When Hannah snapped at us, Jess glared major daggers at her, but quieted down despite that. I just felt like a huge loser. He obviously wouldn’t feel okay. Now he was laying in bed on his side, not talking to anyone. Not even Jess. Not even Hannah. It worried me. He wasn’t calling me stupid or annoying, he wasn’t calling me anything. Diane had other patients to look into but she’d promised she’d return. I was wondering when my mom and Rosa were going to get here, maybe one of them could talk to him.
Although, if I was honest, if Hannah couldn’t rouse even a small smile on him, then nothing anyone else could do would probably work. But when Rosa’s face bobbed into view on her super high heels and wearing one of my sweatshirts, I instantly felt a bit of a load off my shoulders. And then I instantly felt guilty because what I was going through wasn’t even a shadow of what Isha was right now.
He was hooked up to an IV and might have died if Hannah hadn’t found him when she did and neither of his parents had come to see him. It made me angry, and sad. And I was confused because weren’t parents required to love their children? Didn’t biology make parents love their kids? I knew mine loved me, and Hannah’s mom loved her - but then again, where was her dad? Her dad walked when she was pretty much born. And then there was Rosa and Julian. Both their parents were MIA and I’d never been brave enough to ask why or where.
I hated when the world didn’t fit together right.
I explained everything in detail as best as I could and hugged Rosa, I told myself it wasn’t for my own sake, but it probably was. She gave me so much strength. Best friends did that for you. My mom and Diane were talking, both had their arms folded, Diane’s curly hair was twisted back into bun, fly-aways around her face fluttering a little as she shook her head. “I tried to talk to him - he basically threatened to have me fired if I kept pushing the issue, the weasel. Hannah was there. I practically had to drag her off before she started in on him. I could see her face, she was seething.”
“What awful human beings. Their son is amazing and they treat him like garbage -”
“I know! Hannah tells me how his mom makes him slave at housework!” Diane cut in.
“Exactly. The kid gets perfect grades, he’s musically talented, can dance better than anyone I’ve seen. He’s polite, well-mannered, he can cook - these people are crazy. He’s amazing.” My mom shook her head, shoulders sagging.
“Of course, you can’t tell him that though.” Diane shook her head again, massaging her temples, “He denies it, shrugs it off - does that adorable head bob thing.”
“I love the head bob thing!” My mom finally smiled and Diane’s lips perked up into a little grin that reminded me so much of Hannah I was a little startled.
Diane sighed, “It’s the same for Rosa too you know, and Julian. She’s saddled with these awful foster parents and he’s out there on his own trying to finish high school and work for a living wage. It’s terrible. I’ve been throwing around this idea that they-” Diane looked up, shooting us a fake smile that also reminded me eerily of Hannah and pulled my mom down along the hall where we couldn’t eavesdrop. I hugged Rosa a bit tighter and opened the door so she could go in to Isha’s room.
Hannah stood up, “Come on, Blonde Ambition, lets let them have the room. We can go try to find some decent food downstairs for him for the morning.”
“Don’t be a bitch.”
Jess rolled her eyes and stalked out of the room, Hannah squeezed Rosa’s arm as she passed by and we were left alone with a silent Isha.
I felt awful for Isha. He and I were kinda strange friends - we had a pretty light relationship most of the time, full of sarcasm and bonding over being brown kids. We made a lot of white people jokes with Julian, most of the time about Miles and Jackie. They were such easy targets. But we sort of got each other in a way, and I could understand how he felt right now. Miles and I sat by him on the bed, where his back was to us.
"Oh Isha," I said. I brushed my hair back with my hand, trying to figure out what to say. "I get it, you know. Well, you wouldn’t know. But I get it. Julian gets it too, but he’s at work right now. You never really get over the feeling that its your fault. Even when logically, you know it shouldn’t be." I looked hard at the floor, avoiding Miles completely. "And you get super jealous, trying to figure out why other people are so deserving. You can try to get over it in other ways like buying shoes or dancing or getting drunk." I thought about Julian. "Or getting high. We just can’t lose you when you try to lose yourself okay?"
There was silence for a moment, and then a quiet but unmistakable “Okay” from the other side. He shrunk smaller under the cover and I stood up, walking over to him. He had his face covered but I was almost certain there was a wet spot on the sheet. My heart broke for him and my chest tightened from my own memories. I bent and placed my lips on the exposed part of his cheek. It seemed like the right thing to do.
My throat started to form a lump as I thought of my mom, of how deluded I had been, and how young. The way Julian had pretended everything was okay for me. Before my headspace could get darker I forced myself to look at Miles again. “How about we go on a trip to get him some new clothes? Hospital gowns suck.” I was pretty sure Hannah had a key to his house we could bum. “You and I.”