Eleven Months Before Impact Day
“Finally!” Sadie said as I was crawling back in through the window. She was unexpectedly enthusiastic, and I wasn’t quite sure how to take it.
“Were you waiting for me?” I asked, surprised.
“Yes! Every time you leave, it is so boring,” she complained.
That was fair. When left to her own devices, there wasn’t really a lot she could do. She couldn’t pick up a book or turn on the TV or use the computer. She couldn’t talk to anyone, or do anything productive with her time. I definitely felt bad for her, but there also wasn’t a lot I could do about it. I used to just leave the TV on for her, but then Mark started coming in and turning it off anyway.
“Does that mean you’re talking to me again?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t exactly have anyone else to talk to,” she grumbled.
“Nice,” I said dryly. “I can feel the love.”
“So where have you been?” she asked, ignoring me. I wasn’t entirely sure I felt like answering her question.
“Oh, you now. Out and about.”
“Well, you don’t look like you’ve been in a fight, so I’m going to assume you went to see Rachel again.”
The way she said it, it felt like an accusation. That annoyed me. What right did she have to judge me?
“Why don’t you like her?” I asked, my tone making it clear she had better think hard about her answer.
“I never said I don’t like her.”
“You made it pretty obvious.”
“I just don’t think she’s being honest with you,” Sadie said reluctantly. I tried not to laugh. Boy was she in for a surprise.
“About what?” I demanded, pushing her.
“Do you really not notice it?” she asked, backing away a little. “The way she looks at you? All your secret late night meetings…”
“Oh,” I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm. “That.”
“So you do see it.”
“I was a little oblivious, I guess,” I conceded. Until Sadie had brought it up, I hadn’t actually noticed, but I didn’t really feel like that was deception on Rachel’s part. I doubted either Rachel or I had any idea what we were feeling until we were forced to think about it. “I don’t really think about that sort of stuff, you know?”
“Well, she obviously does,” Sadie said petulantly.
“I know. She told me.”
Sadie did that surprised cartoonish thing where she blinked a lot, as if somehow that would make it easier to comprehend what I’d said. Or maybe she was expecting to realise she’d heard something else?
“I dunno. A week ago, maybe?” I said, trying to sound casual about it.
Evidently, I wasn’t able to lie to Sadie. Even if I did, she’d figure it out eventually. Better to have the conversation on my terms.
“Sadie, I… I think I feel the same about her.”
“Well, I haven’t exactly done this before,” I said, annoyed.
“Do you even know if you’re gay?” she asked.
What the Hell kind of question was that? Did she not believe me? Did she not want to believe me? Why should I have to prove anything to her?
“No, I don’t,” I said coldly. “But I know that I like Rachel.”
“But you’ve never even thought about it before,” she protested. “What if she just, like, talked you into it?”
“Talked me into it?” I repeated, incredulous. This was my sister talking?
“Sadie, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, okay? I know what I’m doing.”
Well, okay, that last part was a lie, but the sentiment was true. I wasn’t going to let Sadie make me start doubting myself, not now.
“So are you going to have sex with her?” she asked.
My first reaction was to say, that has nothing to do with it. I stopped myself, though. What if it did? What if Rachel wanted that? Would I be okay with it? Would I want it too? Why didn’t I think of this before?
“Would you even kiss her?” Sadie demanded, still pushing.
“What the Hell?”
“Well, if you think you can date another girl, surely stuff like that should be no problem, right?” she asked, in a strange combination of smugness and defensiveness.
“You know, sometimes I forget you’re only fifteen,” I said, sounding as disappointed as I felt.
“You can’t play the age card on me, Charlie,” she snapped. “I’m dead, not a kid.”
To be fair, she’d never really acted her age, not since she died. It was difficult to say exactly how it all affected her. Being dead, she didn’t exactly have hormones or standard brain development, but at the same time, she was definitely growing, and maturing at what felt like a pretty normal rate. At least, she’d always seemed like the same distance from me, age-wise.
“Well, you’re sure not acting like an adult right now,” I said.
“You’re the one acting like a kid,” she retorted. “I’m just worried you haven’t thought this through.
With that, she finally hit my breaking point. There was no way I was going to take that from her.
“Okay, first of all, if I was dating a guy, you wouldn’t be saying any of this,” I snapped.
“No, because that would be normal,” she said. I was starting to see red.
“Right, because everything in my life is so normal. Fuck, Sadie.”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” she muttered.
“I don’t care how you meant it, to be honest. And anyway, I don’t need to have thought it out. I like her, and this is what I want. End of story.
“No, that’s not the end of the story!” she cried. “You can’t just date a girl and expect everything to work out? That’s not how the world works!”
“I’m not going to give up on a relationship just because there are no guarantees it will work out!” I yelled, then immediately cringed and covered my mouth, as if that would muffle the words already spoken.
“You’re shouting, Charlie.”
“Whatever,” I muttered. “This conversation is over. Thanks so much for the support, sis.”
“I’m just trying to look out for you,” she said.
* * *
Sadie and I didn’t talk for a few days after that. For the most part, she sat in the corner and sulked. I didn’t care. She deserved to stew a little, as far as I was concerned.
When I finally had another chance to sneak over to Rachel’s place again, I was over the moon. I wasn’t planning on telling her about Sadie’s reaction, but I thought that just being around her would make me feel better.
Just like always, I climbed over the fence, snuck around through the back door, and slipped into Rachel’s room as quietly as I could. With the amount of times that I’d done it, I knew how to be pretty damn quiet.
“Hey there,” I said, closing the door behind me.
“Hey!” she said. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
I cringed involuntarily. She wasn’t lowering her voice like we normally had to. Was her mum not home? Or had she just suddenly become reckless?
“Dude, too loud!”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” she said.
“I… maybe slipped a sleeping tablet into her drink,” she said sheepishly.
“You did what?”
“She takes them sometimes anyway,” Rachel said defensively. “And I needed to be able to go out without worrying tonight. She’ll be fine.”
I sighed. “Yeah, I guess.” I didn’t feel good about it. Though, if anyone deserved it, it was Rachel’s mother. Not that anybody deserved to be drugged. Ever.
“I know, it’s kind of messed up. But it was important.”
“So, we’re going out?” I asked, changing the subject. I just needed to not think about it too much.
“I told you, I have a surprise for you,” she said, brightening up. “Here, wear this.”
She handed me a low-cut top and a hoodie. Confused, I looked at them for a few seconds, then back at her. She just smiled, and disappeared out of the room. Not really having much reason to object, I quickly changed, then followed her outside.
Next Week: Definitely Not Unbreakable