Chasing daybreak, p.16
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       Chasing Daybreak, p.16

           Ranae Glass
 

  ***

  “Who was at the door?” Mom asked as I slipped back into the dining room.

  “A bunch of Girl Scouts with torches and pitchforks,” I joked half-heartedly. “Said something about you owing them money.”

  From behind me, Heather popped out and yelled, “Surprise!”

  Mom practically launched from her chair and rushed to hug her in a vice grip. “Heather, oh my heavens! I’m so glad you’re home.”

  “It’s good to see you too, Mom.” She smiled, pulled away, and asked with a light laugh, “Do you have room for one more at the table?”

  Sarah stood up and gave our youngest sister a hug. “Where have you been, brat?”

  “Oh, you know.” Heather waved her hand. “Here and there. Traveling, learning, studying the universe.”

  “Like, physics?” I asked. “Or getting high in an observatory?”

  “You can take Isabel’s place,” Mom interjected as she filled a plate of food. “She was just leaving.”

  “Forget it.” I sat back down. “This meal just got interesting.”

  “What about Shane?” Phoebe laughed.

  I blew a raspberry at her.

  “Not at the table,” Mom snapped.

  Heather pulled out the empty chair at the end of the table and sat down.

  “You look like Esmeralda from the Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Sarah joked.

  Sarah was right. Heather’s curly hair was long and disheveled, held at bay only by a scrap of blue cloth. Every finger on her hand had a ring on it, and she’d ditched her eyebrow stud for a Bindi jewel in the middle of her forehead.

  “I’ve been studying with some monks in Bali. It’s so amazing over there. You wouldn’t believe it.” She smiled as Mom set a full plate in front of her. Heather looked at it, smiled awkwardly, and pushed it away. “Sorry. I should have mentioned that I no longer eat the flesh of other creatures. Bad karma.”

  Mom’s eye twitched. I tried really hard not to laugh. Sarah just stared at her.

  “So, what brings you back to this end of the planet?” Phoebe asked.

  “Well,” Heather leaned forward, “I was in this meditative trance and… I had a vision.”

  I snickered, Sarah snorted, and Phoebe looked at her like she was nuts. Then, in slow-motion unison, we turned to Mom, whose smile was cracking around the edges.

  Phoebe patted Duke’s hand. “Maybe we should get going.”

  As if realizing for the first time that Duke was still in the room, Mom motioned to him. “Pardon my manners. Duke, this is my youngest daughter, Heather. Heather, this is Duke, Phoebe’s friend.”

  Heather stood and grasped his hand across the table, not just shaking it, but covering it with her other hand as well. She smiled. “Oh, yes. I saw you in my vision. It’s nice to meet you in person.”

  If Duke was uncomfortable, he hid it really well, just smiling and nodding. Hey, he might just make it in the family after all.

  Mom got up slowly and walked Phoebe and Duke to the door.

  As soon as she was out of earshot, I leaned forward. “Heather, are you trying to give Mom a stroke?”

  “What do you mean?” Her face looked pleasantly blank.

  “Um, hello? What’s with all the psychic stuff?” Sarah chimed in. “And a vegetarian? Have you lost your mind? We eat bacon-stuffed turkey for Thanksgiving.”

  After a brief pause and a strange wave of her arms, Heather replied, “I’ve been on a path to enlightenment. And on my journey, I’ve made some important discoveries about myself. I understand your reluctance to see me as the grown woman I am now, but you’ll come to accept the new me.”

  “The woman you’ve become?” I snorted. “Heather, you’re eighteen, and you’re an idiot.”

  She was unfazed, responding simply, “I’ve had a spiritual experience.”

  “Did it involve drinking the Kool-Aid?” I asked sarcastically.

  “Isabel, maybe you should go,” Sarah said, trying to sound diplomatic.

  I shook my head, folding my hands across my chest. “Forget it. For once, I’m not the biggest target on Mom’s dartboard. I wanna stick around to watch this.”

  As if on cue, Mom came back in the dining room. Painting a smile on her face, she walked over to Heather. “If you’re hungry I’m sure I could whip you up something, meat free.”

  I straightened. “What? She comes home after running away at sixteen, declares that she’s a vegetarian and a psychic, and she gets offered a meal?” I sank back in my chair. “This is so unfair.”

  Mom shot me a look, and then snapped, “Isabel, why don’t you head home? It sounded like Shane really needed something.”

  “I… what? I’m being kicked out? But she—”

  “Don’t be such a drama queen,” Mom ordered.

  I shook my head, sliding my chair away from the table as I muttered, “Fine. Whatever. You guys have fun catching up. I have work to do anyway.”

  Mom headed for the kitchen.

  Heather came over and put her arms around me for a hug. “It is really good to see you again, Isabel. I’ll come by soon to catch up.”

  I swallowed. “Sounds good. But Heather…” I pulled back, looking her in the eye. “If this is about money, don’t go to Mom with it. Come talk to me. She’s barely squeaking by as it is.”

  She smiled and shook her head. “Don’t worry about that, silly.”

  I stepped out onto the porch and turned to walk away before she added, “But you probably should be worried about Phoebe’s boyfriend being a werewolf.”

  Heather smiled and slammed the door in my face.

 
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