Page 74 of The Dancer

“Are these safe?” I looked down at the perfect eggs and potatoes with a half rasher of turkey bacon. She’d even decorated the plate with fruit. His looked pretty much the same as mine and since he was already digging in I answered my own question.

“I guess she wouldn’t off you so…” I dug in and hummed with appreciation. “Wow!”

“I know right. She cooks best when she’s pissed.” He shoveled eggs into his mouth like it was his last meal.

Her displeasure could be heard from all the way down the hall. What with the slamming doors and loud mutters that were nothing more than whispers by the time they reached our ears. What a brat.

I polished off my food and grabbed a second cup of coffee before I felt human. So much for her morning disposition being better. I wonder what the hell set her off this time.

“Did you two get into it this morning?”

“Nope, I woke up to that. She’s annoyed because we ganged up on her. Her words. I knew it was too easy.” He shook his head and finished off his plate.

“She never used to be like that, not really. When she gets pissed you’d know, but it was rare for that to happen. Ever since mom died she’s been on autopilot. It’s like there’s no room for mistakes, everything has to be perfect. If I even catch a cold she freaks.”

I listened to him describe all the ways she’d changed in the last year or so and started putting the pieces together. It wasn’t that hard to see what was going on with her, but if she kept pushing herself like that she’d burn out. I won’t let that happen.

“Can I ask you a question?” I stood at the counter facing him as he drank down about a gallon of orange juice.


“Has your sister dealt with your mother’s death?”

He gave it some thought before he answered. “No, she never let herself cry, not even at the funeral. She’s bottled it all up. From dad’s leaving and the way he treated us, to having to give up her dream.” That’s what I thought. I was coming to know her very well.

“One last question. Are you sure you want to move here? I know you said you’ve already been scouted, which is good, but how far has it gone?”

“What do you mean?”

“Has anyone approached you personally? Have

you received a national letter of intent?” I know most people have no idea what it means to be scouted.

I didn’t want him to fall into that bracket of hopefuls who got their hopes up because of a few throw away words from a scheming coach.

“Yes to all the above.”

“That’s good then, which school did you choose?”

“Didn’t I tell you I’m your biggest fan? Which school do you think I chose?” He had a big stupid grin on his face.

“Even better, I’ll take care of the school situation you just concentrate on being a kid for the next few months. Once you hit the college scene, if you’re any good, your childhood is over.”

At least I can be here for you in that respect like no one was for me. How easy was it for me to step into the void without question. All because of her. Usually I offer help from afar.

If I get too close to the kids I’m trying to help, the whole damn thing turns into a puppet show, which I don’t want. Most of the people I help have no idea that I’m the one lending a helping hand, which is just the way I like it.

With him, he’s family, it’s as simple as that. He was thanking me profusely and I was about to tell him to knock that shit off when I heard her footsteps heading for the door at a fast clip. I barely made it in time to stop her.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“Oh for…, what is this my new prison?” I pulled my phone with one hand while holding her in place with the other.

“Tony are you downstairs yet?” We’d planned for him to come earlier than usual.

“Just got here. Bring me coffee, I didn’t have time to stop since you made me get here at the ass crack of dawn.” Complaining fuck!

I hung up trying to remember where the Go cups were as I dragged her along behind me back to the kitchen. “Would you stop dragging me around like a rag doll?”

I let her go long enough to search the cupboards, but not before telling her brother to keep an eye on her. I found what I was looking for and filled it with coffee cream and sugar the way he likes it before turning my attention back to her.

“Why are you still wearing that? Where’s the coat I bought you?” She turned up her nose at me.