Silas: I don’t know what to say. This is so awkward.
I laugh and set my phone down. I want to dig around, see if I can find anything suspicious. My drawers are neat. I must have OCD. I toss around the socks and underwear to see if I can piss myself off.
There is nothing in my drawers, nothing in my nightstand. I find a box of condoms stuffed in a purse under my bed. I look for a journal, notes written by friends—there is nothing. I am a sterile human, boring if not for that print above my bed. A print which Silas gave to me, not one I picked out myself.
My mother is in the kitchen. I can hear her sniffling and making herself something to eat. She’s drunk, I think. Maybe I should ask her some questions and she won’t remember I asked them.
“Hey, er…mom,” I say, coming to stand near her. She pauses in her toast-making to look at me with bleary eyes.
“So, was I being weird last night?”
“Last night?” she repeats.
“Yeah,” I say. “You know…when I came home.”
She scrapes the knife over the bread until it is smeared with butter.
“You were dirty,” she slurs. “I told you to take a shower.”
I think of the dirt and leaves in Silas’s bed. That means we were probably together.
“What time did I get home? My phone was dead,” I lie.
She narrows her eyes. “Around ten o’clock.”
“Did I say anything…unusual?”
She turns away and wanders over to the sink where she bites into her toast and stares down the drain.
“Mom! Pay attention. I need you to answer me.”
Why does this feel familiar? Me begging, her ignoring.
“No,” she says simply. Then I have a thought: my clothes from last night. Off the kitchen there is a small closet with a stacked washer and dryer inside of it. I open the lid to the washing machine and see a small mound of wet clothes clumped at the bottom. I pull them out. They are definitely my size. I must have thrown them in here last night, tried to wash away the evidence. Evidence of what? I pry the pockets of the jeans open with my fingers and reach inside. There is a wad of paper, clumped in a thick, damp mess. I drop the jeans and carry the wad back to my room. If I try to unfold it, it might fall apart. I decide to set it on the windowsill and wait for it to dry.
I text Silas.
Me: Where are you?
I wait a few minutes and when he doesn’t text back, I try again.
I wonder if I always do this; harass him until he answers.
I send five more and then I toss my phone across the room, burying my face in Charlie Wynwood’s pillow to cry. Charlie Wynwood probably never cried. She has no personality from the looks of her bedroom. Her mother is an alcoholic and her sister listens to crappy music. And how do I know that the poster above my sister’s bed compares love to a boom and a clap, but I don’t remember said sister’s name? I wander over to her side of the small bedroom and rummage around in her things.
“Ding, ding, ding!” I say, pulling a pink polka dot journal out from under her pillow.
I settle down on her bed and flip open the cover.
Property of Janette Elise Wynwood.
DO NOT READ!
I ignore the warning and page to her first entry, titled:
My sister is the worst person on the planet. I hope she dies.
I close the book and put it back underneath the pillow.
“That went well.”
My family hates me. What type of human are you when your own family hates you? From across the room my phone tells me that I have a text. I jump up, thinking it’s Silas, suddenly feeling relieved. There are two texts. One is from Amy.
Where r u?!!
And the other is from a guy named Brian.
Hey, missed u today. Did you tell him?
Him who? And tell him what?
I set my phone down without answering either of them. I decide to give the journal another try, skipping all the way to Janette’s last entry, which was last night.
Title: I might need braces but we’re too broke. Charlie had braces.
I run my tongue over my teeth. Yup, they feel pretty straight.
Her teeth are all straight and perfect and I’m going to have a snaggle tooth forever. Mom said she’d see about financing but ever since that thing happened with dad’s company we don’t have money for normal things. I hate taking packed lunch to school. I feel like a kindergartener!
I skip a paragraph in which she details her friend, Payton’s, last period. She’s ranting about her lack of menstruation when her journaling is disturbed by yours truly.
I have to go. Charlie just got home and she’s crying. She hardly ever cries. I hope Silas broke up with her—would serve her right.
So I was crying when I came home last night? I walk over to the windowsill where the paper from my pocket has somewhat dried. Carefully smoothing it out, I lay it on the desk my sister and I seem to share. Part of the ink has washed away, but it looks like a receipt. I text Silas.
Me: Silas, I need a ride.
I wait again, growing irritated with his delay in response. I am impatient, I think.
Me: There’s a guy named Brian who’s texting me. He’s really flirty. I can ask him for a ride if you’re busy…
My phone pings a second later.
Silas: Hell no. OMW!
It shouldn’t be a problem slipping out of the house since my mother has passed out on the sofa. I watch her for a moment, studying her sleeping face, trying desperately to remember it. She looks like Charlie, only older. Before I head outside to wait for Silas, I cover her with a blanket and grab a couple of sodas from the barren fridge.
“See ya, Mom,” I say quietly.
I can’t tell if I’m going back to her because I feel protective over her or possessive of her. Either way, I don’t like the idea of her reaching out to someone else. It makes me wonder who this Brian guy is, and why he thinks it’s okay to send her flirty texts when Charlie and I are obviously together.
My left hand is still clutching my phone when it rings again. There’s no number on the screen. Just the word “Bro.” I slide my finger across it and answer the phone.
“Where the hell are you?”
It’s a guy’s voice. A voice that sounds a lot like mine. I look left and right, but nothing is familiar about the intersection I’m passing through. “I’m in my car.”
He groans. “No shit. You keep missing practice, you’ll be benched.”
Yesterday’s Silas probably would have been pissed off about this. Today’s Silas is relieved. “What day is today?”
“Wednesday. Day before tomorrow, day after yesterday. Come get me, practice is over.”
Why does he not have his own car? I don’t even know this kid and he already feels like an inconvenience. He’s definitely my brother.
“I have to pick up Charlie first,” I tell him.
There’s a pause. “At her house?”
Another pause. “Do you have a death wish?”
I really hate not knowing what everyone else seems to know. Why would I not be allowed at Charlie’s house?
“Whatever, just hurry up,” he says, right before hanging up.
She’s standing in the street when I turn the corner. She’s staring at her house. Her hands are resting gently at her sides, and she’s holding two sodas. One in each hand. She’s holding them like weapons, like she wants to throw them at the house in front of her in hopes that they’re actually grenades. I slow the car down and stop several feet from her.