Mommy just stood there glaring at us, her smooth brown skin flushed kind of red. Mama’s big, dark eyes were all kinds of disappointed.
“Let’s go. Right now,” Mommy said through gritted teeth. She pushed two kids aside and grabbed my arm.
Mama took Corey by the arm, and they both pulled us through the open front door as everyone stared at us. I felt my cheeks burn as though we spent the past few hours at the beach and not at a party.
“Wait,” I said, and turned back toward the house.
“Let’s go,” my mothers said.
“Jackie’s still inside!” I pointed to the house with my free hand. The sleeve of Jackie’s fairy costume slipped down a little, and I jerked it back up. It was bad enough the people on the porch saw me get in trouble with my moms. They didn’t need to see me hanging out of my costume.
Mommy let go of me and looked right into my eyes, her long hair hanging in her face a little. Her eyes blazed like a bonfire on the beach. They scared me. I’d never seen her so mad, not even when Corey and I were little and he’d tried some wrestling moves on me and accidentally broken one of my ribs.
“Stay right here,” she said, each word punctuated with anger. She marched back into the house before I could say anything else.
“Mama,” Corey said.
“No,” she said. The breeze drafted right up my costume. I shivered. Someone made a huh sound. I turned and Mama smirked at me. “A little cold there, baby doll?”
I looked down at my heels.
“Mama,” Corey whined again.
Mama didn’t say anything at all.
The wind blew harder, and I felt a cold drop of water hit my forehead. “Oh great,” I said. “Did you guys walk over here?”
Mama glanced up at the sky. “Maybe.”
Leaves crunched and cracked angrily. I looked up. Mommy marched Jackie toward us, one of Jackie’s arms slung over her shoulders. Both sleeves of her sailor costume hung down, and I could see the top of her bra. I wondered what she had been doing when Mommy found her.
“Tamara, I’m so sorry!” Jackie said, her words tumbling into one another.
“I don’t want to hear another damn word from any of you,” Mommy said. “Let’s go. Now.” She continued to support Jackie, though, and the rest of us followed.
No one said anything during the car ride to Jackie’s aunt’s house. Corey and I glanced at each other now and then, but mostly I watched Jackie. She sat next to me, leaning on the window. She smelled like she had puked after drinking an entire gallon of orange juice. Once in a while she moaned, but she kept her eyes closed the whole time. When we got to her house, Mommy helped her out of the car and walked her to the front door. She said nothing as Jackie pushed open the door. Mommy walked back to the car, and Jackie disappeared inside.
“Was her aunt home?” Mama asked.
“Don’t know,” Mommy said. “Don’t care.” She buckled her seatbelt and then turned to Corey and me in the back seat. “Listen to me, both of you. You’re grounded. You know the drill. Straight to your rooms unless you’re in school. No TV, no phones.” She held her hand out.
“Mommy!” Corey shook his head. “Come on, I didn’t do anything!”
“Now!” she roared, and suddenly I realized what it would be like to have a stern father.
We both handed her our phones. Without it, my bag felt much, much lighter.
“No computer, either, unless it’s for homework. And Corey?” she said.
“Yes, Mommy,” he pouted, and tensed, like he already knew what was coming.
“No video games.” She turned back around.
A few seconds later, I heard sniffling from beside me. I wanted to cry, too. Such a fun night had gone wrong so quickly. It seemed surreal to me.
“Mommy,” I said, afraid to speak in a normal tone, like she might turn into a snake and bite me.
“What?” She whipped around in her seat.
“I was just wondering …how long?”
She snorted. “How long do you think?”
I looked down at my hands. “A week?”
“Ha! The girl’s got a sense of humor,” she said to Mama. “Try three. Two for Corey.”
“Mommy! That’s not—”
“I don’t care,” she said, interrupting me. She turned back around, and I knew the discussion—if you could call a one-sided trial a discussion—was over.
“She doesn’t even care that I just played video games all night,” Corey sniffled.
The ride ended too quickly. We went straight to our rooms. I heard Corey’s door slam as I slowly and carefully closed mine. The fact that my mom was so angry that she couldn’t even speak in complete sentences was enough for me. Corey apparently still had a lot to learn. A few minutes later, I heard Mommy’s feet pounding up the stairs, Corey’s door being yanked open, and her asking Corey if he wanted three weeks, too. I couldn’t hear anything else, but whatever he said seemed to be good enough for her because in another moment I heard his door close softly and Mommy padding back down the stairs.
I pulled off Jackie’s costume and tossed it into my laundry bin. I also put the Disney princess costume that Mama made for me in the bin. Looking at it, barely worn and crumpled on top of all my dirty clothes, I felt tears sliding down my cheeks. I hadn’t once thought that by not wearing it, I might hurt Mama’s feelings. It wasn’t an ugly costume. She had even sewn a matching mesh cape onto it. I probably could have won a costume contest.
I pulled on a T-shirt and pajama pants, and crawled underneath the covers, hoping that when I saw her in the morning, Mama wouldn’t still have that look of disappointment on her face.
* * *
Sometime later, I woke up. The room tilted and reeled. Moaning, I rolled onto my side. I had left my bedroom light on to read some of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, but one of my moms must have turned it off. They had even saved my place among the well-worn pages. Though it was a kid’s book, I read it whenever I needed some extra comfort. Staring at my nightstand through bleary eyes, though, the last thing I wanted to do was read. I couldn’t remember falling asleep, but I could remember the dozens of red cups of beer that I’d knocked back.
I wondered, suddenly, if Jackie was okay. Maybe I watched too much TV, but she hadn’t looked too good when we dropped her off. She could have alcohol poisoning or, even worse, someone could have slipped her something dangerous. I reached for my cell phone on my nightstand to text her, then remembered. Right, I thought. I’m grounded.
I hated the idea of waiting until the morning to find out what happened to her and, if she was okay, what she had been doing when Mommy found her.
To Be Continued…
Come back next Thursday for Chapter 3! You can also sign up for my YA email list and I’ll send you the first 5 chapters. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP.