Paper Walls - 4. Chapter 4
"How old is your brother?" Coach asks.
"He's thirteen, sir," I tell him, looking over at Ryder, whose brows furrow.
"Does he play ball?" Coach asks.
"No sir, he doesn’t," I tell him.
"I thought you had a little brother," Ryder says.
"He is my little brother."
"But you said you have to watch him," Ryder presses.
I sigh, "I do."
"Is he, like, special or something?"
Coach reaches over and pops Ryder in the head, "Shut up Ryder. What's the deal, Shawn?"
"Coach, I do look after him. My mom just isn't the best provider, I guess you could say," I tell him.
“What exactly does that mean?” Coach asks.
“Just normally, she isn’t home a lot,” I tell him.
I tell Coach how to get to the park, and we pull up. I am out the door before the SUV is even parked. I see Dylan, and I notice the red mark on his face and the busted lip. "What happened?"
"Mom....has a new boyfriend... or something," he says, whispering.
I pull him into a hug. He has dirty blonde hair that's slowly turning brown, and light green eyes. He is slim with natural muscles.
"How you doing?" Coach asks, approaching us.
"He's ok," I say, looking from Coach to Dylan.
"I'm Coach Kessler, you can call me Coach K." he says, extending his hand to Dylan.
Dylan hesitates, looking at his hand. I give him a look, and he takes it finally. "Dylan."
"Pretty nasty cut on your lip," Coach says.
Dylan touches his lip and winces. “I didn’t notice,” he says quietly.
"Thanks for the lift, Coach. Our house isn't too far from here. I will take him home," I tell him.
"No, come on, get in. I already had Ryder call Mrs. Kessler, and she will be home making dinner for us. She just happened to have another steak available. You hungry, Dylan?"
Dylan looks to me, and I avoid his gaze. I know, no matter what, Coach is going to make us go. As if on cue, Dylan’s stomach growls, and he looks down. Coach lets out a laugh. “Come on, boys.”
We get into the SUV. Ryder has moved to the front seat, and he turns around. "Hey, dude."
Dylan's eyes go wide, "You’re Ryder Kessler!"
"Yeah, that's me," he says.
"You're like, really good at football," he says again.
"Thanks man, so, do you play?"
He shakes his head, “No, but I love football. I am just not any good at it.”
"Why not?" Coach asks.
"Just not that good at it, sir. Plus, I really want to focus on my art, and hopefully get into a good art school."
"You’re an artist, huh?" Coach asks, looking in the review mirror.
"I don't know about that. I just like to draw a lot. I mean, I love to draw but I guess I do it at the wrong times like when the teacher is talking in class.
"I would like to see some of it one day," Coach says.
"Really?" Dylan asks, more animated.
"Yes, I actually like art a lot. Have you ever been to an art show?"
"I almost went for my birthday, but Mom..." I elbow him in the ribs and he winces and lets a little yelp out.
"You okay?" Ryder asks, looking back at Dylan, whose face has gotten a little pale.
He nods his head, "Just got a cramp," he breathes out.
We finally get to Coach's house. "I am going to show him the bathroom and look at his lip," I tell Coach.
"Okay, I will send Mrs. K in, so she can check his lip, and was it his ankle you said?" Coach asks.
"My ankle is fine," Dylan says.
"Ahh, okay, maybe I just misheard," Coach says.
I pull Dylan into the closest bathroom and shut the door. "Let me see," I tell him.
He pulls up his shirt, and I can see the angry dark purple bruises along his ribs. I reach out and touch them, and he yelps. "How did this happen?"
I was drawing and he tripped over my feet and he kicked me so hard. He had steel toe boots on. He was kicking the shit out of me, so I caught his foot and tripped him, and that’s when he kicked me in the face."
"You called me after that?"
He shakes his head. "No, I shut myself in our room. Until they left."
"When did this happen?"
"Maybe two hours ago."
We hear a knock at the door, and he lets his shirt down, "You know you can't say anything about Mom."
"Ok," he says, but I’m not convinced.
The door opens and Mrs. K comes in. "Hey, you must be Dylan."
"Hi," he says shyly. Unlike me, Dylan is really shy around anyone but me.
"He’s adorable," I say.
My dad chuckles. "Don’t tell me you want a little brother now?"
"No! I like being the only child, actually.”
"I think I need to get to know Shawn a little better. Something isn’t matching up. Their stories are different."
I look at him, confused. “How so?”
“Remember, Shawn said it was his ankle that Dylan messed up skateboarding?”
“Well, I don’t think that’s true. That boy doesn’t even have a skateboard,” my dad says.
“Yeah you might be right.” I tell him walking out
I text Jeremy and let him know how much has changed in a few short hours. I see my mom come in the kitchen and she gives me a small hug, “Hey sweetie.”
"How's your chest?"
"It's ok, sore. How is his lip?" I ask.
"Not so bad. Something is off with it. Theirstories don't match up," she says.
"That's what Dad said, as well. Where are they?"
"Honey, maybe it's best if you don't get too involved in what's going on with them," she says.
"What do you mean?"
"Honey, what do you really know about them?"
"Nothing. I mean, I know Shawn is the QB and a pretty ok person. I just met Dylan, and I mean, he is...oh..."
"Look honey, I know you are lonely and you want friends and a love interest, but you don't know much about them at all. Get to know them. Getto know him."
Shawn comes in with Dylan. "Thanks, Mrs. K, for helping Dylan."
"Anytime, so are y’all getting hungry? I know Coach is back at the grill, about to fire it up for the steaks.”
"Yes ma’am! Do you think Coach would mind if I go out there with him?" Shawn asks.
"I am sure he would enjoy having someone take an interest in grilling," she says, shooting me a glance.
I put my phone down. "Not my fault I don't like to grill. I burn everything I try to cook."
This gets Dylan to laugh. I smile at him, and he blushes and looks away. Shawn goes out the back door, and Dylan continues to just stand there. "Have a seat," I tell him.
He takes a seat next to me. I can feel how uncomfortable he is, “So, what do you like to draw?" I ask.
He blushes a little, but doesn't meet my eyes. "I can draw some animals, I do some portraits, and I can paint, as well."
"Cool, you think you could show me some?" I ask.
"Yeah...maybe sometime, I guess. I mean, I am not that good," he tells me, not looking at me.
I can't help but smile that he is being shy, "Do you have any on your phone or something?" I press.
He shifts in his seat. "No. I don't."
I look over, and my mom gives me that look to let it go. "So, Dylan, what grade are you in?" my mom asks.
"I will be in eighth grade this year," he says.
"That’s cool," I tell him.
"Are you getting good grades in school?" my mom asks, still milling around the kitchen.
"I pass my classes if that’s what you mean."
"Yes, do you have any problems with school?"
He shakes his head, “No, but I was telling Coach I get in trouble ‘cause I like to draw when the teachers are teaching,” he says.
"Well, you need to pay attention, unless it’s history. Then, its ok to draw,” she says, laughing.
I finally get a text back from Jeremy. “Mom, Jeremy says hi!”
“Tell that goof ball I miss him!”
“Who’s Jeremy?” Dylan asks.
“He was my best friend back home.”
“Oh, well, I want to go see what my brother is doing,” he says.
I look at Mom as Dylan walks away. “He’s an interesting kid.”
“And you weren’t, sweetheart?”
“You loved it, Mom!”
Sorry this chapter is so short! This one and chapter 5 are on the shorter side, but they get a ton longer after that I hope everyone is enjoying the story!
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