Chapter one: Fara
I slid in the back door, closing it loudly behind me.
“Fara! There's graham crackers!” I heard Grace yell from the kitchen. “And Cleo's eating all of them!”
“I don't care,” I replied, already on my way up the stairs. “Get Mom.” Grace was silent. I took off my shoes at the top of the stairs and skated in my socks past three bedrooms: Mom's, Cleo's and Grace's. At the end of the hall was my room. I opened the door and stepped inside, picking my way over piles of laundry, stuffed animals, and school books. Mom was always begging me to clean my room, but in a way I liked it. I pushed aside another pile of animals and sat down on my bed, almost sitting on my cat, Turquoise. I scratched her ears, thinking about my unfinished biology notes and Raina's strange behavior. Then I heard a knock on my door.
“Fara?” It was Cleo. Great. She must have heard me take my shoes off. “What are you doing?”
I didn't answer. Sometimes she would leave.
“Far-ahah!” I heard a hand on the doorknob.
“Revving the cat.” I answered quickly.
I heard Cleo pause for a moment. “I'm telling Mom you're being mean to Turkey!”
I almost laughed as I heard her running downstairs to Mom's office. 'Revving the cat' is a little of an inside joke. It's just that Turquoise purrs like a car engine. Hence the phrase.
Then the door opened. It was Grace this time. She grinned at me, having obviously been laughing very hard.
“Hi,” I said. “Let me guess: It's about Turkey?”
Grace clapped a hand to her mouth to try and muffle the sound. Through that she nodded. I smiled back.
“When is she going to learn?” Grace asked, still giggling. Despite being nine, five years younger than me, Grace really understands all of me. I just shook my head.
So yeah, our ages. Cleo's four, Grace is nine, and I'm fourteen. Five years between each of us. Mom said she planned it that way so that I would be old enough to help with Grace, and Grace to help with Cleo. Not so.
When Cleo was about two, she decided that she wanted to be Grace when she grew up. She completely idolized her. Cleo followed Grace around, and repeated what she said in similar situations. Grace being seven and not understanding everything the right way, there were a lot of stupid phrases being reused constantly. Instead of being the responsible twelve-year-old, I locked myself in my room most of the time to avoid being called upon to babysit.
The situation with baby Grace is that I just didn't like babies. I never really have, though they have grown on me a little since.
The door opened again. Turquoise hissed and ran under the bed. I could tell who it was without looking at the door.
“Go away Cleo. I mean it this time.”
Cleo stomped through my room to my bed on the opposite wall, kicking Marshmallow the bunny's family across the floor.
“Why Marshmallow every time?” I sighed exasperatedly, scooping the rabbits from the floor and dumping them on my pillow. Grace picked up a basket and began arranging the rabbits in it.
“Mom says come downstairs,” Cleo huffed. “She says you have to do it now or else.”
I noticed Cleo used another one of Grace's old sayings. That used to be the law around here, 'do it now or else'.
“Gee, I'm coming!” I said. Crossing my room in two steps, I made my way out the door and down the stairs.