The Unexpected Everything(6)

By: Morgan Matson



“Really,” I said now, my voice coming out sharper than I’d expected. My dad blinked at me, and I held his gaze for a moment, wondering if he even remembered the last time we’d done this, or if they all blended together, just another promise he’d made that he couldn’t actually keep. “Because I’ve heard that before.”

I didn’t want to see if he understood what I meant. I wasn’t sure I could take another fake furrowed brow, not about something like this. So I just gave him a nod and headed into the kitchen, walking twice as fast as usual, ready to put all of this far behind me, and suddenly feeling, for the very first time, that nobody gave rats the credit they deserved for abandoning the sinking ships. They were the smart ones, getting out while they still could. After all, they saw the way things were going, and they were just looking out for themselves. And so was I.


PALMER

Andie!! How are you doing?


BRI

You looked great on CNN.


TOBY

Totally great. Did you do that thing with the curling iron? Remember, the thing you promised months ago to teach me?


BRI

Toby.


TOBY

What? I’m trying to say she looked good. And that I would like to as well.


PALMER

How are you holding up?

In the safety of my own room, I looked down at my phone and felt myself really smile for what I was certain was the first time that day. I could see Peter had been right to keep my phone away from me—it looked like these texts had started right around the time my dad’s speech was wrapping up.

I crossed over to my bed, phone in hand. We’d been in this house five years, but my room hadn’t changed a whole lot since the day we’d moved in. It had been professionally decorated, but by someone who clearly didn’t know they were designing for a middle schooler. It was all taupes and beiges and subtle patterns, everything matching, like a bedroom suite had just been picked whole out of a catalog. After all this time, it still sometimes felt like I was sleeping in a hotel. I had my makeup and jewelry organized on my dresser, framed pictures of my friends, and clothes folded on the chair in the corner, but aside from that, there was very little that marked this room as mine. I flopped down onto the bed, kicking my shoes off and settling back against the throw pillows, getting comfortable, since these text chains could go on for hours.

I glanced down at the last text, Palmer’s, and hesitated, my hand over the keypad. I leaned closer to the window that was above my bed—it was open slightly, and I could hear voices drifting up to me. I looked out and saw the press conference had wrapped up. People were wandering around the lawn, and there was no sign of either Peter or the podium.

I turned my back on everything that was happening outside, hoping that maybe the next time I looked, everyone would be gone, the flattened grass the last reminder of what had taken place there only a few hours before.

ME

I’m fine.


PALMER

Really?


BRI

REALLY?


TOBY

?

ME

Totally fine. The press conference was a pain,

but it’s my dad’s issue, not mine.


BRI

Hm.

ME

What?


TOBY

She’s saying she doesn’t believe you.


PALMER

How can you tell?


BRI

No, Toby’s right. I don’t. But we can discuss it later.

ME

There’s nothing to discuss


BRI

Yes there is


TOBY

And when we discuss it, why don’t you also show me

the curling iron thing?


PALMER

Toby, I thought we were going to be supportive.


TOBY

I AM being supportive! I even tried to drive over

and be there for Andie, but the guard at the

gate wouldn’t let me in.

ME

He wouldn’t let you in?


TOBY

No! Something about needing to be on a list,

national security, I don’t know.

ME

Sorry, T. This should be back to normal as

soon as all the press is gone


TOBY

Well, I was offended. He knows me, after all.

We go way back, me and Ronnie.


PALMER

His name’s Earl.


TOBY

Oh.


PALMER

But anyway!

We’re going out tonight.

ME

We are?


BRI

We are. We voted, and it’s a necessity.


TOBY

Absolutely. That’s what I tried to tell Ronnie.


PALMER

Earl.


BRI

There’s a party. We’re all going.

We think you need it after everything that’s happened.

I turned and looked out the window again, at the press corps that weren’t leaving nearly as quickly as I wanted them to. There were now reporters lined up in front of the house, cameras pointed at them, no doubt recapping what had just occurred. It didn’t seem like I was going to be leaving unnoticed any time soon.

ME

I’m not so sure that’s going to happen, guys.


TOBY




PALMER

No, it totally will!

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