I watched my innocent little sister turn into Evie Zamora's clone.
At first it wasn't that bad. I mean, yeah they did everything together, but they were best friends. And that was okay with me, Evie Zamora was the hottest girl in school – who was I to complain if she wanted to spend all her time at my house? But then it got worse.
Tracy would start fights with Mom for no reason. She wouldn't eat hardly anything, claiming she was on a diet. She wouldn't tell mom where she was going or who with, even though it was always with Evie and her gang. I could hear them sneaking in at night, giggling to themselves about all they had done. Tracy got her tongue pierced – just like Evie. I didn't think anything of it at first, so she got her tongue pierced, so what? I just thought she was trying to grow up to fast like some kids do.
The first time I saw her belly ring she thought that that was what I was staring at in shock, and at first it was. But I snapped out of it when I realized that that was my baby sister leaning up against that counter looking nineteen years old when she was only thirteen.
I ended up hitting my friend for what he said to her.
I didn't recognize her at all that night in the living room. Her face was twisted into a hateful expression and her eyes were filled with anger.
She wasn't my Trace anymore – she was Evie's.
I was almost relieved when Mom called Dad to come take Tracy. Of course he didn't though. He talked to her for all of two minutes before his phone rang. I could see the angry and sad expression on Tracy's face when he called her a client.
I tried talking to him in the driveway. "She needs help Dad." He didn't even know what was going on. He should have known from the start.
So you can imagine how happy I was when Evie left with her mom to move to Ojai.
I was so relieved and happy at first. Maybe Tracy would go back to normal.
But she didn't.
It's been six weeks since Evie's been gone and Tracy has barely said a word to anybody. She just lays in her room, staring into space.
"Evie was her only friend for a couple months baby. She was smoking and drinking and doing god-knows-what else. She needs time to heal. She went through a lot. She needs us right now." Mom told me quietly. We were sitting at the kitchen table so she could talk to me about Tracy.
"I know, Mom. I know." I sighed,tracing patterns on the table with my finger.
She stood up and planted a kiss on my forehead. "I gotta go baby. It works-"
"If you work it. I know. And yeah, I'll keep an eye on Tracy." I interrupted. She smiled and gave a one-armed hug, planting another kiss on my forehead.
"Thanks baby. Here's some money for supper." She handed me a twenty and some ones before leaving. I shoved the money in my pocket and walked into the living room, stopping in front of the door to Tracy's room. It was cracked open just enough for me to see in.
She was sitting against her headboard, her knees pulled up against her chest with her arms wrapped around her shins. Her chin was resting on her knees and she was staring at her wall like it was the most fascinating thing on the planet. I slowly opened the door the rest of the way.
Trace's head snapped up and her eyes latched onto mine. Her head tilted to the side in confusion. "Hey Trace."
She smiled slightly at me and went back to staring at the wall. "Hey." She whispered back, so quietly I barely heard it. She moved then, laying down on her side.
"Mom left some money for supper. You want a pizza or something?" I asked her, walking across the room to stand in front of her. She looked up at me at the question, but it was like she was looking through me.
I wasn't expecting an answer, but I got one. "I'm not hungry Mason. I know you'll try to convince me to eat, but I can't stomach anything right now." She looked away then, focusing on the blanket underneath her. I took the opportunity to look at her then, really look at her.
There were huge dark circles under her eyes, and they were red-rimmed from crying. She was paler than normal and her hair was longer than the last time I saw it down. She wasn't wearing any makeup and that dark nail polish Evie had loved was barely there anymore. She was wearing the usual long sleeved shirt she always slept in, but instead of her favorite pajama pants she was wearing an old pair of black cotton shorts that were barely hanging onto her skinny frame.
"I'm know your not hungry Trace. But you gotta eat. Your way to skinny." I kept my voice quiet and persuasive.
She looked up at me again, her eyes fixed in a weak glare. "I don't want to eat. I'm fine."
I let out an exasperated sigh and yanked her shirt up so her ribcage was exposed. My suspicions were right. Her stomach was caved in slightly and you could see every one of her ribs. "You aren't fine Trace! Your skin and bones and you need to eat."
Her face twisted into that hateful expression again – only this one wasn't as extreme as it had been once. She clawed weakly at my arms and hands. "Screw you Mason! I don't want to eat!" She screamed at me, trying to twist away from me. I let her struggle for a moment, before letting her go.
She calmed down and rolled over onto the other side of the bed with her back to me. She probably thought I would leave her alone after that, just leave the room with a sigh like Mom always did, but I wasn't Mom.
I crawled up onto the bed and laid down beside her. I waited a second before hesitantly reaching out and laying my hand on her shoulder. She made a small noise in the back of her throat and leaned into my hand. It wasn't hard to see she just needed someone to be there. "Trace..." I muttered, reaching out with the other hand and pulling her back into my chest to hold her.
She let out a sob and turned in my embrace to throw her arms around my neck. "It hurts so bad Mason..." She breathed against my skin. I could feel her tears dripping off her cheeks onto my collarbone.
I didn't say anything, I just tightened my arms around her and let her cry. I'm not sure how long it was fifteen minutes or an hour, but she eventually stopped crying.
"I'm sorry Mason." She whispered quietly once her breathing was back to normal, lifting her head to plant a soft kiss on my cheek.
"It's okay Trace. I love you, your my baby sister. I'm worried about you." I whispered back just as quietly.
"Love you too." She murmured, resting her forehead back on my collarbone. A minute later she was asleep.
I rolled over carefully so she was lying on top of me, then sat up and placed my feet on the floor. I adjusted my hold on her so when I stood up she wouldn't fall.
I carried her out into the living room and set her down carefully on the couch. Walking into the kitchen I grabbed the phone off the counter and ordered a large pepperoni pizza.
I turned around to walk back into the living room, only to see Tracy leaning against the doorway staring out the window. She pushed off it and walked unsteadily over to me. She stopped when we were toe-to-toe, staring at my shirt. Then she looked up at me with wide eyes. "I'm hungry." She wasn't whispering for once, or yelling at me. Her voice was hoarse from not being used.
I didn't really know what I expected her to say, but that wasn't it. I laughed in relief and gave her a hug. "Oh Trace... I just ordered the pizza it should be here soon." She nodded and clutched at the back of my shirt.
"Will you put a movie in?" She mumbled after a moment.
"Yeah. Come on." I let her go and walked back out into the living room. She followed me, keeping a grip on the hem of my shirt.
We ended up watching an old action movie that Dad left behind. When the pizza came Tracy ate two and a half pieces, sitting in the chair across the coffee table from the couch. When she was done she set her plate down on the floor before stumbling over to curl up beside me on the couch.
"Thanks Mason. Your a good brother." She mumbled against my side after a minute, wrapping her arms around my waist.
I slung an arm around her shoulders. "Your my little sister Trace, it's my job." She fell asleep that way, but this time she didn't wake up five minutes later.
The phone rang from it's spot on the coffee table where I had set it earlier. Tracy muttered something in her sleep and turned over, releasing my waist and facing the back of the couch. I sat forward carefully and answered the phone. "Hello?" I tried to keep my voice down so I didn't wake Tracy up.
"Hey baby!" Mom's voice sounded loudly over the phone. There was some pretty loud music playing in the background.
"Mom where are you?" I stood up and walked into the kitchen.
"Oh baby it was Jill's fifteenth year sober! Some ladies decided to throw her a party and I couldn't just say no!" There was some rustling in the background before silence. "How's Tracy?" She asked in a quieter voice.
"She's fine Mom. A little better than fine actually. I ordered a pizza with the money you gave me and she ate more than half a piece."I informed her quietly. Glancing back into the living room to make sure Tracy was okay. This was the first time in awhile she's been asleep and hasn't woken up screaming from some nightmare.
"That's good baby, that's really good." I could hear the smile in her voice.
"I know." I held my breath when Tracy stirred in her sleep again, but she was only rolling back over. I let my breath out in a rush of air, waiting for Mom to reply. It sounded like she was talking to someone else.
"Why do you keep talking so quietly baby?" She asked me after a minute of laughing with the other person.
"Trace is asleep on the couch. I don't wanna wake her up. Just come home whenever Mom. Trace is fine with me. I gotta go. Bye." I hung up. Leaving the phone on the counter I walked back out into the living room.
Glancing at the clock it read 11:12. Making sure Tracy was still out of it, I walked into her room and pulled the covers down enough for her to fit. Going back into the living room I scooped her up carefully, trying to ignore how light she was.
I carried her back into her room and set her on her bed, pulling the blankets up to cover her. "Goodnight Trace." I whispered in her ear, kissing her temple.
I walked back into my own room, slipping off my clothes before pulling on a pair of old basketball shorts to sleep in.
I hadn't been asleep for very long when I heard the door to my room creak open. I propped myself up on my elbow and tried to see who was standing in the doorway. "Mom? Is that you?" I asked around a yawn.
It wasn't. Tracy stepped into the little pool of moonlight by my window. She must have woken up awhile ago because she had changed out of her long sleeved shirt into one of the small black tank tops her and Evie used to share. "Mason?" She asked quietly.
"Mm, what is it Trace?" It looked like she'd been crying again.
"Can I sleep with you? I had a bad dream..." She trailed off, looking down at her feet sheepishly.
I grinned at her and patted the bed beside me. She smiled slightly at me before crawling over me to lay in between me and the wall. "Thanks." She whispered quietly before throwing an arm over my stomach in a one-armed hug. Her skin was freezing it seemed.
I twisted onto my side so I was facing her and wrapped her up in a hug. It was the middle of the summer but she was shivering. "God Trace, your cold." I muttered against her hair. She seemed to agree because she pulled herself tighter against me, pressing her face into my chest. I let out a hiss of surprise, her lips felt like ice.
Reaching behind me with one arm I pulled my discarded comforter over us. "How did you get so cold anyway Tracy?" I asked her after a minute, rubbing my hands up and down her arms trying to warm her up.
"Mom brought the fan in my room when she got home. She thought I needed it because I wasn't using my blankets." She murmured with lifting her face from my chest. I didn't blame her though, she was half asleep and freezing.
She shivered again and pressed one of her legs against mine. "Holy shit. How long did you lay in front of the fan before coming in here?" She mumbled something along the lines of 'Dunno. Don' care.'
"Why didn't you go in with Mom. You know that would have made her real happy." I wondered out loud.
Tracy sighed. "Didn't wanna sleep with Mom. I wanted to sleep with my big brother. Now will he shut up do I can do that?" By the end she had lifted her head to glare at me. And for a second she was the old Tracy, the before-Evie-Zamora-Tracy.
I grinned down at her. "Goodnight Trace."
I woke up to my door creaking open – again.
I turned to see if it was Tracy sneaking out before I woke up, but it wasn't. Mom was standing in my doorway, just staring at me and Tracy. "Mom?"
Her eyes snapped up to my face. "Tracy wasn't in her bed. I thought maybe she finally decided to run away and find Evie, or some of her old friends." She told me, keeping her voice low.
"No, she just came in here because she was cold and had a nightmare." I explained, matching her low tone of voice.
For a second her eyes filled with hurt, before they leveled out in a neutral expression. She smiled at me. "Well I made some oatmeal for breakfast. Come and get some when your ready." Then she turned and left, closing my door behind her.
I laid there for a minute, just staring out the window, before getting up. I carefully unlocked Tracy's hands from behind my back and untangled our legs, trying not to wake her up. This was the first time she had slept peacefully since Evie.
I changed into a pair of jeans and a shirt lying in the clean pile of clothes on my floor, before leaving my room and going into the kitchen.
"Morning Mom." I mumbled, plopping down in the chair across from her.
"Good morning baby." She greeted while handing me a bowl full of oatmeal. I mumbled a thanks and dug in.
I had just started on my second bowl when Tracy came in.
That was a thing in itself too, because Tracy hadn't eaten a meal with us since Evie. She was wearing those jeans Mom had put fake leopard fur on for her and one of my long sleeved shirts. They were big on me and she practically swam in it.
"Morning Mason." She murmured quietly, sitting on the edge of her chair, her back to the window. "Mom." She acknowledged with a nod of her head.
Mom looked like she'd just found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. "Good morning baby!" She stood up and walked around the table to give Tracy a hug. She was even happy enough by Tracy's presence to ignore it when Trace flinched and shifted away from her. "There isn't any oatmeal left, but do you want me to make you something else?"
"Can you get me a spoon?" Tracy asked quietly.
Mom lit up again when Tracy spoke to her. "Of course baby."
A second later Mom handed Tracy her spoon and sat back down across from her. Trace leaned forward and stuck her spoon in my bowl, taking a tiny spoonful and popping it in her mouth. I grinned at her and shoved my bowl in between us so we could share.
She ate slowly, just like she had last night. She had told me last night that if she ate to fast she would throw up and believe it or not she did not want to throw up. So we ended up taking bites at the same time, and the same size. When there was only a little bit left in the bowl I pushed it the rest of the way towards her.
At her puzzled look I nodded towards the bowl. "Finish it. I had a bowl before you came in." She stared at me uncertainly for a second before eating the rest.
I glanced over and noticed Mom looking back and forth between us uncertainly. Her eyes were sad every time they landed on Tracy. She smiled when she noticed my gaze. I felt a little guilty then. Mom has been trying to get Trace to respond to her like this for six weeks with no results, then I watch Tracy for one night and she's a little better.
But I didn't need to feel guilty. Tracy didn't want to have Mom's help. I guess Mom's help was just a little too late in Tracy's eyes, since Mom watched the whole thing happen and didn't really do anything about it.
Well I didn't really do anything either. But at times it seemed like Mom was encouraging it, letting Evie live with us, not punishing Trace when she did something wrong.
I snapped myself out of my thoughts and stood up. "I'm gonna take Hampton on a walk." I announced, grabbing the leash off the top of the fridge.
Hampton was in the backyard, lying on his side in the shade underneath our tree. I shook him awake and attached the leash to his collar.
I was almost out of the driveway when Tracy caught up to me. She was wearing sunglasses, her head bowed a little – away from the sun. She was staring at me over the tops of her sunglasses. "Can I come with?"
I smiled at her and held out my hand for her to take. "Of course Trace."
This little oneshot has been rattling around in my brain for awhile so I thought I'd type it out and publish it for you to read. Thirteen is one of my favorite movies, I have no idea why. It just is I suppose...