Late friday afternoon, and Helen was home doing the dishes.Her home felt so empty now, maybe becauseit was unusually quiet. Bob was working late today, but normally he'd either be reading the papers at the table, or in his den in the basment. Either way it was comforting to know he was home.
Helen jumped slightly when she heard a soft knocking at the front door. She wasn't expecting anyone, but she's rather listen to a pushy salesman ramble on than scrape food gunk off dirty plates.
When she opened the door, to her delight, it was Buddy. Helen sighed and smiled. She had missed him so much.
"Lose your key?" she asked before giving him a hug.
"You know I never use it," Buddy replied
"Well, you better know by now that you're welcome here anytime. You're family, not a guest." Buddy only smiled wider walking in behind Helen.
"How was your day, hon?" Helen asked. Buddy shoved his hands in his pockets and a scowl consumed his face.
"Stupid," he growled.
"Oh no," Helen sighed, "How come?" Buddy's scowl lessened as he leaned against the counter.
"Eh, just a bunch of idiotic people I had to encounter today. People are stupid."
Helen chuckled, "I know what you mean."
Desperate to change the subject, Buddy peeked around the corner, "Is there no one home?"
Helen had just finished the last bowl when she replied,
"Well, Bob's working late, Dash is at a friends house for a sleepover, Jack-Jack's not feeling good, so he's taking a nap, and Vi's up in her room sulking."
"Sulking?" Buddy was kind of surprised. Ever since Bob allowed Buddy to be his sidekick when he was 5, he was basically part of the family, therefore he's known all the kids their whole lives, and never imagined any of them sulking. Vi used to be kind of shy, but that went away fast.
"Yeah, I don't know. She got home, and went straight to her room. No hello or anything."
Buddy's face fell.
"Why? Did you need something?" Buddy walked in to the living room and sat on the couch.
"Well, no. But I kinda wanted to take the three of them out for a movie. I'm on spring break now, and I thought it might make up fo my lousy day."
That alone warmed Helen's heart. Buddy had been at college and they rarely saw him anymore. Back when he was high school, he would pick up Vi and Dash, bring them home, stay for dinner, and help the two of them with their homework. He was like the son she never had, literally. Buddy was always grateful for everything they gave him. They never asked him to pick up Vi and Dash, he just did. It was his way of thanking Helen and Bob for everything, and they would feed him dinner.He hated it when he had to go back home. His own home was a wreck as far a Helen was concerned. He always tried to avoid going into detail about things that went on there. Eventually, she gathered that his mother screwed up her life and never got it back together before she had a child. Buddy was rarely fed, or taken care care of, which broke Helens heart. And to make it that much more unbearable for Buddy, his mother had a new boyfriend almost every two weeks. And every one, Buddy despised more than the last
Most of the time, on fridays, he would spend the weekend with all of them. Once Buddy was a senior, Helen turned their guest room into Buddy's bedroom since he was pretty much there every day anyway. It had clothes, a bed, and a professional desk for all his projects and ideas. He couldn't leave them at home without the risk of them getting thrown away. But now that her little brainiac was at college, Helen almost had it go back into just the guest room again. He would call and visit every now and then, but it had been months since she had last seen him
Snapping out of her mini-flashback, she told Buddy, "Well, you could take Vi out. It would probably her cheer up too. She misses you more than anything."
Buddy smiled. He loved the fact that people loved him. That he was welcome. That every hello and good-bye was followed by hugs and kisses. That he was missed. He used to accidentaly walk in on his mom and her new boyfriend and getting the same responses:
"Get lost, kid!"
"How old is he? Can't you kick him out yet? Get a job, boy!"
He'd only catch her once or twice slobbering it up on the couch, and he admits it wasn't as bad as any of the alternatives she could've been doing. Yet still a horrific sight. Buddy shuddered as he walked down the hall to Vi's room.
He knocked softly. No answer. He opened the door and peered his head in. Violet was sitting on the floor against the wall reading what looked like a romance novel. That usually meant boy issues.
Uh-oh, Buddy thought
"Hey, Vi," Buddy said as cheerfully as he could. Violet looked up from her book and her face beamed and lit up.
"Buddy!" Vi got up and threw herself in Buddy's arms. She wrapped her arms around his muscular neck and he hugged her back tightly. Violet had missed him so much. Just recently she had gone from seeing him every day, all day, to not at all. It was a huge change and she was still adjusting. He was always a true friend to her. He was the only person she knew who could make her laugh when she was crying, or laugh so hard she started crying.
"How's school going for you?" she asked.
"Pretty crappy, but I'm not the only one, am I?" Buddy released Violet to sit on her bed. "Heard you had a lame day too, huh?"
Violet sat down beside him, looking at the floor. Her novel caught Buddy's eye.
Vi nodded and crawled into his lap resting her head on his chest. Buddy stroked her hair and held her.
"Wow... You haven't sat in my lap since you were four..."
Vi stayed quiet.
"Alright, who's ass do I get to kick?"
Violet giggled, but it soon faded.
"Do you remember Tony?"
"Oh, him. I remember you talking about him, but I'd never met him. Why, what'd he do?"
Vi curled up tighter in Buddy's lap and replied softly,
"He broke up with me today."
Buddy's jaw dropped. Why would any guy in his right mind dump her? Vi was a great girl, what reason could he possibly com up with? This guy was clearly, quite the dick.
"Did he even say why?" Buddy was fuming. He really wanted to pummel this kid. How dare he hurt Violet like this.
"He told me I wasn't confident enough, and I never opened up or told him anything."
"And that's reason enough?" Seriously Vi, where does this kid live? I'll kick his ass."
Vi didn't laugh this time, but Buddy was seious. What a jerky little teenager, thinkin' he can just do something like that to his Vi and get away with it.
Changing the subject, Buddy asked, "Well, I wanted to take you kids out to a movie, but Dash isn't here and Jack-Jack's sick. But I'll take you out if you're up to it. Probabaly make us both cheer up a little. Whad'ya say?"
Violet smiled and hopped up grab her jacket and find her purse. Buddy began to walk out of her room and said before he left,
"I'll be in the living room."
Violet's smile grew bigger as she went through her closet. No matter what, Buddy could cheer her up. As she walked out to the living room, Buddy already had his jacket on, and was looking at his phone he designed and constructed himself a few years back. Once he looked up and saw Violet, he handed it to her saying,
"Here, pick one."
It was an application to show what movies were showing at what theaters. Once Violet had picked a movie, she handed the phone back to Buddy, and he purchased the tickets. They were ready to leave when Helen came around the corner.
"Oh, are you going out after all?"
"Yeah, he's forcing me."
"I am not."
Helen smiled remembering how it used to be, and how nothing had changed. Buddy grinned and told her,
"It starts at 7, but it's only 6:20 now, so we'll get something to eat first."
"Do you know when you guys will be back?"
"...9:30, maybe 10?"
By then Jack-Jack had woken up and was calling for Helen, "Mo-om..."
"Okay, well have a great time you two."
She kissed them both good-bye and turned to go nuture Jack-Jack. Buddy closed the door behind him and he and Violet walked to his car.