Kelvin comes back with Lane today, and Mell, Georgie and I are there to greet him. We do so gently, so we don't overwhelm him, and I can tell by his face that he appreciates it. He still doesn't recognize me or Georgie from before the incident and I'm not entirely sure that he's able to register people's faces properly. It takes him a while to recognize me when I'm around him. Georgie has mentioned the same thing to me, but Mell doesn't seem to notice it.
I decide to ask Lane if he'd like to take a walk, and he agrees to go with me. He grips his iPad like his life depends on it, and I'm there to steady him if he needs it. Mell tried to come with us but I insisted he stay behind and relax since his scar is bothering him.
"Lane," I say after walking in silence for a while, "can I tell you something that only Kelvin knows?"
Lane nods silently and sways on his feet. I'm quick to steady him so he doesn't fall.
"I sent in some applications to some colleges in the area," I say, "and I heard back from all of them. Every single one has accepted me!"
Lane grins at me. He presses a button with a thumbs up symbol on his iPad. "Good!" The robotic voice says.
"I'm worried about what Georgie will say," I continue. "He's always been a little jealous that I'm smarter than him."
"Smart-er?" Lane presses two buttons to make that a complete word.
"Yeah, I'm more advanced in my studies than he is. It makes him mad, but he's good at hiding it. I feel bad about it." I say.
"You're smart." Lane's iPad says, "That's okay." He smiles at me. "He will understand."
"God, I hope you're right." I say.
"Tired," Lane presses a button of a bunch of Z's. "Home."
"Oh! Of course." I say. I loop my arm through his and we slowly make our way back to his RV.
Mell looks relieved to see Lane in one piece when we get back, and I pass Lane, who is leaning all his weight on me by now, onto Mell. Lane leans against him and sighs, his eyes closing.
"Okay," Mell chuckles, "I think it's naptime. Yeah?" He rubs Lane's shoulder. Lane nods and sighs, eyes closed. "We'll see you guys later." And with that, they disappear into their RV.
Georgie peeks out of our RV. "Hey, Shosh!" He calls, "I could use some help on my English homework."
I take a deep breath. "Uh, Georgie? Can we talk? With Kelvin?"
"Why, what's wrong?" Georgie's face falls, and so does my stomach. I just know this is going to go badly.
"Nothing's wrong," I say quickly with a smile, "I actually have some cool news."
"Oh, well then let's go get Kelvin." Georgie says.
Kelvin is waiting for us outside the main house with his arms crossed, leaning against the side of the house. "So spill, kid, how'd it go?"
Georgie looks confused. "How did what go?" He asks.
I scuff at the dirt with the toe of my shoe and wring my hands. "Um," I say, and then take a deep breath. I look up at Georgie and grin. "I got accepted to college."
"College?" Georgie's jaw drops. "When did you apply for college?" I notice that his hands ball into fists.
"I applied a few months ago." I say. "You know I'm close to graduating, and I wanted to try attending an actual university."
Kelvin wraps me up in a bear hug. "I'm so proud of you!" He says. "What do you want for dinner? We can do whatever you want, go wherever you want." Georgie grimaces to himself.
"I want Georgie to choose." I say, catching myself trying to people please to diffuse my brother's budding anger and frustration.
"I'm not hungry," Georgie grumbles, "In fact I'm feeling kind of sick to my stomach. Invite Mell and Lane instead."
I frown. "But I want you to be there," I say quietly.
"Can I talk to you?" Georgie asks me, "Alone?"
I'd rather have Kelvin there to back me up in the oncoming attack, but I don't want my brother to feel ganged up against. "Um, okay." I say. Georgie leads me back to our RV and we step inside.
"When were you going to tell me you applied for college?" Georgie asks, hands still balled in fists. "I thought we told each other everything."
I fidget with my hands. "I mean," I say, "I just told you." I shrug.
"Fuck off with the sass, Shoshana," Georgie snaps, "I mean previous to this! Kelvin knew the whole time you were applying to colleges and you waited until now to tell me?"
Tears prick at my eyes. "I just want you out of anyone else to be proud of me, George." I say, hugging myself. "I was afraid to tell you because I knew you'd act like this." I'm getting frustrated and my voice is rising in pitch and volume.
"Sure, I'm proud of you," Georgie says, but he's screaming it. "I'm so proud that you're the only smart one, and that you're Kelvin's favorite!"
"You're overreacting!" I shout back. "It's not my fault I'm smarter!"
My head snaps back and pain shoots through my face. I clasp my hands over my nose, which is now bleeding. "Did you just punch me?" I wail.
The door to our RV flies open and Mell is there, holding Georgie back before he can attack me again. "Georgie, take a walk." He says sternly. Georgie forcefully pulls himself from Mell's grip and storms out of our little home.
"Where's Lane?" I ask between sobs, "Is he okay alone?"
"His weekly caretaker is over right now getting some stuff situated to make the RV more accessible, so he's in good hands." Mell says. He guides me over to the bathroom sink and wets a towel. "Are you okay?" He asks me.
"Yeah," I hiccup, "This isn't the first time we've fought."
"I don't think I've ever seen him hit you before, though." Mell says. "I want you to stay with me and Lane for a while, unless Kelvin keeps Georgie at the main house with him." He presses the towel gently to my face.
I lean against him and cry while he cleans my face off. I'm covered in a combination of blood and snot. "I just thought maybe my brother would be happy for me." I mumble.
"He'll learn to be," Mell smiles at me. "You know how hard school has been for him. He just needs to get his head out of his ass." I nod. "Maybe separating the two of you for a while will do you both some good."
"I'll stay with you guys. At least for tonight." I say. We finish cleaning up my face and I join Mell back in his and Lane's RV. Lane waves to me as I clamber into the little home and I wave back. "Hey, Lane," I say weakly.
"Are you okay?" Lane asks via iPad. "I could hear the yelling."
"Yeah, well, I'll be fine. I'm gonna stay with you guys tonight." I say. "Thanks for worrying about me." I smile.
Lane presses a few buttons. "He seems bad," he says.
"No, Georgie isn't a bad kid," I say, "He just has unchecked anger issues. They've never been as bad as this though."
"Oh," Lane says out loud. "I don't remembery."
I smile. "I know," I say, "It's okay." I turn to Mickey, Lane's weekly caretaker, who is working on installing a railing in the bathroom. "Hi, Mick!"
Mickey waves quietly back at me and smiles. He then gets up from his crouching position and dusts his hands off. "Alright Lane, you're all set. How are you doing right now?"
"Pain," Lane's robotic voice says. "Need my meds."
Mickey brings over Lane's daily pill planner and hands it to him. Lane takes the medication from the pack and pops it into his mouth. Mickey then takes some vitals as Lane sits patiently for him. "Well, you seem to be doing well your first night home. Have Mell call me if anything should go wrong."
"Will do, don't worry," Mell says with a smile. "Thanks for all your help, making this place a little more accessible."
"Anytime," Mickey shakes Mell and Lane's hand and then gives me a hug. "Nice to see you, kid. Take care guys."
"Take care, Mick!" I say, feigning cheerfulness. I'm still shaken up from the fight with Georgie.
Kelvin enters the RV as Mickey exits. His eyebrows are creased and he has a frown on his face. "Georgie is going to be grounded for a while, and staying with me." He tells us, leaning against the stove. "Shoshana, what do you wanna do for dinner?"
"I dunno…" I say, "I'm kind of bummed out after being punched in the face."
Kelvin ruffles my hair gently. "All the more reason to go out to eat. It's a happy occasion, you shouldn't let Georgie's personal issues get in the way of your celebration."
"Then… can we go out to eat?" I ask. "Not to be basic but I'm really craving Panera."
"Panera it is, then." Kelvin says. He turns to the boys. "Do you feel like joining us?"
Mell looks at Lane, who looks out of it due to his medications. "I'm not sure," He says, "I think I'll hang back with Lane. You don't have the energy to go, right?"
Lane slowly shakes his head. "I necessary here to be," He mumbles out loud, his voice showing his fatigue.
I smile. "That's okay," I say, "I'll bring back cookies or something." And with that, Kelvin and I leave for town.