Aubrey didn’t understand why her parents chose Tom and Steve to be her guardians. They weren’t related to them in anyway and she didn’t even think they were very good friends of the family. But they must have been if her parents thought they were suited enough to take care of a teenage girl.
Aubrey was only 12-years-old when both of her parents had passed away. They died in a cliché way like in all those fictional movies about orphans. Her parents were headed somewhere for business and the plane crashed. Even though she was pre-teen, Aubrey didn’t remember too much of it. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t remember, but people just told her that she must have blocked out the memories because it was too traumatic. Sometimes the brain could do funny things like that.
Now Aubrey’s Sweet Sixteen had just passed. She had started at a new school, made new friends, and soon she was going to learn how to drive a car. She was finally becoming an adult, something that she had been waiting for since she was about eight.
So, when Tom and Steve knocked on her bedroom door Monday night, one week after she started at her new school, two weeks after her sixteenth birthday, and told Aubrey that they had to leave, you can’t blame her for being a little upset.
“Are you kidding me?!” Aubrey snapped. She folded her arms defiantly sitting on the foot of her bed. She turned the other way her lower lip sticking out in a pout.
“I’m sorry.” Tom sighed. He was always the more laid back one between the two of them. He was taller than Steve and had noodle arms.
“I know it sucks, but this is just how things have to be right now.” Steve said bluntly. He was the complete opposite of Tom. He was all muscle. There was no room for patience.
“It’s not fair!” Aubrey refused to turn around and look at both of them.
“Aubrey, stop being a baby. Some things have changed and we need to leave. It’s not like we’re doing this because we want to. It’s not like we’re doing this because we know that you don’t want to.” Steve growled.
Aubrey finally looked over her shoulder. “What is that supposed to mean?”
Steve drew in a deep breath and Aubrey noticed Tom had given him an exasperated sigh. She turned her whole body around to get a better look at the two men. Clearly there was something way more important going on than what they were saying.
“The point is, Aubrey,” Tom continued with a calm voice, “that this wasn’t our decision. There’s something going on that you’ll understand more of when you’re older. But right now this is just something that we all have to do.”
“Right now, you just need to face that we’re in charge and you need to go along with what we say. We can’t move and leave you here alone.” Steve added.
“Not helping.” Tom muttered.
“You’ve just turned 16. You still have at least two years with us.” Steve paused and then shrugged. “Even then you might still be stuck with us, but I’ll let you think that you can go in two years.”
Aubrey cocked an eyebrow at Steve and then turned to Tom. “What is he talking about?” she asked pointing her thumb at Steve.
“Don’t worry about it.” Tom replied to Aubrey while glaring at Steve.
“I am going to worry about it.” Aubrey stood up from her bed to make a stand. “I’ve moved around so many times since my parents died and you two started taking care of me. You both work in the general store, so I know the reason of the move isn’t business related.”
Tom and Steve casted another glance at each other.
“Stop looking at each other like that…” Aubrey whined. “Seriously, what is going on?”
Steve rolled his eyes. “How about you just go along with what we say? You used to when you were little.”
“I’m not a kid anymore.” Aubrey spat putting her hands on her hips.
“Steve, maybe I should handle this.” Tom stated placing a hand on his shoulder.
“Oh, like you suddenly know what all teenage girls are thinking now?” Steve grumbled.
“Just let me… You’re not making things go any smoother. Go start dinner.” Tom suggested gently, but opened the bedroom door wider for Steve to leave.
To Aubrey’s surprise, he sighed in defeat and exited the room. Tom shut the door and sat down on the foot of Aubrey’s bed. He patted the seat next to him with a gentle smile. He always did that whenever he had something serious to talk about. The last time this happened, Tom told her that “the stork was a myth,” as he explained it.
Aubrey rolled her eyes, but sat down anyway. It was difficult to argue with Tom since he was always so sweet and, for the most part, pretty innocent. He just wanted peace all around and wanted everyone to be happy.
“Aubrey,” he began in his best father voice possible, “this is something Steve and I can’t really explain to you at the moment. We do have to move because of business, you were right about that. However, it has nothing to do with the general store.”
Aubrey uncrossed her arms and leaned back propping herself up on her elbows. She stared at Tom intensely wondering where he was going with this. She wanted to ask him to clarify, but didn’t feel it would be right to interrupt.
“One job Steve and I have is to take care of you, right?” Tom asked.
Aubrey nodded. Now he was talking to her like she was a child, but she figured it would be best to just let him go through the motion of whatever pep talk was coming around the corner.
“That’s the job we’re talking about. We have to move because it will benefit you.” Tom ended with a smile as though that explanation (if that’s what that was supposed to be) covered all the bases and Aubrey would be satisfied with that.
“Uh… None of that made any sense. Why would the government want you guys to keep moving me around?” Aubrey sighed. “I just made friends here. Why can’t I stay?”
Tom frowned and averted his gaze. “Aubrey, maybe it’s time that we tell you a little more about who we are. About who your parents were. About… who you are.”
Aubrey rolled her eyes again. Was he serious? He was being so dramatic.
“Dinner’s ready.” Steve poked his head into the room.
“Already? We’re still talking.” Tom asked in confusion.
Steve shrugged. “I just made pancakes.”
“The easiest thing in the world…”
“That, and it’s Aubrey’s favorite.”
Tom turned away from Steve and looked at Aubrey, who sent a sideways glance over at Steve. The corner of her mouth formed into a small smile. She couldn’t help herself, pancakes were so fluffy, and buttery, and syrupy….
Aubrey stood up from her bed and pointed a finger between Tom and Steve. “This conversation isn’t over just because there are pancakes downstairs.”