My mom had a similar reaction to me: first shock, a little anger, but it was overlapped by her total hapiness that they were even there. My dad was the one who picked up on how crap i was feeling. When i was helping him move the almonds on to one bed in their room (Emmalee woudl sleep there, leaving me to share with Erin. Not ideal, but better than the alternative), he started talking.
"So...thrilled to have your sisters back?" he said in French, smiling. My sisters had opted for German in middle school and stayed with it until they had almost totally forgoten almost all of their French. Plus, Emmalee and Erin couldnt seem to cram two languages in there at the age of 3. I did, but all my social skills apparently shoved out my ear to make room.
"Well, they were never my best friends to begin with," I said. "What are they doing here? It looks like they're going to stay, too. And it's not like they'll be able to help. With the weddings, I mean. Maybe Emmalee could work on something simple, but Erin..."
"But arent you at least a little happy to see them after all this time?"
I looked up at my dad to check if he was joking. He was tall, dark haired, skinny, like me. My sisters were all Mom: shorter, had a figure, the same totally perfect hair but in blonde. I got The Eyes, though: light green and the only thing that I actually thought was passably pretty about myself.
I looked up at him standing there, assured, calm, collected, funny, confident, nice.
And i knew he would never understand.
He would never understand how small my sisters made me feel, how worthless. They were always "we" or "us". They had that concrete "us" that sheilded them from all harm, while I was a "me", weak and singular and vulnerable. I had to build walls. Not even Melissa totally understood. When i told her, she explained what i was feeling, sure. She put it into words. But once she introduced me to the "us", i started noticing how everyone around me was part of an "us". My parents. Melissa and her mom. My sisters. The Couples roaming the streets around me.
And I could never totally hate those boys who came into the bakery, because in truth they were just like me. They were just looking for someone to be an "us" with, if only for a little while.
So i couldnt tell my dad. He was an "us." Instead, I said, "Yeah, it's great" and walked down into the store under the pretense of re-arranging the wedding cake display in the window, but really to get away from the chaos.
I was halfway through my third-favorite Fiona Apple song on my iPod (Oh Well) and nowhere NEAR done rearranging (at least not while The Sisters were on the premesis) when the phone rang. "Hello, Catie Stewart speaking...okay...okay...okay...who is this? Oh, hey Melis--stop talking that fast. What? Okay, fine, i'll come over."
"I can't beleive she did this again," Melissa ranted twenty minutes later. "AGAIN!"
I was sitting on the floor in her apartment, playing with my hair and feeding loads of white fabric through the sewing machine while she talked. And talked. And talked.
"She just HAS to go off with what's-his-name the DAY before the Baum wedding! 'Nothing's going to happen the day before the wedding!'" she mocked in an annoying falsetto voice that i could only assume was supposed to be her mom's.
"And then WHAT happens? The stupid bride comes crying to us and says that the skirt isn't poofy enough and i say 'What do you mean' and she says 'I'd like to speak to the person in charge, if you don't mind,' and i say 'I am in charge' and she said 'I don't beleive you' and I say 'Fine, then don't get your dress fixed' and she says 'What are you, ten?' and i say 'No' and she acts like she's doing me this collosal favor by letting me fix her dress AGAIN and she's like 'Where should I put my dress?' Oh, i'll TELL her where she can put her dress, she can just--"
"Woah, woah, woah." I stopped her, holding up my hands. "You're going 100 miles per hour in a 10 mile zone here."
I pulled the plug on the machine and grabbed her arm.
"Okay, we need to chill out now."
"But I have to--"
"No." I half-dragged her into the living room. The second i let go of her arms to turn on the TV, Melissa slid onto the carpet. I flicked through the channels until i landed on vh1, where Justin Timberlade was singing about his sexy back.
She groaned. "Not this."
So of course I started to sing, "Dirty baaaaaaaaabe, you see these shackles baby i'm your slaaaaaaaaaaave..."
"NOO!" she screamed, but she was laughing.
So I did something that was very atypical for me: I jumped on the table, using a spoon that had been randomly sitting there as a microphone, and started singing even louder.
Now, since it was ten in the morning and Melissa was having an emotional breakdown, neither of us processed that putting 115 or so pounds on a table that they found at a garage sale 10 years ago would not end well. But we were definatley processing it when the entire thing collapsed under me.
"Oh, shh...oot," Melissa said. "Way to have a me moment."
Once we had reconstructed the table, things were pretty much alright. Except for that in the wake of Melissa's extreme depression over the wedding dress came one of her bossy moods.
"What?" This had come out of nowhere.
"Call Dan. I think you like him."
"I think i just met him."
"I think," she said, slamming a box of Cheez-Its down on her table, "that you like him. Am I right or am I right?"
"Why would i like him?" Her train of thought is truely baffling at times.
"Because you talked to him."
"I'm talking to you, arent I? Does that mean i'm madly in love with you? Yes, Melissa, let's run away together." I broke a Cheez-It in half and started grinding it into a little pile of crumbs.
Melissa ignored me, which is what she usually does when i don't say what she wants. "You know what i mean. You should call him."
"What? That would be stalking."
I swear to God, she's from Mars. "Melissa," I said calmly. But not in a nice way. More in a "The only other option is me going so beserk that I break more than just that table" way. "If you call a guy after talking to him for fifteen minutes the night before and ask him out, then he will get this nifty little thing called a restraining order."
"Who says that you have to ask him out. Just call him when you get home. I dare you."
"Fine. That's fine," I said. "Because i'm never going home for the rest of my life or when my sisters leave, whichever comes first."
"Well," she said, walking back to the sewing machine, "you can't stay here."
"I have a dress to finish." She turned on the radio first, and then the sewing machine.
I stood there, totally shocked. I should have said something, probably. But the music was loud and i was in shock and she wasnt looking up. And it was stupid, but that kind of hurt.
So I turned around and walked out.
But I didn't go home. I walked around town, stopping at every single store to make inane smalltalk. I went up to The Hill and sat there for a good hour, just watching people. I walked into the next town and down by the highway, where i'm not supposed to go because people drive like idiots. But i went anyway and sat on the metal thing on the side of the road and got weird looks from people driving slow in rush hour traffic.
Rush hour. How long had i been out here? I looked up at the sky. The sun was getting lower. I'm not enough of an idiot to sit on the side of the road in the dark.
I got a lecture when I came back, but it was more because no one wanted to take out their anger on the twins, now that they were actually home.
Finally, i shut myself in my room. But even there, it kind of sucked.
Just call him. Call him when you get home.
No. That's stupid. That's stalking.
I looked at the school directory sitting on my desk.
I must be insane.
I held the phone to my ear, still with no clue as to why I was doing this.