The Upside of Unrequited Page 35

Anyway, Grandma tries. And at least she’d never miss the wedding. Even Uncle Albert would never miss it. I just don’t understand how you could miss your sister’s wedding. If Cassie got married, you’d have to kill me to keep me away. And even then, I’d show up as a zombie. I’d be the Zombie of Honor. I’d lurch down the aisle with my face oozing off and my eyeballs popping out into my bouquet. But I would never, ever miss it. So this Aunt Karen thing doesn’t compute.

Cassie must be thinking the same thing, because she whispers, “You’d never do that.”

“No way.”

“Because I’d kill you,” she says, smiling.

“I’d deserve it.” And I’d still show up!

“And I promise not to blow off your straightsie wedding.”

“Straightsie?” I ask.

“Straightsie. Hetsie.”

“Oh, I like hetsie.”

“Of course you do. It sounds like Etsy.”

I grin. “That’s what I was thinking!”

“Yeah, I know. You’re really predictable. Come on.” She stands up. “Let’s stop hanging out in bathrooms.”

“Me hanging out in bathrooms is the reason you have a girlfriend,” I say.

“Touché.”

I feel this bubble of happiness. It’s nothing, really. Just a moment. But it’s the most normal moment Cassie and I have had all day. Out of nowhere. In the bathroom. Just us being us.

So, maybe we’ll be fine.

 

 

I’M UP BEFORE CASSIE, AND I’ve got hours before work, so I heft a bunch of fabric down to the living room. I’m making a garland. I’ve seen them all over Pinterest—scraps of mismatched fabric tied onto a ribbon in colorful strips.

Though I’m having trouble focusing. My mind keeps getting stuck on what Cassie said yesterday. No offense, but do I want to paint fucking mason jars with you and Grandma? Or do I want to hang out with my girlfriend?

It’s just a dumb thing she said when she was angry. And we’re fine now. I should clearly let it go.

But there’s something about being lumped in with Grandma as one of the undesirables. Like I’m an annoying little sister here to rain on Cassie’s parade. It’s just not how twins are supposed to operate.

I try to focus on the crisply satisfying snip of scissors through fabric. I try to be mindful. But my brain is such a whirlpool that I barely notice anything. I don’t even hear Patty’s footsteps until she’s standing above me. “Oh wow. What’s all of this?”

I almost jump. “Hi.”

She pushes a throw pillow aside and perches on the edge of the couch. “Can I see?”

“Sure. Yeah, it’s for the wedding.” I show her a picture on my phone.

“That’s gorgeous.”

“It’s really easy to make. I’ll definitely finish it this week.”

“Perfect.” She makes this sound that’s halfway between a laugh and a sigh. “Less than three weeks, huh?”

“Are you nervous?”

“About being married? Nah. But this wedding thing. Let me tell you.”

I settle in next to her on the couch, feet tucked up. “And the drama with Aunt Karen.”

“Ahh. Yeah. I feel bad for bringing it up in front of you guys.”

“Don’t feel bad. We would have found out anyway.”

“How?”

“Eavesdropping,” I tell her.

“Oh really?” She laughs. Then she presses her hands on her thighs and leans forward, sighing. “Yeah. It’s—you know. It is what it is. Your mom is pretty sad about it.”

“Has she talked to Karen?”

“I don’t think so.”

“I don’t think I could get married without Cassie there,” I say.

“Aw, sweetie.” She sweeps my hair to the side and rubs the back of my neck. “Yeah, it sucks. But it’s just one of those things. And as you get older, it’s not quite so . . .” She trails off, thinking.

“Quite so shitty?”

She smiles faintly. “It’s pretty shitty. It really is. This stuff is incredibly hard.” She tilts her head. “But it’s not quite so raw. You know, when you’re seventeen, everything feels like the end of the world. Or the beginning of the world. And that’s an awesome thing.”

I nod.

“But, you know. It’s been really complicated with Deenie and Karen for a long time. Obviously, she’s never been cool with Nadine being gay. And they’re not as close as they used to be.”

“Oh.”

“And sometimes that’s just what happens. People grow apart.”

Her words just sit there. And they leave this hollow ache in my gut.

Not as close as they used to be.

People grow apart.

And it makes me think of Cassie.

Even though Cassie and I would never do what Aunt Karen’s doing. We’d never fall that far apart. But we’ll drift. Siblings always do. They marry other people and have their own families and forget the way they used to whisper in bunk beds. It’s as inevitable as an airplane landing.

But there’s this sonogram picture of Cassie and me, where we’re pressing up against our little sacs, as close to each other as we can get. Apparently, we wouldn’t sleep in separate cribs. We held hands in our car seats. We started walking on the same day. Cassie first, and then me.

Now it feels like all we do is take tiny steps away from each other.

Toward crushes.

Toward girlfriends.

I’m not saying I want to be like those hundred-year-old Delany sisters. I always pictured us both married, with our own homes and spouses and a bunch of awesome kids. I just never thought about the in-between time. The part where we turn from we to she and me.

I mean, Cassie’s so ridiculous with her let’s date best friends plan. But maybe she’s right. Because Cassie’s gone. Her train has left the station. And all I can do is try to catch the next one in the same direction.

Or I don’t. And we grow apart.

“I hate that phrase,” I say. “Growing apart. It reminds me of plants.”

Patty laughs. “What do you have against plants?”

“I just hate it.”

“I know.”

She hugs me around the shoulders and sighs.

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