Mateo Caputo (Unseen Underground #2) - Abigail Davies
“Mateo Caputo?” I glanced up from my English workbook at my name being called. All it took was one look into the eyes of Miss Redren to know why she’d come to my first class of the day. I hadn’t even been in school for an hour.
Her brows rose, the sympathy in her eyes shining bright. I hated that look. It was the reason I didn’t tell anyone what happened at home, not since that first time when I was six and they’d sent someone out to the apartment to check on me. Mom had gone into a tailspin which meant a month-long depression that she medicated with alcohol. I’d made a mistake back then, one that I wouldn’t repeat.
Without looking at any of the other students in my class, I grabbed my things, stood, and made my way to her. Whispers echoed around me, but I didn’t pay them any attention. We were a collection of sixteen-year-olds, but they’d never truly know what life was like for me at home.
I walked a pace behind Miss Redren as we headed toward the main office. She beelined for the receiver placed on her desk and sighed. “It’s your mom, she said she needs to talk to you.”
My stomach flipped as I slowly reached for it. For a millisecond, I hesitated. What would happen if I didn’t answer? What would she do if I ignored the call and did what a normal sixteen-year-old did and went to each of his classes.
I shook my head. It didn’t bear thinking about what would happen if I didn’t answer. So I took the phone, held it up to my ear, and asked, “Mom?”
“Where are you?” she slurred out.
My heart raced in my chest. She was drunk—again. “I’m at school.” I closed my eyes, feeling a tension headache coming on. She’d called the school, so she already knew where I was, but that didn’t occur to her because she was too out of her mind. Like always.
“You have to come home.” I winced as I heard the screaming baby in the background. It had been a month since my mom had given birth to my little brother, and since then I hadn’t done a full day at school. “He won’t shut the fuck up.”
I huffed out of breath and let my head drop back. I couldn’t keep going like this. I couldn’t come into school each day worried about the baby she’d had but didn’t want. I couldn’t keep trying to be like everyone else my own age because I wasn’t like them. I had responsibilities that I hadn’t asked for.
Swallowing past the lump in my throat, I stared back at Miss Redren. I knew this was the end, and from the way her brows furrowed and shoulders slumped, so did she. I had no doubt she fielded more calls from my mom than she actually told me about.
“I’ll be home in twenty,” I told my mom down the line, then handed the receiver back to Miss Redren.
“You’re leaving again?” she asked, her voice small and tentative. There was no judgment in her tone, but I knew she was disappointed. When I’d first started high school, I’d been at the top of my classes, but now, I was barely passing. It’d take too much work to catch up, and if I was honest, I knew I didn’t have the time. Add to that the fact that the weekend job I was working wasn’t enough to cover the cost of milk and diapers, I felt like I was falling into a dark hole with no flashlight to show me the way out.
My mom had brought another life into this world. A helpless baby that she wouldn’t take care of. But I wouldn’t let him have the life I’d had. If I was doing this, then I would do it properly. I would make sure he’d finish school. I’d make sure he wasn’t scared to go home each day. I’d make sure he was safe.
“Yeah.” I swallowed, getting ready to say what I knew was inevitable, but her wide eyes stopped me. She could sense it, and right then, I couldn’t think about it. I had to do what was right for my little brother, even if that meant sacrificing what I wanted. “I…” I backed away a step. “I’ll see you.” It was open ended, not giving the truth of the situation, but deep down I knew what I had to do.
As I walked out of the high