I wasn’t very popular with women at the moment. Mirriam hadn’t spoken to me since yelling she hated me and threatening to hang herself. Ommy kept complaining that her family back home would disown us when they found out I was dating Kailee. And Kailee. Kailee wouldn’t answer my calls.
I dressed in a suit for Mirriam’s graduation, and I stood in the living room with Ommy. Mirriam came out of her room, the pink of her skirt sticking out under her gown. She walked up to me and hugged me. “I’m not forgiving you for pretending you own me, but I love you. You’re a good brother.”
“I love you too, and I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t think it was best for you.” I knew that statement needed to be followed by, “Mirriam, what are you scheming?” But we would talk about it after her graduation. I wouldn’t upset her before then.
She hugged Ommy, but didn’t speak to her. Mirriam blamed Ommy for this. Maybe, she’d get over hating me one day.
At the graduation, the announcer called Kailee’s name, and Jackson and an older man who looked like him stood to clap. Her dad. He didn’t have time for her any other day of the year, but he could make time to be a proud parent in public. I tried desperately to catch her eye from where I sat. I needed her to see me here, but if she noticed me at all, it never showed. My mind was on Kailee the rest of the ceremony, so when the punk across the street limped up to take his diploma and never returned to his seat it didn’t registered in my mind that this was unusual. I paid no attention to his empty chair, or anything else until we got to Y and my sister’s name was called. She took her diploma and crossed the stage. Instead of returning to her seat, she disappeared behind the stage curtains. What is she doing? Then my eyes fell on his empty chair. This can’t be good.
“I’ll be right back,” I told Ommy.
“It’s your sister’s graduation, and it’s almost over.”
Yeah, but my sister left. “I’ll be right back.”
I headed out to the hallway, but it was empty. Neither Mirriam nor the punk was there. She probably just went to the bathroom or something. I over re-acted. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what she was up to.
By the time I returned to the auditorium, they were throwing hats in the air. Kids were jumping off the stage. People walked toward them. The scene was chaotic. I fought my way through the crowd to the mosh pit of kids in front of the stage. I scanned every face under a cap. Mirriam wasn’t here, so I headed back to the seats Ommy and I were in, expecting Mirriam had found Mom. But Ommy stood in the aisle.
“Abrahem, please find your sister so we can go to dinner.”
“She’s not with you?”
Ommy shook her head.
“I’ll find her.” I headed back to the kids jumping off the stage like monkeys one more time. She wasn’t there, so I walked back to the hallway again. It wasn’t empty now. People had started to leave, but I didn’t see my sister.
I walked toward the door to see if she was outside, when the sound of my name stopped my heart. Kailee spoke to me, and all of a sudden, being Mirriam’s keeper could wait.
“Have you seen Caleb?”
Of course she was looking for him. “You’re looking for Caleb.”
She shook her head. “I’m not. His mom is. Mrs. Miller is worried because of his leg.”
“Sorry, I haven’t seen him. Where is your cap and gown?”
“Oh—that thing? It was hideous. I took it off as soon as I could.”
She smiled. “My dad came.”
“I saw that. Hey, have you by any chance seen Mirriam?”
She shook her head and then said, “So you can’t find Mirriam, and Mrs. Miller can’t find Caleb?”
That can’t be it. I shook my head. “Mirriam is marrying my friend tomorrow.”
“Your sister is getting married?”
She nodded. “My dad and Jackson are waiting on me. I should go.” But she didn’t turn to walk away. Thank God.
“I’ll call you tonight.”
She shrugged. “It’s not necessary.”
Her smile never touched her eyes. “Your sister is getting married, and you didn’t mention it until now. You’re not as serious about me as you think you are, and that’s okay.”
“I’ve called you a dozen times!”
“Abrahem, I called you Saturday because something happened and I didn’t know what to do. You were too busy marrying your sister off to talk to me. And seriously, the guy I met didn’t think women were possessions to be pawned off on someone anyhow. But it made me realize you’re like every other man in the world.”
My jaw clamped, and my teeth ground together. “Did you just compare me to Caleb Miller?”
She shrugged. “I was thinking more about my dad and Jackson. The way they’re never around when I need them, but you never told me you love me until I was beyond pissed, kind of like how he never said it until—”
“Don’t say it!”
“Fine. I won’t. You already know what I would have said, and that’s enough.” Now she walked away with my heart in her pocket. This whole thing with Mirriam would be over tomorrow, and I could put one hundred percent of my energy into getting Kailee back.
Winning Kailee Hill back was my new goal in life.
I walked out of the double glass doors of the hallway and looked through the dispersing people to find my sister. Nothing. I milled around the parking lot, but I couldn’t find Mirriam anywhere. I was about to turn to go inside when I saw a white Jeep dispersing in the horizon. Oh man. She had hugged me and said she wasn’t forgiving me but she loved me. Then she hugged Ommy. Mirriam told us goodbye and neither one of us caught it. I hit the fob key to unlock the doors and jumped in the car, darting out of the parking lot as quickly as possible. But when I pulled onto the street, the white Jeep was already gone.