A/N: Hi. I'm back. Unofficial fanfic, I guess. Some grammar and stuff converted into Phoebe's voice, so a bit childish.
Holden really needs to grow up.
I know I am his younger sister and all, but not having a goal in life, like being a lawyer like Daddy, is too far.
Holden has to go and make a big deal over everything. He doesn't simply like a thing that is happening. People around him can actually be good, if only he'd open up to the world, that he hasn't done since Allie's death.
No, sir. Nothing.
Last night, he could tell me nothing that he really liked a lot. Except the present. And Allie. He's always saying things about Allie, never seeming to get over the death. I did, and I miss Allie, but he's dead, and that's all there is to it.
Holden came over to D.B.'s room, which I'm taking temporary possession of, and woke me up to see him. I was glad as ever to see his face. I mean, I used to have three brothers, and now I have nothing but two, both of whom are away most of the time. D.B. practically never, well, rarely ever, visits anymore—is New York that far a place from Hollywood? I have no idea—and Holden's gone off to one prep school after another.
Speaking of which, Daddy will kill him. For sure.
For being kicked out and hiding this fact. Again.
'Wednesday? Weren't you supposed to come back Wednesday?'
'Oh, no, I was let out early…'
It is Wednesday today, not yesterday.
Ironic, ironic. I can't say this…but Holden, would you please grow up?
People can't stay children forever, you know, that's why they are people. They grow. Resisting change is naturally impossible.
Yes, my life as a fourth grader isn't that wonderful and idyllic like he thinks.
With Holden somewhere in town, I can't keep my mind freed of these haunting thoughts, my eyes darting all over our 4B-1 classroom today, observing the usualness of it, the blackboard in front, rows of wooden desks with an ink fill pot in the middle, colorful bulletin boards packed with notes and graded assignments and notes on the walls, and an old bookshelf at the very end of the room. I couldn't hear a single word about Alaska, though.
And that's when this old lady, that people always say how she must have gotten over a hundred years old but was still working at the school for the sake of it, knocked at the door. Only, our teacher hollered, "Come in," and the lady limbed in with a piece of torn notebook paper.
"Phoebe Caulfield," the teacher monotonously called, handing me the note.
This other boy, Curtis Weintraub, whom Holden commented that might like me but I don't ever want him to, kept leaning all over my desk, that's only a few feet far from his, trying to to take a peek.
I cupped my hand protectively, hissing at him, "Back off, moron."
A surprise expression on his face at my daredevil act to call him in such a way, Curtis did shrinked off as ordered.
Luckily, except from sixteen curious pairs of eyes, no one disturbed me, and I walked off to my wooden desk, settling down to read in peace.
First, I thought it was Shelley, who's written to me about the skates I told her to bring to my house, but I realize the letter's coming from 'the outside world,' so possibly not from Shelley.
I flipped the paper opened. Actually, 'flip' wasn't the word. The paper was folded about ten thousand times, so 'unlocking' was more like it. The writer didn't want anyone but me to read. How special.
It was Holden.
I saw Holden's non-cursive writing scrawled all over the paper, sending me his love.
…and something about returning my Christmas dough—that I didn't care much—and hitchhiking out West, like a cowboy...
And wait, he's going away?
As in away 'away,' forever? Saying 'goodbye?'
But he couldn't!
Honestly, he couldn't!
I knew he wouldn't.
Daddy wouldn't let him!
But what's this letter telling me?
Impossible. That's it. He's not going without me.
He needed me perhaps more than I needed him.
Who's going to look out for him and say, "Daddy'll kill you?"
No one but me.
That instant, I raised my hand, "Mrs., er, Melanie, may I be excused to the toilet?"
She nodded her head yes, and, Alice Holmburg sending me jealous glances while the boring talk droned on, I slipped out of 4B-1, the toilet pass secured in my hands.
Now, off to the toilet. Someone probably wouldn't mind if I …hide the wooden thing here.
There it went. Safely in the washbowl.
Finished with my little secret, I ran off home.
School wasn't that far from our house, but I was just running for the sake of it. Afraid of being caught, I guess. I'd never run away or cut class before. Holden or D.B. would be dead by the time they know this, Holden especially, at my (false) attempt to imitate a fraction of his life.
Boy, were the streets crowded, their parallel sides filled with shops, bursting with goods to sell, cars jamming into each other, and people in gray suits, probably businessmen like Daddy, walking everywhere. Being small helped, though, in sneaking around their tall figures.
I took in the surroundings as well. The billboards. So brightly colored, so disturbing to the eyes. Ugh. The Park, green with trees, the familiar shade as that time Holden, Allie, and I went for a walk.
Now Allie's gone.
And I was but walking for Holden.
I was running as if my life depended on getting home, nearly reaching our apartment by a block, when I heard a voice from behind me.
"Hey, isn't it a schoolday today, young lady?"
It could be Holden.
No, no, most likely one of the teachers at school.
Heart caught in my breath, I skidded to a stop, turning…
…to see a smiling nun.
Whew. What a relief…
….and a delay.
Play it cool and smooth. That's the rule, girl.
"No, Sister," I told her, "It's a fieldtrip day. I'm just finding my teacher."
She seemed relieved to hear that, sighing, even. Were nuns that believable?
Or maybe I was just being a terrific liar.
"Oh, that's wonderful. I was wondering, you know, 'cause my friend's caught two other kids running around here, out of school," she grinned once more, "Hurry along, dear, wouldn't want you to miss your bus!"
At her chuckle, laughing at the young of today's world—how ironic, I sped up, reaching the tall, white, 13-stories high building that was our home.
My best break in years was that the usual elevator boy wasn't there. He's some slim, pimple-faced, weak-looking guy.
"Missy," he muttered in this annoying voice that sounded as if he had to make an effort even to talk, "Who're you up to see?"
"Me?" I raised my voice to the innocent octave, "Why, my parents. They're upstairs, waiting. It's a take-a-parent-to-school-day, don't cha know?"
Hm, what other days could I think of, if I was being this creative all day?
He shrugged at my answer—right, what did he have to know about a fourth grader's datebook? Nothing!—pulling the gate closed, and up we went.
I didn't have the keys to sneak in like Holden, so I had to knock and face Fat Charlene, our blonde, kind-looking maid.
I loved her as our semi-mother and all, aside from breathing on everything, but could she not have this embarassingly loud voice that announced to the whole floor you're there?
Then her large, full lips, that's always coated in red lipstick twitched. "You're back early. What is it?"
You could never pull a thing off Charlene, believe me, though this time, believe it or not—say that to a liar—I was about to accomplish the impossible.
"School field trip," I answered smoothly. "I'm just stopping by to say hello, 'cause I'm so tired and all, and we've just had this one boy who's sick with fever." Sometimes stories light up in my head the same time it took for snapping a finger, streams of lies flowing rapidly. "They had to take him to the hospital, you know, and practically forgot about us! I'm so hungry I could die, Char." She did a double take, opening the door wide.
The familiar mixed smell of home greeting me, I darted from the hall to my room, pulled out my huge, light brown suitcase, and started stuffing clothes and moccasins into it.
Glancing at the clock, I didn't have much time, so that was all I'd taken with me.
"Phoeb," called Charlene from the hall, "Your lunch's ready, come get it."
Lunch. My stomach swirled at the sound, but my will overpowered it.
"I can't, Char. Busy."
Ah, the Caulfield way, quick and snappy sentences.
An annoyed Charlene yelled, "Are you or are you not coming here to eat your meal that I just took the time to cook for you?"
My usual, favorite answer, "I may and I may not. It depends."
I heard one of her loud sighs whenever Holden and I used this phrase, and an audible mutter, "You Caulfields. Sometimes I don't even know if you're telling me half the truth, the truth, nothing at all, or nothing and the truth."
Didn't Charlene just sum up our family motto or something?
Anyhow, I tiptoed off the back door, used the staircases down to the lobby, and slowly, the suitcase as my heavy burden this time, started my way out to the museum.
Which brings us back to where I am now, dragging the suitcase through the streets, mind weighted with thoughts.
Holden, Holden, Holden.
What was he thinking?
Whatever it was, I'm not going to let him do that easily.
I'm going to go with him. Never mind school and all that junk. I need to see that he's okay.
I need to see that he's conscious about what's he's doing.
And that he's not losing his mind.
A/N: What do you think?
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