"Please Charlie, you have to come home- we need you!" Kristy pleaded.
"Relax, Kristy, I can't right now- I just can't . You need to stop asking," Charlie said.
"I know everything, Charlie. Mom told me. I know about Patrick, and Watson and David Michael. I know how everyone lied, and I know how everyone is still lying, and I know that you lied right along with them!" Kristy felt herself becoming worked up, but she had every reason too. She was running out of options.
"Don't act to self righteous, Kristy. I did what I had to do, and so did mom, and everyone else. That's what people do. You'll understand someday.
"But I don't understand, Charlie! I don't understand how lying to everyone can ever be right. It may be the easiest thing for a while, but nothing comes out of it but hurt. Of course, you would know that if you were ever home!"
"Kristy, Boiceville State is my home now- I belong here. You'll understand that when you get to college. Right now, you need to stop being so hard on mom. You have no idea what went on ten years ago, and you probably don't have any idea what's going on now!"
"No, you don't have any idea what's going on now, Charlie! And the only reason I don't know everything is because everyone is lying to me. Everybody lies!"
"You're right, Kristy, everybody lies. It's a fact of life, and the sooner you realize that the better. Call me back when you grow up," Charlie paused. "Good bye." With that, Charlie hung up the phone, leaving the dial tone ringing in Kristy's ear.
Frustrated, Kristy slammed down the phone and kicked the wall. In her mind, Charlie was officially not a member of the family anymore. He didn't care about her, or any of them. Or maybe he did. Maybe he did, but he couldn't deal with it, or he had to live his own life, or something like that. She couldn't imagine her older brother deserting them without a good reason. But still, no matter what the reason, she needed help, and her brother wasn't there to give it. His small refusal to act said so much.
Still, though, a part of her wondered about what Charlie was saying. Was there ever really a good reason for all of the lies? After all, she hadn't known the truth for years, and she had been better off as a result of it. Hadn't she? And Sam and David Michael and all of the other kids still didn't know the truth, and though things were bad enough for them right now, the truth would only make it worse, as it had done for Kristy. And she wouldn't wish what she was feeling on anyone, but was living an easier lie better than the hard truth?
Was it still considered living a lie, when you didn't actually know the truth?
Kristy truly didn't know where to turn. She called Abby, but the phone just rang and rang, without the answering machine even picking up. Maybe the phone was off the hook. Of course, Kristy wouldn't let that stop her- she looked out the hallway window and saw that Abby's light was on. She needed someone, and Abby was next in the process of elimination. And technically, they were still best friends. That had to mean something.
Abby had disappointed her before, but that didn't mean that she would necessarily do it again. Maybe Kristy was naïve, but she had to believe that there was someone who would be there for her.
Kristy grabbed her jacket and ran out the side door. Winter was coming, and the air had something of a bite to it. She shivered as she made her way over to the Stevenson house. She rang the doorbell and stood on the porch waiting for someone to let her in- she wasn't going to let herself in and make the same mistake as last time.
Normally, she would hear Abby bounding down the stairs. Instead Anna padded down softly and opened the door.
"Hi- oh hi, Kristy," Anna said. "I was expecting Bart. Come in."
Kristy stepped into the entryway. "Are you still with Bart, after...what happened?"
Anna blushed, and nervously fidgeted with her bracelet. "Yeah. Yeah, he explained everything to me. I know maybe we shouldn't be together, but I really like him. And…it's just easier this way. Does that make any sense?"
Kristy nodded. She wasn't that close to Anna, but for some reason she felt a tenuous connection to her. "Yeah, I understand. A month ago, I wouldn't have, but now I do." Impulsively, she reached out and gave Anna a hug.
"Thanks, Kristy," Anna said, taken aback. "I think that we both needed that," she said, softening. She hugged Kristy tight.
"I think so too," Kristy said simply.
"Abby's upstairs," Anna said, letting go.
"Thanks, Anna," Kristy said. For a fleeting moment she wondered why she wasn't better friends with Anna. Initially she had been upset when Anna hadn't joined the Babysitter's Club along with Abby. Could something that simple effectively decide the future of a friendship? Kristy was beginning to understand, to a point, how the decisions that everyone made were never simple, and never complete. Their effects, like tiny ripples, were carried out over time and their repercussions continued on forever.
For a second, she could almost understand her mom. What Elizabeth had done could happen to anyone. You make one decision, and then another, and then another. Eventually you're living a life that you never bargained for, and it becomes easier to just accept it and move on than to shatter the image and return to the way that things were supposed to be.
But even so, that didn't make it right.
Kristy almost ached with everything that was going on inside of her. She came back to reality and head upstairs to Abby's room. She stopped for a moment, and then raised her hand and knocked. "Abby, it's me."
Abby opened the door slowly. "Hey," she said, giving her friend a shy smile.
Kristy stepped into her friend's room. Typical Abby, it was a mess: clothes, dirty and clean, littered the floor. School books, notebooks, and cd's were stacked on her desk, while her bed was unmade, and some sort of make shift soccer goal was set up in the corner. Normally, this would aggravate Kristy to no end, but instead she found it comforting. Typical Abby.
"Why haven't you been in school this week?" Kristy asked.
"I was, um, suspended," Abby stammered. She didn't offer any sort of explanation.
"Suspended! Abby, what happened? Why?" Kristy hadn't been expecting this. She wondered what happened when you turned to your best friend, but she had so many of her own problems to deal with that she couldn't offer you any help at all.
Maybe she was about to find out.
Abby shrugged. "It doesn't really matter. I'm much more concerned about making sure that my mom doesn't find out. I've deleted every message, took the phone off the hook, and I'm paying Linny Papadakis to check our mail as soon as he gets home from school every day. And I had to promise Anna I would do her chores for six months and not tell mom about Bart being here, ever," she said rolling her eyes.
"I'm surprised that Anna accepted any deal, considering, you know, that you made out with her boyfriend," Kristy said pointedly.
Abby narrowed her eyes. "Don't think that I forgot about that, Kristy. Just because you walked in on us doesn't mean that you know everything about what was going on."
"Well then what does it mean?" Kristy asked, getting frustrated. She was loosing her cool and forgetting why she had come over in the first place. "What are you doing, Abby? I feel like I don't even know you anymore."
Abby's face softened. "Maybe that's because you don't. I'm not even sure if you could call us friends anymore. I know you've had a lot going on lately, and I get that, but in the process we kind of fell apart. And I found other friends. It happens."
"What…what other friends?" Kristy asked, confused.
Abby blushed. "You know, some of the girls on the team. I've been hanging out with them more lately. They're cool."
"What are you saying?"
"We've had some good times, Kristy. The Babysitter's Club was really fun, while it lasted. But we don't really have that much in common anymore- you've got to be able to see that." Abby fidgeted with her necklace nervously.
Kristy drew in her breath.
"I think that we'll always be friends, to a point," Abby continued. "We just won't be friends friends."
That was all that Kristy needed to hear. She and Abby would never be friends again. She walked out of the room while Abby was still talking, and continued down the stairs and out of the house. And even though it may have looked like she was walking out on Abby, she felt that it was very clear that Abby had walked out on her first.