Butterfly Kisses | ✓

30 | peony


[paeonia officinalis] ➳ healing.

ON SATURDAY, I CAUGHT Isaac Marshall stealing milk out of my fridge.

The night before, our taxi had dropped Elsie off at her nursing home, and me and Isaac off at my house, where my parents had allowed him to sleep on the couch. I doubted he’d slept at all, though, seeing as he texted me bright and early in the morning.

I’d curled up in bed while he messaged me from downstairs, sending me screenshots of all the therapist options his father was looking into. Shortly after learning about his son’s kleptomania, he’d gotten right to the search, leaving no time for unnecessary judgement.

Then the afternoon rolled around, and things descended into chaos when Jackie Merritt showed up at our front door three hours ahead of schedule with two suitcases and an unexpected apology.

“My dad is really sorry about this,” she said, lugging her belongings into the hall. Mom helped her with the larger suitcase as I stood at the entrance to the kitchen, cradling a cup of coffee in my hands. Jackie’s eyebrows furrowed, like she was reciting her father’s words verbatim. “He says he doesn’t want to trouble his friends any more than he already has.”

“Oh, it’s no trouble at all, Jackie,” Mom assured her, pulling up her sleeves. She heaved the suitcase onto the first step of the staircase. “We’re happy to help in any way we can. But, on that note…”

I cringed, turning into the kitchen before I had to listen to her explain that the guest room wasn’t ready yet. My parents had overslept because they weren’t morning people, and I had overslept because the party last night had gone on far too long. Isaac had been the only one up and running at a reasonable hour, but no one was going to make him tidy the house.

Leaning against the counter, I faced him, wrinkling my nose when he snuck the carton of creamer out from the refrigerator door. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“This house needs more caffeine,” Isaac said, setting the carton down and pushing a button on the coffee machine. I glanced around, noting that he already had a mug on the counter. Once the brewer got to work, he brought his cup to his lips and grimaced. “I hate coffee.”

I laughed. “It’s just too bitter for you.” Tapping a finger to his nose, I slid his mug out of his hands. I filled it to the brim with cream and expertly spooned in some sugar. “Try it now.”

He took a tentative sip, scrunching up his face again. “Still hate it.”

I pretended to shove him out of the kitchen. “Well, don’t let my parents find out,” I said with mock-disdain. “They survive on this stuff.”

Isaac groaned. He was probably craving a Slurpee or something, and I didn’t blame him. As much as coffee kept my eyes open, it felt like too much after the night we’d had. It was very adult, when all I wanted to do was spend our one weekend of summer together acting like the teenagers we were.

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