Decree of Hope

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I’d never kissed a girl before. Ever. And I never thought the first girl I kissed would be drunk, vomiting, and crying over her ex-boyfriend. Not to mention, she went to school with my little sister. I was a jerk. I’d never forget the way her eyes burned into me as I walked away.

I shook my head and tried to forget about it as I walked out of her driveway. I met the cab a block down the road. When I got home, I pulled the garage door up so no one would see the vandalism. Then I hit the twenty-four hour Wal-Mart. I picked up a couple of buckets of white paint so I could fix Kailee’s mishap before anyone else saw it. I wasn’t sending a messed up teenager to jail. God, that girl had issues, but why did I feel a need to protect the girl I caught vandalizing our house? As I stood in the check-out line my phone vibrated against the conveyor belt. The faceplate lit up flashing Mirriam’s name. I was more of a jerk than I thought! I told her I’d pick her up hours ago.

“Hey,” I said.

“Can you pick me up from the hospital?”

“What happened earlier?”

“Nothing. I overreacted.”

The beat of silence that passed before she cut the call let me know she didn’t believe me, but I didn’t have to answer to Mirriam.

Mirriam sat down in the passenger seat and looked at me before blowing out a sigh and turning her head to stare out the window. Her eyes were red, her face swollen. She’d been through an ordeal tonight, and I wasn’t there for her, because I was taking care of a girl that hated her. She moved her face from where it was plastered to the window once briefly then turned to the window again.

For the first time, the thought that Caleb didn’t annoy my little sister as much as she pretended crossed my mind. “Are you okay?”

“I couldn’t get him out of the street.”

“What do you mean?”

“I saw the car coming. He didn’t. I didn’t tell him. I couldn’t get him out of the street. It hit him head on.” She wasn’t crying. Thank God. Mirriam rarely cried, but she was distraught.

“Mirriam, I don’t think you could have stopped it.”

“I got out of the way.” I heard the guilt laced in her voice and hated it.

I nodded, but I needed to know something else. Because what Kailee had said stayed in the back of my mind all night. “Why were you out so late?”

“Why were you out with Caleb so late?”

“We were working on our government project.”

“You were coming from the library then?”

Zmal, Abrahem! Drop it.”

I sighed. “You’re right, but we’re talking about this later.”

She shot me a glare as we pulled into the driveway.

I got up bright and early the next morning to paint the garage before anyone noticed, but Mirriam started out earlier than I expected after the incident the night before. I hoped she wouldn’t notice, but when she did, she dropped her bag and murmured, “He got me out of the house.” The expression on her face and the disappointment in her voice told me she knew Kailee did this, and she thought Caleb helped her. My little sister was crushed, and from the things Kailee said last night, I knew Caleb Miller had nothing to do with this. But if Mirriam thought he did, my problem would resolve itself. So I silently watched as she picked up her bag and shuffled back inside. I didn’t like it, but it was for her own good. Sorry, Mirriam.

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