Family Matters | A Short Story

“Look, it’s personal.” He watched her, trying to study how she would react.

Penny locked her gaze on him. But even though her eyes were blue like seawater, her gaze burned like fire. His body started breaking out in a sweat.

“Nothing’s personal.” She blinked and tilted her head, staring out the window.

The driver, an elderly woman, kept her gaze on the road. Smart, Evan thought.

He held up his hands. “This is about—”

“I don’t care what this is about.” Penny had developed a habit of interrupting people. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t break it. Like the habit was engrained in her skin, inside her brain.

Evan tapped a fingernail against the tinted glass of the window. “This isn’t about a what. It’s about a who.”

“Stop the car.”

The driver glanced at Evan in the rear-view mirror. He shook his head.

“Give me two minutes, Pen. That’s all I need.” Evan flattened out his shirt, running his sweaty hands over the fabric.

She closed her eyes. “Don’t call me that.”

“Okay, my bad.”

Penny opened her eyes to shoot him a look. “Really?”

“What?”

“Do all guys have such a hard time saying sorry? Or is it just you?”

He breathed out. “Careful there. Don’t make overgeneralizations.”

“Whatever.” Evan sensed Penny wanted to roll her eyes, but she didn’t. 

“I know this isn’t what you want to hear.”

“Trust me Evan. I never want to hear what you have to say.” She paused and pulled at the loose thread dangling from her blouse. “Just spit it out. You’re dragging this on.”

He nodded but looked away, out the window. “Your cousin.”

Penny flung herself around in the seat, the seatbelt not deterring her. “What the hell?”

“He’s in the hospital.”

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