“It’s so good to be home,” she says. “I missed you so much.”
We collapse in a heap on my bed, and rest in silence for a moment. I smile, breathing in her delicious Carrie-ness.
“I missed you, too,” I whisper. “How was the mission?”
“Fine,” she sighs, her eyes closed. “India is amazing, Jen, but I’m exhausted.”
We lay there, just listening to each other breathe. I’m so, so happy she’s here. I can’t take the smile off my face. Finally Carrie sits up, cross-legged.
“Tell me everything that’s happened since I left!”
I open my mouth but the words are like lead in my mouth. Not lead -- more like rusted iron keys. The big old-fashioned kind. And my heavy heart is the lock, and if I explain myself to her, give her the keys, she’ll open me up. I can’t do that. Not yet.
Remember what happened with John.
“You go first,” I say. “Dad sent you away because he caught you kissing a guy?”
“Oh, yeah.” She laughs, sweeping her voluminous hair over her shoulder. “It was kind of random. He was Marianne Helmsley’s cousin, just in town for a week, and we hit it off. Sucks that Dad caught us.”
Whoa, info-dump. I blink.
“So, you’re seeing this guy?”
“No way. I haven’t seen him since then. But there was this guy I met in India. He was also a missionary. But he’s Mormon.”
“Dad is going to murder you, you know that, right?”
“Well, not murder.”
“Near-fatal wounds, at the very least.”
She shrugs, leaning back against my pillows.
“I don’t really care,” she says. “It’s just for fun. Anyways, what have you been up to?”
Again, the rusted keys pile up behind my teeth. I can almost feel them clanging and bashing up against each other. I swallow hard, tasting blood.
“Pfft, yeah right! Look at your face! You’ve got a secret!”
That teasing tone has crept into her voice, just like when we were little. I wipe my face of all emotion and fake my innocence.
“No, seriously, nothing. Just the usual. School and stuff. Being violated by cameras in my own house. The usual.”
She narrows her eyes in suspicion, but she grins. I’m off the hook for now.
“Okay, whatever,” Carrie says. “Do you want to go have fun, then? Do something crazy?”
I drown in relief. Once an idea has taken over Carrie’s head, she’ll be distracted for a while.
Just for a while.