"Hey, Sadie," Tommy said, holding back a smile. He stuck his hands in his faded denim pockets as he looked her up and down silently. His smile finally broke out as all he could say was "Nice outfit."
Sadie gave Tommy a bitter smirk as he chuckled. She brushed her apron down, not letting the comment get to her and replied "It's part of the job. Are you here to order something, or just to harass me?"
"I'm sorry." Tommy gave her one last smile before he straightened out his face in all seriousness. "It's actually neither." Tommy looked behind him to see a line beginning to form. He leaned in closer to Sadie and asked quietly, "Do you have a break coming up?"
Sadie looked at Tommy and could tell whatever the subject was, it was important. She turned her head to the clock hanging to her left and said, "Give me about ten minutes."
Tommy nodded as he walked over to a table in the food court, still in Sadie's view. In the ten minutes she took three orders, never taking her eyes off of him. For all she knew, this could be when she finally gets him. Yet Tommy's thoughts were nowhere with Sadie. Although he was in her view, his gaze was out in the middle of nowhere. He was quickly brought back when Sadie's apron flew out of her hand and onto the table.
Sadie sat back and crossed her legs, trying to read him. He felt her eyes penetrate into him, but he continued to look away. She couldn't tell what was in his distant stare, so she asked playfully, "What did you want to speak to me about, Mr. Quincy?"
His eyes finally met hers. Tommy leaned forward, resting his forearms on the table. He looked around them to ensure their privacy as he spoke. "How--How's Jude doing?"
Now looking away from Tommy, Sadie gave a faint laugh. She felt so stupid for thinking it could ever be about herself, especially when it could be about Jude. She also leaned in and rested her arms on the table, mockingly. She replied, "She's fine. I mean, as fine as your life can be when the guy you look up to most breaks your heart." Leaving a look of terror on his face, Sadie pulled away from the table, sitting in her original position.
Tommy couldn't believe that Jude told Sadie about what happened. And even worse, it hurt Tommy that Sadie said he broke her heart. Tommy sat in silence as he leaned back in his chair. He knew he was wrong for what happened on Jude's sixteenth birthday, but he never thought he'd hurt her so much.
"Is that all you wanted, Tommy?" Sadie pulled her apron closer to her, fiddling with its strings. She couldn't seem to face Tommy after getting her hopes up. Avoiding his eyes, she stood and continued, "My break's only fifteen minutes…"
"Oh, yeah. Sorry. If you have somewhere else to be…" Tommy uttered, still distant.
Sadie could tell Tommy had more on his mind now than before she took her break, and something was wrong. She sat back down, crossed legs, apron on lap, and still playing with the strings. "No, not really. It--It kinda seems like you have somewhere else to be…" Sadie made an effort to get Tommy to look at her as she moved her face directly in front of hers. "Or already are somewhere else."
"Nope." Tommy replied coldly as he looked downwards. His thoughts were still fixed on Jude and the kiss they shared. It's been a week since that night, and he still couldn't get away from that moment. It lived in his dreams and his nightmares.
"What aren't you telling me, Tommy?" Sadie asked quietly, trying not to attract attention, but still get a reaction out of him. He looked at Sadie to see her eyes pleading with him to tell her the truth.
Tommy looked back at Sadie annoyed. Jude obviously told her about the night they kissed, so why was she making him talk about it? "Just this whole situation with Jude." His anger grew instantly as he thought of her recent behavior. He raised his voice, but still commented quietly, "She's just being so damn difficult."
"Our home is destroyed!" Sadie quickly snapped back. "God! Give her some time!" Looking away, she scoffed in disgust.
Tommy's anger vanished and his eyes grew wide with surprise. "What--What do you mean, 'destroyed'?"
Sadie's eyes began to water. She quickly wiped away the tears forming before they fell. "Well, Dad leaving and Mom being a total mess isn't what I call the perfect family. It's killing me that it has to be like this, but I feel even worse for Jude."
"Why Jude?" Tommy asked, clearing his throat.
"Dad was her hero. And then he ruined everything. And--And now everything she's looked up to is completely gone. Even worse, she pretends like it's not happening. I'm there for her, but she… I haven't even seen her cry."
Sadie wasn't quick enough to catch her tears as she lost all control of her emotions. She wept as Tommy raced around the table to her side, trying to comfort her. "It's okay. It'll be okay."
At that moment, Tommy understood "Skin" was never about him. He cradled a broken Sadie in his arms, not because of a kiss, but because of their father. Tommy Quincy finally realized he really did need to get over himself.
"Thanks," Sadie murmured from Tommy's arms. She pushed herself away and wiped her tears from her face. She casually stood and put her apron on.
Tommy looked at her curiously. She seemed as if nothing had happened just a minute ago. He felt like more of a mess than Sadie at the moment. "Are you sure you're okay to go back to work?"
Sadie brushed her hands over her face one more time. She calmly replied, "I'm not the one you should be worried about. I'm fine." Sadie then walked off, leaving a helpless Tommy in the food court.