Spring break. A time for trips and friends and drunken nights on the beach.
Or, in Jo March's case, a time for sleeping.
Meg was off to New York with Annie Moffat and Jo still felt a sharp pang of jealously over that. Beth was taking piano from Laurie once a week and was busy practicing for her eighth grade recital. Even Amy had things to do and was at ballet lessons everyday in preparation for her spring performance.
And what was Jo doing? Jo had taken a part time job.
Nothing cool or even remotely fun in the least. It was all Marmee's idea anyway.
Her dad's aunt owned a very successful paper company.
Jo couldn't think of anything more boring than a paper company.
Apparently it was a gold mine because Aunt March was up to her ears in riches. But being the cranky old woman that she was, she didn't give any of it to her nephew's family. She didn't give any of it to anyone.
Aunt March needed help keeping up with her numbers. Prices, products, all that stuff and Jo had been volunteered for the job.
Which was stupid, because Jo was terrible at math.
Working with Aunt March did have some perks. Jo was a paid a really good amount and it all went into her college fund. Aunt March also had really good food that Jo could sneak out if she were quiet enough.
Other than that, it was stupidly boring. Aunt March wouldn't help at all. All she did was sit there and lecture Jo about being a proper lady.
Jo didn't care about being a proper lady. That was literally the last thing on her to do list.
"I'm so jealous of Meg it hurts," Jo grumbled to Laurie. Meg had Instagramed photos of her in the Big Apple looking super happy. Jo laid across her bed, her feet dangling from the side.
Laurie smiled, "You'll get there soon."
"Hopefully," Jo said, flicking through more photos. "Ugh, she got to see Book of Mormon?! I wanted to see that!"
"Isn't your birthday in a few days?" He said randomly.
"Yes, it is," Jo perked up. She hoisted herself into a seated position. "I'm gonna be seventeen!"
"I'm still older than you," Laurie, who had just turned eighteen, gloated.
"Shut up, loser," Jo spat. Looking at these photos was not helping her jealously, so she closed off her Internet for the while. "How's Beth doing?"
"Good," Laurie nodded. "And she did have lessons before. She told me."
"Oh yeah," Jo recalled. "It was only for a little bit though. Money stuff." Rain began smacking itself onto the windows in an unnecessarily loud way. "Hey, wanna watch a movie or something?"
Laurie shrugged, "Isn't Amy downstairs?"
"Shit," Jo seethed. "She's been being especially annoying. Acting like she wants to be friends."
"She probably feels really bad-"
"Should've though of that before she burned my stories," she said. "Besides, she shouldn't complain to me if she's bored. That's her own problem."
Laurie didn't say more on the subject. He'd been trying to get Jo to come around for weeks, but she wasn't having any of it.
He understood, on a level, but now it seemed she was just being cruel.
Or maybe it was one of those sister things he just didn't get.
With fluid motion, Laurie stood up and began poking around her room. Jo didn't care; she had nothing to hide. So many paper piled on her dresser. Books stacked up in corners. Beth's side of the room was clean and pristine, Jo's side messy and disorganized.
"I don't want this school year to end," Laurie flipped through an open door on her desk. "Yeah, Mr. Brooke is pretty dull, but how could Harvard be any better? They'll all be snobs."
Jo groaned, "Oh shut up. I'd murder to go to Harvard. Hell, I'd murder you for your spot."
Laurie half smiled, "But you need to go to New York and be a writer."
"Yeah..." Jo rolled on to her back. "Speaking of New York, I hope Meg is having an awful time."
Laurie didn't respond. He'd picked up her fifth grade yearbook and began flipping through the pages. He caught sight of Jo and snickered. She could've passed for a boy. Short hair, masculine face, and a gangly body.
Jo sure had grown since then. Try as she might to hide it, Jo was beautiful. She was beautiful because she didn't try to be.
Of course Laurie would never say that. She wouldn't take him seriously.
"Let's go out," Jo decided. "I'm sick of this house."
Laurie set down the book, "Where to, then?"
She grabbed her shoulder bag and stuffed her phone into it, "Just out." The two left her room and scampered down the stairwell.
Amy, who was watching some reality TV show, quickly became alert. "Where are you going?"
Jo sneered at her but didn't give any other response as they walked out the door.
"Wait!" Amy hollered after them, following them out the door. "Please, Jo! I'm sorry. I want to go with you."
Jo's unmoving expression convicted Laurie to stay just as stoic. He'd have to ignore Amy's pitiful cries as much as he could. Jo came first.
The two got into his car and he started up the engine. He couldn't see Amy in any of the mirrors.
"Ugh, the little freak's going to follow us."
Jo was right. Amy was behind then, pedaling quickly on her little pink bike, a determined look in her eyes.
Laurie coughed as he drove on slowly, "Shouldn't she be wearing a helmet?"
"I don't care!" She protested fiercely. "Just drive! I want to get away from her!
"Okay," Laurie replied, pressing harder on accelerator.
He watched in the rear view mirror as Amy desperately tried to keep up with them. She was no where close to given up. Her determination was her fuel as she pedaled harder.
Laurie saw as her bike swerved suddenly, she lost her balanced and fell flat on the pavement.
She didn't get up.
"Oh my God," Jo was trying to sound annoyed but her shock betrayed her. "Teddy, turn around! Now!"
"I, uh," He fumbled with the wheel, trying to find a driveway to turn into.
Jo unlocked her door and stepped out, running to her little sister.
Amy hand finally gotten herself up and was sitting, grasping both knees with her hand. She whimpered at the sight of Jo.
"I'm s-sorry," she cried, tears streaking her ashy face. "Jo, I-"
"Hush," Jo commanded, removing her sister's small hands from her knees. Both were torn, red splotches of blood cascading from millions of tiny holes. Her hand were scrapped up just as well. "Amy, we're going to get you home, okay?"
By that time Laurie had pulled his car around. He stepped out, not even bothering to close the car door.
"Anything broken?" He asked, kneeling down next to her.
Jo shook her head, "I don't think so. I broke my arm once and I couldn't even move it hurt so much."
Laurie's surveyed Amy, "I'll get her in the car."
Amy sobbed, "M-my bike."
"I'll get the bike," Jo told her, picking up the pink piece of metal.
After loading both into the car, they got home in a matter of seconds.
"Beth! Help!" Jo yelled when they walked inside.
Beth rushed down the stairs and helped get Amy into the bathroom. She didn't even ask what had happened. Beth knew that wasn't the first priority.
"Clean her up," Jo said, knowing it was a statement of the obvious.
Beth began washing the wounds with warm water, Amy whimpering as it stung her open flesh.
Jo hasn't realized how fast her heart was pounding.
"That was stupid," Jo spat.
Beth spoke, "Now, Jo..."
"It was reckless," Jo continued, "and stupid! Amy, you could've really hurt yourself. Something awful could've happened to you, do you know that?!" Her voice rose as she paced the small bathroom. "You don't think, do you? You don't think about consequences!"
Amy pursed her lips, "Maybe I should've just died! It would've been better that way, wouldn't it?!"
"Shut up!" Jo's voice cracked.
The worded echoed on the tiles and in Jo's mind.
"Don't ever talk like that," Jo kneeled down with her sister. "I love you, Amy. You're my sister. I don't want you dead." She took a deep breath, "I was mad when you burnt my stories. I couldn't believe that you had done that."
Amy sniffed, "I'm sorry, Jo. I really am."
"I know," Jo smiled, taking her small, bandaged hand. "Promise me that we won't see each other as enemies anymore. But as sisters. As friends."
Amy smiled back, her sad tears now full of joy, "I promise, Jo."
Beth cried too as the two sisters embraced. The moment was one they'd never forget. One that would be told over and over again and fill everyone's heart with love.
Not Laurie's. He just felt awkward.
"Well, this is great," he said. "I'll just be going then."
"Come here," Jo waved him into the hug. "You're our brother. Join in on the love."
He laughed, but the words touched him.
Brother. He was a brother. He was accepted. He had a place.
Maybe it was wasn't boyfriend but it was a place.
And he liked it.