(Welcome to WeSeWriMo, Web Serial Writing Month! DGC will feature 3 posts a week all month!)
When we got to the bus I got a better look at Courtney in normal light, in the front lounge. I put the shades down, and the interior lights were up full. My little sister. She had been, what, thirteen when I saw her last? She had grown a foot easily–in fact, she was taller than me now. Her hair was permed and curly as well as colored, and then there was the make-up. Even knowing it was her, it was still hard to recognize her, except by voice.
I utterly failed not to act like an overprotective big brother. “Shouldn’t you be in school or something?”
She shrugged. “I was. You should see the place Mom sent me. Oh my god. I couldn’t stand it.”
“So you’re a runaway?”
“Technically, I’m on disciplinary leave,” she said, pulling a pack of cigarettes out of her denim shoulder bag. “Can I smoke in here?”
“No,” Colin and I both said simultaneously.
“Seriously. None of us do and the air circulation in here is for shit,” I said. “If you want to smoke, maybe we can get into the building. Or sit outside.”
“Never mind,” she said, and put the pack away.
“Besides, cigarettes are bad for you,” I said.
That made Colin snigger.
“Well, they are!”
Which made Courtney snigger.
“Yeah, okay, fuck you, too.” I have no idea why I was acting like I had any right to give her advice. I sat down. “So you still haven’t told me why you’re here, though.”
“I told you, I’m trying to talk to Dad.” She leaned back against the seat and looked around the bus lounge. “He hasn’t been taking my calls. Took a while to track him down. First I was trying your number in Boston, but eventually I figured out he’s in LA. Except it seems like he’s never actually there, which is why I thought he’d be on tour with you.”
“He was.” I didn’t know whether to tell her he was going to show up in a couple of days or not. “Our actual tour manager is–”
“Karen,” I know.
“Carynne,” I corrected her. “So, wait, you really have been stalking me.”
“Yeah, ever since Christmas when I went on leave. I’ve been couch surfing, so it’s been tough racking up huge long distance charges and having no solid number to get a call back at.” She shrugged. “Is there food in that fridge?”
“Have a look,” I said. “Who’ve you been couch surfing with?”
She dug into the mini-fridge and came out with a wrapped up sandwich no one had eaten. “People,” she said, her mouth half-full already. “Seriously, Daron. You can quit with the big brother stuff.”
“Like you care what actually happens to me?”
She shrugged. “Sure was nice to get all those Christmas cards from you over the years.”
She had a point. I’d turned my back on the entire family when I left New Jersey. Then again… “Like Claire wouldn’t have just burned them before you could open them,” I said.
We sat in silence except for the AC in the bus and the sound of her chewing like crazy. I guess she was hungry. When she had washed down most of it with the Gatorade I gave her, I asked, “So what do you want to ask Digger about?”
“Money, what else?” she said.
“Hopefully. Mommy Dearest won’t pay for any place except College of the Ozarks, where technically I was paying, since it’s like all work-study there.”
“I don’t even know where the Ozarks are.”
“Missouri. Bumfuck, Missouri. It was a nightmare. Like the worst parochial high school you can imagine, only college, and taken to the nth degree. Honor code, curfew, dress code, the whole nine yards.”
“Saying that would get you discipline.”
“And she sent you there because she didn’t have to pay for it?”
“No, she sent me there because she’s a born-again nut.”
“Born again.” She chugged back the last of the Gatorade and wiped the back of her mouth with her hand. “I see we have some catching up to do.”