Ordinary World Soap Opera
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Episode 688: Punishment

The dew seeped through his clothes. Jesse felt it, but he couldnít do anything about it. As much as he wanted to stand up, as much as he wanted to ease his little brotherís mind, it wasnít happening. He was exhausted, his body achy, his muscles doing that locked down thing they did sometimes.

"Just sit down, Nate," he said. "Iíll be okay in a minute."

"Thatís what you said, like eight minutes ago. Let me call mom and dad. Let me call-"

"No. Just relax, okay. Pacing and freaking out isnít-"

"Caroline," Nate called out.

Jesse spotted her a second after Nate did. She walked across the grass, so pretty with her butterfly wings glowing behind her. Nate ran to meet her; the kid nearly bowled her over with a hug. His little brother barely knew Caroline. He must have been even more terrified than Jesse had thought.

The more he thought about it, the more terrible Jesse felt, and he already felt terrible to begin with, the only thing that brought him comfort was Caroline drawing closer, or rather, Nate dragging her closer by the hand. Caroline would calm everything.

"Do something," Nate demanded of Caroline.

"Thereís nothing I can do. Iím not a doctor."

Caroline frowned at Jesse. He didnít find that very comforting. He found even less comfort when he noticed some guy in a baseball player costume, hovering behind Caroline, very near her shoulder.

"Whoís he?"

Caroline glanced back as if sheíd forgotten anyone else was around. It was a little comforting to realize her focus was so firmly on him that she was oblivious to anyone else; still, it sure looked like she was with someone else, someone tall and strong, and someone capable of standing on his own two feet.

"Whoís that?" Jesse repeated.

"I donít know," she said. "He drove me here."

"He drove you here. So, youíre letting guys you donít know drive you places. Smart."

"Youíre the one who canít get off the ground and wonít see anyone about it, and youíre questioning my smarts?"

"I know what Iím doing. Iím fine. I will be."

Caroline rolled her eyes. "You arenít fine. You havenít been fine for a long time. So here I am, driving around with a guy I donít know to come check on you." She sank to her knees on the grass and brushed Jesseís hair away from his forehead. "Iím a glutton for punishment."

Nate dropped down beside her. "I donít understand."

"Yeah, you do," Caroline said to him. "Youíre scared, right, Nate? Youíre looking at Jesse and it scares you, it feels like the worst punishment ever, doesnít it? So, you know, why wouldnít I let some guy drive me other places, too, wouldnít you rather be anywhere, Nate, than looking at him like this?"

Episode 689: The Truth About Love

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