By , Elk Grove, CA

Carson's dad went home and spoiled the whole hiding Emily bit. This happened because he was ill  but proper. Emily was a stranger, besides that. So she was shooed off to Carson's room to stay with his mom. It was okay though. His mom said after the health scare and the relevations of him hiding a woman, he wasn't welcome home anymore. Go live with your father! That's what she said. That's what he did. He was upset about the tension between him and his mother, but he enjoyed taking care of his father. Rekindling the relationship there. Now that he was relatively a legal adult, Carson could have a new and improved relationship with the whole world. When that idea hit him, he felt a glorious release of emotions. Worrying, always worrying about Carson vs. Dad and Vs. Jean and Vs. College. Why not have the Vs. Replaces by 'and'. This is why when he went to the grocery store for him and his father and he ran into Jean, he wasn't crying at all. He wasn't bitter. Jean was dolled up in a 'I'm too good for my hometown' way with black pumps and a pretty yet understated white blouse tucked into a grey miniskirt. She looked gorgeous. Radiant, even. Carson didn't stare impolitely, and you knew she noticed by the way she kept puffing her cheeks disappointedly. There was, in Jean's mind, nothing worse then changing something significant and having no one notice. Loren wasn't with her. He was at an appointment with his attorney about the case. She made the first move, something that never happened before. "Hi Carson." She said, feigning surprise that he hadn't stopped needing groceries in the past few weeks. "Hello, Jean. How are you?" Carson responded, almost stilted. He smiled a big fat childish smile that looked dopey. Jean was surprised by his happiness. He acted as though he had been given a death sentence when she first left. It even killed that doctor. "I'm doing great." She said, which wasn't a total lie. "Great." He said. The lingering smile might not be dopey, actually. It was cute. Sort of. Jeans eyebrows caused creases on her forehead gathering in ugly lines. She was reacting to what was in his bag. "I thought you and your mom were allergic to peanuts?" She said, gesturing to the peanut butter jar taking up most of the space in his green basket. The lines were eternally slow. This conversation would tug at every thread until the receipts printed. "I'm shopping for my dad now." "Oh." Oh. That was all she could think of? She was privy to his relationship with his dad being rocky, and she said Oh. Her number was finally up. In line. She absentmindedly filed her meager junk food onto the conveyor. Carson checked out the tabloid rack. The story was plastered over every issue, but he wouldn't ask. She had to jump the gun. "I'm here for the trial. They found the person that attacked him." She was excited. This was something he had been present there. He should get excited. Instead, his face fell. Slightly, not too much. He breathed out of his nose, but his smile returned. "Yeah, I know who did it. I found out before the tabloids." "Paper or plastic?" Asked the bagger. Jean was disoriented slightly. "Um, plastic." She said. "Hatin the environment, huh, Jean?" He was addressing her with a snarkiness he had never used before. He had nothing to gain from her anymore. "Hey," he continued, "This will do wonders for tourism. Trial of the century for Linda." She didn't know what to say as she picked up her few plastic bags.  "I feel like a tourist. In my own home town." He was loading his groceries and peanut butter onto the belt now. "See you around." He said. Jean was not his best friend or relationship goal anymore. She really was a tourist in their small town. Thus, why bother affording her any more attention than anyone else. He wasn't going to get hung up on people anymore. It only led to heartbreak. "Paper or plastic?" The bagger asked Carson, and he replied, "Paper." It was the last time Jean would hear his voice until the trial.

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