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Home > We Were Liars(13)

We Were Liars(13)
Author: E. Lockhart

“We have ice cream bars in the freezer!” he yells. “Three different kinds!”

“Seriously, Taft. You were a mess on the phone last night.”

“Was not.”

“Were too.”

“Mirren read me a story. Then I went to sleep. No big whup.”

I ruffle his honey hair. “It’s just a house. Lots of houses seem scary at night, but in the morning, they’re friendly again.”

“We’re not staying at Cuddledown anyway,” Taft says. “We moved to New Clairmont with Granddad now.”

“You did?”

“We have to be orderly there and not act like idiots. We took our stuff already. And Will caught three jellyfish at the big beach and also a dead crab. Will you come see them?”

“Sure.”

“He has the crab in his pocket, but the jellies are in a bucket of water,” says Taft, and runs off.

MUMMY AND I walk across the island to Windemere, a short distance on a wooden walkway. The twins help with our suitcases.

Granddad and Aunt Bess are in the kitchen. There are wild-flowers in vases on the counter, and Bess scrubs a clean sink with a Brillo pad while Granddad reads the Martha’s Vineyard Times.

Bess is softer than her sisters, and blonder, but still the same mold. She’s wearing white jeans and a navy blue cotton top with diamond jewelry. She takes off rubber gloves and then kisses Mummy and hugs me too long and too hard, like she is trying to hug some deep and secret message. She smells of bleach and wine.

Granddad stands up but doesn’t cross the room until Bess is done hugging. “Hello there, Mirren,” he says jovially. “Grand to see you.”

“He’s doing that a lot,” Carrie says to me and Mummy. “Calling people Mirren who aren’t Mirren.”

“I know she’s not Mirren,” Granddad says.

The adults talk amongst themselves, and I am left with the twins. They look awkward in Crocs and summer dresses. They must be almost fourteen now. They have Mirren’s strong legs and blue eyes but their faces are pinched.

“Your hair is black,” says Bonnie. “You look like a dead vampire.”

“Bonnie!” Liberty smacks her.

“I mean, that’s redundant because all vampires are dead,” says Bonnie. “But they have the circles under their eyes and the white skin, like you do.”

“Be nice to Cady,” whispers Liberty. “Mom told us.”

“I am being nice,” says Bonnie. “A lot of vampires are extremely sexy. That’s a documented fact.”

“I told you I didn’t want you talking about creepy dead stuff this summer,” says Liberty. “You were bad enough last night.” She turns to me. “Bonnie’s obsessed with dead things. She’s reading books about them all the time and then she can’t sleep. It’s annoying when you share a room.” Liberty says all this without ever looking me in the eye.

“I was talking about Cady’s hair,” says Bonnie.

“You don’t have to tell her she looks dead.”

“It’s okay,” I tell Bonnie. “I don’t actually care what you think, so it’s perfectly okay.”

25

EVERYONE HEADS TO New Clairmont, leaving me and Mummy alone at Windemere to unpack. I ditch my bag and look for the Liars.

Suddenly they are on me like puppies. Mirren grabs me and spins me. Johnny grabs Mirren, Gat grabs Johnny, we are all grabbing each other and jumping. Then we are apart again, going into Cuddledown.

Mirren chatters about how glad she is that Bess and the littles will live with Granddad this summer. He needs somebody with him now. Plus Bess with her obsessive cleaning is impossible to be around. Plus again and even more important, we Liars will have Cuddledown to ourselves. Gat says he is going to make hot tea and hot tea is his new vice. Johnny calls him a pretentious assface. We follow Gat into the kitchen. He puts water on to boil.

It is a whirlwind, all of them talking over each other, arguing happily, exactly like old times. Gat hasn’t quite looked at me, though.

I can’t stop looking at him.

He is so beautiful. So Gat. I know the arc of his lower lip, the strength in his shoulders. The way he half tucks his shirt into his jeans, the way his shoes are worn down at the heel, the way he touches that scar on his eyebrow without realizing he’s doing it.

I am so angry. And so happy to see him.

Probably he has moved on, like any well-adjusted person would. Gat hasn’t spent the last two years in a shell of headache pain and self-pity. He’s been going around with New York City girls in ballet flats, taking them to Chinese food and out to see bands. If he’s not with Raquel, he’s probably got a girl or even three at home.

“Your hair’s new,” Johnny says to me.

“Yeah.”

“You look pretty, though,” says Mirren sweetly.

“She’s so tall,” says Gat, busying himself with boxes of tea, jasmine and English Breakfast and so on. “You didn’t used to be that tall, did you, Cady?”

“It’s called growing,” I say. “Don’t hold me responsible.” Two summers ago, Gat was several inches taller than I. Now we are about even.

“I’m all for growing,” says Gat, his eyes still not on my face. “Just don’t get taller than me.”

Is he flirting?

He is.

“Johnny always lets me be tallest,” Gat goes on. “Never makes an issue of it.”

“Like I have a choice,” groans Johnny.

“She’s still our Cady,” says Mirren loyally. “We probably look different to her, too.”

But they don’t. They look the same. Gat in a worn green T-shirt from two summers ago. His ready smile, his way of leaning forward, his dramatic nose.

Johnny broad-shouldered, in jeans and a pink plaid button-down so old its edges are frayed; nails bitten, hair cropped.

Mirren, like a pre-Raphaelite painting, that square Sinclair chin. Her long, thick hair is piled on top of her head and she’s wearing a bikini top and shorts.

It is reassuring. I love them so.

Will it matter to them, the way I can’t hold on to even basic facts surrounding my accident? I’ve lost so much of what we did together summer fifteen. I wonder if the aunts have been talking about me.

I don’t want them to look at me like I’m sick. Or like my mind isn’t working.

“Tell about college,” says Johnny. He is sitting on the kitchen counter. “Where are you going?”

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