … well …”
He had spent the last few hours preparing what he would say to them. Now that he was there, the words just seemed too dumb. He looked down.
“What’s going on?” Teddy asked.
“Ihaveaproblemwithmyphone,” Nash said the words as if they were one word. “Addiction.Sorry.Sosorry.”
“Tell us something we don’t know,” Noelle said with a sniff.
Nash looked up at her. He blinked and then blinked again.
“You knew?” Nash asked.
Both Teddy and Noelle nodded.
“I have struggled with it myself,” Teddy said. He nodded. “Sandy fell because she turned to look at me.”
“What?” Nash asked.
“I was joking or … maybe not,” Teddy said.
“Sandy turned when Teddy took his phone back,” Noelle said.
“That’s why she fell,” Teddy said.
“No, it was me,” Nash said. “She was chasing after me.”
“It was both of us. Combined,” Teddy said. “I didn’t mean for her to get hurt.”
“I didn’t mean for Sandy to get hurt,” Nash said, his hand pressed against his chest.
“But she did,” Noelle said. “Is that a consequence you can live with?”
Nash’s eyes welled with tears. He gave a barely audible, “No.”
“I feel the same way,” Teddy said. “It’s just hard. I tell myself that I keep the phone because Dad’s in the military and my sister’s not all that well and … But mostly I use it to play games and …”
Teddy’s eyes flicked to look at the wall. No one said anything for a long moment.
“We’ve decided to do what Charlie does,” Noelle said.
“Not carry a phone,” Nash said with a sigh.
“Charlie has a phone,” Noelle said. “He just has a pay as you go phone.”
Nash looked up at Noelle.
“I don’t think that would work for me either,” Nash said. “I’d just probably blow through it really fast and …”
“I wasn’t sure for myself,” Teddy said.
“I haven’t told Nadia,” Nash said. He took a breath and let it out. “I have to do what’s best for me. And … I don’t talk to her that much anyway.”
Nash gave a determined nod. Teddy got up, and the boys hugged.
“I have to find other things to do,” Nash said.
“That’s why we were reading these books,” Noelle said. “Seth had thousands of them. Maresol said we can read them as long as we don’t mess them up. So we’re being careful.”
“How are they?” Nash asked.
“Crazy,” Teddy said at the same time Noelle said, “Like little museums.”
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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