Chapter 20 - "I did something really bad."

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 Chapter 20 "I did something really bad."

“So,” I gently cleared my throat, at a loss for what to say. It had been so long since I thought like a child…what do they talk about again? “What do you like to do for fun, Piper?” I asked.

She tossed the flying disk into the air, letting it land softly on the emerald grass in front of me. As I leaned down to pick it up, I noted she had a fairly good arm for a child her size. She was tall for girls her age, I could already tell; she’d gotten my height.

Piper shrugged her frail shoulders, “Play with Barbie dolls.” She said this like it should have been obvious. I suppose it really should have been. Secretly, I wondered if she played with my old Barbie dolls, or if my parents threw them out. Piper was born only a year after I went missing, though, so surely they kept them for her. Seeming to have read my thoughts, she added, “Some of them are yours, actually.”

I was taken aback by this little girl; she just seemed so grown. Everything about her, down to the way she talked, and the way she screwed up her face in thought as she spoke before looking back at the flying disk expectantly. Shock had frozen my face as I gently tossed the disk back to her. It flew over her head, and I remembered that I was much stronger than her…much stronger than I should be, right now. “Oops,” I muttered when she turned to run after it.

“It’s alright, Daddy sometimes throws it way over there,” She pointed to a bush about twenty feet behind us, near the house. I giggled, but stopped as I saw all three images of Justin, Mom, and Dad standing in the window, watching with anxious expressions. Didn’t they trust me with her? Was telling them I’d taken drugs a mistake? Surely they’d never leave me alone with her now. I slowly turned, looking just in time as the flying disk flew in front of me again. I quickly caught it, lunging forward a bit. “Daddy says I have a good throw.” She boasted proudly, oblivious to our parents – wow, it was weird saying that – in the window.

Trying to be sisterly instead of a stranger, I smiled as wide as I possibly could. “I agree with him…maybe you have a future in baseball.”

She suddenly turned glum. “Well, Dad won’t let me sign up for little league. He says it’s because it’s not for girls – even though there’s a girl team – but whenever he says no, he looks really sad…I don’t think it’s because I’m a girl.” She concluded before holding out her hands, signaling for me to throw the disk.

Following her suggestion, I threw it over her head again – on purpose – so I could look back at Dad and send him a dirty look while she ran off to retrieve it. How could he hold this precious little girl back because of my stupidity? He looked confused as he saw my expression, all of them did. Thinking I could clear the confusion with hand gestures was probably the dumbest things I’ve done. With one hand I pretended to throw a baseball, and then pretended to be holding a bat and get a homerun. They all furrowed their brows as I continued to gesture, mouthing ‘what is wrong with you’ and throwing my hands up at the idiots. Perhaps I was the idiot here.

“What are you doing?” Piper’s sweet voice asked, causing me to instantly drop my hands and turn back to her, scratching the back of my neck.

“Uh, nothing, I just thought I saw a bee…no bees here.” I confirmed, swatting again for good measure. She didn’t seem convinced, but she still threw the disk back to me. This continued for several minutes until Mom came outside.

“Are you girl’s hungry? I’ve got two pizzas on their way – if you go wash up they’ll be here before you know it.”

Piper was running at the first word of ‘pizza’, while I was running at the first word of ‘wash up’. It had been a few days since I took a real shower. My hair was oily and terrible, my face felt oily as well. Sponge baths in sinks and deodorant have been my ways of personal hygiene in the past few days. As I approached Mom, already walking back inside, I whispered in her ear.

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