Collateral Damage - Giulia Lagomarsino

Anna

13 years ago…

I sat on my bed reading my English Lit assignment. I couldn’t concentrate though. I kept thinking about Robert. He was so cute, and I was the one he wanted. Even though I was the poor girl on the wrong side of the tracks, he still wanted me.

A tap on the window had me jumping out of my bed. Throwing the thin curtain aside, I smiled when I saw his beautiful face outside my window. He motioned for me to come outside. I held up my finger, telling him to hold on one minute. The windows in the trailer didn’t open, so if I was going to get out, I had to slip out the front door. My bedroom was on the opposite side of the trailer as my mom’s, but if she was in the living room, I wouldn’t be able to sneak out.

I slowly crept down the hall until I could see into the living room. She was sitting in her recliner, beer in hand as she watched TV. Shit. I walked in as if I was just going to get water. “Hey, Mama.”

She didn’t answer. I stepped closer and noticed that her eyes were barely open. Then I saw all the cans on the floor beside her. She was passed out. Just to be sure, I snapped my fingers in front of her face twice. She didn’t move. I ran back to my room and grabbed my canvas shoes and slipped them on, grabbing my jacket on my way back. I slowly pulled the door open and closed it as quietly as possible behind me. I ran down the metal steps, just touching the bottom step when Robert slipped his hand in mine and started running with me across the yard. We were soon out of reach of the outside light, and far enough that no one would see us.

We started laughing as we looked back and realized that we made it. Robert pulled his arms around me and pulled me in for a kiss, his hand coming up to cup my face. Then he was smiling and taking my hand in his as he raced further into the night. We were out in the middle of the neighbor’s backyard. We were far from the house where nobody would see us. All you could see were the stars filling the sky above us. It was beautiful.

He pulled me down to lay beside him in the grass and we stared up at the sky. “It’ll be nice when I’m eighteen and you don’t have to sneak me out anymore,” I laughed.

“It’ll be nice when we can get away from this town.”

“Where will we go?” I asked.

He linked our hands together and stared up at the sky. “Chicago.”

I laughed at the absurdity of it. “How would we afford to live in Chicago?”

“We’ll go to school there. We both have the grades to get into a good school, maybe even get a full ride.”

“But I can’t afford all the other stuff,” I pointed out. “A full ride will only get you so far.”

“Then I’ll get a job and cover it for you.”

“Or,” I said with a laugh. “I could get a job while you go to school. Maybe I could just go part time and work my way through school. I don’t have to do it all at once.”

He rolled over and looked at me. “We could get an apartment. Maybe not right away, but we could figure something out. It won’t be fancy, but after I get my degree, I’ll get a good job and I’ll work my ass off to give you anything you want.”

I pressed my hand to his face. “Don’t you know that all I want is you? Come on, I live in a trailer with a drunk for a mom. I don’t need fancy. I need someone that just wants me.”

“I just want you,” he whispered. “I would do anything for you.”

I huffed out a laugh. “Until your parents find out that you’ve been sneaking out to see me in the middle of the night.”

“My parents love you. We could probably even convince them to let you come stay with us.”

“I’m not going to ask your parents to let me live with them.”

“They know what your mom’s like. Trust me, they would agree in a heartbeat.”

“That’s sweet, but I can’t leave my mom. Who would look after her?”

“Who’s looking after you?” he asked softly. “You’re not supposed to be the one taking care of

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