*This piece is part of an ongoing short story*
You can read parts one through fourteen HERE!
She doesn’t see a doorbell, so instead knocks a somewhat non-committal knock, half hoping it won’t be heard. She’d called from the office before leaving but no one answered. Stopping in on her way home, potentially catching someone off-guard was risky and she is no longer sure she’s made the right decision.
She stands in the cool evening breeze and waits. A minute or two passes before she hears someone shuffling toward the door. Her heart rebounds off the wall of her chest as the fingers on the other side twist the bolt.
Helena looks softer standing in the doorway of her own home than she does in the school’s halls. Her scant hair is pulled into a loose and low ponytail and she’s wearing what Stephanie hears the girls refer to as a onesie on their scheduled pajama days.
“Mrs. Statton.” Helena’s face flushes.
“I’m sorry, Helena. I did call, but…”
“Oh, I uh. Well, I was in the shower earlier.”
Stephanie can indeed smell the apple body wash hanging in the air between them and Helena’s face is dewy from a recent douse of cream.
“Is your mother home?”
“No. She wasn’t here when I got in from school. Don’t know where she went though. Or when she’ll be back.”
“Ahh, I see.”
They stand awkwardly, Stephanie trying to decide what to say next, Helena unsure where to put her hands seeing as her hair is tied back and there are no pockets in the onesie.
“Could I maybe come in?”
An instant flash of hard hallway Helena.
“So we can talk.”
“Or we could go grab a milkshake. You know, if you’re willing to unpeel.” Stephanie smiles, eyeing up Helena’s sleep suit.
“I don’t have any money. I bought dinner and stuff. Me and Bitty…”
“Oh no, honey. I’m buying. You just worry about what you’re going to choose.”