Clutching her carry on, Carly hopped out of her seat. Ah, her precious home for the next two and a half months of her life. Just what she wanted. She stared at the tiny one story house, with only three bedrooms. And that wasn’t the only bad thing. The house smelled bad, too. It… Well, it was complicated to explain. But it smelled like pee and poo. It was so horrible in the warm summer air… Carly quickly steered her thoughts away. No dad for the summer. No more cold. Her sister. Pools.
And the smell was only around the house. The door opened, and the smell hit her badly. Quickly, she thought good things again. No dad for the summer. No more cold. Her sister. Pools. Funny, it didn’t do much to cheer her up the second time.
Riley walked in, and Carly’s mom, and Justin. Carly was walking in, when a white figure dashed past her foot, and stopped at the tree in the front yard. It lifted one of it’s back legs up, and peed. Then it came to sniff Carly. Giggling, Carly picked Dixie up, and held him close to her. She could smell his shampoo, and breathed in his beautiful smell. “How ya been, you evil dog?” she asked playfully, setting him down, and walking indoors.
Ah, home sweet home. Typicalness. Carly’s mom was walking towards the spare bedroom. Ready to collapse, and go to sleep, Carly followed her mom to the room. She heard her mom groan, and Carly looked over her shoulder, and gasped.
The bed had a bunch of boxes and useless stuff. Confused, Carly turned to her mother. But her mother just whispered “Your aunt must have been busy. It’s okay. Come on. Help me with this.” Wordlessly, Carly set her bag on the floor, and took off her shoes. Slowly, the bed was cleared. And then, the door to gramma Nity’s room opened. Standing there, was Aunt Julie.
Carly squealed, and ran to hug her aunt. It had been forever. Really, forever. But her aunt wasn’t hugging her back, so slowly, Carly let go awkwardly. Aunt Julie was just there, with a weak smile planted on her face. And Carly felt a bit surprised. Was her aunt, like, really and truly crazy? Like not “I’m gonna go and murder everyone!” crazy, but “I trust no one!” paranoia crazy? Maybe it was just late. Maybe she’d be fine tomorrow.
The awkward silence was broken when Carly’s mom said “Julie! Oh, it’s been so long!” Carly backed off, and her eyes flitted from Aunt Julie to her mom. Then… “Ah, you’re here, Johanna.” Something was definitely wrong about that. She wasn’t showing the right amount of enthusiasm. But Carly’s mom didn’t seem to mind. She hugged Aunt Julie, and Aunt Julie hugged her back. Huh. Fine. Whatever.
Laughter flew through the house, coming from the kitchen. It must have been Riley and Justin in there. She set her stuffed bunny on her pillow, and whirled around. “Mom, can I go with Riley?”
“Alright, just don’t stay too long! There’ll be loads of time to get caught up tomorrow!” Without paying attention, Carly skipped to the kitchen, where Justin and Riley were cuddled up on the swing sofa thingy. When she appeared, they quickly sat up straight, and tried to put on a serious face. But when their eyes all met, they burst into laughter, and Carly hopped on Riley’s other side.
“You’re not setting a very good example for your lil’ sissy!” gasped Carly, her face red from laughing. She stared at Justin and Riley and fell into another round of laughter.
“Well, my “lil’ sissy” is supposed to be smart, right? I don’t have to set a good example!” Justin rolled his eyes, and fixed himself a cereal. Meanwhile, Carly told Riley about how school had been, how the boys were immature goons (“Hey!” sad Justin), and finally, she grabbed Riley’s braid. It wasn’t much, but it was their sign of friendship. They had tried friendship bracelets and necklaces, but one of them always ended up losing it. Now, they both had one tiny, identical braid running down through each shoulder. Carly’s was black, and Riley’s blond, just like their normal hair color. But unlike the rest of Riley’s hair, the braid was long.
Riley grinned, and grabbed Carly’s braid. “It’s still so pretty!” she sighed. “Mine looks so hideous.”
“Whatever. You know yours is much prettier than mine. You’re just trying to make me feel good and stuff.” Carly rolled her eyes, and twirled her hair in her finger, eyeing Riley’s golden curls enviously. Out of habit, she pulled one, and said “Boing!”
“Boing yourself,” muttered Riley, tossing her hair back, and pulling Carly’s hair. It really didn’t have the same effect though. Perfect golden curls, compared to straight black hair. There really was no competition.
The warm, happy image was ruined by Aunt Julie walking in. Her eyes flickered from Carly to Justin. Finally, she said, “Ri, I want a word with you.”
Not sure what this was about, Carly looked to Riley’s face for clues, but all she saw was a tired, hardened mask. They had obviously been through this before. Carly was hoping to eavesdrop, but at that moment, Aunt Julie said “In your room.”
Carly saw Riley shoot her a sad glance, before walking away. Curiously, she asked Justin “What was that about?”
Justin was silent for a moment before answering. “Oh, it’s just… Well, it’s really stupid, I don’t know… Yeah, maybe I should wait for Riley, this isn’t an ea-”
At that moment, Carly’s mom walked into the kitchen, looking tired, but happy. “Come on Carly Gnarly, Riley and her mom are talking, it’ll probably take a while. Good night, Justin,” and with that, she turned around, and walked out of the kitchen. Justin muttered a “Bye,” and Carly slowly walked to the spare room.On her way, she was sure she heard faint crying from Riley’s room.