Chapter 9: Oh, What A Volatile Morning
"I want to know. I need to know. I demand to know." Annette sighed. "None of that sounds convincing enough."
She looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. "Why'd you let them send you away to school? All you got from London was a better understanding of Shakespeare, a couple musicals, and a quasi-accent."
There was a sharp knock on the door. "Whoever's in there, get out," a voice ordered.
Annette pushed the door open. "Sorry, Kathy."
"Are you okay?" The brunette's eyes reflected concern. "You've been in there for over half an hour."
She considered telling her. She and Kathy had never really gotten along that well, more from lack of contact than personality conflicts, but at the rate she was going (no sleep, burned toast, weak coffee), she could use a confidante.
"Here's the thing," Annette said slowly. "Actually, wait a minute." She pulled Kathy into the bathroom, closed the door, and turned on the tap. "That's better."
"That's better," she repeated. "Read my lips."
Annette shut off the water. "You're never gonna be James Bond's right-hand woman."
"What's so important that you have to tell me in total secrecy?" asked Kathy.
"Last night," began Annette, "I was looking through an old scrapbook when I found a bunch of pictures of this blonde girl named Sheila with Eva. And Dad won't tell me who she is, even though he seems to know all too well. He was talking about a 'solemn vow' and…I don't know. It's just odd, you know? Eva's never mentioned her before."
Kathy looked unimpressed. "How many hours of sleep did you get last night?"
"That explains why you're making such a big deal out of nothing."
"I'll show you the pictures."
"You don't have to. Annette, you've always made things out to be bigger than they are. This Sheila person's probably a friend, or some distant relative."
"Does your family keep baby pictures of a friend or a distant relative? 'My three favorite girls.' That's what the caption said.. Margaret, Eva, and Sheila. What's that all about?"
Kathy shook her head. "You shouldn't go poking around in this stuff. It's disrespectful to the Pierces. Now I need to take a shower, so if you'll leave…"
As Annette shut the bathroom door behind her, she was reminded why she never spent much time with Kathy.
She didn't have an adventurous spirit.
"Eva?" Erin stuck her head into the bedroom. "How're you doing?"
She looked up blearily. "Good. Tired. The eulogy's almost a page long. I've been working on it since six-thirty."
"Mom and I were going to start breakfast since Annette didn't fare so well. Anything you want?"
"I eat whatever."
Erin nodded. "I'll see you later, then."
In truth, Eva wasn't good. She was defeated and slightly afraid. She'd sleepwalked in a house full of people. Friends.
It had been a long time since she'd had the insanity dreams. The last time was right before junior prom. Margaret had grabbed her before she managed to wrench the window open, and it was an unspoken ritual from then on that someone would check the windows every night to make sure they were locked.
"I'm going nuts," Eva said aloud. "I'm not the first one in the family to do it, and I won't be the last."
And for what felt like the eightieth time that week, she picked up the piece of yellow stationary that she'd tucked into the ever-present (yet never-read) Bible on the desk. She unfolded it and read it, trying to see the person behind the words.
Yes, I heard about Hawkeye. Yes, I'm distraught, but I'm probably not as distraught as you. As to the question of whether or not I'm coming, I don't know.
This is almost funny, in a sick sort of way. Our first correspondence for over two years and it's for a funeral invitation. I'd laugh but, as you know, laughing at seemingly nothing doesn't attract the type of attention you'd want to attract.
See you (maybe) in Maine.
Breakfast was a madhouse. A very sticky, very buttery, very syrupy madhouse.
"Who decided to serve pancakes?" Becky asked the kitchen staff.
"They're fast," said Erin.
"They're also all over the dining room."
"Be glad everyone isn't here," said Peg.
"Yeah," scoffed Erin. "Dad, Klinger, Father Mulchay, and Charles all wimped out and went to the diner. They'll pay. They can scrub."
"Speaking of scrubbing, what's with all the water on the floor?" questioned Lucas.
Marilyn rolled her eyes at her younger brother. "Ask Dad."
Annette burst into the kitchen. "I can't take it anymore," she declared. "Does anyone know who the hell Sheila Leigh Pierce is?"
The kitchen fell into dead silence.
"Uh-oh." Erin's hand flew to her mouth. "Was I not supposed to say that?"
Annette shook her head. "Where is she, then? And how come Eva's never talked about her? And what does my father have to do with her?"
Erin looked expectantly at Peg, who shrugged. "You might as well tell her," she said.
"Okay," said Erin. "Sheila was born two years after Eva, and from what I've gathered, her arrival wasn't' as…celebrated. Margaret and Hawkeye were in a hard spot in their marriage and--"
"It's rude to talk about one's parents without inviting their child."
Erin whirled around.
"One of them, anyway," corrected Eva from the doorway. "Although you seem to know quite a lot about the other one."
"I'm going for a walk."
She left the kitchen's occupants to look at each other, chastised.
A/N: Hey, all! Yes, it's really me, back from the abyss of nothingness. Don't flog me, please. See? A chapter? And I promise that there will be more!! I sat down to write this this morning, and suddenly got a flood of ideas. So never fear…the author is (hopefully) here.
Oh yeah, and when I uploaded this, it was all underlined. What's up with that?