Little Black Book(5)

By: Tabatha Vargo & Melissa Andrea



I shook my head in shock. “No.”

Looking through the small window on Ms. Brighton’s door, I saw Kyle. He was sitting in the chair where I’d left him. His pencil was moving lazily over the pages of the notebook he’d brought with him. “Our parents died twelve years ago. We have no one.”

“Oh…” her eyes dropped toward her desk and she shifted uncomfortably in her chair. The pen clicking started once more. Only this time it was in fast nervous clicks. “I’m sorry, Ms. Harris it… sounds like you’re shit out of luck.”

Okay, so she didn’t actually say that, but I knew that’s what she was thinking. She was quick to end the meeting and usher me and my homeless brother out of her office, which was fine by me. After her crushing news, I felt like the drab décor was slowly suffocating me.

When Kyle and I stepped out of the building, the New York air wasn’t any less smothering, but I welcomed the soothing breeze anyway. Digging into my pocket for the last of my change, I gave it to Kyle and watched as he ran off to buy a soda and a pretzel from a little food cart.

Sitting down on the concrete steps, I dropped my head in my hands and breathed in the strong exhaust-filled air and let the New York sounds drown away my despair. I wouldn’t fall apart right now. I couldn’t. Kyle didn’t need to know how bad things were.

“So did Gran leave us a fortune?” Kyle joked when he found me face down on the steps.

I looked up at his innocent face and smiled, squinting against the afternoon sun. In that moment, I vowed to do whatever I had to do to make sure Kyle didn’t have to grow up before his time. He’d already lost so much, I wouldn’t let him lose his childhood like I had.

“Define fortune,” I stood and ruffled his hair.

He made a low growling sound, pushing at my hand and proceeded to fix his hair.

Looking up at me he became serious. “Everything’s going to be alright, Roz. You always take care of everything.”

I smiled through tears threatening to fall. “We’ll get through this, kid. We always do.”

As much as I wanted to tell him everything was going to be fine, I didn’t know how bad things we’re going to get and I wouldn’t lie to him.





I held Kyle’s hand on the ride back to Gran’s house. I’m not sure what I was thinking, his hand was almost as large as mine now. And even though I was sure he hated holding my hand, he didn’t let go.

In fact, he said nothing, even though I knew there were a million questions swimming around in his head. After his comment at the attorney’s office, I wasn’t sure I could speak to him without breaking down, so I was grateful he stayed silent.

Once we got home, I made my famous mac n’ cheese and hotdogs. We’d eaten this so many times over the last few years I couldn’t stand the smell anymore, but it was Kyle’s favorite, so I endured it. I’d been almost depressed when we’d run out of funeral food.

He helped with the dishes before running up to his room to slip on his headphones and doodle in his notebook. He was too old to be tucked in and he didn’t need my help getting things ready for school anymore.

After a quick clean up around the house, I checked on Kyle and then spent the night in my room, trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do.

No way could I afford to keep the house, even if I did find a job. It was a huge, five-bedroom home, and Kyle and I didn’t need all that space. A small two-bedroom would suffice. Luckily, I got to keep everything in the house, which meant I wouldn’t need money to furnish the new place.

Once my eyes began to get heavy, I knew the day’s events were to blame for my exhaustion and I was all too happy to end the day. I turned toward the lamp beside my bed and saw the college pamphlets on the end table.

The sight of them made me want to cry, but I picked them up anyway. A couple of months ago when Gran started to look like she was healthy enough for me to not be around all the time, I’d looked into going to a community college.

After our parents’ deaths went unsolved, I felt denied the justice Kyle and I deserved. I hated that feeling. I hated the unknown and didn’t want another family to suffer the way Kyle and I had. I needed the closure that was rightfully mine.

I wanted to dedicate my time to criminal law and try to make a difference. It sounded naïve and cliché to think I could change anything when it came to the criminal system, but I could try.

I sighed. It didn’t matter either way now. College was definitely out of the question and having these forms was only going to depress me further. I dumped the forms into the trash and hit the light. Ten minutes later, I fell into a fitful sleep.

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