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Chapter 5 - Cassidy

I hate my brother. Okay, I don’t hate him. But ugh, he’s such a little shithead. I don’t get what’s wrong with him. Just like the people he surrounds himself with. Is being a sexist pig his way of rebelling? If it is, that’s a fucked up way to rebel. 

He’d already stormed upstairs and locked himself up in his room. I sighed and begrudgingly went to my room too. I may not like being at Ravenwood with all these snobby rich kids. But I won’t let that make me slack on my grades. I have a reputation as a straight-A student to uphold. 

I kept putting off doing my Trig assignment. Even looking at my textbook pissed me off. I want to shove that book up Collin’s ass and then down Principal Walter’s throat. Yes, I’m saying ass to mouth but fuck Walters. I may not like Collin, but he’s not the one that fucking volunteered me to tutor him. He didn’t even ask for a tutor. 

It was still sitting untouched when I had to come down for dinner. James was still sulking. Insert the most giant eye roll in history. “So, how was school today?” Mom asked as she dished out helpings of lasagna. James groaned. 

“Before the tirade begins. Mine went great. Have a date with a senior Saturday night and plan for a pickup game with some of the guys Friday after school, so I won’t be home for dinner.” James reported with a smile, shoving an inhuman bite into his mouth. 

“James! Human bites! And don’t talk with your mouth full.” Mamá scolded, smacking his arm. Generally, mom has a violent streak, but Mamá shows these hints of her fiery Latino side. Mainly if we do something impolite. 

“Sorry, Mamá.”James apologized after swallowing his food. “Now then, what’s this about a tirade?” Mom arched her red brow at me. “Fucking Walters and needle dick jocks.” I grumbled, stabbing my fork into my lasagna. 

“Cassidy London Summers, watch your language.” Mom pointed her fork at me. “Sorry, mom.” I grumbled. “Now, what’s your problem with the Principal, and what did the sports player do to offend you today?” Mom sighed. James rolled his eyes while Mamá shook her head at me.

“Please tell me you didn’t get called to the principal’s office again for starting another fight with someone.” Mamá frowned. “No.” I grumbled. “Though she did ball check one of our star basketball players in gym today.” James interjected. 

“Mind your business, amoeba. Jerks that think it’s cool to be a sexist piece of trash that assaults women don’t get to speak at a table of women.” I glared across the table at my brother.

“Cassidy? Where is this coming from? James isn’t like that.” Mamá frowned. “Yeah, I’m not like that.” James repeated.

“Oh, bullshit! You still happily hang out with Brant Jones despite what he did to me. You defend him. Not just for how he treated me but how he treats all the girls at school. You laugh when he calls Amy Bannister horrid named like Pillsbury Dough Girl. You high-fived him when he didn’t get punished for putting CAMERAS in the GIRLS locker room.” I countered, calling him out without hesitation. It’s about time our moms realized what kind of piece of shit son they have raised.

Mamá gasped, a hand covering her mouth while the other pressed to her heart. Mom, well, her face turned as red as our shared hair. Both their eyes were locked in on James. One silently piling mom guilt by the truck full as her brown eyes were glossy. The other radiating silent and deadly furry.

“James Michael Summers!” Mom looked like her hair was about to become real flames just to express her rage. “I…. I don’t do any of that.” James gulped as he tried to deny it.

“You little fucking liar. Want me to call Amy right now? Ask if you’ve ever laughed or called her names for her weight?” I slammed my hands on the table.

James was withering knowing I had him. “It was just joking around. No one was getting hurt.” James was starting to shake under the gaze of our moms.

“Just jokes?” Mamá sniffled. “No one was getting hurt?” Mom’s green eyes had hardened to emeralds and were glaring daggers. If she could make lasers with them, James would be ash.

James was grasping for straws. “You mean you and your neanderthals weren’t getting hurt.” I snorted. “She did lose some weight after it, though. It was playful teasing, and it got her to lose weight.”

“Wow, you are so fucking dense. And obviously, pay zero attention. Amy missed a whole month of school at the end of last year. Do you know why? Do you know why no one saw her all summer?”  I leaned forward.

James gulped. Either he knew or was terrified of what the truth was. “She wasn’t eating because asswipes like you were fat-shaming her. She was skipping every meal till she was found blacked out on her bathroom floor by her mother. She was hospitalized. She almost died. She spent her summer at a special treatment center for body dysmorphia and eating disorders.” I laid it all out there.

Mamá gasped, starting to cry. “James…how… how could the sweet baby boy I carried in my womb… the sweet boy who would pick wildflowers for us. Who we raised to show compassion and kindness to all. How could you do such a thing?” 

Victory is mine. “I… I didn’t... I didn’t know that happened.” James stammered. “Mamá, don’t cry. Please. I promise I’m still the person you raised me to be.” he reached for her, but Mamá pulled away. “Room. Now. Ground. Month.” Mom managed to speak, pointing a finger in the direction of the stairs.

“Mom, come on. I... I didn’t do anything. Brant is the one that would tease her.” James tried to defend. “That’s the problem, James. You did nothing. You stood there. You let this boy belittle and shame that girl. We raised you to stand up for people. You need to think about how your inactions have just as much effect as your friends’ actions.” Mamá shook her head. 

James shot me a glare as he pushed away from the table. “You are dead for this.” He whispered as he passed my chair. I don’t care. I said what needed to be said. He’s just pissed to be called out in front of our moms. They like to think he’s so perfect because he doesn’t get sent to the principal. What he does is worse than anything I’ve ever been sent to the office for. 

The dining room was silent for a while as mom and mamá tried to calm down. They were two ends of a spectrum of mom reactions. I’m just glad they know and will actually do something about James. “Cassidy, why did you not tell us?” Mamá questioned.

I sighed. “I’ve tried. Multiple times. Every time I get dismissed, something else overshadows it. Usually, James did something to turn the tables, so you focused on whatever I did. And so you’d focus on the latest trouble I got into because I speak up when I see a wrong happening.” I shrugged and poked my lasagna with my fork.

They both sighed and shared some unreadable parent look. “We’re sorry that we have been dismissive of what you’ve had to say. In no way should your protests and attempts to fight injustice that land you in trouble overshadow your brother being that injustice.” Mom sighed.

“Thanks. And I get it. I’m the one who gets in trouble because I’m the agitator.” I shrugged. “And we’re proud of you, mi hija.” Mamá smiled, covering my hand with her own. “You may get in trouble, but it’s always for a reason. And you still keep such good grades.” She squeezed my hand before letting go.

“Speaking of your grades. Mary Cole and I had a chat today during our lunch hour.” Mamá continued to smile while my face went pale. The Hell!? “What? Why?” I furrowed my brow.

“Well, you know that I’m colleagues with Mary, and we get along. She’s one of the managers at the west side bank locations. We had a managers luncheon today.” Mamá waved a hand like this should be common sense to me. 

“Mamá, what did Mrs. Cole want, and why were my grades brought up?” I asked, trying to maintain calm. “Oh, she was telling me how her boy wasn’t doing well in Trigonometry and when she called the school to see what could be done about a tutor, of course, Mrs. Graham and Principal Walters thought of you.” She continued talking like I wasn’t about to lose my shit.

“Well, of course, they thought of Cass. She’s got your brains.” Mom winked, making mamá blush. “You know you can’t claim that she was your egg. And you give yourself too little credit, Miss Valedictorian of her class.” Mamá laughed. 

I rolled my eyes. “Okay, you two are cute and in love, and it’s all kinds of equal parts great and gross.” I sighed. “What did Mrs. Cole ask or say to you? And what did you say?” I questioned.

“Oh, she asked if you would be willing to tutor her son. Even offered to pay you twenty dollars an hour.” Mamá smiled while mom whistled. “That’s not bad. Tutoring an hour a day is easy money. And if you tutor more than one day a week.” Mom nodded in approval.

My grip on my fork was so tight my knuckles were turning white. “What. Did. You. Say?” I questioned. “Oh, I told her you’d be delighted. You’d been looking to get some pocket money, and tutoring does look good on a college application.” Mamá smiled.

In my mind, I saw my head shoot into the atmosphere with my rage. How could she? How could she agree to something like that?

“Mamá, how could you do that to me? Did you even consider me in this? Offering me up like some sacrificial lamb? I don’t care if Mrs. Cole pays me a million dollars an hour. No amount of money is worth the stain on my soul that spending any time with Collin Cole would leave.” I wrinkled my nose in disgust as I said his name.

“Cassidy London Summers! I think you are being over the top. And you need to learn to get along with other people. Perhaps this boy isn’t as bad as you think.” Mamá suggested. She can’t be serious. No amount of time tutoring Collin Cole could change my mind on him.

“He’s a pig. One of those jock pricks that sleeps with any girl willing to spread her legs, not that I’m slut shaming, just saying they should raise their standards. He takes pleasure in being crude, rude, and mean to others, especially me. He’s one of the tormentors I have at that school. Just today, I almost got in trouble in Trig because he grabbed my ponytail and yanked it.” I scoffed indignantly. 

“Cassidy, you talk about how you want to change the world. That you want to make things better. But if you immediately are dismissive of the aggressors, they will never change. The only way to bring about change is to change the minds and hearts of others. And that cannot be done without communication. So you will tutor that boy, and if you press this issue, you’ll be doing it for free.” Mamá snorted with a firm nod. 

I turned to mom, looking for support. “Mom… come on. Would you have forced yourself to deal with Shaw Frost or any of those kids you didn’t care for in high school?” I questioned, hoping to appeal to her. To appeal to the side of her that she shares with me. 

Mom sighed. “Cassidy, I understand where you are coming from. But your mamá is right. Maybe if I had made attempts to face people like Shaw in a non-combative way, things would have been different growing up. So do as your mamá says.” mom sighed, nodding.

God damn it! “If the boy says or does anything inappropriate, I’ll castrate him and send him home with his testes in a jar to remember a time he could once be called a fertile man.” she added, a sinister look in her eyes. As angry as I was right now, I love this woman. She is everything I aspire to be when I grow up. 

“Thanks. You’re real gems.” I grumbled, pushing away from the table. “I’m going to finish my homework. I’ll do the dishes after.” I added as I walked away. I tried to remain calm till I got to my room. Then I screamed into my pillow.

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