The bags of groceries bumped against my hips as I tried to maneuver myself into a position where I could open the door. It took a moment of practically juggling the bags but finally was able to get the door open. As soon as I stepped inside, I shouted for my sister but doubted she’d come out to help. Actually, I was hoping she was finally asleep. She said she was going to take the sleeping pills but pffft, when did she actually follow through?
As I suspected, no reply. I made my way into the kitchen and began working on unpacking the groceries. Freezer food first, then fridge food, then the food for the cupboards. I felt very adult doing all this but I was as good as a real adult, taking care of the house. Food shopping. Making sure bills were paid (though I didn’t technically DO anything with the bills other than taking them to my daddies when they came in) and also making sure my sister was doing all right.
It had been three months and one week since Henri had passed away. For the first month and a half after SJ returned from France, she barely spoke to anyone and barely ate. She slept in the guest room and just glared at any of us that tried to interact with her. Or broke down into tears. It hurt me SOOOOO much seeing my sister in such a bad state and we were all scared that her depression would just, like, last a long time. Not that I expected her to just BAM get over it, of course not, but it was just so scary.
After a month and a half, she started eating more and talking more. For about two weeks it looked like maybe she’d eventually be okay–and then Grandpa passed away. That totally broke her. It was completely understandable why. Because of her stupid abilities and how she was connected to our maternal dad and grandma, she had to deal with 1. Her own grief over losing a lover, 2. Her own grief losing a grandfather, 3. Our maternal dad’s grief of losing a father ANNND 4. Our grandma’s grief of losing her husband. Cause from what I understood, she couldn’t get rid of feeling that and it TOTALLY broke her down into a state that, yeah. Not good.
Now here we were. A month after Grandpa passed away, and SJ and I were living together. When we got our inheritances, SJ bought some land and a teeeeeeeensy little house out outside of town and moved there because she just did not want to deal with being around everyone. Of course we couldn’t let her just live alone because yeah, it wouldn’t be good. She finally relented to letting me stay with her since according to her, I was mostly okay for her to be around cause of me being all chipper and stuff, it apparently cheered her up. And if I could cheer her up even just the TEENSIEST of bits, well then! That was good enough for me and I would help her.
Now it was two weeks into this and I was already tired of it. I didn’t mind too much, cause I loved my sister and wanted to help her but… I felt so helpless sometimes. There wasn’t much I could do. I wasn’t expecting any miracle or anything but it was still difficult to see someone I loved being so miserable.
“Try feeling the misery as well…”
I spun around and saw SJ in the doorway, rubbing her eyes and looking tired. “I’m sorry!” I exclaimed, feeling guilty. “I thought you were asleep… Didn’t you take the pills? I TOLD you to take the pills. You need sleep.”
SJ stared bleakly at me. “You don’t need to stay here, Kaylee. I can do fine on my own.”
I put my hands on my hips and glared at her. “Young lady, if left to your own devices you would just wallow around and eat ice cream all day.”
“I just don’t want to burden you…” She sank down at the table and looked on the verge of tears. “And I’m not going to cry!” She scowled now.
Yeah, there was zero point in pretending or lying around my sister. Or hiding a ding-dong thing. “The only reason I feel burdened or anything is because I want to be able to do more.” I sat down as well and reached over, taking her hands. “Don’t deny that cause you know it’s my problem. I know I can’t suck out your sadness, so I will do all I can to help you in other ways.”
A faint smile appeared on her face. “Just don’t run yourself ragged, all right? You have enough to do… and it’s summer… you should be at the beach or something.”
“PFFT!” I threw up one of my hands. “Yeah right, the beach is just full of either those super skinny girls rubbing oil all over their boobs or else total pervo guys oggling the girls rubbing oil on themselves. NO thank you. I’d rather spend my time here. Air conditioning is the best thing since sliced bread. Say, what do you think sliced bread was better than?” I asked as I got up to finish putting the cupboard foods away. “I mean when someone invented sliced bread, what did they say? ‘This is the best thing since–‘ what? Butter? Yeah. ‘This is the best thing since someone felt up a cow and then spent fifty hours pumping the liquid that came out’.
“Oh Watcher, butter is GROSS! So is milk. And everything–except ice cream. And cake. And, yeah, that stuff. But I am not having butter or milk anymore…” I frowned at that. “Except potatoes. Potatoes need butter. OH forget it, I’ll just deal with eating cow juice.”
SJ giggled a bit. “You’re the best thing since sliced bread.”
I put the last can of soup away and then spun around, spreading my arms out. “Well, thank you! I’m as white as bread, though. Because air conditioning rules and flailing around under the sun isn’t. Now then, what shall I fix for lunch?”
That night she FINALLY took some sleeping pills. It was a fight to get her to do it and I finally was able to get her to take some when I threatened to sing the song that never ended. She knew I could go a long time with that, so she took the pills and fell into a deep slumber. I tucked her into bed, kissed her cheek, and then went to my own room.
It was supposed to be the laundry room but we moved some of the stuff out so we could wedge a bed in there along with the machines. SJ had offered to take it as her bedroom when I moved in with her but I refused. I was fine with this.
Not for the first time in the two weeks, I thought of River. I wondered how she felt having her own room right now. Everyone had their own room now. Our dads had transformed the old nursery into a bedroom, which was where Mal now slept. So Simon had the boys’ room, since Duncan was in Bridgeport. Now SJ had her own room and I sort of did, unless the washer and dryer counted as roommates. I named them Thing One and Thing Two. OH and there was Mr. Softfeather, the gnome I decided lived in the dryer. The gnome that stole socks. He was my enemy.
It wasn’t very late so after I got changed into my pajamas, I went into the other room and turned on the TV. The sound was down low, cause even with pills I was worried SJ would wake up. She needed sleep. Without the pills, she had horrible nightmares. So why she didn’t take the sleeping pills more often was beyond me but whatevvveeerrr, at least she wasn’t popping them back all the time.
Life is like a hurricane, here in, Duckberg! Race cars, lasers, aero–
I hated answering my phone. That’s what I got for choosing such an awesome ringtone. Sighing, I flipped it open and turned the TV on mute. “Yellow!” I said cheerfully.
“Hey Kaylee!” Duncan replied. “You sound happy. Is she sleeping?”
“Yeppers. She took some pills so she’s out like a light right now. How are you doing? How’s Madison?” I teased, referring to his fiancee.
“She’s fine,” Duncan said. “I wanted to talk to Serenity but I guess I’ll call tomorrow. How are you doing? Do you need anything?”
“Yep, I need you to race here all the way from Bridgeport and give me a foot rub.”
“Brat, you know what I mean.”
I looked over at the bedroom door. SJ was sound asleep. Course she knew how I felt anyway, not that this was something we talked about a lot. “I’m worried,” I mumbled. “I know… I know she’s not just gonna be okay suddenly, and that she needs loads of time to… feel better… but it just scares me that she’s like this. I–I want to help her. I can’t. All I can do is cook her meals and try to shove sleeping pills down her throat.” Oh great, I felt like I was gonna cry now. No. No crying. Don’t cry! I told myself.
“Kaylee, maybe you should ask Seb or Hal to come in sometime. You can’t just expect to take this on all by yourself. You’re only sixteen.”
“You know perfectly well she won’t let anyone else around!” I hissed into the phone. “Especially Daddy Seb. And she doesn’t like Daddy Hal around either cause he’s so worried about her that it upsets her.”
Duncan groaned. “We’re all worried about her–“
“I know, and she knows, but she hates it. She gets all upset when she feels me worrying.” I rubbed my neck and rolled my eyes at the door. “But she says I make her feel better when I’m around, so I’m sticking around. For a while at least. Hopefully soon she’ll be able to, y’know, deal with the little things in life like cooking and stuff.”
I heard my brother sigh and then he said, “All right well don’t push yourself, okay? Your health is as important as Serenity’s health. If you need a day out then take a day out. I think she can survive a few hours on her own. Love ya, Kay-bo.”
“Love you too, Dun-bo.” I closed my phone and flopped back onto the couch, turning the TV sound on again. He had only seen SJ a couple times since Grandpa passed away. He didn’t see how hard it was for her, living every moment with the grief of two other people besides herself. Right now, I was worried that a few hours on her own would hurt her. Maybe in a week, or two, but I didn’t think she was ready for being in the house alone for very long. Not quite yet.
I wound up falling asleep on the couch and totally drooling all over the cushions, so when SJ got up in the morning it woke me up. The sleep did her good. Her dark circles didn’t seem as bad and she insisted on fixing breakfast for both of us. Toast and eggs. Nothing fancy, but pffft, better than her just staring at the pan and bursting into tears.
“Wanna go out today?” I asked as I arranged my scrambled eggs into a smily face on my piece of toast. “We could go to the stables. Visit Ducky. I’m sure she misses you. We don’t have to see anyone else. No humans.”
SJ stared at her food and shrugged. “Maybe,” she mumbled. “Be nice to get out, I guess.” She picked up a bit of egg with her fingers and made a face. “Mom’s feeling sad today. He’s worried. You should go see him. He’s worried you’re doing too much. Duncan called him.” I scowled and reminded myself to yell at Duncan for sticking his stupid ugly nose into this. He should have known better than to tell Daddy Seb! But then SJ said, “He told Dad. Who told Mom. You’re feeling upset about something.”
“Duncan called last night,” I said, poking a hole into my toast. “Being an idiot. You know how he is. Let’s get some food in us and go see Ducky, okay?”
“I’m not hungry.” She pushed her plate away and stood up. “And I don’t want to go out. Mom, Grandma, and you are enough emotions for me right now. Don’t want to deal with anyone else. Okay? Okay.” She turned and went down the hall. I heard her slam her door shut and then start crying.
Stupid Duncan, I thought.
“IT’S NOT DUNCAN’S FAULT!” SJ screamed from the other room. “It’s HIS fault!”
I knew ‘his’ was referring to her biological dad. It had come as a huge shock to all of us when we were informed about the fact SJ was our half-sister (and even bigger shock that Duncan was adopted). But, I mean, it didn’t matter, right? Half-sister, adopted brother, those two were as much my family as the twins and Mal. I mean, Duncan was just as much of an idiot as Mal and Simon were!
There wasn’t much to do during the day. Some cleaning, some laundry, some yelling into the dryer at Mr. Softfeather since one of my frog socks was now gone. I spent some time outside reading some magazines and a book, then fixed lunch. SJ was still in her room. I took a plate of sliced apples and peanut butter in but she just glared at me. At least there was a book open by her bed so she was doing something more than moping.
Not long after I ate lunch, someone knocked at the back door which was super duper weird since there was nothing back there except a lot of yard and then some hills and stuff. We were pretty isolated, which was the whole reason SJ chose this place. Isolation. Away from people and their emotions. I wasn’t even sure why there was a back door, not like the house was big or anything.
I went to the kitchen and opened the door, finding myself face-to-face with some woman. “Yeees?” I drew out. “Can I help you?”
She reached up and touched the side of her glasses. “This is the home of Serenity Danevbie, correct?” she asked, looking as though she’d rather be doing something else.
“It depends,” I said, looking her up and down. Plain pumps. Plain skirt. Tight bun. Glasses. “Are you Professor McGonagall?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”
I rolled my eyes and leaned in the door. “Nothing. It’s well past my eleventh birthday so I suppose you’re not. So who are you, then? What do you need?”
Her eyes flickered past me, into the house. “I desire to speak to Serenity Danevbie. It is important. She is… out of school now… correct?”
I didn’t like the way this woman was speaking or acting. It kinda rubbed me the wrong way. “What’s your name?” I asked and she stared at me rather blankly. “Your name, what is it? You show up at someone’s house, you should at least have the decency to give me your name. Unless you have something to hide.”
“I believe your sister will want to talk to me,” she replied.
“Yeah, that totally doesn’t answer my question,” I spat out. “Go away.” I tried to shut the door but she stuck her foot in and then whisked right past me like she owned the place! “What the hell, man!” I tried not to shout cause I suspected SJ had fallen asleep again. “You can’t go walking into–“
“I need to speak to speak with Serenity.” The woman was in the kitchen now, glancing around with a slightly annoyed face. “And I intend on doing just that, Kaylee.”
I stiffened and then my heart jumped up into my throat. She knew my name. “Get out of this house,” I said, inching towards the cupboards. “I’m giving you one minute.”
She folded her arms and smirked at me but ugh it was so creepy like! It wasn’t a real smirk, it was like someone who didn’t know what a smirk was about was told to put their face that way or something like that. An empty smirk. Or something. “I am not leaving until I have spoken with your sister. It is more important than what you probably assume it is. However, I do not wish to discuss the details with you.”
“I can only assume you’re here for nasty reasons as someone with nice intentions wouldn’t just FORCE their way into someone’s home!” I kicked the cupboard and reached in, not wanting to take my eyes off Miss Creeper. I found my toolbox and got it flipped open. “So unless you get out right now, you’re gonna be sorry!” I pulled out a wrench and twirled it in one hand so it smacked heavily into my other. It made a real nice thwacking sound.
“You are threatening me,” she said.
I smirked now, a real smirk unlike her creep-o smirk. “THANK you, Captain Obvious! The powers of your observational skills are totally insurmountable. You should wear a cape. Then get choked into a jet engine.”
She adjusted her glasses and continued staring blankly at me. “If you truly wish to threaten somebody then you should sound more threatening and less like a rather whiny child. I feel no danger from you.”
“Well then, how about feeling my wrench embedded into your skull?” I swung the wrench again and enjoyed the sound.
“You do not mean it,” she answered.
“You know how they say never go between a Mama bear and her cub?” I stepped forward, gripping the wrench tightly. “Well right now, I am the Mama bear. And you are between me and my cub. Now get the hell out before I hurt you, because I will hurt you, I will hurt anyone who is a risk to my sister, or anyone else in my family.”
The woman stared at me then the wrench. I slammed the wrench into my other hand again and did my best not to wince at the pain. One of the woman’s eyebrows lifted for a split second at the sound and then she went towards the door. “Very well. As it seems I will not be able to speak with Serenity, I will come back at another time.”
“Don’t bet on it,” I said as she left. I slammed the door shut and then began whimpering in pain, clutching the hand I had been smacking the wrench into. Daaaaang that hurt! But worth it. Freaky woman just coming in and acting all high-and-mighty. I locked the door and then put the wrench up before going to rinse my hand under cold water.
“Kaylee?” SJ came stumbling out from the hall, staring wide-eyed at me. “Who w-was that?” she whispered, flicking her gaze to the door. “I felt someone here. There was someone else here. I felt someone else.”
“Yeah,” I said, wiping my hands off on a towel. “Some woman, wanting to talk to you. She was super freaky and such a creep-o. I didn’t trust her so I told her I was gonna smack her head with a wrench if she didn’t leave. She left pretty quickly.” SJ was still staring wide-eyed at the door. She looked kinda frightened of something. “Are you all right?”
“Who was she?” she whispered. “What did she want?”
“She didn’t say… she just said she had something to discuss with you.” I shuddered and looked over at the door as well. “She had black hair and glasses. About yea tall. Do you know her? Was I supposed to let her stay?”
“No, I don’t know her,” SJ gulped. “I just felt her.”
There was something seriously off with my sister. It really gave me the creeps. “What… did you feel?” I asked.
Her eyes finally darted towards me. She opened her mouth, then closed it. Then she let out a sigh and drew back. “If she shows up again, threaten her with a hammer. And go through with it.” Then she turned and went back to her room. I made double sure the door was locked, and all the windows, and then the front door.