The Basket – Part 3

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This is a work of fiction.


My sister really was too thin.
As soon as I saw her, I couldn’t believe I’d ever thought her weight was normal.
“What?” she said sharply. “What are you looking at?”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I just . . . well, I never thought I’d see you like this.”
“Like what?”
“In the hospital.”
Her expression softened a fraction.
“Yeah, it is kind of unusual at my age. I should be chasing after kids, not lying here like an eighty-year-old.”
I sat down on the chair beside her bed.
“Well, uh, I’m sure you’ll be out of here in no time.”
She gave me a contemptuous look.
“I have to have surgery. After that, I’ll probably have to have some kind of rehab, so it’ll probably be a few months before I’m on my feet again.”
“Oh, er, the doctor didn’t mention any surgery.”
“Well duh. They’re not going to tell you when it’s me who needs to be cut open, are they?”
“You’re right. They’d tell you first. What’d they say?”
“They haven’t said anything yet, but it’s Easter, so it won’t be today.”
“That makes sense. I’m sure they’ll tell you tomorrow or Tuesday.”
What kind of surgery could she need?
I decided not to ask. She’d tell me if it was any of my business.
“When are Mom and Dad coming home? I thought it was yesterday.”
“Their flight got delayed because of a storm. They’re coming home tomorrow.”
“Oh. How’s Mimi?”
Mimi was my parents’ cat, and I’d completely forgotten about her.
“Oh crap! I’d better go home and check on her.”
“Home? Where have you been?”
“At Grandma’s.”
“You stayed at her house?!”
“Yeah. It wasn’t scary or anything, and . . .” I cut myself off before I said anything about Andrrea. She didn’t need to know about her yet.
Unfortunately, Laine noticed.
“And, what?”
“Well, I’ve met somebody, but uh, I’m not ready to—”
“Oh, I get it. You met some girl and brought a little romance to our DEAD Grandma’s house!”
She took a deep breath.
“Does this new fling of yours have a name?”
“Yes. Andrea.”
“Andrea what?”
“I—”
“Andrea I don’t know? Basically anonymous. She could be on the top ten most wanted list, and you’d have no clue.”
“She’s not.”
“So you slept all day yesterday with Ms Andrea Anonymous, and left poor Mimi alone to starve? Some brother you are. Go home and stay there. I don’t want to see anybody but Mom and Dad. As soon as they’re back, go to your apartment. Put the key to Grandma’s house back where it belongs.”
I promised to go and check on Mimi, and she waved at me as if I were a misbehaving underling.
I did feel bad about forgetting Mimi, but Mom and Dad had gotten her only last year, and we didn’t know each other well.
I just hoped she wasn’t starving.
She wasn’t.
Laine must have left her a lot of food before leaving for Grandma’s on Friday.
If we had stayed for the weekend as planned, Laine would have run home each day to check on the cat.
I looked around until I actually saw Mimi. She was sitting on Laine’s bed.
“Hi,” I said.
She looked at me and meowed.
The last time I’d seen her, which had been a few months ago, she’d been a wild kitten. Now, she was bigger, and as I petted her, I noticed her stomach was kind of fat.
What Laine doesn’t eat, she feeds to Mimi, was my strange thought.
The rest of her didn’t seem fat, so I decided not to say anything to Mom.
“Well kitty,” I said, “it’s just us until Mom and Dad come home.”
The ball of fur appeared to ignore me, so I went into the kitchen and made myself something to eat.
As I sat down at the kitchen table, I saw that Laine had left the paper there, and it was open to local news.
DISHWASHER ARRESTED FOR VICIOUS KILLING OF YOUNG WOMAN
My first thought was: how can a dishwasher get arrested?
Then I figured out that the word meant a person who washes dishes, not a machine.
This wasn’t the kind of article I usualy read, but I read this one.
What made me read it was the name of the man who’d been arrested.

Part 4

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