Patrick Williams bent over the table, the pencil tight in his fist. He wanted to snap it in half. Wanted Sophia to just stop talking at him, nagging him. “I hate you.”
If he hadn’t cut his gaze up to her as he said the words, he wouldn’t have seen her face pale. But, he did, and it had a strange ache splitting through his chest.
“I know you don’t mean that, Patrick,” Sophia said. “You’re just upset right now.”
He didn’t understand these feelings roiling through him. So, he lashed out again. “You make me upset. All the time. Every day. I hate you.”
“That’s not true.” She still kept her voice calm. “You just need to calm down.”
“I don’t hafta do anything. You can’t make me.” He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in the chair.
She took a step back and over to the high chair where the infant was starting to shriek. “No, I can’t,” Sophia said. “But, you are starting to scare Alison. You don’t really want to scare your baby sister, do you?”
Guilt crept in, but he still said, “Half-sister. She’s your little brat.”
“Now, that is enough, Patrick.” Her mouth had turned down, her face settling into hard lines. Sophia didn’t look like that very often. “I know you love your sister. I don’t know where this tough act is coming from, but it’s not you.”
“You don’t know anything about me. As soon as you got my dad, you stopped pretending to care.” His chest ached. She was going to walk away. Any minute now, she was going to give up and walk away.
“You know that isn’t true either. I love you, Patrick, as much as I do your dad or Alison.”
He jumped up from the chair. “Heard that before. Why don’t you just skip out now? I know you want to.”
She lifted Alison our of the high chair. “Sit down, Patrick.”
“Why should I?”
“I’m going to put Alison down for a nap then we’re going to talk.”
“I don’t wanna talk to you.”
“Then, I’m going to talk, and you’ll listen. Now sit at the table.” He watched her walk out of the kitchen the dropped back into his seat. As much as he wanted to take off out the door, he knew that would just get him into more trouble later.
When Sophia finally walked back into the kitchen, he glanced up from the toes of his shoes. Her face was still tight, but the corners of her mouth briefly flicked up. “I’m a little surprised you listened.”
“Took you long enough,” he muttered.
Her smile was firmer this time. “You know your sister always wants just one more hug. Hard to deny that sweetness.” She pulled one of the chairs closer to him and sat facing him. “Look, I know I’m not your mom,” she finally said.
“Thank God for that,” he mumbled dropping his gaze back to his shoes.
“Why…I know you’re upset, but why would you say that, Patrick? What have I done to you?”
He looked up and saw tears welling in her eyes. The ache in his chest turned to a hard throb. “Don’t cry. Sophia. Jeez, I’m sorry.”
“You told your dad you didn’t care if I joined your family. What’s changed your mind, Patrick?”
“Nothing.” He still couldn’t meet her eyes, though.
“Then, why are you so angry with me all the time? Why don’t you want me to be here?”
“Didn’t say that.”
“You just said you don’t want me to be your mom. What else could that mean?”
He looked up at her and saw her eyes were still wet. That had it all ripping out of him. “That I don’t want you to be her. I hate her. I hate her so much it hurts. I hate her, hate her, hate her!” He yelled it the last time then his shoulders slumped forward.
“Don’t say that, Patrick. She’s still your mom.”
“She left us,” he cried. “Said she’d come pick me up later, and she never came back.” His own eyes burned, but he wasn’t going to cry. He was nearly twelve years old. He wouldn’t cry.
“You were three, Patrick. I’m sure-”
“That doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten. I know what she did. I’m the one who was there, not you. She didn’t come back, she didn’t want me.” No matter how much he fought it, tears started to spill over. How long ’til you don’t want me either? I don’t wanna hate you like I hate her.”
“I’m not leaving, Patrick. I’m never going to leave you and your father. There will never come a time when I don’t want to be a part of your family. I promised your father forever, and I don’t break promises. Do you understand?”
“Good.” She handed him a tissue and gave him a moment before asking, “Now, how about we finish this homework? Your teacher said you were struggling with it, but I know you can figure it out.”
Patrick looked up at the knock on his door. “Come in, Dad.”
The door swung open, his dad standing there, his uniform shirt wrinkled but still buttoned. “How’d you know it was me from just a knock? And do not roll your eyes at me, Patrick.”
Patrick stopped in the middle of the eye roll. How did he always do that? “You’re the only one who knocks like that. And dinner’s not ready yet, so it wouldn’t be Sophia.”
“She said you two had a discussion today.” He sat down on the edge of the bed.
“Sure, just sit on my bed, Dad. Not like I’m on it or anything.”
His father’s mouth thinned into a firm line. “Enough with the smart mouth, Patrick. Tell me what’s going on.”
“Nothing. She kept on me about doing that stupid assignment Mrs. Archer gave me. I’m the only one who got it. I didn’t wanna do it, and I got upset.”
“That’s not it, Patrick. Sophia told me what you said.”
“Snitch.” He couldn’t put much heat behind the word, though.
“She’s a lot prettier than most of the snitches I deal with.”
He couldn’t help rolling his eyes again. “That’s not funny, Dad.”
“Sure it is. When you’re a cop. Look, Patrick, I know-”
“You don’t know anything,” he snapped out. “You’re not the one she got tired of.”
“Your mother walked away from me too,” he said, putting a hand on Patrick’s knee. “And I was angry for a long time. I almost didn’t give Sophia a chance because of it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be angry with her. You have every right to be.”
“I’m not angry. I hate her.”
“I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve it, or that you should just forgive what she did. But, carrying that hate does nothing to her. The only one it’s going to hurt is you, Patrick. You need to stop letting her do that.”
“How?” He wished it was as easy as his father made it sound. But just thinking about his mother had all that anger boiling again.
“God, I wish I could give you an easy fix for it. You just have to move on. Let Sophia in. She wants to be a mom to you, Patrick, not just your stepmom. It doesn’t mean she’ll leave you, too. You need to put that out of your head. And you know you’ll never be rid of me, right?”
“Yeah, Dad, sure.”
His father stood up from the bed. “I saw those eyes rolling again. Come on. Dinner should be ready soon.”
Note: If you read Olivia’s story yesterday, Patrick is (one of) Rylan’s half-brothers. They share a mother, who abandoned them both. I have Patrick’s own story written, though I don’t know when it will be released. Probably not until at least next year.
Note2: If this dialogue looks familiar, it’s because it’s from one of my Story a Day pieces from last year, a dialogue only story.