This Isn't You, Baby

By: K Webster

Age Sixteen

“This is stupid, Dad,” I say with a grunt. “We should have called the cops and had them follow us to Coronado Beach. That prick belongs in prison.”

Dad leans back in his office chair and swivels to regard me. Frown lines mar his otherwise smooth forehead, and I swear he’s sporting a few greys that weren’t there last month. The meeting with Gabe and Hannah at the beach several days ago has taken a toll on my father. It’s driving him crazy not being able to tell my mother. The guilt is written all over his face. “We can’t and you know that. They’ll take her away from us.”

I wince at his rough tone and pinch the bridge of my nose in frustration. “I know,” I concede. “I just hate him. Hate that the old fucker is with Han.”

“Language, son,” he grunts before turning back to his computer where he’s been looking up Gabe’s daughter’s whereabouts. “I hate him too. He’s evil and unpredictable but…” he trails off.

So is Hannah.

We’re both thinking it but neither of us voice it.

She killed Gabe’s wife, for crying out loud. If we called the police, they’d take away my sister right along with him. And while that would upset our family, it would devastate my father. He loves her with damn blinders on. Sees past her moments of crazy that the rest of us in this family can’t always overlook.

“Heath Berkley looks good on paper,” he says as he toggles between screens. My dad is smart as shit with computer stuff. I’m not stupid enough to not know that what he’s doing is illegal. But when it comes to his family, I think Dad would do whatever needed to be done. “I just wish there was a way we could keep an eye on her. She’s our only insurance. The Berkleys live about an hour from here. It’ll be hard to stay on top of her.”

While Dad flips through his financials, I scroll through my pictures to some selfies Hannah took with my phone. In the pictures, my sister looks calm and casual. The storm that brews sometimes in her eyes isn’t present in the photos. It saddens me. I fucking miss her crazy ass.

“Jesus Jacopo.”


“That’s the name of the kid who mows their lawn. They don’t use a fancy lawn service. Just some kid,” Dad states as if this means anything to me.

“Okaaaaaay,” I draw out, furrowing my brows together in confusion.

“I’m going to call Jesus and double what he makes in an entire season working for them. You’re going to take his place.”

At this I laugh. “No, Dad.”

“Ren,” he grumbles. “You’re sixteen with no job. Just because we aren’t hurting for money doesn’t mean you’ll get away with not having a job. Most males have a job at sixteen. It’s like a rite of passage.”

I huff. “Hannah didn’t have a job.”

“Hannah’s different. We’ve discussed this.”

I curl up my lip in disgust. “So I’m supposed to mow lawns for some family just so I can spy on psycho Gabe’s daughter.”

He frowns and turns to regard me. “The girl lost her mother and her father without any explanation. It isn’t fair for her. Just do this for our family. Please.”

Guilt surges through me. Not because of the girl but because Dad has never really asked me to do anything of such importance. I don’t want to let him down.

“Fine. But if she’s insane like her dad, I’m out.”

I pull up to the sprawling gated Berkley Estate. They’re clearly loaded as hell. The house is gigantic and so is the damn yard. I could be surfing this summer but instead, twice a week, it looks like I’ll be the Berkeley’s indentured servant.

Thanks a lot, Han.

With a huff, I climb out of the black truck my parents bought me eight months ago. My irritation shows as I stomp to the back of my truck and wrangle my brand new lawnmower out. Dad purchased the lawn equipment for me last night. We spun a story for Mom and she believes I’m mowing to earn some extra cash to start paying for my own car insurance. Dad droned on and on about how teens need to earn things so they don’t turn out to be spoiled brats. After all that’s happened with Hannah lately, I don’t even think Mom was really listening.

At first, as I begin mowing the big ass lawn, I’m pissed. I crank up some Nine Inch Nails on my headphones and ignore the world around me. I’m supposed to be keeping an eye out for this Gabriella girl, but she’s nowhere to be found. Just me and the damn never-ending yard. When I become completely drenched in sweat, I yank off my wet T-shirt and stuff it into the back of my shorts. It’s then when I feel it.