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The Red Bracelet: Chapter Two

The Red Bracelet is a short story published here on LSO. Please stay tuned for a new chapter each Monday.

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The Red Bracelet: Chapter Two

Art by Rachel St. Louis.

Art by Rachel St. Louis.

Art by Rachel St. Louis.

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“You’ll just keep crashing if you never take your eyes off the rearview mirror.”

—Leo Christopher

 

“I can’t believe I caught you the moment I walked into town.”

“You haven’t seen anyone else yet?” Sherry asked, leading Jacob down the familiar road. She squinted against the dust they were kicking up.

“Nope. Not a soul.”

“Look, Jacob. I know you want to pick up where you left off here, but you just can’t. Ryan’s death has changed many people in this town. Especially Val. She’s never gonna believe you’re back.”

“She mad at me?”

“It’s hard to say,” Sherry answered truthfully. “The three of us were such great friends, and then you left out of the blue with no hint of a warning. Why’d you do it?”

Jacob averted his eyes. She waited for him to answer, but he was silent. They were passing the local church building by the time the sun descended its platform of clouds. Sherry expected Jacob to continue walking on the church road towards his block, but he remained by her side.

“Are… Aren’t you going home?”

Jacob shook his head. “My parents don’t want me.”

“How would you know? I bet they’re worried sick. Now that I think about it, though, I haven’t seen them around town for awhile.”

Jacob shrugged. “Maybe they’re embarrassed,” he quipped.

“I don’t think so. Your folks were rarely put off.”

“Well, maybe this was different,” he retorted, a sudden sting in his voice.

“I haven’t seen you in how long and you’re upset with me this fast? I just want to know why—”

“Well, I’m back now. That’s what matters.”

“I suppose, but why did you decide to come back?”

“I couldn’t take it anymore. But really, I’d rather not talk about my time away from home right now. I’m sorry, okay?”

“No,” Sherry exclaimed. She paused in her brisk strides, stopping Jacob with her. “You can’t leave me in the dark like this. Do you know how anxious I was? Do you know how long it took me to get over the fact that both of my friends have spiraled off the path the three of us used to walk on together? I’m trying to be nice here, but this is unbearable. I missed you terribly. All I want to know is the reason why you abandoned your home when it needed you most.”

Jacob refused eye contact. “My parents,” he mumbled.

“What?”

“I got kicked out. My parents kicked me out of their house.”

Sherry had never seen Jacob look so angry before and bit back the urge to push him further about his departure. “I’m sorry.”

Jacob shook his head, his eyes straying to the red bracelet tied tightly around Sherry’s wrist. The lake was coming into view. “Sherry, it wasn’t your fault,” he sighed. Then, after a pause in his cadence of strides, Jacob added, “It wasn’t your fault directly, in any case.”

Sherry whipped her head around to lock her eyes with Jacob’s. She felt as if she would burst aflame. “I was involved?” she demanded.

“Hush, someone’ll hear you.”

“Let them!” Sherry snapped. She kicked a rock into the lake, running off the dirt path at this point. Jacob ran after her, but she didn’t care. After all this, after everything she and Val went through, and Jacob left because of Sherry herself?

It took a few solid minutes, but Sherry channeled all of her anger into ripping that red bracelet off her wrist. She shook her flats off behind her as she took off toward the clear body of water, red bracelet in hand. It had been woven with love and a hopeful future. Now, of course, it was about to be thrown into the water in rage.

“No!” Jacob cried. “Don’t! Please, Sher!”

But Jacob was too late. Sherry hurled the lightweight bracelet into the lake. Jacob dove in to retrieve it, but he was overcome with emotion and couldn’t swim very well. It slipped through his fingers and sank to the bottom of the lake. He’d never find it.

Sherry grabbed her flats and fled home.

But the moment she had let go of that bracelet, Sherry was overwhelmed with throbbing regret.

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The Red Bracelet: Chapter Two