"Did something happen to Anna?" Garrett could tell by the lack of enthusiasm in Monica's voice that whatever it was, it wasn't good.
Slowly the words came out: "She committed suicide."
"Oh wow." Garrett was rendered speechless.
"Yeah, it's horrible isn't it? No one knew. Apparently she was taking anti-depressants and she just overdosed one day."
Garrett wasn't quite sure what to do at that moment. Awkwardly he stood and gave his sister a hug, rubbing her back in an attempt to comfort her.
"I was friends with her. I should have seen this coming. She looked up to me." A tear drizzled down Monica's face.
"Monica, no, don't do that. Don't blame yourself. It wasn't anybody's fault." Somehow Garrett knew exactly what to say. Apparently it worked.
"You're probably right. It's just hard to deal with you know?"
"Yeah I know." Garrett had actually been in the same situation a few years earlier. A guy at his school - not really a close friend - had hanged himself. "I remember what it was like with Jason Penninger. Back when you and Caroline were only in 7th grade. The whole school was torn up for months."
"I sort of remember that," Monica tried to wipe her tears with a finger. "Got any tissues around here?"
"Right there in the bathroom," Garrett pointed to the door behind them.
"Oh God I'm such a wreck. I guess I'm just in shock."
"I can imagine. When did this happen anyway?"
"Okay, you ready to go eat?" Monica emerged from the bathroom, still a little red-eyed, but at least looking more put together.
About twenty minutes later, after a short ride in Garrett's car - along with a mostly one-sided, seemingly endless conversation about Monica's senior year in high school - the brother and sister sat together in Brixton's Pizza Parlor, dipping the crust of their pizza slices in some melted. Really good, but simultaneously really unhealthy.
"Monica, can you explain again why you're here?" Garrett probed his sister, his tone of voice gentler now.
"To hang out with you dummy." She laughed, apparently back to her bubbly self. "No, just kidding. I'm here to visit Harvard...remember?" she paused for a second to wait for a response. Garrett just looked at her, eyebrows raised. "Anyway, Harvard is definitely where I want to go....if I get in."
"And that's a big if," Garrett responded with sarcasm, now back to his normal self. "We all know you don't exactly have ummm...straight A's."
"Hey, at least let me have some hope here. It's not like I have straight F's either. Anyway, today when I was at the grocery store there was this girl in line in front of me and she didn't have any cash because she didn't know she was in the ‘cash only' line. She looked so stressed and I could just tell she was having a bad day, so I decided to help her out. We started talking, and you'll never guess what!"
"What?" Garrett asked, leaning in towards the table in mock anticipation.
"She goes to Harvard!"
"Gee what a coincidence!"
"So to repay me for my" she smiled "kindness, she offered to be, like, my tour guide around campus. Isn't that fantastic?"
"Yup. Just fantastic."
"Well I got her phone number and she's staying at her parents for the weekend, so on Monday I'm gonna call her and maybe meet up with her in the morning."
"Sounds like you've got just about everything planned out."
"Oh I know. It's going to be so much fun, being given a tour by a real Harvard student...walking around, seeing the sights, hearing the stories, being..."
Her voice just went on and on and on....
He wasn't really paying attention, until suddenly, Monica's voice grew loud. It was demonic sounding, deep, almost like someone was distorting it electronically. Her eyes, instead of being their usual bluish color, became fiery red.
"Listen to me Garrett! That's a command. I demand your attention."
She was staring him straight at his face, Monica, Garrett's almost eighteen year old sister whose face had suddenly turned sinister. Garrett could feel the eyes of everyone else in the little pizza party staring at him, wondering what he would do next. This can't be real. I must be dreaming, he thought. He pinched himself once to try to wake up. Didn't work. Tried it again and it still didn't work. Finally he decided to get up and make a run for the door. Immediately he was up and running, going so fast his vision was foggy. Then all of a sudden -
JERK! Garrett felt himself jolt forward and he opened his eyes to see his sister staring at him, looking worried, saying "Garrett were you asleep? Please don't tell me I was that boring."
Feeling a bit dizzy and even a little queasy, Garrett answered with an "Oh I'm fine. Guess I'm just a little tired. Maybe all the staying up till 3am is just now catching up with me. You ready?" he asked, using his elbows to push himself up and out of the booth.
"Sure, we can go if you want."
Okay, so it was just a little daydream. A little freaky daydream. Monica was back to her normal self again, not looking demonic in the least, and the other people eating certainly weren't staring at Garrett anymore.
When they got to the parking lot and Garrett sat down, ready to start the engine, he felt his forehead and realized it was covered in sweat. Wow. That was a pretty horrible daydream.
The next day was Sunday, and while Garrett spent the day relaxing as usual, Monica was up at the crack of dawn, fixing breakfast, calling friends back home from her cellphone, then finally leaving to go shopping.
"I'm guessing you've got credit cards?" Garrett called from the sofa.
"Of course. They're my lifesaver." Monica pulled on a three quarter length sweater and grabbed her black purse, then came out of Garrett's room. "I'm just going to go see what stores are around here."
"K, sounds good." Finally a chance for Garrett to have some peace and quiet. He was so glad she had a rental car and didn't have to depend on him for everything.
"I'll be back around 6." Monica headed out the door.
After watching TV for a few hours after his sister left, Garrett, for once, got bored with it. He decided a jog might clear his head, not to mention the fact that he needed exercise.
Pulling on a pair of red shorts and a T-shirt, Garrett decided now would be a good time to call one of his friends. He picked up the phone and dialed Henry's number.
"Hey Garrett, what's up man?" Henry answered, sounding sleepy.
"I feel like going for a run around campus. You wanna come?"
"Sure, if you can pick me up."
"I'll be right over."
Seconds later Garrett was out the door, down the steps and in his car. Ready for some quality guy-time.
© Copyright 2016 Corinne Smith. All rights reserved.