Girlie had one friend in the world, and the move over two thousand miles west of that one friend was really hard for her. It was fine Kiking Mari Anne with her iPod, but she often felt it wasn't enough. She longed for a real face-to-face conversation. Kiking was a pain.
There was the fact that Mari Anne always fell asleep on her, because she was four hours ahead. When nine o'clock on a Saturday night rolled around for Girlie, it was already Sunday for Mari Anne. It was rare when Girlie passed out before Mari Anne.
Every now and then, Girlie forgot this little detail. Especially when she was already upset. So when Mari Anne didn't answer, Girlie got worried.
One night, Girlie had a row with Prez and Bill. They were heading to the Mystery Shack (They had gotten jobs there a few days earlier.) and wouldn't be returning until at least one in the morning. They had done it before, but it began to thunderstorm, lightning flashing brightly in the room. Girlie didn't want to be alone most the night with the flashes. She begged them to stay, but they left anyway. They needed the money, and being newbies, they couldn't just ask for a day off to stay home with a kid. And perhaps they would have stayed, if they had known about Girlie and the flashes. But they only saw it as a silly kid's pathological fear.
Girlie immediately Kiked Mari Anne. They talked for several hours. Around ten o'clock, Mari Anne was telling Girlie of the wreck her father was in. Interested and hoping he was okay, Girlie interrogated her. The fender bender ended in a flip and Mr. Branchley having a fractured arm.
Girlie sent a message that went without response. The question of "What happened after that?" remained unanswered. Girlie checked every five minutes, waiting for the top of her screen to read "MariAnne is typing..." or at least the little R and checkmark that signified that the message was read. Only a D. Delivered and waiting, waiting, waiting...
An hour passed, and Girlie began to get freaked. Every five minutes, she sent "Hello?" to her.
At midnight, Girlie began to have a panic attack.
What if she's hurt?
What if her Dad's injuries are worse than originally thought?
What if her mom came and took her for the week?
She got up and paced a bit, trying to take her mind off her anxiety. She became aware of the fact she was sweating... and hyperventilating. The walls were closing in. Her vision was darkening in the corners. She was thinking of all sorts of theories to what happened.
Her father needs surgery.
She got in a phone fight with her sister.
A unicorn broke in the house.
Each conspiracy got more and more insane but nonetheless put her more and more on edge. Then, her ideas went from the frying pan and into the fire.
She's been kidnapped.
She's been raped.
She's been kidnapped and raped.
After several minutes of struggling to breathe and trying to smother the crazy thoughts, the worst one came to mind.
She was killed.
She was murdered.
She's gone forever.
Girlie's heart skipped a beat. "No. She can't leave me. Mari Anne." She immediately checked her iPod again. No reply. No R with a check. Just an empty conversation.
Unconsciously, she snapped the band around her wrist on her flesh. It was a habit she picked up after vowing to never cut again. As long as the endorphins kept her pain away, it didn't matter to her how. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact she had vowed it for her sister's sake, there would be fresh scars forming on her wrists at that very second by beads of crimson blood.
Mari Anne can't go. She can't leave me, Girlie thought as another flash of lightning filled the room, followed by a boom of thunder.
Girlie's wrist was bright red from the band's impact. Still she pulled it away from her skin and released it, causing it to slam into her wrist like a whip. The stinging pain of it was disappearing. It wasn't even working right. It was a worthless tactic.
Suddenly, the band just snapped. Completely and utterly in half. "No! You can't break!"
The band lay on the ground laughing at her.
Girlie ran out her room, her feet hitting the floor faster than the rain outside. She grabbed a pencil sharpener off the kitchen counter and a metal nail file off the floor. She used the file as a screwdriver, trying hard to get the razor out. C'mon.
The front door opened. Prez walked in, soaked in water. "Girlie. I'm home," she called. Prez put her bag down and spotted Girlie, crying on the floor, struggling with the sharpener and file.
"GIRLIE!" she screamed, startled. She ran to her, snatching the objects out her hand and placing them out of reach on the top of the refrigerator. Then, she sat next to her sister, embracing her in a hug. She rocked her, while Girlie sobbed. "What were you thinking?"
"I- I wasn't. It's raining."
"I know." She didn't though. She didn't know the reason why a thunderstorm terrified Girlie so.
"My rubber band broke."
Prez whispered, "I'll buy some more," as she took a look at Girlie's wrist, red as fire from the slapping of the band, and warm. No, not warm Hot. It was like it was on fire. "My Lord. Girlie, what happened?"
"It's raining," she repeated. "Mari Anne stopped answering."
"Hon, Mari Anne is in New York. She's asleep. It's around five over there. Five in the morning."
Idiot, you freaked out over nothing.
"Where's Bill?" Girlie asked, needing a topic other than her ignorance.
"He's run to get some bread. He'll be back."
"You- You ain't gonna tell him, right?"
"I don't know, Girlie. I don't know. This is pretty serious."
"But I didn't mean it. It's raining. I just-" she cut herself off.
"What's the big deal about rain? You've dealt with storms before."
It was true, but when she had, she always had Mari Anne, or Prez, or Bill. They were there, so she didn't have to be scared.
She lied quickly, "Not with you and Bill out. Remember Lilo and Stitch?"
" 'It was raining, and they went for a drive.' " She was quoting Lilo. Her parents died when they took a ride in the rain. It was a good cover-up, she decided, when Prez hugged her tighter.
"Tell you what. I'll make sure that Bill and I won't leave the next time it rains, and we can keep this between us."
Girlie nodded, still holding her sister close.