The Wrong Side of the River
CHAPTER
25
Where two raging fires meet together, they do consume the thing that feeds their fury
Julian
When I looked out my window the next morning the whole street was blanketed in white fluffy snow. There weren’t any footprints or tire tracks in it yet, no one had shoveled their walks or driveways and the kids hadn’t made it out to build snowmen. It was just white and clean and fresh—a new beginning.
Plus, now Romy would be my friend again and things didn’t have to be all awkward and weird at school anymore.
I sang in the shower, I put enough gel in my hair to really hold down my cowlick, and I wore my snow boots, which were without a doubt my favorite piece of clothing. Romy was my friend again. Everything seemed bright.
That is, until I went downstairs.
“I need you to take some more fliers to school today, Julian,” Dad said, without looking up from a pile of documents he was pouring over.
I didn’t respond. I got out a plate and served myself some eggs and pancakes.
“I’m trying to discredit that Madison woman. She’s trying to scare people with all these claims about how the Southside spot isn’t safe enough and other nonsense, but I found a surveyor who’ll say the exact same things about the plot she’d like it build on.” He chuckled.
“No,” I said.
He looked up from his papers. “What’s that, son?”
All the feelings about the park I’d bottled up for the last three months bubbled to the surface. “I said no. I will not take the fliers for you. I will not pass out anything that might pull this town further apart.”
Dad’s nostrils flared and his ears turned red. “You will do what I tell you to do.”
“No.” I planted my feet and faced him squarely. “I won’t. This park should have been something that brought the town together, but instead it’s made everything worse.”
Dad slammed his coffee on the table and it sloshed all over his papers.
“Well...I...you...BAH!” He scooped everything up and dropped it in his briefcase. Then he looked me straight in the eyes, his face nearly purple with rage. “Well, if you can’t do this simple thing for me, then I’m afraid I can’t drop you at school today. Have a nice walk.”
Walking to school was about my least favorite thing to do. First off, it was as far as it could be without qualifying to ride the bus—almost a mile. Second there was no one to walk with because Marshall and Ben both lived further south and rode the bus everyday. And third, three minutes in I had to cross the bridge into Northside territory.
I really should have left right away and got to school early, but I wanted to let Solo and Petunia have a quick play together. Romy was right. They loved each other, and they needed to be together, even if it was only for a little while each day.
I knew it was all worth it when I watched him nuzzle up to her. They were happier together and why shouldn’t they be happy?
By the time I left for school I had just enough time to walk. It was actually more fun than it should have been because I could kick through the powdery snow and watch my breath come out in steamy circles and think about Romy, who I’d promised to meet before school. Five blocks from school I felt totally, one-hundred percent happy.
And that’s when Parry showed up.
“Hey Julie!” He yelled, stomping up behind me. “I thought walking to school was too much work for a baby like you.”
I ignored him.
He hit me in the back of the head with a snowball. “I was talking to you, Julie! Turn around so I can see your face.”
I turned around and pushed my lips together as my nostrils flared.
“Hey Parry,” I said, pointing to the skateboard he carried by his side. “I guess you didn’t notice it snowed last night.”
His mouth curved into a smirk. “I guess you didn’t notice you’re a little Southsider all alone on the wrong side of the river.”
I stepped back. “Let’s just get to school, alright? I’m sure you don’t want to be late for first period either.
“Oh,” he said, stepping toward me and scooping up another handful of snow. “I won’t be late.”
I’d heard about people getting whitewashed. It sounded silly—someone knocks you over and rubs snow in your face. How bad could that be?
The answer: Bad.
My face stung. My neck ached. The snow Parry had shoved down my coat and shirt melted and left me cold and wet.
But worst of all, I couldn’t find my glasses.
The world was fuzzy whiteness around me. I couldn’t see my feet, much less the tiny piece of wire and glass that would bring the world back into focus. I tried to get down on my hands and knees to search, but after five minutes I realized it was no use.
I stood up, placed one foot in front of the other and prayed I wouldn’t get hit by a car.

Keep Reading

Chapter 26

When I saw you I fell in love and you smiled because you knew Romy

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