My sister’s the popular one. I’m the one who has skinny knees and wears glasses. She has friends galore and a new boyfriend. I have friends, too, but we’re the bunch nobody sees at school. I like to stay home with our widowed dad and watch TV while Abby goes out.
One Saturday night, a car pulled in the driveway and the horn blared. She ran out the door just as Dad was waking up from his nightly nap in his chair. “Where’re you going?” he sputtered, still half asleep.
“Nowhere, Dad. Be right back.”
He nodded and shut his eyes. She got in the car and took off. I watched the car tear up the road and saw that she was with her hoody boyfriend, Jeremy Benedict. I shook my head. “Oh man, what a goofball.” I wasn’t sure which was I was talking about: my sister or Benedict.
When midnight passed, Dad came out of his bedroom and asked me, “Where’s your sister?” I looked at his ruffled hair and realized he’d already been in bed three hours. I couldn’t imagine why he’d woken up suddenly. He never woke up after he went to bed.
“She’s still out.”
“Out? When did she go out?” He looked shocked.
“Right after that guy blew his horn, Dad. Before you went to bed.”
“You mean, when she told me she was going to come right back in?”
“Yep.” I watched his face as it dawned on him that she’d lied to him again. He got beet red and without another word, he went to the phone. “Who’d she go with?” he asked, his cheeks puffed in anger.
Dad grabbed the phone book from the stand and whipped the pages back to the B’s. He ran his finger down the list, all the while muttering that he wasn’t cut out for this teen girl stuff. He looked at me and pointed his finger at my head. “You better not get any ideas, Girly. I can only handle one thing at a time.”
I nodded. No problem, Dad. I pushed my geeky glasses up higher on my nose. Couldn’t he see what a fat chance that would be?
I gnawed my fingernails while dad dialed the number and listened as he grilled whoever picked up the phone at the Benedicts’ house. Finally, he slammed the receiver down, put his hands on his hips, and stood looking into space…just above my eyebrows. I squirmed until his eyes re-focused and he glanced away.
“Where is she?” I asked softly.
He sighed loudly and ran his fingers through his hair. “Over in Ashland with a group of kids who went to the A&W.” He paced back and forth. “My word, how long does it take to get coneys and root beer?” he asked the air.
I got up, took the phone off the cradle, and looked up the A&W number. I dialed it.
“Hello? Yes, I need to speak to Abby Harrington, please. She’s there in a red Camaro.”
I waited while I listened to the announcement over the PA: Abby Harrington—phone call. After a couple more blares on the PA, I heard the crackle as the phone was lifted on the other end.
“Hello?” My sister’s voice. Too happy sounding, if you asked me. Annoying.
“Abby? This is Ginger.”
“Yeah. What do you want?”
“Oh nothing. I’m just standing here in the kitchen with Dad…wondering when you’d be coming home?”
Silence. “Oh man. That stinks. Ok. Tell him soon.”
“Tell him yourself—“but she knew what was coming and had already hung up. I put the phone down and looked at Dad. “Soon, Dad.”
He nodded, sighed again, overwhelmed, and went back to bed. I went to bed, too. I thought of all that had happened to us since Mom had died. I thought of the fun Abby and I used to have and how close we used to be. Abby had changed. Her partying was getting worse and, sometimes, I just didn’t want to look out for her anymore.
I got up and padded over to the window. I watched the stars come out and waited. I leaned my head against the window and prayed for Abby, for me, and for Dad.
The night passed and I worried and kept praying for my sister. Finally, close to three, I heard Abby come in. I closed my eyes. Thank you, God. Help me to help her.
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