Addilynn Wilts stood at the old run-down diner/truck stop that served as the bus depot in Bailey, Texas. Pulling her hair back into a messy bun, she knelt on the ground; rummaging around in her backpack looking for the pack of cigarettes she had stuffed in there earlier that morning. Finding the pack and then locating a box of matches, she lit one and took a deep drag as she thought about the event that led up to this moment.
Her mother, Sharon, had left with her 'rodeo' cowboy boyfriend two weeks ago. It wasn't the first time her mother had left her fending for herself. It was certainly the last time though. Addilynn had made sure of that when she packed her stuff and went to the greyhound station and purchased a ticket to the small town of Bailey. Her aunt, Sharon's sister, and a cousin of Addilynn's still lived in the area.
++++++2 Weeks ago++++++
Sharon tossed her faux cheetah print purse into the driver's side seat through the open window of her old Volkswagen convertible. Hoping she would be gone by now. She didn't want to face her daughter, Addilynn, knowing the look on her face would break her heart. She lit a cigarette as she saw Addilynn walking up the drive.
Addilynn saw her mother and then her mother's car and immediately knew what was happening. She was leaving again. And by the looks of it, Addilynn wasn't going. Again. "We go somewhere?" She asked already know the answer.
"Don't be mad, Honey. Dewayne asked me to go. It's only for a two months. He has a few shows in Oklahoma." Sharon answered. Tossing her cigarette to the ground and stomping on it with the toe of her red high heeled shoes, she sighed. "He asked me to go."
"Oklahoma? Two Months?" Addilynn told her. "You don't have to go off with every guy you date, Mom. "
Sharon pouted. "You're all grown up now, Adi. You don't need your momma around to cramp your style. You'll be fine without me."
"Two months will turn into four, and four will turn into six and you won't even come back with the same guy, Mom." Addilynn snapped. She was tired of always being left behind by her mother. A guy would give her a look and a few sweet words and her mother was putty in their hands. That's how it's always been and Addilynn didn't see any signs of that changing anytime soon.
"Honey, what do you want me to do?" Sharon frowned.
"Say No." Was Addilynn's answer. She was tired of arguing. It was easier just to let her mother go and do what she wanted than to try and stop her.
"Adi-wade." Her mother used her childhood nickname for her.
"Its fine, mom. Just go." Addilynn threw over her shoulder as she walked into their rented trailer.
Waiting until she heard her mother's car clank down the driveway, she sank against the door and let the tears flow.
Tapping her fingers on the side of the payphone inside the diner, Addilynn waited and waited as her cousin, Mindy's cell phone rang. It was the only number she had for Mindy and hoped it hadn't changed or had been disconnected.
"Hello?" Mindy answered after the sixth ring.
"Took you long enough." Addilynn smiled into the receiver.
"Adi! Girl, it's been forever. How are you?" Mindy exclaimed.
"I've been good. Listen, I'm here." Addilynn told her, sighing a breath of relief.
"Here? Here where?" Mindy asked confused.
"Bailey." She answered. "I was on the bus. I just got here. Could you pick me up?"
"What in the world? Where's Aunt Sharon?" Mindy asked.
"In Oklahoma with Dewayne or Earl or Fred, I don't really remember his name." Addilynn explained.
"Oh, again?" Addilynn said yes and Mindy told her she would be on her way.
Grabbing another cigarette from the pack, Addilynn lit it. She was just putting it out when she saw Mindy pull up in a green blazer. Stopping right in front of her on the side walk, Mindy jumped out, leaving the driver's side door open as she took Addilynn into a big hug. "Look at my baby cousin! You are gorgeous! It's so good to see you."
"Thanks for picking me up, Mindy. I know it's out of the blue, but I didn't have Aunt Serena's number." Addilynn told her, picking up the handle of one of her suitcases.
"She changed it again yesterday, so it wouldn't have mattered. Is this all you have, Adi?" Mindy asked, grabbing the handle of Addilynn's second suitcase.
Addilynn nodded yes. She only had two suitcases and her backpack. "Yeah. We move around a lot, so it's better to not have a ton of stuff. Makes packing momma's car easier."
Mindy sighed as she opened the back of her blazer, shoving the suitcases in and slamming the tailgate shut, she couldn't believe Sharon. She was all the time leaving Addilynn. She was eight years old than Addilynn. Her mother, Serena, was like Sharon when it came to men, but Serena never uprooted Mindy. They had always lived in Bailey. Sharon on the other hand, followed men everywhere and dragged Addilynn along until Addilynn was old enough to stay by herself.
Climbing into the driver's side, Mindy asked, "So what happened this time? Had to be pretty bad, you've never came home before."
Home. Addilynn hadn't known the word or feeling since she was a little girl. She filled Mindy in on Sharon's relationship with the new guy and what had happened. "I couldn't do it anymore, Mindy. I'm eighteen; I'm tired of moving from place to place because she has to go where this one goes."
"Awe, honey, I'm sorry. Aunt Sharon never stayed in one place long." Mindy said, "I know you feel like a fish out of water, but she was right about one thing. You're grown now. Look at it like she did you a favor. This is your new start. Coming back here, being with family. It's what you need."
"I guess." Addilynn answered, staring out the window as Mindy pulled onto the highway.
"Believe me, she did. Everything will be just fine." Mindy assured her.
Almost an hour later, Mindy turned off the highway and pulled onto a short dirt road. Coming to a stop at the front of a white ranch style home, she got out and walked around to Addilynn's side as Addilynn got out.
"Whose place is this?" Addilynn asked, following Mindy onto the porch.
"Mama's." Mindy answered, opening the front door and yelling, "Mama! Come here!"
"What are you doing, yelling like that, Mindy?" Serena's voice was heard from the kitchen.
Mindy smiled at Addilynn. "Aunt Serena! Stop complaining'." Addilynn shouted.
"Oh my god, it can't be!" Serena shrieked running onto the front porch. " My word, would you look at this angel?" Hugging Addilynn, she asked what happened to Sharon.
Taking a seat in the rockers on the porch, Addilynn filled her in as well. After hearing the story again, Mindy walked inside and grabbed three beers from the refrigerator. Handing one to Serena and Addilynn, she sat back down with the third one.
"Honey, I wish I could tell you I'm surprised, but that's my sister and your mother. Worst thing she could have done was have a baby, No offense, sweetheart, but it's just terrible she drags you all over god's green earth, but you've graduated and now you're home in Bailey where you belong." Serena said, sipping her beer. " We all know how she is."
Addilynn nodded. She understood. Aunt Serena's words didn't hurt her, they were true. It felt good being there with her aunt and cousin. She loved Bailey. The small town had been her home once. Nowhere else felt the same.
"So, Mindy, what's been going on with you?" Addilynn asked, peeling the label off her bottle.
"She done went and got married a few months ago!" Serena answered for Mindy.
Addilynn smiled. "Married, really?"
"Yes, really. His name is Billy. He owns a garage with his brother." Mindy told her.
"That's great, Minds. I didn't think you'd get married this young." Addilynn commented.
"Young? Adi, I'm 26. That's closer to thirty than 20." Mindy explained.
Addilynn laughed, "Oh okay."
They sat there on Serena's porch, sipping beer, enjoying the breeze and talking about nothing in particular. This is what she needed. This atmosphere. Her family. People who wouldn't run out on her and leave her alone. Addilynn looked at her aunt and cousin. She admired their relationship and kind of envied it. Her mother and her could never sit there long enough to have a conversation without her mother's boyfriend at the time somehow entering the conversation. Turning her thoughts back to Mindy and Serena, They were in a polite argument about why Mindy was a size bigger than when she got married. Addilynn laughed but didn't join in the conversation.
She let her mind wander off as she looked out at the road. A few moments later, a tow truck came into view.
"That's the boys." Serena commented.
"Boys?" Addilynn asked, looking to the tow truck that was pulling up into the yard beside Mindy's blazer.
Tim was driving the tow truck. He always drove the tow truck. Billy's driving was not exactly the safest these past few years. Pulling to a stop beside Mindy's blazer, Tim grabbed hold of Billy's arm just as he was getting out of the truck to greet Mindy.
" Would you look at that." He saw Addilynn and stared.
"That? As in the third female?" Billy huffed.
" God's most awesome creation." Tim smirked.
" Dumb-ass." Billy laughed.
"My husband, Billy and his brother, Tim." Mindy replied, standing up and walking to Billy who Addilynn assumed was the shorter of the two, because he got right out, but the taller one, the driver sat and stared at her for a moment, before he got out. He then walked around to Billy and Mindy.
"Hey, Mindy. Who's that?" Tim asked Mindy.
Mindy smiled. "That is my cousin."
Addilynn stood and walked to the three of them. Holding out her hand, she shook Billy's hand and then Tim's. "I'm Addilynn." She introduced herself.
"Nice to meet you." Tim told her.
Serena had walked into the house after she had announced the boys were there. Apparently, Friday afternoons, they all gathered at Serena's house to eat dinner and visit. Like a real family.