Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Anne McBride’s fingers flew all over the keyboard, typing as fast as she could, à la Clark Kent, the Daily Planet’s fastest typist. Currently, there was a party at Chloe Higgins’s palatial house and she was invited, along with her younger sister Katherine, but she declined. She had more important things to do. She was focused on homework—always have, always will. Their youngest sister Mary was at the Silver Spatula, eating burgers and fries, drinking shakes, and studying with her study group. At least Anne hoped that’s what she was up to and not flirting with the boys.
Anne was momentarily distracted by the sound of a door slamming downstairs. She was all alone in the house. Mary was, of course, at the Silver Spatula. Katherine was at her best friend Chloe’s party, their mom worked nights at West Valley Community Hospital, their dad was in New York for a conference, and their older brother George certainly didn’t live there anymore. He was off fighting a war in the Ukraine. There were two possibilities—a burglar or a poltergeist. She stopped what she was doing, opened her door just a crack to make sure the coast was clear, and quietly tiptoed down the carpeted upstairs hallway. Once at the far end, she went into George’s old room to retrieve his baseball bat so that she could defend herself in case it was the former that was inside the house and not the latter. After retrieving her brother’s old bat, she waited at the top of the stairs to surprise the intruder. She swung the bat and almost cracked her own sister’s head open had Katherine not quickly ducked out of the way and nearly fallen down the stairs.
“Christ on a bike, Anne!” Katherine screamed. “You almost beheaded me with that thing!”
“Katherine?!?” Anne screamed in surprise at the same time. “Oh, my God, I am so sorry! Are you okay? What the Hell are you doing here? It’s still early! I thought the party was until 1:00.”
Anne was right. It was, indeed, a surprise to find her sister already home. The invitation said the party would last until 1:00 AM. It was only 7:30. Katherine was there for only an hour.
“It’s over, Anne!” Katherine cried. “It’s all over!”
“The party?” Anne asked, confused.
“No, my freaking friendship!” Katherine shouted. “And my relationship with Ryan Brown!”
“Oh,” Anne said, realization suddenly dawning on her. Kat’s mascara-streaked face and tear-filled eyes suddenly made sense. “Oh, Kat… I am so, so, so sorry. I didn’t know. Come here.”
All Katherine could do was cry into her older sister’s shoulders as they sat at the top of the stairs while Anne held her comfortingly in her arms.
“I’ve got an idea,” Anne said, beaming. “Let me just go save my work and then I’ll text Mary.”
Katherine nodded and Anne went back into her room to save her work and close MS Word. Her essay could wait. Her sister needed her at the moment. After closing the program and putting her computer to sleep, Anne grabbed her phone and shot Mary a quick text.
“Come home, stat. We need you right now. ESM!!!!!!”
ESM was code for Emergency Sister Meeting. It was reserved for girl talk and fashion or makeup advice. A breakup or finding out that your boyfriend was cheating on you with your best friend warranted an ESM. EFM, on the other hand, involved the whole family. It was called when something big was about to go down or the family needed to make a decision as a whole unit, like if the family was moving or buying a new car or house. Or getting a pet. Or deciding which nursing home was best for Grandma. The last time that an EFM was called was near the tail end of George’s senior year when he announced his desire and his decision to enlist in the Marines. EFM and ESM was not something to be ignored or missed. You had to be there.
Understandably, Mary McBride was alarmed and quickly packed her stuff, apologizing to her study group for leaving so suddenly. After leaving the Silver Spatula, she took the bus home to be with her two sisters. They were waiting for her in the living room downstairs.
“What happened?” Mary said as she burst through the front door. “What’s going on? Kat? Who do I have to punch or slap? Tell me. I could kick them in the nuts for you. Maybe George could come back home and snipe him—or her, whoever it is.”
“And what would that achieve, hm?” Anne asked Mary with a raised eyebrow.
“Defending her honor!” Mary said.
“Honor? What is this?” Anne scoffed. “The sixteenth century?”
“I’m just saying,” Mary said with a shrug. “We could make them pay.”
“It’s…it’s Ryan,” Katherine said in between heart-wrenching sobs. “He…he’s been cheating on me with…with Chloe!”
“Ryan Brown?!? Ugh!” Mary said, making a face. “I never really liked that guy, anyway. Such a creeper. And Chloe Higgins? The nerve of that guy! Wow. Just…wow.”
“She caught them making out in the bathroom. I said it before and I’ll say it again,” Anne said. “If he cheated with you, chances are he’ll cheat on you down the line.”
“Seriously?” Mary said with a sigh and a roll of her eyes. “Now isn’t the time, Anne.”
“You’re right,” Anne said. “I’m sorry. I was out of line there.”
“You were way out of line. So? What do we do now?” Mary asked.
“Can we steal Dad’s secret whiskey stash in the basement?” Katherine said with a sniffle as she looked up.
“No! Stop that!” Anne scolded her sister. “We are not getting drunk! Do you want the cops at our door? Besides, you’re drunk enough as it is.”
“Correction, sister dearest, who I love so much,” Katherine protested. “I’m just buzzed, not drunk. There’s a biiiiiiiiiiiig difference.”
“Yes, there is,” Anne chided. “And we’re keeping it that way. Am I making myself clear?”
“Clear as crystal!” Katherine said in a mock salute and a wide grin. “No touching Daddy’s whiskey cabinet. Got it.”
“Mary? Any suggestions?” Anne asked, looking to her youngest sister for help.
“We could buy a ton of ice cream and watch cry-worthy shows or movies,” Mary suggested.
“The Notebook?” Anne thought. “Or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? How about Titanic?”
“The Notebook,” Katherine said with a sob and a nod.
“Alright,” Anne said with a smile. “Tons of ice cream and The Notebook it is. Let’s go!”
Anne grabbed her car keys and led the way to the garage.
“Shotgun!” Mary called.
“Oh, no, you don’t,” Anne said, stopping Mary from opening the front passenger door. “Kat’s riding shotgun tonight. You’re sitting in the back seat.”
“Sorry,” Mary said. “You go ahead and take the front seat, K. I’ll sit in the back.”
After they were all buckled in, Anne started the car and backed out of the garage, down their street, through surface streets and bridges, until they reached Rite Aid. After spending minutes looking for an available parking spot, Anne killed the engine and the three of them got out of the car and into the store to pick up some ice cream and both chocolate and caramel sauces. They got Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Malted Krunch, Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookies ‘n Cream, and Rocky Road. When they had bought everything they needed, they all piled back into the car and Anne drove them home.
As soon as they got inside, Anne and Mary set up the coffee table, placing the tubs of ice cream and sauces that they had bought in the middle. Mary grabbed three bowls, three spoons, an ice cream scooper from the kitchen cupboards, and then popped the disc into the DVD player. The three sisters sat back on the couch and ate scoop after scoop of ice cream while they watched the movie. They laughed at some parts, especially that one scene with Noah hanging on for dear life on the Ferris wheel while he’s asking Allie out on a date. They “aaaaaaawed” at others, like Noah and Allie dancing on the street, Noah and Allie on the beach, where Noah says, “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird”, Noah writing to Allie every day and building their house, their kiss in the rain after seven years, and Allie returning to Noah after reading his final letter to her in the car—the best kind of love. They also loved the scene where old Noah and Allie’s children come to visit them in the nursing home and try to convince Noah to come home but he refuses because, as he says, “Your mother is my home.” They cried at some scenes, like Noah and Allie’s breakup before Allie moves away, that final letter—that doggone final letter, old Allie remembering and then relapsing, and of course, Noah and Allie’s death scene, where they die sleeping in each other’s loving arms.
After the movie, Anne smiled through her tears and turned to Katherine.
“Are you gonna be okay?” Anne asked, stroking her sister’s hair.
“I think I will be,” Katherine said, hooking her arms around Anne and Mary’s waists. “As long as I have you gals.”
“Aaaaaawwww…” Mary said. “Of course, you’ll always have us. Wait! What time is it?”
“It’s 9:00,” Anne said. “Why?”
“The night’s still young,” Mary suggested. “I think we still have time for one more movie. What do you say?”
“Let’s do it!” Katherine said with a smile. “I mean, it is a Friday night, after all. We can all sleep in tomorrow. Besides, we haven’t finished all of the ice cream.”
“Aren’t we gonna leave some for Mom and Dad?” Anne asked.
“Nah!” all three girls said in chorus with a laugh. “Jinx!”
“They can buy their own ice cream,” Mary said in a joking, dismissive wave.
“So? What’s next?” Katherine asked.
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?” Anne suggested.
“It’s perfect. Let’s do it!” Katherine said.
“Or we could watch a horror movie if you guys are sick of sappy tearjerkers,” Mary joked. “How about The Ring? Or Texas Chainsaw Massacre?”
“Remember when we watched The Ring?” Anne recalled with a laugh. “George was a sophomore in high school, and I was a freshman.”
“When he snuck out into the backyard unnoticed and then dialed the landline from his cell phone?” Katherine asked.
“Hah! Yes!” Anne said. “And we were all scared to answer the phone. But then I put on a brave face and answered. He said seven days, just like in the movie!”
“Oh, gosh, I remember that one,” Katherine said. “I remember you fainted.”
“Excuse me?” Anne said, pretending to be insulted. “I did not faint! I just screamed.”
“And fainted,” Mary added with a smile, reminding Anne that she, indeed, fainted.
“I miss George,” Anne said with a sigh. “He was such a brilliant prankster. And he had jokes too. And puns. Puns for days!”
“He always knew how to make us laugh or smile,” Mary said.
“How long will he be gone?” Katherine asked.
“It depends,” Anne replied. “Some do two tours and then come home—if they’re lucky enough to survive.”
“So! Shall we start on the second movie?” Mary asked when she noticed the mood getting somber. They couldn’t bear the thought of their brother George coming home in a flag-draped pine box.
“Yes, let’s,” Katherine said, jumping up and replacing the disc in the player with another one—Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. “And here…we…go!”
The sisters watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind while finishing the ice cream that they had bought. At one point, Anne paused the movie to make some popcorn for them once all the ice cream was gone. After some more crying and eating, they ended their movie watching experience and decided to go to bed—all except for Anne, who was intent on finishing her essay and prepping for the Debate Club’s next event. No rest for the wicked, as the saying goes. It would take Katherine some time to heal from her breakup and the loss of a friend, but at the moment, she was happy.
“Hey, guys? Seriously,” Katherine said as she helped clean up. “Thank you for this. I wouldn’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Same here, sis,” Mary said, wrapping her big sister in a tight hug. “I wouldn’t know what I’d do without you and Anne.”
“And I wouldn’t know what I’d do without you two,” Anne said, embracing them both. “I mean, there’s George, and he’s a really great big brother, but he doesn’t understand me as much as you do.”
“He doesn’t understand us as much either, if we’re being honest,” Katherine said. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s our brother and I love him—we all love him—but sheesh! Sometimes he’s out of touch when it comes to girl problems.”
“Nobody else gets us but us,” Mary said. “Sometimes Mom does.”
“That’s why we established the ESM,” Anne reminded them.
“So what do I do after this?” Katherine asked. “I thought Ryan and I were in each other’s futures—he’d get a football scholarship while I study at UCSD, become a nurse, he’d be a pro footballer, then we’d live in a mansion much bigger than that stupid backstabbing Chloe Higgins, and we’d live happily ever after. Now I don’t know what to do.”
“You don’t have to do anything right now,” Anne said. “You need to take time to heal. Don’t jump back into the pool just yet. It’s unfair to the other guy. Trust me, sis, being somebody’s rebound is no fun. You need to find yourself before you can find someone new. And don’t let this experience taint your image of men. Because Ryan Brown isn’t a man—he’s a boy. You’re still young, we’re still young. There’ll be lots of time for that.”
“And lots more people to meet,” Mary added. “People who won’t break your heart. People who won’t let you down or disappoint you.”
“Thanks, sis,” Katherine said, giving Anne a hug. “I’m glad I have you in my corner.”
“I’m glad I have you in mine, Kiddo,” Anne said with a smile. “Alright, I still have to finish my essay. Make sure to turn the lights off down here before you gals go up. Somebody left the dining room light on last night.”
“That wasn’t me,” Katherine said. “I made sure to turn all downstairs lights off last night.”
“It wasn’t me either,” Mary said, shaking her head. “I was upstairs the whole time.”
“Who left the light on, then?” Anne asked with a chuckle. “A ghost? Alright. Come on, you two. I’ll turn off the lights down here. I know how scared you gals are of the dark.”
“Thanks again for the ESM, Anne,” Katherine said with a smile as they all walked up the stairs to their respective rooms. “Love you, sis.”
“Love you too, K,” Anne said.
“Love you, Anne,” Mary said. “Goodnight.”
“Love you,” Anne greeted in reply. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, George,” Mary said jokingly.
“What is this?” Katherine teased. “Another episode of the freaking Waltons?”
They all laughed. Anne went back to her room to finish her essay, while Mary and Katherine went into their shared bedroom to freshen up for the night and then go to bed.
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I can definitely relate to eating ice cream and watching cheesy movies with my sister. I like that all three sisters had distinct personalities! There were a few sentences that trailed a little long. You could always break them into two, shorter sentences to make it easier to digest. Example: "She stopped what she was doing, opened her door just a crack to make sure the coast was clear, and quietly tiptoed down the carpeted upstairs hallway." -"She stopped what she was doing and opened her door a crack. Once Anne decided the coast was clea...