Chapter Twenty-Four

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Addison nodded. “Well, call me if you need anything. Seriously, I’ll drive up to the woods to find you and bring you back to civilization.”

A genuine smile broke out across my face. “You’re the best, Addie.”   

“That’s what friends are for,” she said returning the smile.

***

“I’m so glad you’re moving back in,” said Alexa as we pulled up in front of the house.

My eyes drifted to the perfectly manicured hedge lining the brick walkway leading from the driveway to the front door. Begonias overfilled two large pots standing at either side of the door.

I found myself smiling again. Maybe moving back home is what I need to get over this… This moment in life… I had a long way to go, but happiness was slowly seeping back into my life.

“Hello? Earth to Abriana?” said Alexa, waving her hand in front of my face.

Shaking my head, I let out a laugh. “Sorry, I’m just zoning out!”

“You’re such a space cadet today!” Alexa said with a smile. A moment later, she swung open her car door and the smell of fresh cut grass filled the car. “Let’s go! We need to get packed for this weekend.”

She popped the trunk and reached for a box. I slung a duffle bag over my shoulder and then grabbed the last box.

Alexa got to the door first. Balancing a box on one knee, she slid the key in the keyhole and turned it.

Once the door opened, I followed her up the stairs and into my bedroom. The light purple paint and cream-colored duvet made me think of my childhood obsession with princesses. I always believed that I would study abroad in college, meet a prince, fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after in a castle. Oh how things have changed, I thought to myself.

“¿Mamá?Papá?” called Alexa. “Where are you?”

A groan came from their master bedroom.

“Ohhhh,” came the groan again, this time louder.

I dropped the box and threw the bag to the ground. My heart thumped rapidly in my chest as I raced into my parent’s bedroom. “What’s wrong?”

“Abriana,” moaned my mother, “I think I caught the flu.”

“Me too,” said my father from the bathroom.

I studied her pale skin and wisps of dark brunette hair hanging loosely in her face.

“Oh no,” exclaimed Alexa. “You look terrible!”

A wane smile crossed her face. “Thanks.”

“I’m sorry,” she apologized, looking at me with wide eyes. “They’re super sick,” she mouthed.

“What can I get you?” I asked my mother. “How can we help?”

My mother pushed a pillow under her head. “Maybe just a glass of water? I’m so sorry that we are ruining the family weekend. I know you were both really looking forward to it.”

“Let the girls go,” said my father from the bathroom. “They are probably better off not being home with us and all of these germs.”

My heart sank. Even though I didn’t want to go camping, I hated the thought of leaving my parents at home with the flu.

Nodding, my mother turned an odd shade of green. “Your father’s right, you two are better off going. Now excuse me!” She raced past me and to the bathroom down the hall.

Alexa tugged on my shirt and pulled me back into my bedroom. Shutting the door, she exhaled loudly. “Phew! Didn’t want to catch any of those germs!”

I crossed my arms and bit my lower lip. “Do you really think we should go?”

“Ah, yeah! Did you see how sick they were?” said Alexa with wide eyes.

I released my lip and uncrossed my arms. “Don’t you think we should stay here and take care of them?”

“Um, I’m not trying to get whatever they have! Plus, they’ll probably just lay in bed and sleep all weekend anyways.”

“Yeah… I guess you could be right. Maybe we should go to the store and buy them some Gatorade and Saltines?”

Alexa smiled. “Good idea.”

Feeling slightly better about leaving, I turned around and scooped the fallen bag and box off the floor. Once I had set both items on my bed, I turned toward Alexa. She had a funny expression on her face, almost like a mixture of a scowl and a grin.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

She shook her head, clearing the look. “Yeah, I’m just bummed they’re sick,” she said motioning out the door and toward my parent’s bedroom.

I studied her face for a moment longer. “I’m going to go get them some water. Will you run with me to the store afterward?”

“Sure,” said Alexa. “I’m just going to go wash my hands first.”

“Sounds good,” I replied with a smile. Alexa had always been a germaphobe.

Alexa headed toward the door, but before stepping through, she turned back and looked at me with the same strange expression plastered over her face. “Hey, Bri?”

“Yeah?”

She arched an eyebrow. “I’m really looking forward to this weekend.”

“Ah, yeah. Um, me too,” I responded in an unsure voice.

“See you in a few,” she said before disappearing down the hallway and toward her bedroom. Much like mine, the walls were painted light purple and she had the same matching duvet cover. My mother used to joke that we were twins. For as long as I could remember, Alexa always wanted what I had, from my wall color to my clothes to my friends. She used to throw temper tantrums if my parents came home with something for me and a slightly different version of the same thing for her. One time, they bought me a pink stuffed bunny with floppy ears and bright blue eyes. They picked out a white bunny with purple eyes for Lex. When they brought them home, I leapt into my mother’s arms and thanked her. Alexa got so angry that we didn’t have the same toy that she ripped the head off of her bunny and threw the stuffing at my parents. That fateful day, she wore the same scowling grin that she had on her face just moments ago. I shuttered at the thought of the stuffing flying across the room and Alexa screaming at my parents. Her face turned so red I thought she might pass out. That moment always bothered me, even as a teenager, it sent my stomach into twists. I wasn’t scared of my sister, but her temper did leave me feeling queasy. I guess it impacted my parents as well, because after that day, whatever I got, Alexa got too.

Smiling, I shook the unsettling look she had given me only moments before out of my head. Relax, Abriana. It’s nothing. Alexa is just excited about this weekend, that’s all. An uneasy feeling settled in my stomach. There’s nothing worry about… Right?

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Thank you so much for reading Chapter Twenty-Four! You all are absolutely amazing! :)

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