Loopholes, Chapter 44

(Start here.) (Or just go backwards.)

The whole way back to the house my mom said, “I’m sorry.” For a while, it was all she would say. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” My grandmother wouldn’t even listen to her. She was more focused on cleaning everyone up. We’d stumbled back to her house, bloody and confused and so, so happy. Except for my mom, who kept apologizing.

“Enough with the apologies!” Doris said. “Did you do it on purpose? No,” she answered herself, “you didn’t do it on purpose.” She was putting out food, which seemed crazy at first, except that we realized that we were hungry. So she put out a plate of food—cookies and brownies and little fresh pieces of bread spread thickly with butter, which she got out of her house—and we ate it while she made another. Meanwhile, my grandmother had a mini-clinic. My ripped up fingernail was all wrapped in gauze. Emily had a bandage where something had scraped all the way up her arm, but Adam’s injuries were the most spectacular. There was blood all over him, but it didn’t faze my grandmother. “The head wounds, they bleed.” She mopped and mopped until all the dried blood was gone, and then she poured hydrogen peroxide on his head and he screamed for a second, then stopped, his eyes wide, gasping.

When he could talk again all he said was, “You remind me of my grandmother,” and my grandmother nodded in satisfaction.

“Good.”

And then my mom started apologizing again, and my grandmother shushed her, and Doris put out another plate of food. And when we got to the third cycle of that, Adam and Emily and Phoebe and I went outside.

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