The Troubled One

Troubled One“Shhh! They’ll hear you. We’re going to get in trouble again,” whispered Claire as she flicked off the flashlight. Darkness surrounded them.

“Sorry,” replied Desi. Her eyes seemed to twinkle even in the dark. She was always so animated.

“We have to be quiet. Mommy and Daddy are already mad at us. We’ll be toast if they catch us talking,” said Claire. “They’ll split us up. That’d make me sad.”

“Me too. It’s a good thing you covered for me last time. We should do something about them,” Desi said.

Claire was confused. Desi always said and did strange things that didn’t make much sense to her. Like last week when she convinced Claire that the lemony smelling liquid under the kitchen sink was lemonade. Their mom caught her just as she was about to take a sip. They were both in trouble, but Claire took the brunt of the punishment for that one.

Claire asked, “What do you mean, ‘do something about them?’”

“You know. Get rid of them. So they can’t bother us again.”

Hesitantly, Claire asked, “You mean kill them?”

“Of course, silly. What else would I mean? We need to get them out of the way.”

Desi had a mean streak in her. Sometimes, while Claire slept, she would take all their toys and throw them in the trash. She said it was because they interfered with their time together. Once, she even stuffed Barbie into the toilet and flushed her. The water gushed all over the floor and leaked through the ceiling below. They both were grounded, stuck in their room every day after school for two weeks.

“We can’t kill them. I thought you loved them?”

“Sure I do, but I love you more. I just want to make sure we always stay together. Sisters forever.”

Claire thought about Desi’s idea. She pushed the wool blanket off their heads and stared into the dimly lit room.

Footsteps in the hall made them both freeze. The faint strip of light under the closed door darkened as a shadow appeared. Someone stopped outside the room. They waited.

A woman’s muffled voice said, “Get to sleep in there. I won’t ask again.” The shadow disappeared.

Desi spoke first, “See. They’re sneaky. You know I’m right. They’ll never let us be.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Claire said. Her thoughts reeled. She was torn. She thought about what it might be like without parents. They could have such fun together. No one to boss them around. No more chores. And, best of all, no more school or homework. Desi usually knew best. She was the smart one.

“Desi, I have to think about it. I can’t decide now, okay? I’m sleepy.”

“Sure. You think about it, but you know I’m always right.”

Claire flopped onto the pillow, exhausted. She reached out, pulled Desi to her chest and whispered into her brown, synthetic hair, “Mommy told me that dolls can’t really talk, but we know the truth. You are always right, Desi.”

She put her hand on Desi’s smooth plastic face and closed her shiny, glass eyes. The long, stiff lashes tickled Claire’s palm. Their childlike giggles eventually gave way to dainty snores.

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