Home > We Were Liars(11)

We Were Liars(11)
Author: E. Lockhart

“Seriously, don’t,” I say.

He picks a third peony, sharply, defiantly. Hands it to me. “You are my Cadence. The first.”

“Yes.”

“What happened to your hair?”

“I colored it.”

“I didn’t recognize you.”

“That’s okay.”

Granddad points to the peonies, now all in my hand. “Three flowers for you. You should have three.”

He looks pitiful. He looks powerful.

I love him, but I am not sure I like him. I take his hand and lead him inside.

20

ONCE UPON A time, there was a king who had three beautiful daughters. He loved each of them dearly. One day, when the young ladies were of age to be married, a terrible, three-headed dragon laid siege to the kingdom, burning villages with fiery breath. It spoiled crops and burned churches. It killed babies, old people, and everyone in between.

The king promised a princess’s hand in marriage to whoever slayed the dragon. Heroes and warriors came in suits of armor, riding brave horses and bearing swords and arrows.

One by one, these men were slaughtered and eaten.

Finally the king reasoned that a maiden might melt the dragon’s heart and succeed where warriors had failed. He sent his eldest daughter to beg the dragon for mercy, but the dragon listened to not a word of her pleas. It swallowed her whole.

Then the king sent his second daughter to beg the dragon for mercy, but the dragon did the same. Swallowed her before she could get a word out.

The king then sent his youngest daughter to beg the dragon for mercy, and she was so lovely and clever that he was sure she would succeed where the others had perished.

No indeed. The dragon simply ate her.

The king was left aching with regret. He was now alone in the world.

Now, let me ask you this. Who killed the girls?

The dragon? Or their father?

AFTER GRANDDAD LEAVES the next day, Mummy calls Dad and cancels the Australia trip. There is yelling. There is negotiation.

Eventually they decide I will go to Beechwood for four weeks of the summer, then visit Dad at his home in Colorado, where I’ve never been. He insists. He will not lose the whole summer with me or there will be lawyers involved.

Mummy rings the aunts. She has long, private conversations with them on the porch of our house. I can’t hear anything except a few phrases: Cadence is so fragile, needs lots of rest. Only four weeks, not the whole summer. Nothing should disturb her, the healing is very gradual.

Also, pinot grigio, Sancerre, maybe some Riesling; definitely no chardonnay.

21

MY ROOM IS nearly empty now. There are sheets and a comforter on my bed. A laptop on my desk, a few pens. A chair.

I own a couple pairs of jeans and shorts. I have T-shirts and flannel shirts, some warm sweaters; a bathing suit, a pair of sneakers, a pair of Crocs, and a pair of boots. Two dresses and some heels. Warm coat, hunting jacket, and canvas duffel.

The shelves are bare. No pictures, no posters. No old toys.

GIVEAWAY: A TRAVEL toothbrush kit Mummy bought me yesterday.

I already have a toothbrush. I don’t know why she would buy me another. That woman buys things just to buy things. It’s disgusting.

I walk over to the library and find the girl who took my pillow. She’s still leaning against the outside wall. I set the toothbrush kit in her cup.

GIVEAWAY: GAT’S OLIVE hunting jacket. The one I wore that night we held hands and looked at the stars and talked about God. I never returned it.

I should have given it away first of everything. I know that. But I couldn’t make myself. It was all I had left of him.

But that was weak and foolish. Gat doesn’t love me.

I don’t love him, either, and maybe I never did.

I’ll see him day after tomorrow and I don’t love him and I don’t want his jacket.

22

THE PHONE RINGS at ten the night before we leave for Beechwood. Mummy is in the shower. I pick up.

Heavy breathing. Then a laugh.

“Who is this?”

“Cady?”

It’s a kid, I realize. “Yes.”

“This is Taft.” Mirren’s brother. He has no manners.

“How come you’re awake?”

“Is it true you’re a drug addict?” Taft asks me.

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“You’re calling to ask if I’m a drug addict?” I haven’t talked to Taft since my accident.

“We’re on Beechwood,” he says. “We got here this morning.”

I am glad he’s changing the subject. I make my voice bright. “We’re coming tomorrow. Is it nice? Did you go swimming yet?”

“No.”

“Did you go on the tire swing?”

“No,” says Taft. “Are you sure you’re not a drug addict?”

“Where did you even get that idea?”

“Bonnie. She says I should watch out for you.”

“Don’t listen to Bonnie,” I say. “Listen to Mirren.”

“That’s what I’m talking about. But Bonnie’s the only one who believes me about Cuddledown,” he says. “And I wanted to call you. Only not if you’re a drug addict because drug addicts don’t know what’s going on.”

“I’m not a drug addict, you pipsqueak,” I say. Though possibly I am lying.

“Cuddledown is haunted,” says Taft. “Can I come and sleep with you at Windemere?”

I like Taft. I do. He’s slightly bonkers and covered with freckles and Mirren loves him way more than she loves the twins. “It’s not haunted. The wind just blows through the house,” I say. “It blows through Windemere, too. The windows rattle.”

“It is too, haunted,” Taft says. “Mummy doesn’t believe me and neither does Liberty.”

When he was younger he was always the kid who thought there were monsters in the closet. Later he was convinced there was a sea monster under the dock.

“Ask Mirren to help you,” I tell him. “She’ll read you a bedtime story or sing to you.”

“You think so?”

“She will. And when I get there I’ll take you tubing and snorkeling and it’ll be a grand summer, Taft.”

“Okay,” he says.

“Don’t be scared of stupid old Cuddledown,” I tell him. “Show it who’s boss and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He hangs up without saying goodbye.

23

IN WOODS HOLE, the port town, Mummy and I let the goldens out of the car and drag our bags down to where Aunt Carrie is standing on the dock.

 

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