P h a s e 1 : Agreeing to a Really, Really Stupid Plan

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I barely registered my dad’s shout as I kicked back in the recliner, reading my novel.  I’d long learned to block out my dad’s shouting; I mean it was never directed at me anyway.  Arabelle, my sister, seemed to master the craft as well.  I didn’t really blame her.  She was always being yelled at.  Whether it was for something as drinking orange juice straight from the jug or for something like getting in trouble at school.  Arabelle always seemed to be doing something wrong.


“Arabelle Winters get your ass over here right now.”

Arabelle, who was swearing colorfully as she died in Mortal Combat, glared at the living room’s entrance.  We both knew that my dad was probably standing in the middle of the kitchen, maybe pacing back and forth.  “I’d rather not, thanks!” she snapped loudly, pressing buttons on the remote controller.  I watched without interest as the game rebooted and she began fighting with the computer again.  “Why don’t you come to me?”

I sighed and shook my head, turning back to my book.  Here we go.

A moment later, my dad appeared, absolutely livid.  My eyes darted between him and the pages of my book for a moment before I sighed and closed the book completely.  There was no point in keeping it open.  Just from the look in his eyes I could tell that there was going to be a lot of yelling.  And no matter how great I was at blocking out noise when I was reading, this would be too loud to do so.

Sad, wasn’t it?  That I was able to tell just from the look he gave?

Arabelle ignored our father’s presence completely as she squinted at the television set, her complete concentration directed toward killing (in vain might I add) an animated man on the screen.  She cursed under her breath as she died.  Again.

“Arabelle,” my dad said sternly.  He glowered as Arabelle continued to ignore him.  “Arabelle, pause the game and look at me.”

Arabelle cursed as she slammed her fingers into the keys.  My twin sister had always had anger issues. 

“Arabelle, I’m not going to ask again!” my dad snapped.

“I’m a little busy, can’t you tell?” Arabelle replied coolly, her fingers tapping swiftly on the controller.

I watched dully as my dad glared at Arabelle before stomping over to the television and slamming his finger into the power button.  Arabelle’s defiant cry sounded through the house, loud and indignant.  She turned to me, her eyes wide and furious.  It was as though she couldn’t believe that she was in trouble again.

“Falice, tell Dad he needs to lighten up and stop freaking out about everything!” Arabelle shrieked as she stood up and stomped over to me, her butt dropping onto the recliner’s arm.

“I would,” I drawled, bringing a hand through my hair, “but I don’t exactly know what you did.”

Arabelle sighed deeply.  “It was nothing. . . .”

“Nothing?” my dad shouted.  “Nothing?  You think beating up a girl at school is nothing?”

Oh.  That.  I remembered that.  Arabelle and her friends had been in the cafeteria when Arabelle’s enemy, Sadie Valle, came up to them and started making fun of pretty much everyone Arabelle knew.  When Sadie even so much as said my name, Arabelle lost it.  She threw herself at Sadie, tackling her to the ground.  I hadn’t been there to see it, but I’d heard of the fight all around school.

Though, I had to say, it was really touching that she only beat Sadie up because she made fun of me.

“I’m sorry,” Arabelle drew out, her voice dripping with sarcasm, “but I thought that I had a right to self-defense.”

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