Janet tells Ramona about her father arriving. Then, her friend puts a bug in her ear, asking if they will move back to Texas. She’s so upset, she’s late to class.
The bell rang for class. Mrs. Frost wrote her a note and she walked rapidly to the chorus room on the other side of the auditorium.
Diego watched the door anxiously and smiled when she walked in. She had no time to explain before class, but made sure to tell him after.
Ramona and Bunny rode home again with Betty, leaving them alone to talk.
“Where did that idea come from? Your dad?”
“Mona. She asked me this morning.”
He snorted derisively. “Until your folks say it, don’t sweat it.”
They drove to the A&W for a cold drink. Over root beer floats, they talked calmly about what to do if her parents moved.
“You’ve got family here. Stay with them. Or Bunny. Or us.”
“Mom would never let me stay with you.”
He grimaced, nodding. “True. But your aunt and uncle would probably let you stay.”
Diego drove Janet home, then hurried off to work. Janet walked into a house she hardly recognized. Her mother had rearranged the furniture and picked up the clutter.
Her mother’s door was closed. She didn’t go near it, knowing what she’d likely hear. Sookie wasn’t home. The phone rang, making her jump. She answered on the second ring.
“Hi, it’s me.” Ramona. “Sookie’s here and wants to stay with the twins. Is that cool?”
“Yeah, that’s fine. Mom and Dad are—busy….”
“Ooh, lucky you.”
“I’m going for a walk.”
“Meet me in the park.”
“On my way.”
As children, they often met in the park after school. It was equidistant between their houses and neutral ground where they could be themselves. They sat on the swings and Janet remembered being there with Diego. She smiled.
“Could it be any more weird?” Ramona asked.
“Not really. He’s like a stranger—but not. Does that make sense?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry—what I said before. I didn’t know it would freak you out so bad. Diego told me. That whole mouth control issue….” She made her fingers look like mouths, opening and closing them as she spoke.
“If I have to, I’ll live with Aunt Martha. It wouldn’t be too bad. But would she let me stay three years?” Janet sniffled.
“Maybe not. But this year…. At least you’d have now. Diego graduates anyway, so this is the important year, Jan.”
The girls walked to the corner market and got sodas, drinking them as they walked to Ramona’s.
“Your mom called,” Carlos told her as they walked in. “I’ll drive you girls home. You might want to mention your visitor before hand.”
“Good idea. Sookie!” Janet called.
Her little sister came out, carrying a Barbie doll. “I hope this is important?” She sounded so disgusted and mature, Janet had to hide a laugh.
“We need to head home, squirt.”
“Must we? Okay.” Sookie groaned, rolling her eyes.
In the car, Janet explained who was visiting.
“Do I call him Dad, too?” Sookie asked angrily.
“Whatever he tells you to call him. I call your dad by his name. He’ll probably do that, too.”
“They scared me, you know,” she said solemnly.
“I know, squirt. You can sleep in with me, if you want.”
“Yeah, we’ll have a pajama party.”
“Cool!” Happier, Sookie jumped out of the car and ran up to the house.
©2020 Dellani Oakes