Chapter two:

Saz was on her usual armchair in the morning when I got out of bed. The air conditioner was rattling away on a temperature that was likely to cause hypothermia if I stayed in the room for too long. I looked over at Saz. The television was still not on. Saz started blankly at the black glass screen, at her distorted reflection, all fuzzy and bubbly.

“Where did  you go last night?” I asked.
“Last night?” my sister didn’t even turn to look at me.
“Yeah, last night. I heard you.”
“I didn’t go anywhere.’
“Yes you did. You took my car.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Where did you go, Saz?”
“None of your business.”
“So you did go somewhere?”
Saz paused. I watched her reflection blink slowly. She pulled the blanket up to her chin and shivered. Her hair wasn’t in a ponytail anymore. The dull morning light crept in through the wooden louvers, casting a yellow glow on her hair, making it look greasy and drab. Saz needed a shower. Badly. I stepped into the kitchenette and pulled a plastic cup out of the top drawer.

“Did you drink all the apple juice?” I asked her. Change topic. Divert the subject. Should I try reverse psychology? How would my mother have done this? My mind was doing back flips, there were needles stabbing against my skull. Why did I have to mother my older sister?
“Yeah.” Saz nodded slowly. “I did. Sorry. I’ll get some more today.”
“From work?” I asked her. “Are you working today?”
“Uh.”
“Would you like to borrow the car for work?”
“Jesus, I didn’t mean to take your goddamn car, okay?” Saz rolled her eyes. It looked kind of funny in the rounded television surface, kind of comical.
“It’s not about the car.” I filled my cup with lukewarm tap water and sipped at it. The water here tasted like mouldy potatoes and rusty pipes.
“I didn’t go anywhere that is any of your business,” Saz gritted her teeth and picked up the television remote. “Enough said.”

The room fell silent. There were memories poking at our seams, I could feel it. Picking at the stitches that held our torn skin together. Threatening to burst and let our fluffy innards explode throughout the room. Imagine that. A motel owner knocking on the door after a week without rent. Kicking open the door to find fluff and guts sprayed up the wall and scattered all over the floor. Shock! Fear! What is going on here? It feels like something I’ve got buried in my intestines. Something worming and squirming and chewing at me from the inside out.

“Okay,” I said, and placed my cup on the linoleum bench. “You didn’t go anywhere. I’m going out now.”
Saz didn’t say anything as I filled my bag with my wallet and car keys.
“Where are you going?”
“Out.”
“Are you going to work?”
“Saz,” I paused, hand hovering over the doorknob. “If you can keep secrets, so can I.”
She didn’t say anything as I stood frozen. I could almost hear her brain ticking – weighing up the right thing to say, wondering whether or not to tell me where she disappeared to in the middle of the night without warning. She decided to say nothing. The volume o the television rose, and I wrenched open the door. With a creak, I stepped out into the dusty parking lot, letting the humidity fill the empty spaces within me. 

Published by Samantha Anderson