Run, Girl (If You Can) - Chapter 174 - Why Did You Call Me?

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 19:15:47]
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Aaron once claimed that he noticed everything about Keeley and had the evidence to back it up with some really random observations. It must have been how he figured out what her dream was without her ever telling him. Still, she wanted confirmation.

"How did you know?"

"Cystic fibrosis is an oddly specific thing to study. I remembered learning about it in biology class, how it caused breathing problems. There\'s a picture of a little blonde boy that looks kind of like you in your dad\'s house wearing a nasal cannula. It wasn\'t rocket science."

So it WAS his observational skills at work. She was almost impressed.

"Um…did he die from it? Is that why it matters to you so much?"

Keeley was so surprised by his straightforwardness that she answered without thinking. She had never talked about this to anyone before.

"Yes and no. He was coming home from the hospital where he was getting another treatment to thin the mucus in his lungs when he and my mom were approached by a mugger. They were both shot," she said emotionlessly.

She heard a sharp intake of breath from the other side of the phone. "I\'m so sorry. I had no idea that was how they both…I shouldn\'t have said anything."

"It\'s fine. It was a long time ago." Her spirits were slightly lifted by the obvious worry in his usually flat voice that he had hurt her feelings by bringing up something painful.

"I was planning on becoming a geneticist anyway to find a cure so he could have a better life but after losing Kaleb like that I knew I had to do it so no other kid would end up like him. Kind of silly, huh?"

"I don\'t think it\'s silly at all. But why didn\'t you ever tell me?"

An excellent question. For one, he never asked. He wasn\'t the slightest bit curious why she was getting a degree in molecular biology. The bigger issue was probably that she was so traumatized by her mom\'s and brother\'s deaths that it was easier to never speak of anything to do with them back then.

Actually pursuing her dream had been therapeutic. Having an extra lifetime\'s worth of perspective didn\'t hurt either. She was finally able to heal enough to move forward from the tragedy.

"You never asked," she said bluntly. "And it was hard to talk about them back then. It\'s gotten a lot easier."

Why was she even talking about any of this with Aaron? She was angry at him for ruining her weekend! By all accounts, she shouldn\'t have even answered the phone when he called. So why did she?

Was it because she was lonely and wanted to hear a friendly voice from someone who cared? The thought that her cold and callous ex-husband could be considered a friendly voice was laughable yet here she was.

"I didn\'t, did I?" he asked quietly. "That was pretty stupid of me. But why didn\'t you go on to get your doctorate when we got back to New York?"

Asking that was pretty stupid of him too. He should already know.

"You were on my case so much about working at Ace Burger that when you said I should \'take a break\' from working I thought it meant you didn\'t want me to work period," Keeley said flatly, feeling a resurgence of her earlier annoyance with him. Geez, this guy could be dense.

"You hated that job! I only wanted you to be able to relax a little. If I had known you would take my words so literally I never would have said anything. I\'ve come to know that you tend to thrive on working yourself to death."

It almost sounded like he was teasing her but that wasn\'t Aaron\'s style.

"That\'s rich coming from the world\'s biggest workaholic," she snorted.

"I believe that title actually belongs to you. Your days are much longer than mine now. At least I stop working when I get home for the most part."

That wasn\'t his style either. He always worked from home that she saw. "What do you even do with your life if you\'re not working?"

"Read. Sometimes Dinah joins me and sits on what I\'m reading."

"Nonfiction, right?" It was all she had ever seen him read.

"Yes. I read a rather interesting biography the other day about Alexander Hamilton, the man on the ten dollar bill."

"Fascinating," Keeley said sarcastically.

Of course the guy who spent most of his free time reading old people magazines in high school would like that kind of book. Although at least in this life it made sense because he mentally was an older man at that point in time.

"How old are you?" she blurted.

"…twenty-four, just like you."

"I mean mentally. How many years have you been alive?"

"Oh." He seemed surprised by the question. "It\'ll be sixty-six in September."

"Geez you\'re old. I\'m only thirty-nine." He was nearly twice her mental age even though physically she was a few months older than him like always.

"I did live a long time without you, Keeley," Aaron said with a hint of condescension in his tone.

What did he even do in all that time? He claimed to have spent it all at work once he got revenge for her. Knowing him, it was probably true. What a terrible way to live. He must have been lonely.

She didn\'t feel sorry for him though. If anything, it was fair punishment for how alone he made her feel while they were married. Karma always gets people in the end.

He spoke up again. "I missed you every single day."

The tears that had stopped for a while began to flow again. That jerk. It wasn\'t fair that he could still get an emotional response out of her.

"So what? It was your fault I died. You deserved it."

"I know."

"You still deserve it," she said though there wasn\'t any venom in her voice. She was tired. This conversation wore her out.

"I know that too."

"Why did you call me?" she asked wearily. He never clarified that.

"I wanted to make sure you were okay. It\'s never good when people stare at the ocean all depressed in movies," he said with a hint of a smile in his voice.

"…since when have you even watched those kind of movies?"

"I\'ve watched a lot more movies since being reborn."

"Why? You hate movies."

"You don\'t though. I wanted a common topic to talk about when I met you again."

Ugh, there he went with the niceness again. It would have been better if he had stayed a jerk. Keeley couldn\'t let him get to her.

It didn\'t matter that he was doing everything in his power to be good to her now after all he did (and didn\'t do) back then. Aaron was dead to her.

"Stop being nice to me when I\'m mad at you," she said with a pout.

"Sorry, that\'s not happening. You only get niceness from me from here on out."

Keeley sighed. There was no use continuing to argue with him. "Goodbye Aaron. Thanks for checking up on me, I guess."

"It\'s the least I could do since I\'m the one who made you sad in the first place," he replied with a sigh of his own. "Travel safely tomorrow. If you need anything when you get back let me know."

She wouldn\'t, but as usual she thanked him and hung up the phone. What a bizarre conversation.