Read Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee Online

Authors: Mary G. Thompson

Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee (8 page)

BOOK: Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee
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I want to see her. I want to leave my room, because I've lived in one room for so long. I've had this week with Mom and Dad and Jay, but there's more out there. If I'm going to stay, if I'm going to be Amy, I have to leave this tiny world again.

“I'm going,” I say.

“Okay, if you're sure,” Mom says.

“I am.”

me a hug. Her long hair brushes against the side of my face, and she swipes it back as she pulls away from me. She's tall, maybe five ten. Her hair is going gray, but the way it blends in with the blond, it's hard to tell. If it weren't for the dark circles under her eyes, she'd look much younger than she is. She smiles and says hello to my parents, but the smile is only in her mouth. She turns away from all of us and heads back into the kitchen.

“Hey!” Lee gives me a big hug. Then she hugs my mom and my dad. She gives Jay a smile and a fist bump.

“We shouldn't have come,” my mom whispers.

“It's all right,” says Lee with a wide smile. It's strained, but she's playing it for all it's worth.

A great racket comes from the kitchen. Metal crashes against metal. Glass breaks. It sounds like Aunt Hannah is knocking over chairs, and then it sounds like she's knocked over the whole table. Dishes break and shatter, and there's a huge crash.

My dad hangs his head.

My mom wipes her eyes.

Lee's smile fades.

“All right, then,” says Jay. He locks eyes with Lee, shakes his head, and leads the way out of the house. We all follow.

“I'm sorry,” I say to Lee as we leave.

She sighs. “It's not your fault. I'll call you later, okay?”

“Okay,” I say. It's hard to see how it's not my fault. I could tell my aunt the whole story. But would that make her feel better? Wouldn't she still want to break things? It's hard for me to say which would be better, because I know.

As we drive home, I try to imagine what it would have been like if Dee had disappeared, but I had been left behind. Would I want to know what happened to her? Would I want to know that she suffered and that she changed and that her life was one minute of horror after another? Or would I want to believe that she had been murdered on that very day that she was taken, and that she wasn't suffering anymore?

I don't really wish that Dee had died that day, but in a way she did.

I wonder if I did.

I close my eyes and block out my parents' whispers. They're talking about how we shouldn't have tried to see Aunt Hannah, how she's not ready.

Barbie's face pops into my head. She's holding her own doll, a Barbie in a nurse's outfit. “Barbie,” she says.

“Yes, that's right,” I say.

“She's Barbie and I'm Barbie.”


“I want a dress like this.”

“That's a nurse's dress. Nurses help people,” I say.

“I can help people,” Barbie says. She smiles, and her face is suddenly Dee's face. Not Stacie's, Dee's.

“Yes you can,” I say. I wipe the tears out of my eyes, because Kyle and Stacie will be back from outside any minute, and I can't let them see that something's wrong.

I made her that nurse's outfit. I used an old sheet and the sewing machine that Kyle picked up from some secondhand store so that he wouldn't have to go shopping in town as often. Barbie couldn't tell the difference. She loved it.

“Honey, are you all right?” Mom has opened the back door of the car and seen that I'm crying.

“I'm fine,” I say.

“I'm so sorry,” she says. “I never should have let this happen. I should have gone with my instincts.”

“It's not . . .” I can't finish. If I tell her what it's not, she'll ask what it is. “It's okay. I understand.”

to bed when I hear a knock on my window. I pull the curtain, and there's Lee, smiling. I open the window, and she climbs in. She's wearing a skirt and high heels and a face full of makeup, and her hair looks really poofy.

“Nice of you to dress up for me,” I say.

“It's not for you,” she says. “It's for the party.”

“Um . . . party?”

“Yep. It's Saturday night. People have parties.” She turns on my desk lamp and heads for the closet, where most of my new clothes are hanging, untouched. She starts pulling things out.

“I don't know if I'm ready for a party,” I say.

“You are,” says Lee.

“You thought your mom was ready to have dinner with me,” I say.

“Mom's Mom,” says Lee. “You're you.”

“Everyone's going to stare at me. They'll take pictures.”


“So I'm going to end up all over the Internet.”

“So?” She thrusts a skirt at me. It's black with a purple band around the waist.

“I bought a skirt?”

“Dee loved parties,” says Lee. “Don't you think she'd want to go to a party?” She smiles as if this were a normal thing to say.

Dee, in fact, did love parties, only she rarely got invited. She was too bubbly, too talkative, too
. I suddenly remember Annie Gearheart's birthday party, only a couple months before Kyle took us. I wasn't there because Annie was in Dee's grade, but Dee told me all about it. She was so happy to be invited, because Annie and her friends were cool and pretty, and Annie had a big house out in the country. But Dee had said something that wasn't supposed to be funny, and all the girls laughed, and that made Dee burst into tears.

I can't face them,
she said. And then,
Do you think she'll invite me next year?

“That was a sucky thing to say,” I say to Lee.

“Did it work?”

“Yes.” I pull off my sleeping shorts and pull on the skirt. This is crazy. I can't go to a party. But in ten minutes, I'm dressed and Lee is putting makeup on my “actress” face.

“Hold still! There.” She turns me toward the mirror so I can see, but she turns me back around so quickly that I haven't seen anything.

And then we are out the window and in Lee's car, and I feel
like I'm watching these two girls drive away into the night, like this is a movie, because I've only seen high school parties in movies, and let's face it, I haven't even seen that many movies. The last time I watched a movie, I was ten years old.

“Everyone's going to be nice to you,” Lee says. “Believe it or not, I'm popular. People like me. I've told everyone that when they see you, they have to be nice. Nobody's going to make fun of you or anything. They were all sad when you got kidnapped. Everyone looked for you—all the kids at school helped. People cried a lot. Boy, you should have seen Vinnie Openheimer cry. He was all broken up for a long time. We're good friends now, so he called me when he heard you came back. He was like, we all have to hang out! I told him you probably weren't ready. I mean, it was almost like he thought you'd go out with him—can you believe that? A girl comes back from being kidnapped and he thinks, hey, she probably doesn't have a boyfriend!”

“Vinnie Openheimer?” I try to remember who she's talking about.

“You know, Mini Vinnie?”

“Oooooh.” I do remember Mini Vinnie. He was this really little guy who was always clowning around. He used to say really random things just to see how people would react. When he did it to the teachers, he'd have the whole class in stitches. In fourth grade, he sat two seats behind me.

“Hey, Mrs. Woods!”

“Yes, Vincent?”

“There isn't any firewood in the parking lot.”

“There isn't what?”

“Firewood in the parking lot.”

“Vincent, why would we need firewood in the parking lot?”

“Well, there isn't any.”

“Vincent, I asked why.”

“Because there isn't.”
At this point the whole class burst into laughter, and Mrs. Woods finally caught on. And then he threw a wadded-up piece of paper at me. It hit the back of my neck and slipped to the floor beneath my seat. Somehow I knew he'd thrown it because he liked me, and even though he was kind of a dweeb, I actually kept that piece of paper. It wasn't every day that somebody liked me.

“Well, he's not mini anymore!” Lee continues. “He's huge! I mean, not fat or anything, just . . . you'll see. Boy, will you be surprised! Don't worry if he tries to hit on you because he's harmless. He's actually a great guy. More meat, same dork. People still call him Mini except now it's ironic.”

“Uh-huh.” I remember Vinnie, and thinking about him makes me smile, but I can't really picture him. I know he was little, but his face is a blank.

“I can't wait for you to meet Marco,” she goes on. “He's
muy guapo,
if you know what I mean.” She winks. “
Muy muy muy.

I have no idea what she means.

“And I've told you about Christina and Kara, right? Well, they're still fighting, so if things are weird, it's not about you. Remember how Christina told Amanda and Izzie about Kara's pumpkins, well—”

“Her pumpkins?”

“Kara grows pumpkins! Her family lives out Grey Wood Lane, you know, kind of by the big lake? And she brings them to the fair every year—we
go to the fair every year—but then Christina told some other people and everyone was laughing about Kara and her giant pumpkins. And she has the hugest boobs, you know—I guess you don't know. Trust me, when you see her, you'll know. Anyway, Kara thinks Christina was saying it
that way
but I don't think she was. I mean, yeah, she can sometimes be a little bitchy but she wouldn't make fun of Kara's pumpkins or her
, you know? Those are two things that are off-limits. Oh, hey, I almost missed the turn!” She takes a hard left, throwing me against the back of the seat. “So this party is at Ben Heller's house,” she says, apparently done talking about pumpkins. “He thinks he's awesome because his dad lets him have all the parties he wants. The dad is, like, never there. I think he really lives in Seattle or something with his twenty-year-old wife. So Ben is kind of a douchebag but he does have good parties. I mean, where
are we going to go in a town this size? The big lake? That's so over.”

I think about saying
just to say something, but there's no need. Lee is either too self-involved to notice that I'm not talking, or she's trying to make sure I don't feel like I
to talk. I think it's the latter. If she weren't doing this to be nice, why would she be doing this? It probably isn't going to help her popularity to bring her weirdo purple cousin to the party.
She pulls up across the street from a small ranch house with chipped yellow paint, which is obviously the party house. There's music coming from it that moves the street.

“Come on!” She gets out of the car.

I follow her.

Dee loved parties,
I tell myself.

I love the river.

But it's not right for me to love that.

There was a river near the cabin, too, and the cold air rushing up from the water made me feel awake and alive. The thick bushes we had to climb through to get down there were barriers between us and Kyle. And the girls loved it. They were born there, born to walk on the riverbank, like I was.

The music blasts me as we get closer. In a way, the river is the same as music, because it's loud and it drowns your voice out. But when I sat by the river, I felt calm and protected. I watched my girls laugh and play, and for a few minutes, I could believe they had something positive in their lives. I never thought bad things when I was by the river. But this music seems like it was written just to bring the bad things out.

Inside the cabin, with the door locked. I'm getting up off the floor, slowly.

“What's your name?” he asks me.

I'm falling back from his kick in slow motion. Hitting the ground.

“Heeeey! Ben, this is my cousin Amy.” We're at the door now, and a skinny kid wearing a baseball cap and holding a cigarette is in the doorway.

“Hellooo, ladies!” says Ben. “Welcome to
mi casa
.” He doesn't even blink at me. No double take. “Beer in the fridge. Leave your donation in the jar.” He takes a puff off his cigarette and smiles at me.

I follow Lee through the dingy living room into the kitchen. Yep, it looks like a teenage boy lives here alone. There's stuff strewn everywhere. Clothes and video game controllers and Chinese food boxes. There are maybe ten people hanging around, and I breathe out a breath I didn't know I was holding. When she said “party,” I thought she meant something huge, but this is just a few kids hanging around drinking. This is something I can handle.

I just wish the music wasn't so loud, wasn't beating into my brain.

The bowl crashes into the sink and breaks.

She's screaming in the dark and I'm silent.

She's screaming at me and I'm running out the door with Lola.

“Hey, babe,” says a tall guy who must be Marco because he grabs Lee and gives her a big, wet, gross kiss. As he lets her go, I realize what
muy guapo
means, wink wink. The guy is gorgeous, with broad shoulders and deep brown eyes. Even the girl who was raised in a cabin can see it.

“Marco, this is my cousin Amy,” Lee says.

“Amy! Nice to meet you.” He sticks out his hand.

I shake it. I don't remember the last time I shook hands with someone. I also don't remember the last time I met a hot guy in real life. I don't think it's ever happened.

He turns around and grabs two beers off the kitchen counter. He hands one to each of us. “Glad to have you back,” says Marco.

“Thanks,” I say. I try to remember if I knew him before, but I can't place him. I feel like I would remember.

“Isn't she a looker now?” Lee asks.

“Sure,” says Marco. “But she's no Lee Springfield.” With that, he gives her another wet, sloppy kiss.

Three more kids have come into the kitchen, two boys and a girl. The girl has the most humongous set of
I've ever seen.

You must be Kara,
I almost say.

“Kara!” Lee cries before I can stick my foot in my mouth. She runs forward and gives Kara a big hug. I brace myself for the introduction, for Kara's reaction to finally meeting the kidnapped cousin. But then I look up. Somehow I missed him for a few seconds. I don't know how I missed him.

A huge guy is standing in the doorway.

I drop my beer. It crashes to the ground, and the bottle breaks, and beer splashes on my legs.

Everyone stares at me.

I stare at him.

He pushes forward, toward me.

I step back. One step, two steps. He's between me and the door.

He passes me and pulls the trash can out from beneath the sink. He kneels down next to my feet and starts picking
up pieces of glass. “Didn't know you could get drunk off just holding it,” he says.

I stare down at him, frozen. His head is normal sized, even big. There is nothing small and skinny and weird about his head. This is not Kyle. Who is this?

“Thanks, Vinnie,” says Marco. He grabs a roll of paper towels off the counter and kneels down to wipe up the mess.

“No prob,” says the big guy.
Mini Vinnie.
He smiles up at me. “I'd say it was the fumes, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't open.” His eyes are blue, not deer brown. His smile is a normal size. His hair is buzz-cut, not falling over his face. And his nose is crooked.

I take a deep breath. “What?”

“Nothing. Hi, I'm Vinnie. Remember me?”

“Of course,” I say. I take another deep breath. People start moving again, like a movie reel catching and rolling forward. Everything is okay. The truth is, Vinnie doesn't look anything like he did six years ago. If Lee hadn't reminded me, there would be no way I'd have recognized him.

He dumps the broken glass in the trash and moves it back under the sink.

“Thanks,” I say. “Vinnie, and Marco.”

“Sure,” Marco says. “I've done it myself.” He smiles, tosses the paper towels in the trash, and turns back to Lee, who is deep in conversation with Kara and another girl, who, from the way she won't look at Kara, must be Christina.

Vinnie towers over me.

Not Kyle not Kyle not Kyle.

“So, how do you like exciting Grey Wood? Feel like going back to wherever you came from?”

I open my mouth to say something, but all that comes out is a choked breath.

BOOK: Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee
10.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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