Saint Anything

Author: P Hana

Page 18

   

David Ibarra

There was a time I’d done this almost daily. I’d spent hours following the Internet presence of this boy I’d never met. I’d learned that his nickname was Brother because, according to one of the many articles after the accident, he treated everyone like family. His name popped up on several video game forums, so I knew he was really good at Warworld. The sports archive of the local paper had all his rec soccer stats: strong on defense, not so much on scoring. And while his Ume.com profile was private, there was an open page dedicated to him called Friends of Brother, which appeared to be maintained by his sister. That was where I’d gotten most of the info on his recovery and various fund-raisers to help with his medical bills. It was also a source for page after page of comments from his friends and family.

So proud of you for your continuing strength and courage! We love you.

Won’t be able to make the spaghetti dinner, but we’re sending a contribution. You’re our hero, Brother.

Sending good wishes from here in the Lone Star State! Can’t wait to see you at the reunion. Stay strong.

So many times I’d imagined leaving a comment of my own, although I knew I never could. My last name was the last thing they wanted on that page, even with an apology following it. But that didn’t stop me from crafting what I’d write. Sometimes, on really bad days, I’d go so far as to imagine myself going to him in person and saying everything I carried so heavily in my heart. Would he listen, and maybe somehow understand? In the next beat, though, it would hit me like a slap how pathetic I was for even thinking this. Like there was anything I could say that would give him that night—and his legs—back.

The hardest thing, though, was the summary of the Ume.com page, posted at the very top. I could wade through a hundred comments of love and good wishes. These few sentences, though, hit me like a punch to the gut, every single time.

In February 2014, David Ibarra was hit by a drunk driver while riding his bike home from his cousin’s house, leaving him partially paralyzed. This page is dedicated to his story. Please leave a comment! And thank you for your support.

Now, on the wall, I read these familiar words once, then twice. Like it was some sort of mantra, a spell to cancel out what had happened that morning with my mom. I’d always remember the truth. Just to be sure, though, I made a point of bringing it front and center, right there before my eyes

There had been no shortage of bad moments in those early weeks after Peyton’s accident. But one had really stuck with me. It was a passing remark I’d overheard as I came down the stairs one day. My parents were in the kitchen.

“What was a fifteen-year-old doing out riding his bike at two in the morning, anyway?”

Silence. Then my dad. “Julie.”

“I know, I know. But I just wonder.”

I just wonder. That was the moment I realized my mom would never be able to really hold Peyton responsible for what he’d done. Their bond was too tight, too tangled, for her to see reason. Like anyone deserved to be hit by a car and paralyzed. Like he was asking for it. For days afterward, I had trouble even looking at her.

In February 2014, David Ibarra was hit by a drunk driver while riding his bike home from his cousin’s house, leaving him partially paralyzed. This page is dedicated to his story. Please leave a comment! And thank you for your support.

I just wonder.

“Hey.”

As I looked up, startled, I had this fleeting thought that I would see David Ibarra in front of me. But it was Layla. When she saw my face, her eyes widened.

“What’s wrong?”

I swallowed, hard. And then, somehow, I was talking. “My brother’s in prison for drunk driving. He left a kid paralyzed. And I hate him for it.”

As I spoke, I realized I’d held these words in for so long and so tightly that I felt the space they left empty once released. It was vast enough that I could think of nothing to follow them.

Layla looked at me for a long moment. Then she sat down beside me and said, “So there’s this thing about me.”

I don’t know what reply I’d been expecting from her, but it wasn’t this. I said, “I’m sorry?”

“I never forget a face. Like, never. I wish I could sometimes.” She swallowed, then turned to look at me. “I saw you, in the courthouse. A few weeks back? You were coming out of the bathroom.”

Until that moment, I had totally forgotten everything about that day except Peyton being sentenced. But as she said this, the rest of the details came rushing back. Ames taking me to the bathroom and waiting outside. Washing my hands, dreading rejoining him. And a girl who met my eyes and didn’t look away.

“That was you?” She nodded. “I’d forgotten.”

“I know. Anyone else would have. But I recognized you the minute I saw you at Seaside.”

“You didn’t say anything.”

“Because it tends to creep people out.” She sighed. “I mean, for everyone else, you see a stranger and then forget them. Faces only stick for a reason. But with me, it’s like a photograph, filed away in my mind.”

“That’s nuts,” I said.

“I know. Mac always says I should join the circus, or run a scheme or something, so I’m at least putting my power to use.”

We were quiet another moment. Finally I said, “Why were you there?”

“At the courthouse?” I nodded. “I was with Rosie. She’s had to check in with the judge about her progress every couple of months since she got busted.”

I had a flash of the crack her sister had made about Logan Oxford and Layla’s equally snide reply. “Was it drugs?”

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