“Wait, Owen, there’s something I do want to tell you.” Pearl ran up to meet Owen and tugged on the arm of his shirt. “Will you please stop?”
Years of pent up emotions bubbled closer to the surface than they had before. He never had anyone other than Caleb and Morgan he could really talk to about his mom’s incarceration. Of course, everyone in town knew what happened and every so often he would catch the sideways glance of pity and horror. His steel trap mind began pushing the brain vault shut, not really listening to Pearl. “Give me a minute, would you?”
“I feel like I ruined an important moment.” Pearl whispered, tears welling her eyes. She sniffled softly.
“No, no you didn’t. I don’t want this day to end on such a sorry note.” Owen wrapped his arms around Pearl, drawing her small frame into his chest.
Pearl moved easily into his embrace, the sniffling immediately stopped. He took in the moment and, mysteriously, his shame mellowed into liberation. Pearl seemed to accept his news without conditions or hesitancy. Maybe she didn’t think he fell too close to the family tree. “I don’t care if your mom is in jail. It doesn’t change who you are, and yea, maybe I’m still getting to know you. But, I can tell you got a good heart, Owen Guthrie.”
“I’ve reached a point in life I’m tired of trying to prove myself. It’d be easier to be alone in the world.”
“So, you have Caleb…and then you met Kalista and Leandra. You aren’t alone.”
“But, living like this, you won’t meet anyone new, you know, like someone who wants a chance to learn about you, become a great friend.”
Time flashed before his eyes, he never remembered life before the incident. In the raw circumstances of his world crumbling, he was reborn into sorrow and repulsion. All his innocence lost when he realized the one person he was supposed to be closest to betrayed his trust and put him in danger. What if he hadn’t been fishing with his dad that night? What if he had been with her too? Would he be standing here today having such a horrible conversation? “Pearl, sometimes, I like to imagine my world is a huge library, full of all kinds of books and magazines and maps, you know lots and lots of maps. Atlases that could tell me how to get anywhere. Which is crazy because Caleb is the book smart one of us both.”
“Owen, you aren’t giving yourself enough credit for your smarts. You are just as smart as Caleb…or anyone else.”
“I’d have to go to school someplace far off from home where nobody knew me.”
“Where would you go off to?”
“The moon.” Owen chuckled and lightened the moment. “Haven’t you ever felt like going away somewhere? Or picking your life out of a book and pretending the one you had wasn’t the one you had to live inside of?”
"There isn't a book written in the world that could capture everything I'm feeling right now." Pearl squeezed Owen tighter, holding him fast in their embrace.
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