Elias woke, stunned and uncertain. All that made any sense was that his phone was going off. He smelled bacon, eggs, food… which was pleasantly wrong. The sunlight came from the wrong direction. The bed was too large… He fumbled for his phone and squinted at it.
“Where are you?”
Ah, yes. It had only taken them four days to realize he was gone. He knew where he was now, and it all fell back into place. “Ohio.” He typed back, resting his forearm over his eyes.
“Yes, Ohio. I moved out.” He knew why he’d been missed, and that made him even more set on staying right where he was. Rent was due there. He’d paid his, but he had more than a nagging suspicion that the money he ‘d paid hadn’t gone anywhere it should have. But that was no longer his problem. He was a minor. He wasn’t on the lease. He was six states away. He was free of that.
He could feel Silas chewing on that, but knew that there was little his brother could do about it. He could try playing the underage card, but even if he could get anybody to care, it would take a long time to find Elias. More than six weeks, and by then, that was a moot point. Neither of them was legally Elias’s guardians. Anything they could say, do, would be about as useful as pissing into the wind.
“You’d leave family?”
Elias sat up, staring around. In a heartbeat, in a heartbeat. “I moved in with a friend. Leave it at that.” He expected a response, any response, but got none. After it became obvious that Silas was, in fact, going to leave it at that..he got up and stepped into the bathroom for a quick shower. Too long in a bus, sleeping in his clothes, he was taking gross to a whole new level. He dressed in the cleanest of his clothes, and stepped into the sun-washed kitchen.
Naomi was there, barefooted, cooking. Her hair fell down her back, sun burnished, and he had to force a normal expression onto his face. Nothing would get him tossed out on his ear again faster than if he ogled her as much as he’d love to. She was stunning in person, whole, peaceful, calm. This was going to be much more difficult than he’d been expecting…
“Ah, Elias. Good morning. Sit. Eat.” She ordered with a swing of the spoon in her hand towards her side. He glanced in that direction…the door between her side and the kitchen hung wide open, straight into a brightly sunny dining room which flowed onwards into what was the more formal of the two living rooms at the front of the house. Her section was larger, he realized… but he had no complaints whatsoever. She’d taken him in, given him more than he’d ever thought. And now, she fed him.
She sat across from him, eating with barely a glance. “So, what now?” She asked, and he shrugged.
“I see about getting my GED.” He’d need that, no matter what. No one would take him for a real apprenticeship without one, and he was done with faking it. “With that, I can apply for an apprenticeship.”
“Apprenticeship?” She echoed, finally settling her gaze on him. She was listening. Weighing. Contemplating. It was a giddy sensation after having had others blow this off too many times before.
“I want to be an electrician.” He stated stubbornly. It sounded so mundane when compared to what she was doing, but the fact remained. “I’m good at it.”
“Nothing wrong with being an electrician.” She noted, “Nothing to be defensive about at all. It’s decent work, and it can’t be outsourced.”
“You need to stop thanking me. But yes, a GED first, to get you started. Please tell me you have id.”
“I have id. I chased all that down in Utah, last year. Birth certificate, driver’s license.” This was why she was the one to go to. She didn’t bat an eyelash at his lack of a real education. She understood that there was a chance he didn’t actually have identification. She managed to both get it, and still have her own head screwed on correctly. “Except for my age, I’m all legal.” He knew that bothered her slightly, and he understood. If he could have held on in Utah, he would have. “Naomi, it’s not going to be a problem. I promise.” No one was going to come looking for him, he was sure of that. And even if they did…Ohio was a big place.
“What can I do for you? What do you need?” That’s what he needed to get across to her, that he was useful. Valuable enough to be worthy of this…
“I need a roommate. I never considered a male, but.”
“Split the bills and keep things a little safer?” He could manage that. Keeping his eyes to himself was a little more difficult, but again, something he could manage. He polished off the food, fighting down yet another thanks, and carried his plate to the kitchen. The room was clean, scrubbed, bright and he just wanted to stand there and drink it all in. He washed his plate and fork, placing them both in the dish drainer and moved into the laundry room. The machines here weren’t new, and they looked pretty straightforward to use. Every stitch of clothing he owned, including what he wore, smelled of the trailer. It was a reminder he wanted to get rid of as soon as possible.
“Absolutely.” He agreed, cautiously fiddling with the washer. If he was doing it wrong, she said nothing, and he started it to fill and added detergent. He gathered up his clothes, wrinkling his nose, and put them in to wash. “I like the house.” He offered after a long, quiet pause. It was almost a thank you, but not quite, and it was truthful. To have his own room, his own living room, his own bathroom…it was a luxury he’d never conceived of at this point in his life. Of course, he was now living with a young woman and he welcomed that boundary. He needed his own space, the idea of living hand in pocket with this one sounded like a recipe for disaster.
She smiled, obviously thoughtful, and he wished he could calm her doubts. But only time would show her just how serious he really was. Things changed, life changed. He had to have faith in that, if nothing else. All he could do right now was the small stuff, one little step at a time. Be the perfect roommate…well, as perfect as a young male could manage. At least he was handy. “My brother finally noticed I was gone.” He sighed, “Probably looking for money.”
“It happens.” She breathed, unsurprised. “You haven’t…?”
“All I told him was that I was in Ohio.” The last thing either one of them needed was the unannounced arrival of any of his brothers. He leaned against the wall, trying to think, but he was still tired enough to make that difficult.
“Elias?” She asked, concerned, and he flashed her a quick smile.
“Still tired.” He admitted. “It’s early?”
“Early for here, even earlier for Utah. I wasn’t expecting you awake this soon…”
And he wouldn’t have been, if his phone hadn’t woken him. “Phone.” He muttered, and she nodded.
“Go back to sleep, I’ll watch your laundry.”
And he’d rarely heard a better offer in his life. He nodded, headed straight back for his new bed. This time he was aware enough to pull the curtains tightly closed, and undress, settling into the worn soft and cleanly scented sheets. It was cool. It was dark. It was quiet, and he was gone in a moment.