“What band is it? I might’ve heard of them.” Thalassa said.
“I love The Refreshments. Have you heard of them?” I said.
“No, I haven’t. Do you have any of their CD’s?”
“I used to. I couldn’t carry all my CD’s around with me on the streets. I wish I had kept their first album though…”
A thoughtful frown crossed Thalassa’s face. “Why don’t we check out a CD store? They’re bound to have something, right?”
“Oh yeah! There’s a CD store I used to go to. Let’s check there.”
I led the way to Cd’s CDs. I was greeted once I opened the door.
“Hey, it’s my favorite customer! Haven’t seen you in a while Jove.” Cd said.
“My family moved a while ago, and I couldn’t come here. Hope it didn’t hurt your profits too much, but I’m back now.”
“Well take a look around. I got some new stuff since you left,” Cd ducked under the counter
“Actually, we’re looking for a Refreshments album. You got any in stock?”
“As a matter of fact, I do.” Cd pulled a box out from under the counter. I was just about to get rid of all the old albums since no one was buying them.”
I smiled. “Well, I’ve always prided myself on my convenient timing.”
Cd smirked and handed Thalassa the album. “That’ll be six dollars.”
Thalassa pulled out a wallet and placed the money in Cd’s hand.
“Thank you, thank you.” He said.
She slipped the Cd into her purse and we both walked out. “Why did you lie to him?”
I shrugged. “I just…don’t want everyone to know I’m a pathetic human being.”
Thalassa placed a delicate hand on my shoulder. “You’re not pathetic.”
“Please, I wander the streets begging for money. I can’t even sleep because I’m afraid someone’s going to kill me. I look like shit and I feel like it too!”
Before I could spiral deeper into my emotional breakdown, Thalassa held me by my shoulders. “When do you turn 18?”
I sniffled. “Why?”
“Answer the question.”
“Good. My birthday’s in March. Once I graduate, we’re going to share an apartment.”
The urge to cry returned. “N-no… you don’t have to do that.”
“Yes I do. It’s not healthy to live in constant fear. So we’re gonna get a lease, and you’re gonna have somewhere safe to sleep.”
“Why do you care so much?”
Thalassa looked surprised. “Because I want you to be safe.” She wrapped me in a tight hug. “You’re my best friend.”
My face started burning up. “This is probably the most non-hostile human contact I’ve had in a year.”
Thalassa let go of me and started laughing. “You’re hilarious.”
I swallowed. “I was being serious.”
Thalassa draped an arm around my shoulders. “Well in that case, I guess I’ll have to ‘non-hostally’ touch you some more.”
A small smile crept onto my face. “I won’t complain.”
My stomach started growling.
Thalassa’s face lit up. “That reminds me! My father and I are putting on another performance in a couple days. We’re going to need music. Wanna play? It’s paid of course.”
“Uh… should I ask why me being hungry reminded you about a gig I could play?”
“You looked hungry when I invited you to the first performance.”
My gaze fell to the ground. “Did I look that terrible?”
Thalassa’s eyes widened. “Oh, I just made you seem pathetic… I didn’t mean it like that. Y-you looked tired and your face was really skinny and… I don’t think you’re pathetic.”
“It’s fine, really.” A small laugh escaped my lips. “I tend to look like a raccoon when I haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep in a while, but I’ve been doing alright recently.”
Thalassa managed a smile. “So you do have a sense of humor.”
“Eh, turning myself into a joke makes it easier to deal with the fact that my life’s kinda shit at the moment. But… I’ve been doing better recently. Actually having food in my stomach helps a lot.”
Thalassa thought for a moment. “I could probably convince my father to let you stay in the guest room…”
My eyes widened. “Oh, no… I don’t want to intrude. Besides I can’t imagine your father doing anything for me. He looked like he wanted to kill me just because he was feeding me.”
“He won’t mind.”
I pressed my lips in a straight line, debating my next words.”Pardon me but, are you insane? He treats me like dirt.”
Thalassa frowned. “He won’t mind.”
“Well then he treats me worse then dirt. I’m not going to stay in the guest room. No matter how much you try to convince me. It’s just too stressful, okay?”
Thalassa nodded slowly. “Okay, I understand. You’re not upset, are you? Because you seem upset.”
“I’m fine. Do you want to get something to eat? I can pay if we keep it cheap.”
Thalassa studied my face for a few moments, then nodded. “I suppose, but can I pay for myself. It’s no problem at all.”
I help up my hand. “You paid for me, so now it’s my turn to pay for you.”
“Do you have enough to eat tomorrow?”
I shrugged. “Does it matter?”
If I tell her that I won’t have any money, she’ll insist on paying for herself… But when I looked up at her, Thalassa’s eyes were filled with such a look of genuine concern that I couldn’t bring myself to lie to her. “I won’t, but I’m used to going a few days without food.”
“I can’t let you go hungry.”
I knew she’d say that. “Can I please do something nice for you? You’ve done so much for me, but what have I done? Nothing. Just this one time. Let me buy you dinner.”
Thalassa held my gaze, but finally nodded. “Okay.”
. . .
Friday rolled around and Thalassa arrived to pick Apollo up.
“Hey Thalassa, can I talk to you for a moment?” Jove asked.
“Alright,” Thalassa looked concerned. “Is everything okay?”
Jove rubbed the back of his neck. “That’s… a complicated question to answer.”