It’s time for another Promptly Penned. The prompt will be in bold in the story.
“I’m back.” Jasper Nolan peered into the family room where his little sister, Junie, was hanging out with a couple of her friends watching The Fault in Our Stars, or maybe, it was The Last Song, for what had to be the ninety-seventh time this month. Fucking depressing piece of shit movies. “Come help put stuff away, please.”
Junie paused the movie, pushed herself up off the floor and headed for the kitchen, followed by Livia and Laurel while he busied himself putting away groceries.
He didn’t pay much attention to the girls until he heard Livia giggle. “I can’t believe you asked your brother to get you tampons. That’s so weird.”
Junie rolled her green eyes. “Why? He was going to the store, and I was out.”
“He’s a guy.” Livia said it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Head’s up, Liv,” he said, tossing her the Cool Ranch Doritos she’d asked for. Well, technically, they were the store brand. Feeding a small horde of teenage girls on the regular was pricey.
“Thanks,” she said with a smile.
“So, you wouldn’t ask your brother or dad to get them for you? Even if you really needed them, and you felt like crap?” his sister asked Livia.
“No way,” she said, vehemently, opening the bag and shoving a chip in her mouth.
“What about you?” Junie asked her other friend, Laurel.
The girl silently shook her head, eyes wide and horrified.
“I wouldn’t even ask my boyfriend,” Livia added.
“Not that he’d do it anyway,” Junie muttered.
Jasper snorted and shook his head. “Just remember, a guy who isn’t secure enough to get what you need when you’re miserable and crampy isn’t worth your time.”
“Damn straight,” Junie said. Livia didn’t look convinced, but Laurel at least seemed to be considering the idea.
He handed his sister the chips and dip she’d requested, and she frowned. “Hey, these aren’t Lays.”
“Seriously?” When she pouted, he added, “The best of the best weren’t available—well, technically, they were, but we’re on a budget—so we got the best of the mediocre. Deal with it.” He hated to remind her that they had to watch every penny, but if he was going to make sure her college tuition was completely covered, they had to.
She glanced at the box of tampons in the middle of the kitchen table. “At least, you didn’t cheap out on the important supplies.”
He laughed. “I’m not stupid—I know when off brand is unacceptable.” Gesturing at the junk food buffet the girls were spreading over the dining room table, he said, “Now, that I’m back with sustenance, how about if you get back to the studying you promised you’d do tonight.” Ignoring the chorus of groans, he added, “You guys have finals next week.”
“Did you get a chance to look at the packet from the Lakeshore Art Institute?”
Stifling a sigh, he glanced up into his sister’s expectant face. “I haven’t had time, yet.”
“The class is taught by Professor Rodriguez. She’s done a couple guest presentations with Ms. Parrish this year. She’s amazing!”
He tugged on Junie’s ponytail. “I promise, I’ll get to it tonight.”
“Okay. Thanks, Jas.” Her hopeful smile gutted him.
It wasn’t a complete lie. He had been busy. But he’d also been dreading finding out how much this art class she wanted to take was. He knew she’d tell him to take it from her portion of the college fund their parents had left them, but that wasn’t happening. Not a fucking chance. They’d figure something else out. He knew she’d been saving her money from her weekly babysitting job, but he was also betting that the class would cost a lot more than that.
As soon as the rest of the groceries were put away, he grabbed the manila envelope her art teacher had sent home from school. Junie had always loved art, in fact, it had been both solace and her main form of communication after the car accident that had killed their parents. Over the years, she’d found her voice again, but art—particularly ceramics—was her love.
He tossed the packet on his dresser next to the stoneware bowl she’d made him for Father’s Day, last year then ran his fingers along the rim. His fingertip caught in the edge of the one crack they hadn’t been able to glue back together perfectly when she’d brought the pieces home from the studio, and his throat thickened. She’d been crushed. He’d never thought he’d be raising a teenager at his point in his life—he was twenty-six, for fuck’s sake. But here they were. They were doing okay. And they were incredibly close, but it was so much more challenging than he’d ever imagined. It was also fucking worth it.
That’s it from me, today. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories.