I kicked off my shoes and tip-toed into the house after my best friend. Molly put a finger to her lips, but I was already silent. I could see her point, because the noise level had increased the moment the front door opened.
Molly reached back to grab my hand, pulling me up to her room. Once safely inside, we collapsed on the floor, dissolving in laughter. “Do I want to know?” I asked, between gasps.
She shook her head, trying to sit up and breathe. “Probably not.”
“Which club is it this time?”
“Don’t know. Mom hosts so many, it’s pointless to track.”
The giggling started again.
“What’d you wanna do today?”
“You followed me home, Jade.” She tossed a furry pillow in my direction. “You were really distracted. Is everything alright?” She was suddenly sober, her cheerful expression melting away.
“Yeah.” I felt my happy mask slip as she took up a position beside me near the bed, offering me the pillow again. “What?”
“It makes me feel better when Mom’s going ballistic downstairs.” She rolled her eyes. “Try it.”
I did. It was soft and fuzzy.
“Want some juice?”
“Caffeine’s bad for you.”
“What are you, my mother?”
She took the pillow away.
“Juice or flavored water?”
“Soda without caffeine?” I ventured.
“Hot or cold?”
“Who drinks hot-”
She started for the door, waiting. “Come on, come get it yourself.”
I made a face, but followed her downstairs and closer to the shrieks and yells we’d heard before. “Seriously, what are they doing in there?” I stood at the kitchen counter while she rummaged through the fridge.
Molly wrinkled her nose, listening carefully. “Scrapbooking.”
I perked a brow. “Scrapbooking?”
“Yeah, you know. Where you make those special books-”
“Fancy paper and stamps?”
She shrugged. “Don’t know about the stamps, but there’s tons of paper going around in there. I think they’re having a party.”
We exchanged a glance. Molly reached in the freezer and retrieved two popsicles. “Eat this. It’s sweet enough.”
One particularly loud squeal made us both jump and I nearly choked on the treat. Molly thumped me on the back, then leaned forward to yell. “Is everything okay?”
“Just fine, sweetie.” Her mother assured her from the doorway, a sheepish expression on her face. “It’s just that Angie had the most adorable BOM and Julie’s favorite paper was all blocked up and-”
“Have you seen my color wheel?” A redheaded woman with a cheery smile appeared around the corner. “The one where the colors aren’t analogous—with the bead ring.”
“As her about the fibers, Angie!” A shout came from the room. “And I can’t find my brads and this cardstock is bent!”
“Smooth it out with the press and then CASE it.” Both women chorused. They shared a smile, turning back to the chaos of the room.
Molly hooked her arm through mine, pulling me upstairs again. “You’re spacing again.”
“What language was what?”
“Scrap talk.” She winked. “At least, that’s what I call it. A BOM is a book of me, blocked up paper is stuff that stuck together—and if it’s Mrs. Julie Hemmian, it stuck the wrong way. Fibers are fancy threads and CASE means to copy and steal everything.”
“What’s a brad? Like Brad Pitt?”
“It’s a paper fastener!”
“Sounds like Greek to me.”
“Excuse me?” Her hands were on her hips.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“Then pardon my French.” She smirked. “Feeling better now?” She dug under her bed for a plastic container, sitting on the floor to retrieve it.
She grinned, opening the container and taking out the little details that added up into one simple, happy picture for me. Colored construction paper, stickers and paper lace. I flopped onto the floor beside her, reaching for the materials.
“Your mom in the hospital again?”
I almost crumpled the strip of stickers. I thumbed through the papers instead. “Yeah.”
“Aren’t you going to see her?”
“Dad already went.”
“Did they call it an accident again?”
“Yeah.” I tried to keep my voice light. “But you don’t have those kinds of accidents with kitchen knives.”
“I’m sorry.” She whispered.
“Not your fault.”
Molly bit her lip, then dug inside the container and handed over a pretty picture, torn from a magazine. “Here. CASE that.”
It was the perfect distraction. I took it.
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