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"Marina!" Mother snapped.

Marina immediately stopped pacing the vestibule and parlor. "Mother, I'm sorry. I can't help it."

Mother harrumphed. Father was in the library counseling a congregant and wouldn't leave until the woman was properly comforted. Marina glanced at the clock, which had advanced two minutes since the last time she looked.

Dot's show began at six. Dot, who was the last, was scheduled to take the stage at seven-fifteen. It was now six-fifteen. Though Marina and Dot lived three blocks from each other and Marina's church was just across the street from the parsonage, it took twenty minutes to get to Dot's church building. Marina might have gone with Dot and her family, but they had left at five because Bishop had to open up the building and oversee the event.

At six-thirty, Marina decided to go upstairs and read until Father was ready to leave.

• • •

"What happened?" Dot asked soberly Monday morning at school. When Marina had dropped by on her way, as she usually did, Sister Albright told her Dot had already left.

Marina swallowed. "My father," she murmured, her face hot with shame, her heart thudding with pain, "was in counseling and couldn't leave."

"Oh."

Dot didn't speak to Marina for the rest of the day except to tell her she didn't feel like going to Kresge's, which meant Marina couldn't go, either.

Marina didn't think it was fair that Dot was punishing her for missing her activity since it wasn't her fault. Father had informed her that he had prayed as to God's will on the matter and while he had been willing to take her, God had other plans, which was to put a parishioner's family crisis in the way. She tried to explain this to Dot, but Dot murmured, "I understand."

Not only that, but Trey had not made plans for a Saturday outing nor had he come to church Sunday, which Father had questioned her over. The only thing she could say was, "I don't know." She did her chores. She worked on her homework. She read an old Agatha Christie novel. Two. Three. Six.

Not even the math test she had aced nor her English exam, which she had also aced, cheered her up. For the first time, she realized that she had no friends. She had no beau. Mother was angry with her for reasons she didn't understand.

Marina had never felt alone in the world before. She had always had her parents. She had always had Dot, since they were small girls. She had only had a beau for a week and a half.

That would teach her to depend on someone's company, wouldn't it?

Marina's mother was less short with her Monday evening, but that was probably because Marina had finished sewing her a new and very stylish pair of trousers from a picture in a magazine. That was nothing. Looking at a picture of a garment and knowing how it was constructed was like reading a recipe and knowing what it would taste like.

Tuesday morning, Dot was her usual bright, sunny self and apparently didn't think about the fact that Marina was not interested in Dot's bright, sunny self after being punished the day before.

Marina was polite.

That was all.

"Do ... do you want to go to Kresge's?" Dot asked hesitantly toward the end of the day.

"No," Marina said quietly.

"Um ... I, um ... I'm sorry about ... well, yesterday. How I acted."

"All right. Thank you." Marina walked down the hallway to the front doors.

"Marina!" she cried and started after her.

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