“So, how do I move on?” LM asked.
Kalyla traced the boy’s drawn jawline with his fingertip and he didn’t respond.
“Could you at least give me a hint? Tell me which way to turn. Tell me where to live. How to…how to…how…” LM sat back in his seat. “I don’t know. I just don’t know.” He unfolded his arms and flapped his hands in irritation. “I don’t even know how I got talking about all of this with you. I came in here for solitude. Not for some psychological counseling.”
“I could leave if you wish.”
LM scoffed. “I don’t know. Maybe you should. Maybe you should go back to your job.” He winced as the words came out with more venom than he’d intended. “Or don’t. Maybe you should just stay.” He checked out the drawing.
The boy was harsh cheekbones and hard clavicles. He was darkened shadows. But his eyes had a brilliant light in them.
LM studied Kalyla’s face.
The somberness of his expression.
“Yeah.” LM said. “Stay with me.”
Kalyla looked up at him.
“You deserve to be in here too.”
“Okay!” Jay stood. “We got your legs in the correct holes. I’ll raise your slacks until you can easily reach them. Do you think you can take over from there?”
“I’ll do my best.”
“Okay. Good. Here we go.” As he pulled Isellta’s slacks upward, Jay smiled.
Isellta gently brushed his knuckles along Jay’s cheekbone. “What are you thinking about, my dear Jay?”
“I’m just kind of amazed. I never imagined myself being in this kind of position.”
“Kind of position?”
“Taking care of you like you’re my own kid. Being willing to lay down my life for you. Just loving you the way I do.”
Isellta exhaled a soft “Oh.” He took a hold of the waistband’s sides and raised the slacks as high as he could while still sitting. “I never thought anyone other than Da could feel that way for me. I never expected it.”
“Trust me, kid. Loving you is one of the easiest things to do.”
Isellta lowered his gaze. “Then, why couldn’t Momma love me? I didn’t want much. I didn’t expect it. I knew what people said about her and Da. I knew what they said about me. I just wanted…I would have taken a little. So very little. I never would have asked for hugs and kisses from her. I know that would have been too much. Just a smile. A smile would have meant everything to me. Because the simple truth is I loved her. And I still do.”
The guard sat beside him on the bed. “Do you mind if I hug you?”
“My dear Jay.” He looked up at him with a smile. “You know I never mind.”
Jay gently pulled him into a hug.
Isellta released his grip on his slacks and returned the hug. He rubbed Jay’s back. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”