The Cullen Girls
Follow the lives of Meredith, Amy, Olivia, Sarah, and Jane Cullen, as they navigate the unknown territories that come with building a family through adoption.
The Cullen Girls
Kerri Caldwell

Family used to have no meaning to her. But some time in her early twenties, when a regular check-up led to some tests that told her she’d never be able to have kids, suddenly a family seemed important. So went the next six or seven years, a blur of papers, interviews, home visits, breakdowns, rejections, and dozens of babies she couldn’t adopt. They haunted her dreams, those faces she couldn’t hold, or love, or make into a family of her own.
It was an issue that seemed to come up every time she tried, but they always said there were other reasons. Still, Meredith couldn’t help but blame the emptiness in her life on the lack of a man. She’d had relationships - some good, mostly bad, but it was hard to tell someone you had just started seeing about the life you were already trying to build. To be honest, most of them never found out she was trying to adopt. She rarely let it get that far.
Then came a point when she knew she was going to have to change some things in her life. Something was going to have to give.

        “Meredith!”
Even today, to Meredith, that voice still sounds like it belongs to a 12-year-old. She would never tell Amy this, though. Knowing her, she wouldn’t talk to her mom for a week. At 26, Amy might as well be 35.
“I’m still asleep!” she calls back, knowing it won’t matter if she answers or not. Moments later there’s a commotion at her bedroom door. Her oldest and her youngest daughters are trying to push through the door.
“Amy, go! I was here first!” Jane wraps both arms around her sister and tries to pull her back, but Amy has hold of the doorframe.
“Dude, you live here. You’re here all the time.”
“And? Move!”
Meredith is watching from her bed, amused.  Those two have always butt heads, from the day Jane came to live with them. For the first three weeks Jane wouldn’t do anything, from taking a bath to eating, unless Amy was there. Meredith figured it was a great start to a close relationship.
Being the youngest of four sisters, Jane pulls a quick one by pinching the back of Amy’s arm.
“God damn it, Jane!” she yells, as Jane runs for the bed, propelling herself through the air, and landing beside Meredith.
“Base!”
Meredith can’t help but laugh. She can’t count how many times over the years she had been “base” when her girls fought. Amy is scowling from the doorway. Even at 26 and 16, base still meant base.
 “Can I help you?” Meredith asks, trying not to smile at Jane, who is squirming closer to the closer Amy gets to the bed.
“No, I’m good.” Jane answers, smirking.
“Um, well wasn’t there something just so important that you needed to tell me?”
“There was, yes.” Jane turns to Meredith. “Good morning.”
Now Meredith laughs. Jane screams when Amy jumps on her, tickling her without relent.
“You are such a brat.” Amy finally stops, pushing Jane towards Meredith, who wraps her in a hug.
“What’s up?” she gives her attention to Amy.
Suddenly Amy is quiet. For a slight second, Meredith feels her stomach tighten. If any of her kids had their life together, it was Amy. This sudden hesitation about something that seemed so important a second ago wasn’t a good sign.
“Amy?”
“So, Austin and I have been talking, and for a really long time…”
“About?”
Silently, Amy holds her left hand up.
“No way.” Jane says, and she and Meredith both sit up. Amy watches, waiting for Meredith’s reaction. When she still doesn’t say anything, Amy asks, “Are you mad?” She suddenly looks like she’s going to cry.
“Mad? No, baby, I’m not mad.” She pulls Amy to her. “Of course I’m not mad. I’m so happy. Really.” She pulls back to look at Amy’s face. “I just can’t believe it.” Now they’re both crying. “If this is what you want, and it makes you happy, then I’m happy.”
“I am,” is all Amy can say.
Jane breaks the moment when she grabs Amy’s hand. “Wow, Amy. That thing is huge.”
The smile on Amy’s face doesn’t lie.
“Way to go, sis.” Jane tells her, getting off the bed. She leaves without another word, Amy looking after her, wondering.
“Have you seen Olivia and Sarah?”
“Not yet. I wanted to tell you first, and then tell them tonight. But now that big mouth knows, I’m sure I won’t have to.” Amy sighs, getting up. “I gotta get to work. I just wanted to stop by and tell you my news.”
“Hey,” Meredith says, and Amy turns around. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Mom.”

            The house is unusually quiet after Jane leaves for school, still not talking. It wasn’t often that Meredith did this out of sadness, but when she pulls out the photo album with the “A” embroidered on it, suddenly she is hit by the news from this morning. She pulled these photo albums out a lot, a reminder of the four blessings she had. And looking through Amy’s album, she sees how far they’ve all come.
There were some baby pictures in there, but not enough for Meredith. But from the age of twelve and on, there were more than enough pictures. Amy probably had more pictures from her first year than the others did in their albums. Amy was her first.
It was out of the blue, the day she found out about Amy, who was the good that had come out of something bad. One of Meredith’s coworkers had been in and out of rehab for years. And although Meredith hadn’t been particularly close with her, she had helped her out several times over the years, especially when it came to her daughter. Then came the time when Amy had called her in a panic late one night. By the time Meredith showed up, Amy had no one left but Meredith. She took Amy home that night, before she could see her mother removed from the apartment, covered by a sheet.
          Amy had stayed with her from that day on. Sometime over the years, in the very few serious conversations Meredith had with Amy’s mother, she’d only mentioned once that she had been trying for years to adopt. And it struck her in various ways that Amy’s drug addicted mother had left Meredith her legal guardian.
Raising a twelve-year-old hadn’t been too hard. Mostly it had to do with being a first-time mother. Meredith hardly had the time to get used to it, though, before the next one came along.

            Amy loved her work. Even though it could be hard, emotionally, she loved every second of it. The only setback to being a therapist, though, is that you often end up taking your work home with you. This wasn’t a problem for Amy until recently.
Amy actually owed her entire career to Jane. When she was in high school, during career week, Amy spent the entire time making lists of which job would be the best. At the time, Jane was only six-years-old, and she had been living with them for about six months. She wasn’t as attached to Amy anymore, but she was still a shadow Amy often tripped over. One late night, when Amy was up doing unnecessary homework, Jane showed up beside her bed.
“It’s late, Shadow.”
“I can’t sleep.”
“Go tell Meredith.”
“I want you.”
“I’m busy. Go wake Olivia or Sarah.”
Jane said nothing, just kept staring at her. Amy knew it was no use, and besides, the kid had a face that belonged on tv.
“Fine.” Amy said, keeping her eyes on her papers as Jane climbed in.
“Do you know what you’re gonna be?”
“What?” Amy asked absentmindedly.
“When you grow up.” Jane finished.
“Oh…uh, no.”
Jane was silent as she watched Amy. “I know.” she said quietly, so that Amy looked at her. Her innocent little face was serious. “You’re gonna be like Mr. Thomas.”
Amy was confused. Mr. Thomas was the psychiatrist Meredith took Jane to see twice a week.
“What?”
“Well, I know I have to talk to Mr. Thomas, and he helps me, but I like talking to you better. You’re gooder at it.”
Amy didn’t bother correcting her. Suddenly she was realizing the difference she was making in Jane’s life – and the difference Meredith had made in her own.
“You know what, Shadow? That sounds perfect.”
And it had been, until now. Now, when Amy had things to figure out that she hadn’t seen through her teenage eyes. Dreams back then seemed flawless.
But she loves it all. Her family, her job, her life…and now, her fiancé. It makes her smile, and suddenly the day doesn’t seem as bad.
                                                                      
        “No fucking way!”
“I knew it. You guys have practically been married for years, anyway.”
“Still,” Olivia says, grabbing Amy’s hand.
“We have not!” Amy defends, swatting Sarah.
“Whatever. You’ve been together since college. That’s basically forever.”
“Maybe to the two of you. All you have are one night stands.”
“Excuse me. I have never had a one night stand. I always have at least two dates.” Sarah corrects her. “Olivia, on the other hand…”
Olivia just looks at them and says nothing, her expression making her sisters laugh.
“Ok, enough.” Amy finally says when she sees Jane come into the restaurant.
“Oh please. “Olivia says. “She’s not a kid anymore, and she knows exactly what we’re talking about.”
“That would be thanks to you two. And anyway, that’s not it. You guys are horrible examples of what being in a health relationship looks like.” Amy is answered by two pairs of rolling eyes, but otherwise, they shut up.
“Hey, kid. You’re late.” Sarah greets Jane.
“Yeah, well…”
“Oooo, you got detention again!”
“Don’t tell Mom.”
“Speaking of not telling,” Olivia says, “I’m shocked that you weren’t on the phone the second you heard about Amy’s news.”
Jane shrugs as she settles herself in her chair. “I figured it was too big, and she’d want to tell you herself.”
Amy watches Jane, avoiding everyone’s eyes, and she knows something’s up. But since it was Jane, she knew she’d have no problem getting it out of her. She just shrugs at Olivia and Sarah when they shoot her a look. They’d figure it out later.
“So,” Olivia starts, changing the subject, “what are we doing for Meredith’s birthday?”
“Getting her laid.”
“Sarah!” This came from everyone.
Jane is finally smiling. “Let’s take her somewhere for a weekend!” Everyone agrees, but that’s as far as they get. They are still arguing when they leave.
“Ok, whoever can come up with the place, doesn’t have to help pay.” Amy says.
“Deal!”
“Wait, that’s not fair. I don’t have any money!” Jane throws her hands up.
“Ask Meredith.” Sarah offers.
“Yeah, that’s a great birthday present.”
“Calm down. You’ll probably be the one to come up with the place, anyway.” Olivia says.
“Whatever.” Suddenly she’s sulking again. Like a patient mother, Amy ignores it, asking instead, “Who you riding with, kid?”
“Sarah.”
“Whatever!” Amy and Olivia mimic, pretending to be offended. It does nothing to improve Jane’s attitude, which she makes very clear as she scowls in the car while her sisters say good-bye.
“The hell’s with her?” Olivia asks as she hugs Amy.
“That’s gonna be Sarah’s job!” Amy pulls away and turns to Sarah, widening her eyes with fake excitement as she tugs her sister’s hair.
“Well then, wish me luck.” Sarah sighs, tugging Amy’s hair back, just a little harder. She moves out of the way when Amy tries to retaliate. “You coming over, Ollie?”
“Uh, yeah.” Olivia is texting away on her phone.
“OK. Bye, Ames. And CONGRATS!” Sarah screams the last part, making Amy’s face split into a wide grin. There is no doubt she is happy. Her giddiness rubbed off on her sisters, except one. Jane is scowling the entire ride home, except when she takes a break to roll her eyes at Sarah screaming along with her punk music. She and Jane are the only ones that share a love for punk music. Still, as fitting as the music is to her mood, Jane stays silent. As they pull into their neighborhood, Sarah finally turns the music down.
“You love Austin.”
“Ok.” Jane responds sarcastically. Sarah manages to keep her hands from her sister’s neck.
“So, what’s the problem? Your fav sister is marrying your fav guy.”
“Amy is not my favorite.” Jane mumbles under her breath.
Sarah just laughs. Amy might be Jane’s favorite, but she was the closest with Sarah. Which is the very reason they could have this conversation and actually get somewhere.
Jane sighs, facing out her window, which only meant one thing. Silently, Sarah pulls the car over, and then gently faces Jane to her. She always cried so easy, and always tried to hide it.
“Janey,” she says softly. “What’s the dilly, yo?”
Finally, Jane gives a small smile, and then shrugs.
“She’s not gonna be one of us anymore. She already spends all of her time with him, she never comes over. Now we’ll really never see her.”
“And just what makes you think that? That she won’t be one of us?”
“Because now she and Austin are going to have their own family. They get to share a last name, and start having a family that’s just theirs. What will she need us for?”
“That’s not how it will be, Jane. She will always need us.”
Jane is silent, shaking her head. When they get home, Olivia and Meredith are in the kitchen, sharing the dessert they always brought home for Meredith. Sarah holds a finger up to her lips. Jane comes in behind her, glares at everyone, and then stomps into the living room. Seconds later they can hear the tv blaring.
“Ok, what was that all about?” Meredith asks.
“She’s upset about Amy and Austin.”
“Oh.” is Meredith’s only response.
Olivia rolls her eyes. “Yeah, we definitely should’ve seen that coming.”
“Has Amy talked to her?”
“No, I just got this out of her on the way home.”
Meredith sighs, taking another bite of cake. “I’ll call her tomorrow.” she says, swallowing. “No need to spoil her day.”
“And there’s no need to spoil the brat.” Olivia adds.
“Olivia.” Meredith shushes her, though she knows her daughter is right. They were all guilty of it. As easy as it was for Olivia to smooth talk her way out of trouble, Jane was a genius at getting what she wanted without saying a word. The kid would give you one look, and the world was at her feet. Maybe it had to do with that face. Those dark eyes, whether sad and brimming with tears, or shining with laughter, or that crooked smile that always seemed to be hiding something – it didn’t matter, no one was immune. But maybe it mostly had to do with how they ended up with Jane.
She didn’t remember much of it, just enough to know she’d lost everything. Jane’s family had been wealthy, loving, and caring. She had a mom and a dad, two older brothers, and a baby sister. They were a close family who had been on their way to a vacation when their private plane went down. Jane and one of her brothers were the only ones to survive the crash.
Jane was the only one to leave the hospital.
If you asked her about it when she was younger, she would just say that her family was still on vacation. But she never brought them up on her own, never asked where her family was, or when they were coming back. Later, as they got older, Meredith explained to the older girls why Jane responded in this way. In her four-year-old mind, after the tragedy she had survived, the last thing her brain let her remember was getting on her family’s plane to go on vacation. In reality, though, Jane knew what really happened, which is why she wouldn’t ask where her family was. It was a defense mechanism. Between this, and the fact that Jane had always been so needy, is probably the biggest reason they spoiled her.
“I’m pretty sure Amy’s already figured it out, anyway.” Olivia says. “She’ll be calling any minute to coddle Jane.” Meredith gives her a look.
“Don’t say anything to either of them.” she warns her daughter. Olivia pretends to look innocent, something she never was.
“I still can’t believe she’s getting married.” Sarah muses.
“Neither can I.” Meredith sighs, grabbing the fork out of Olivia’s hand before she can take the last piece of cake. But if anyone was ready, it would be Amy. Meredith tries to find some comfort in this, wondering if every mother felt this uneasy about their kids getting married. She’s still thinking about it when she goes to check on Jane, who doesn’t say anything when she joins her on the couch.
“I miss her, too.” Meredith says quietly after a few minutes. Still silent, Jane moves to lay across her lap. Neither one says another word as Meredith strokes her youngest daughter’s hair, both of them falling asleep with heavy minds, but lighter hearts.
                                                                                        
            Little sisters can be annoying, but Meredith had no idea how bad it could get. It didn’t start until Sarah moved in. Up until that point, Olivia and Amy got along just fine. Once the three girls were comfortable together, the sibling rivalry started, and it was mostly between Olivia and Sarah. At first it was little things, blaming each other for stealing things or being unfair. But then it got to the point where Meredith had their psychiatrists intervene. It turned out Olivia was having issues with a new addition to their family, and Sarah was having a hard time adjusting to being part of a family. It took a couple of years to get settled before things got better between her and Olivia. Getting Sarah settled was a hard ordeal for Meredith, as well. Her first two kids were so easy. But out of her four kids, Sarah was her most rebellious, and probably the one who was hurt the most by her biological family. She had the most abandonment issues, so much that there were times when Sarah’s school would call before Meredith was even out of the parking lot. And whenever she would see Sarah running down the hall for her, crying so hard she couldn’t breathe, Meredith’s heart would break. Then there was the phase where Sarah was convinced that Meredith was never coming back. If Meredith tried to leave, Sarah would tell her she would hate her if she left. And every time that happened, Meredith’s heart would break all over again. Because she knew that when she got home, she would find Sarah crying in Meredith’s bed, begging her never to leave her again. It took a lot of therapy sessions, late night hugs and hot chocolate, early morning pancakes, reassuring notes in the lunch box, panicked phone calls from the school, fights with Amy and Olivia, fights with Meredith, and calls from social workers and concerned teachers. It also took a lot of love and patience, which Meredith had plenty to give. By the time Jane came along two years later, Sarah was ready to be an amazing big sister. Meredith was convinced that’s why Jane had such an easy time adjusting, despite what she’d been through. She had three older sisters ready to love her, and it took no time for Jane to love them back.

            The night of Amy’s bachelorette party, Sarah stops at home to change out of her work clothes and pick Jane up. She finds Jane in her pajamas, ready to go. As much fun as it would be to see Amy’s expression at Jane’s outfit, Sarah makes her go change. She sits in her car in the driveway, laying on the horn until Jane comes out of the house, finger in the air until she gets in the car.
“Christ, Sarah.”
Sarah ignores her. “You ready for tonight?”
“I’m not the one getting married.”
“No shit. Are you at least going to try and have fun?”
“How is this going to be fun? A bunch of Amy’s uptight friends in her tiny house, playing stupid games. Yeah, so much fun.”
“Wow. You need a little pick me up before Any sees you. She’s going to cut your head off.”
“Good, then I won’t have to sit through this stupid party.”
By the time they get to Amy’s house, Jane is suddenly feeling better about the night’s plans.
“Hi, Amy!” she yells when they come through her door. Amy and Olivia are the only ones there. They were all supposed to be there early to help set up for the party, which actually wasn’t going to be Amy’s real bachelorette party. But Olivia wanted an excuse for a party while Meredith was out of town, and this was it.
“What the fuck – “ Olivia starts before Jane trips on a rug. Sarah grabs her arm, desperately fighting to keep a straight face.
“Are you high? Is she high?” Amy turns on Sarah.
“No, not high…” Sarah loses the battle and breaks off into giggles, which only sets off Olivia and Jane.
“That’s just great, Sarah. Leave it to you to get our sixteen-year-old sister drunk.”
“Amy, I’m not drunk yet!” Jane yells from five feet away. This sends Olivia and Sarah into hysterics. Jane watches her sisters laughing with a lopsided grin.
“God damn it, you two,” Amy hisses. “Get her straight before everyone gets here.” She shoves Olivia, and then yanks Sarah’s hair. They both stop laughing.
“Ow, ok. Jeez.”
Amy watches the three of them stumble away, giggling like this is the best thing ever. Rolling her eyes and mumbling to herself, she gets back to decorating. As her party gets closer, Amy forgets about Jane for a moment, and thinks about the reason for tonight instead.
Austin. She met him on her first day of college, and she remembers everything. Eight years only made the memories that much sweeter. College had been exciting at first, but once the suitcases were packed, and the miles were in between, Amy realized how hard this was going to be. Her family meant everything to her. Theirs was a special one, and each family member had worked hard to be what they were today. It was hard to leave that behind.
But meeting Austin, he had changed that. Having him there from the beginning made college a lot easier. Bringing him home, however, proved to be quite the opposite.
Only Olivia had been cool with Austin, and it had surprised Amy how reserved Sarah had acted towards him. Jane’s hostility was nothing new, and Meredith being overly polite was only going to last for so long. At least, that’s how it had always been when Amy brought a boy home.
But not with Austin. And maybe it had to do with her being away from home, and him being the one she spent most of her time with-
Suddenly Amy gets it. This is exactly what happened with Austin before, they were all jealous. Well, Meredith was just being a mom, and Sarah was being protective. Eventually they got over it. But for Jane, it was pure jealousy. Amy still couldn’t figure it out, even after all these years, why Jane was so attached to her. She was by far the closest with Sarah, and she always went to Olivia with her problems. But when it came down to feeling bad and needing comfort, Jane always went to Amy. And Jane always seemed to know when Amy needed comforting as well. So, when it came to someone else being there for Amy, Jane didn’t take it well. And then, one day, Jane started asking about Austin and tagging along. It took some time, but eventually Austin was spending just as much time with Jane. It had all been nice until recently.
Amy can hear her sisters giggling in the other room, and when she peeks around the corner she sees something that had been missing in the last few weeks. The three of them are on the couch, taping streamers to each other, and there’s a happiness on Jane’s face that seemed to have disappeared. And Amy knows it mostly has to do with the alcohol, but she really missed that smile. It’s on her mind the rest of the night, although the party is a good distraction. At one point she and Sarah end up in the kitchen alone.
“Ok, there are several reasons why I am pissed at you tonight.”
Sarah pauses, a spoon hanging out of her mouth. “Huh?” is all she says.
“And they all have to do with Jane.”
Sarah takes the spoon out of her mouth. “Ok, first off, you should actually be thanking me for giving her those beers. Your party would be hella boring without her. Second, I haven’t done anything else…that I’m aware of…”
“I know why Jane’s been so shitty, and I know you know, too. What I don’t know is why you haven’t said anything.”
Sarah gives her an eyeroll. “Jesus, Amy, it really did take you long enough. Three weeks? I think you knew -“
“Sarah.” Amy’s not looking at her. “I’ve been a little distracted.” She absently folds a dish towel on the counter.
“It’s Jane, Amy. We’ve been calling her Shadow since the day she came to live with us.”
Amy feels even more guilty, and now, a little angry. She shouldn’t feel guilty at all. Getting married was supposed to be a good thing for her.
“God, how does she do this?” Amy puts the dish towel away, slamming the drawer shut. “How is it that it’s supposed to be my time for happiness, and instead, I’m feeling sorry for her?”
“Well, I think it’s because you love her.”
“Yeah, she’s got a craft for that. And she’s been working her magic on me for years.” Amy huffs as she goes to the fridge and grabs a beer.
“Oh, did you check with Jane first?”
“You’re just so funny, Sarah. You can explain her hangover to Meredith tomorrow.”
“She’ll be fine. It won’t be her first, you know.” Sarah smirks.
Amy ignores her, heading back to her party and mumbling. Still smirking, Sarah follows, hearing “horrible examples” and “it’s no wonder she’s jaded”. When they get to the scene in the living room, it’s hard to believe that most of these women are Amy’s friends. A lot, if not all, were married with kids – yet Jane had every single one dancing like they were 17-year-olds who had snuck into a club. And they were all drunk.
“Oh, yes. This is exactly how I imagined my bachelorette party. This is the last time I let Olivia throw a party.”
“That’s a lie, and you know it. You said that the last time.” Sarah teases her sister. Suddenly Olivia is in her face. Jane pops up beside her, laughing with mischief like she had been all night. And suddenly Amy doesn’t care. She lets Olivia drag her to the middle of the chaos, and the four of them end up trying to dance on the couch together. They all end up a tangle of arms and legs and breathless laughter, but at least they’re together, and at least they’re all happy.

             Five hours later everyone is anything but happy.
“Dude, do you think she has alcohol poisoning?”
“Sarah, shut the fuck up!” Olivia yells as she stands over Jane who is hugging the toilet. She lets out a whimper that tells them she heard that.
“Shh, baby, you’re fine. Here, lie down.”
“Guys, I really don’t feel good. This feels a lot worse than the other times.” Jane is barely speaking, her face pale against her dark hair. There’s a slight tremor in her weak body.
“I know, Janey. Amy’s calling Austin to see what we can do.” They are only answered by more moans.
“Shit, Ollie, she really looks bad.” Olivia shoves her sister out the bathroom door.
“Sarah, stop freaking out!” 
Before they can yell at each other they hear Austin.
“How long has she been vomiting?” Only a doctor would say ‘vomiting’.
“She’s been puking for two hours.” Sarah practically yells at him. Her face is almost as pale as Jane’s.
“How much did she have all night? Did she drink everything at once, or throughout the night?”
Ashamed, they look at each other. Even Olivia looks scared now.
“When was the last time she ate?” When he is answered by silence again he gives them dirty looks before going to Jane. They’re left with each other, and with only themselves to blame.
Austin finds Jane on the bathroom floor, and when she doesn’t move at his touch, or even as he carefully picks her up, suddenly the doctor in him disappears. His stomach drops as he looks down at her, the baby sister of the woman that changed his life, the baby sister he thought of as his own.
“Austin. Put me down.” Jane whispers, her voice hoarse. “I don’t feel good.”
“I know you do don’t, baby. But I’m going to put you someplace more comfortable than the bathroom floor. Even if it is Amy’s bathroom floor.”
It makes him feel better when Jane gives a slight smile. She still hasn’t opened her eyes. He settles her on the couch with a bucket on the floor beside her.
“Janey, when was the last time you ate?”
“Don’t know.”
“Try to – “ Austin is cut off when Jane leans over and completely misses the bucket.
“Oh, Janey.” Olivia comes over to comfort her. Austin reaches to move the bucket when they both see it.
“What the - Austin, is that blood?”
“Yes. It’s common when someone’s been sick for this long, though. She’s dehydrated.”
“She won’t drink anything. We’ve tried.”
The quick look Austin shoots her makes her face heat up. He doesn’t add to her comment, but says, “We need to get her to the hospital.” He stands, calling for Amy.
“Wait, what? Is it that serious?”
“You tell me, Olivia! Because what it looks like to me is that your 16-year-old sister drank as much as a college kid at a frat party!”
“Hey!” Amy comes to stand beside Olivia, Sarah right behind her. “What is the matter?”
“We’ve got to get Jane to the hospital.”
“Is it alcohol poisoning?” Sarah asks for the tenth time.
“It could be. But she’s severely dehydrated. She’s not going to get what she needs unless we go to the hospital.”
There’s no need to make Sarah feel worse, but Amy can’t help it. “That’s just great, Sarah! What the hell are we going to tell Meredith?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well figure it out, because you’re the one that’s going to.” There is tense silence as Amy glares at Sarah, standing there weighed down with guilt.
“Amy,” Austin says, and Sarah looks at him because he says it gently. Like he was telling Amy to back off a little. “I need you to get me a thermometer and meet me at the car.” He gathers Jane in his arms. “Can you two follow us?”
“Yes, we’ll take my car.” Olivia pulls Sarah to her as Amy angrily stalks out of the room. The rides are just as silent in one car as the other. Sarah can only reach Meredith’s voicemail.
It’s two hours before anyone says a word.
“You know we’re all to blame.” Sarah makes no move, but Amy spins towards Olivia’s chair. She’s been standing at the door to the waiting room.
“That may be, Olivia, but how many times is it going to take for the two of you to get it? She is not one of your friends, who knows better, who knows when to stop, when enough is enough. She’s your little sister! Who looks up to you, who trusts you to protect her!”
“We do get it, Amy, and don’t you dare try to preach to us, you hypocrite, we were ALL there with her ALL night-“
“Guys.”
They look to Sarah, who is walking to the doctor. In an instant, they are standing together, hands locked. Austin comes in behind the doctor.
“Is she ok?” Sarah is the first to speak.
“Can we see her?” Olivia asks just as quickly.
“We’re still working on getting her back to feeling better. She was severely dehydrated, and there were traces of alcohol poisoning. Jane is very lucky. It could have been a lot worse.” He looks them each in the eye, letting everything he isn’t actually saying sink in.
“When can we see her?”
It’s been four hours and Jane still hasn’t come to. Amy sits beside her bed. For some reason, it’s hard to think about their memories. All that flashes in her mind is last night. She is stuck in the scene where she could have easily prevented this one. She is pulled from her looping thoughts by a commotion in the hall. Her mother’s voice is among it.
“Mom?” Amy sees them at the end of the hall, and in one beat, they are all crying, trying to take the blame.
“Alright,” Meredith holds her daughters fiercely. “We’ll figure this out later. Let me see my baby.”
When Jane came to live with them, they were all still learning to be a family. Meredith went to great lengths to prepare everyone. Especially Sarah. She can remember all those afternoons, sitting in that bright office, listening to Dr. Fitzpatrick ask her questions that she could actually answer honestly and not get in trouble. There was no need for anyone to worry about her. She was ready for a little sister.
She can see the day they picked Jane up, as clear as if it was happening right now. They let Meredith go in first since they’d already met, and then one by one, they went in to meet Jane. Sarah waited impatiently for her turn, last because she was the youngest.
Not anymore. If anyone had the easiest transition to their new family, it was Jane. She played the part of little sister perfectly, so much that Meredith often had to intervene.
“Girls, she is not your personal slave. Just because you know she’ll do something doesn’t mean you can keep making her do it.” Jane never complained. She just loved to be adored, and adored she was.
Sarah watches over her now, seeing all the years of abusing her privilege of older sister paying her back. Except, really, it was Jane paying for it. Sarah strokes her hand.
“I’m sorry, Shadow. I’m sorry I didn’t take better care of you. All those times I led you to do something you shouldn’t, just because I knew you would.” Sarah stills at the sudden movement underneath her hand, unsure if it actually happened.
“Janey?” There’s no mistaking the squeeze of her hand, and it sends Sarah running. She collides with everyone at the end of the hall.
“There goes your coffee.” Olivia hands her the empty cup.
“I think she’s waking up!”
It takes another twenty minutes before Jane is awake enough to recognize all of them. They know she’s feeling better when she sees Meredith and groans an “Uh-oh”. Finally, they can all laugh.
“You just worry about getting better. There will be plenty of time for punishment.” Meredith smooths her daughter’s hair back, placing a gentle kiss on her forehead.
“Really, mom, it was mostly my fault. Sarah gave me the first two, but I kept sneaking the rest.” Jane mumbles. Despite the look on her face, Meredith calmly tells her, “Jane. It’s been a long night. How about we save the confessions and lectures for when you’re home.”
“And when is that?”
“Tomorrow.” They all turn to Austin’s voice.
“Austin!” Jane comes to life, livelier than she’s been in the last ten hours.
“Someone’s feeling better.” He observes, smiling at her before giving Amy kiss. Then he sits beside her on the bed.
“Are you listening?” Suddenly Jane’s not smiling anymore. If there was anyone that could lecture Jane and make it stick, it was Austin. And whenever he did, these were the words he started with.
“I don’t care who gave you the drinks, how many times you’ve had a drink before, or what’s going on at the time. You will never do what you did last night. Do you think you feel shitty now? Because it could have been so much worse. I’ve seen it, Jane. And the last thing I want is to see it happen to you.” Jane’s wide eyes are glued to Austin’s face as she nods, and then bursts into tears, burying her face into Austin’s chest. He holds her for a moment, letting everything sink in.
“Ok,” he says, pulling her way so he can look at her. “I’m not mad at you, but you scared the hell out of all of us.” It’s hard to say, but it sounds like Jane says, “I’m sorry, please don’t be mad at me.”
Austin gives a laugh, pulling her back to him, but then Sarah pushes him off the bed. “Ok, my turn.” She gives Jane a moment before asking, “Did you hear what I said before? Like, just before you woke up?”
“No.” Jane answers, but even through the tears there’s a hint of a smirk.
“Are you really going to make me repeat it?”
Jane giggles. “No, just as long as you were willing to.”
Sarah doesn’t laugh. “I meant it.”
Jane shrugs. “I know, And it’s ok. I forgive you for everything you’ve done and everything you’re gonna do.” This gets a laugh out of Sarah, and Olivia takes the opportunity to shove her off the bed and take her turn.
“Now, I know I’m no example on how you’re supposed to act as an adult. But I think you’ve always known who not to be. But after last night you’ve made me see that I should be someone you want to be like.”
“Ollie, no one’s perfect. And last night had nothing to do with you,” Jane admits with shame. “I just got a little carried away.”
“But I should have kept a better eye on you, especially knowing you were upset. We all should have. Sometimes I do forget to look out for you, instead of letting you get away with things. But I promise I’m not going to do that anymore. I’d rather keep you around than be your favorite, cool sister. Cuz you’ll always be my favorite, cool little sister.”
“This is true.” Jane agrees, nodding. Olivia laughs, pulling Jane’s face to hers. “I love you.” She whispers.
“I love you.” Jane whispers back.
“Can you guys do me a favor?”
“What’s that, baby?” Meredith asks.
“I’m starving.”

            It’s not until later that night, after everyone else has gone home, that Amy is able to face Jane. She tells Austin she’ll be home in an hour, but it’s well into the early hours of the next morning before Amy speaks. She just sits and watches her baby sister sleep. She hadn’t done this very often. Usually it was Jane that was still awake, coming to Amy because she couldn’t sleep. The kid had the worst sleeping problems, and it used to drive Amy mad that Jane always came to her first. But now that it’s turned around, she’s thinking of all those other times. And as much as she wanted to put all the blame on Sarah, she knew she was as fault as well, and probably even more. Jane always ignored Amy when she was mad at her. She could forgive Sarah or Olivia at the drop of a hat, but the second Amy hurt her, Jane gave her the silent treatment. It had never been quite as long as three weeks, which is where the guilt came from. In the back of her mind Amy knew she should’ve tried to talk to Jane, but there were things in her life now that were more important.
Amy lifts her head from her hands. Jane is watching her. “Oh.” Amy says, surprised. Jane keeps quiet, and Amy sighs.
“Are you still giving me the silent treatment?”
Now Jane is the guilty one. “No.” she whispers.
“Ok, look. I get it. Why you’re mad. And maybe I knew, but I was so caught up in my other plans. But they’re plans I shouldn’t feel guilty about, Jane. And that’s what I don’t get. What’s really bothering you about me getting married? You love Austin.”
Jane keeps her eyes on the ceiling. “I know you and Austin want your own life together. But I just didn’t want you to forget about us. Meredith kept telling me you wouldn’t, but I didn’t believe her. Especially when you didn’t seem to care that I was mad at you.” Eyes still glued to the ceiling, Jane crosses her arms in an attempt to keep from crying, something she’d done since she was little, so Amy knew better.
“Jane, you didn’t really think that, did you? That I would forget about you, or just leave? And our family? Do you remember when I first brought Austin home, and all of you thought the same thing?”
“No, that was different.” Jane says stubbornly.
“How?”
“Cuz it wasn’t forever.”
“And what’s wrong with that?”
“Everything,” Jane mumbles under her breath, her chin hitting her chest. She gives up on trying not to cry. She knew she sounded like a brat, but what she felt hurt, and when it was spoken out loud, it seemed so stupid. Aggravated, Amy gets up.
“Jane, seriously. Act your age. Either tell me what’s bothering you, or stop with the pouting. I can’t play this game with you forever.”
“I don’t want to do this right now.” Jane turns away from her.
“Too bad. Things go to shit when you keep it all in.” Amy settles herself on Jane’s bed, her head at Jane’s feet, her own feet resting on Jane’s pillow. When Jane keeps ignoring her, Amy lightly traces her finger on Jane’s bare foot. She jerks so hard her foot connects with Amy’s face.
“Don’t do that-sorry, Amy!”
“Ow, damn!”
Amy takes in Jane’s wide eyes and can’t help but laugh. She laughs good and hard, the kind that comes when you can finally let go and breathe. Jane crosses her arms and glares at her sister, but she can’t keep it for long.
“Shut up!” she finally yells, starting to laugh, too. Amy calms down, putting a hand to her cheek. There was already a nice mark.
“I guess I deserved that.”
“I won’t argue.”
Amy rolls her eyes as she shifts to lay down beside Jane. With no words spoken, they settle into each other, forgiveness and acceptance loud and clear.

           They may not have had to live the lives that they started with, but Amy, Olivia, Sarah, and Jane never took this for granted. Still, they never thought anything bad or life changing could happen in their lives now. Because they’d already been through it. So, when Sarah answers the door one day, she didn’t think twice about the man asking for her. Not until he says something that burns her ears.
“Hi.” he says, and it seems like he’s trying to remember what he wants to say. He just keeps staring at her.
“I’m sorry, but are you Sarah? I’m looking for Sarah Leevey.”
It takes one second after hearing that name. She’d been Sarah Cullen twelve years now. No one knew her as Sarah Leevey.
“Uh, who’s asking-looking for her?” Sarah stutters, her face hot. She doesn’t feel right.
“Well, I wasn’t sure if this was the right house, but…well, are you-I’m her-“ he clears his voice. “I’m your father.”
“I don’t have a father.” Sarah blurts out. She doesn’t say it to be mean, it’s just a fact. Meredith had raised them all on her own. There was no one to give credit to but her. But this man, the one who has the same dark eyes and freckles, he isn’t anything to her. She had never known a father and barely remembered a mother. So why does Sarah feel bad about the hurt on this man’s face?
 He doesn’t seem to know how to respond to her response. “Well, I…” he trails off once more while looking in his pocket. He pulls out a piece of paper, smiles the smile she has, and then hands it to her. He turns and leaves without another word.
Sarah slams the door hard as soon as he’s off the porch. Her heart is racing inside of her, and suddenly she feels the urge to pee. When she pulls her pants down she drops the piece of paper. She shoves it back into her pocket, her face heating up again. She barely makes it to her bed before she’s crying uncontrollably. She doesn’t understand why this has her so shaken. She’s twenty-one, she’s safe. Nobody was going to take her away from Meredith. She’s lived with this fear since day one, they all did, though it was unspoken. It seemed that nothing, not even being a legal adult, was going to lessen this fear. Sarah is suddenly painfully aware of this, especially since it was actually happening. In her mind, Sarah knows she needs to call Olivia, but she can’t get control of herself. She manages to find her phone and send her sister a desperate text.
Where are you? I need you.
It’s seconds later when she gets Olivia’s reply.
I’m on my way. Where are u.
With shaking hands Sarah sends a quick text back. Her racing mind matches her racing heart, and the distraction allows her to lose time so that it seems like Olivia appears out of nowhere. Sarah immediately throws herself at her sister, her sobs shaking them both.
“Whoa, Sarah. What? What happened?” Olivia wraps her arms around her, pulling her tighter as she shakes against her. In her mind she’s going through the millions of things that could be wrong.
But this one she doesn’t see coming.

         “How was school?”
“Mooooooom.” Jane whines. As part of her grounding, Meredith picks her up from school. The stupid questions are the one thing Jane complains about. But Meredith just smiles, sure that if one of her sisters were asking these questions, Jane would talk their ear off.
“Ok, ok. But I’m not driving the entire ride home in silence.” Meredith says.
“Ok, then. How was work?”
Meredith has to laugh. “You are a brat, aren’t you?” Jane laughs, too. “Hang on,” Meredith says when her phone rings. “I’m going to bore you with every detail of my day so far.” She answers her phone, and Jane catches how her face suddenly brightens, even though she was already laughing. Nothing on this side of the conversation gives her a clue to who her mom is talking to. Just that it’s a guy, and Meredith is happy talking to him. When she hangs up Jane waits for her mother to say something.
“Meredith.” She says when it stays silent.
“Janey.” She answers.
“Who was that?”
“Hmm?” Jane rolls her eyes at this.
“Who put that look on your face?”
“Um, nobody, Olivia.” Meredith shoots back. Her older daughter was forever trying to play matchmaker, and she wasn’t very good at it.
“Uh-huh. That’s why you’re still smiling like an idiot.”
They stop at a light, giving Meredith an opportunity to turn to her daughter and grab her thigh, Jane’s most ticklish spot. After Jane shrieks, she lets go. “If you must know, that was James from my office, calling about some files I needed.” The light turns green. “And we might go out for drinks.”
“Drinks? Now you sound like Olivia.”
“Might. I said might. And please don’t make a big deal about this. You know how involved your sisters like to get.”
“I think the word you’re looking for is obsessed.”
“Exactly.”
“Hey, maybe we should give Olivia a taste of her own medicine. Like, set her up with the most boring, dull guy.” Jane looks excitedly at her mother.
“Kid, that would not work. She would find a way to get that poor guy in trouble with the law before he could even figure out what was happening.”
Jane shrugs in agreement. “This is true.”
“Oh, look. Speak of the devil herself.” Meredith says as she pulls up beside Olivia’s car in the driveway. Jane bolts from the car, her mother yelling after her, “Straight to homework!” Jane takes the kitchen stairs two at a time, deciding to wait to tell her sisters about Meredith when she sees Sarah’s bedroom door is closed. Besides, Meredith hadn’t taken away her internet, and that’s all Jane had been thinking about all day. Even before she types the words to search, Jane feels the relief, which she has always found odd. It’s not like she stressed about this all day, it was simply on her mind. But whenever she gets to this point, she always feels relief.
Like she’s finally able to see someone she’s been missing for so long.
When she types in those specific words she always expects different results. It doesn’t bother her that she never does, as long as the fourth link on the page shows up. There was always a slight panic mixed in with the relief.
Jane exhales as she opens the page, revealing the bold headline. Her breath stops a little once that photo comes up on the screen.
There they are.
Set beside an article that told anyone who cared enough to read about the family who left behind a little girl, the one that walked away from a tragedy. Jane’s vision only lets her see what’s on the computer screen. Those people she had been missing for so long.
Her mother and father. She had been a teacher, he owned his own company.
Her two older brothers, they loved baseball. And her baby sister, she was just learning to walk.
A knock on the door sends Jane into a slight hysteria as she fumbles to close out the page.
“Yeah!” she yells too loud and quick, wiping her wet palms on her jeans. Amy’s face appears, and Jane swallows hard, trying to calm down.
“You ok?” Amy asks, stepping into her room, but something suddenly stops her. Jane spins her chair around so fast her elbow knocks into the corner of the desk. She doesn’t even feel the blood, not once she realizes what it still on her computer screen.
“Janey,” Amy says quietly, in that stupid fucking voice that makes Jane burst into tears. Nobody has used that voice with her in a long time, and she never wants to hear it again.

          Meredith stands at the bottom of the living room stairs, wondering about the quiet. After a second thought she heads into the kitchen to start dinner. When they were little, silence meant trouble. And as much as she wanted to deny it, her girls weren’t little anymore.
Humming along to the radio, Meredith is smiling as she gets dinner ready for the five of them. It was easy to pretend they all lived under the same roof again on nights like this. But her smile could also be owed to her after dinner plans. She lets herself think about it awhile longer, knowing she was going to hear about it soon enough. No doubt Jane was upstairs telling her sisters all about tonight’s “date”.

        “Sarah, you’re scaring me. Please just tell me what happened.” Olivia whispers. Sarah is curled up, her head in Olivia’s lap. After some more prodding Sarah takes a ragged breath, silently handing Olivia the piece of paper.
“Who’s Doug Leevey?”
“Just before I texted you, this guy came to the door looking for me. But he used my other last name. Leevey.”
Olivia’s expression brings her no comfort. “Oh shit, Sarah. What did he say? What does he want?”
Sarah manages to get the rest of the story out before falling apart again. She has never felt this level of panic inside her. “I’m so scared, Ollie, and I don’t even fucking know why.”
“It’s ok, we’ll figure this out.” Ollie assures her, though she doesn’t have a clue how. This was big, something you hesitated telling the rest of the family about. Which they both agreed they wouldn’t, not yet. They were freaked out enough, how would everyone else react?

         Amy watches helplessly as Jane falls apart in front of her. Suddenly she’s six-years-old again, bawling in the middle of the night, her bed and pjs wet, a result of another bad dream. That’s exactly how she looks in this moment, embarrassed and scared.
“Hey, it’s ok. Jane, it’s fine.” Amy folds Jane into her, desperate to comfort her. As she holds Jane’s shaking body, she gets a good view of the article on the computer. She has never seen Jane’s family before, and now that she has, Amy gets an almost perfect image of what they must have been like. There is no denying the happiness in any of their faces. But what gets to her the most is Jane’s mom. Amy looks just like her. And now she’s wondering if this was the missing link to Jane’s unexplained attachment to her.
“Jane, how long has this been going on?” There’s no answer. Jane keeps her face buried in Amy’s chest. “It’s ok. This is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. Do you hear me?”
 Jane pulls away to wipe her face. “Then why did you give me that look?”
“What look?”
Jane keeps her face turned away. “That one that everyone used to give me, right after it happened. That says everyone feels sorry for you. The one people give you so you know it’s bad.”
“This isn’t bad. What you’re doing is far from bad.” Amy pulls Jane to her bed, and even when they’re sitting, Jane refuses to look at her. “But I do feel bad for you, Shadow. You lost a lot, in a very short life.”
“I know, ok?” Jane hated to talk about her family. She never had with any of them, and Amy wonders if she had with Mr. Thomas. Jane stopped going to see him a few years ago. Amy stops herself from sighing. It was hard to imagine Jane’s situation, especially how she felt. But between the four of them, only she knows what it feels like to know you would never see your parents again.
“You know, I have hardly any photos of my mom. Just a few, and I cherish those.” Amy smooths back some hair to reveal Jane’s sad face. “I can’t imagine what I would do if I didn’t have them to look at whenever I wanted.” It takes a few moments, but Jane finally looks at her, and she understands what Amy is saying.
“I didn’t want to hurt Meredith’s feelings.” Jane whispers, bringing Amy to tears.
“I can promise you, this will not hurt her feelings. Do you hear me?”
Jane gives a tiny nod. “I hear.” she says just as Meredith’s voice comes up the stairs, telling them dinner was ready. Amy leans over, kissing Jane’s head.
“I’ll give you a few minutes.”

         Out in the hall, Olivia is shutting Sarah’s door.
“What?” they ask each other, their faces identical with worry. They both groan because they can’t lie.
“I’ll tell you after dinner.”
“Me, too.”
“You or Sarah?”
“Sarah.” They both exhale, then laugh at each other. Jane’s door opens.
“Oh.” She says, and Amy is relieved that she looks calm. They all turn to Sarah coming out of her room at the other end of the hall. She looks far from calm.
“Not now.” she says, her eyes pleading when they hear Meredith calling for them again. It’s all Sarah can do not to cry.
“Oh, wait!” Jane stops as they all start down the stairs, making Olivia fall backwards.
“What the hell!”
“I forgot-Meredith has a date tonight.”
“A date!” Olivia yells, and when they all hear Meredith groan in the kitchen, even Sarah laughs. Olivia makes it easier to sit through dinner. Any question she can think of, she pelts at Meredith. Not that she answers them. It also helps knowing that Meredith is going to be out of the house.
“I think that’s why I’m so freaked,” she finally confesses later, after filling in Amy and Jane. “I’m scared of what this will do to Meredith.”
Her sisters can’t argue. As much as Meredith tried to hide it, growing up they knew it had been her biggest fear. And adults or not, biological family put Meredith in a state.
“What are you going to do? Do you think you’ll call him?” Jane asks from where she’s glued to Sarah’s side.
“I have no idea.” Sarah mutters, looking like she’s going to cry. Hating this, Jane grabs her hand. She’s at a loss for words. When it came to their previous lives, they didn’t have anything in common.
“Look, you don’t have to do anything right now.” Amy tells her, taking the space on the other side of Sarah and putting her arm around her. “You don’t even have to think about it.”
Sarah shakes her head. “But I can’t stop thinking about it. What do you think he wants? Does he know where my birth mom is? God, what if she shows up next?”
“Sarah, you’re safe, ok? No one can make you do anything.” Amy is practically shaking her, but Sarah can’t seem to hear her. Jane pulls away, afraid of what this is doing to her. Sarah wasn’t afraid of anything, nothing bothered her. When she feels Jane move, Sarah looks at her, their eyes locking, mirrored in fear.
“It’s ok. It’s ok to be afraid. But we aren’t going to let anything happen to you.” Jane is trying to convince them both, but it’s not working on her. But Sarah nods, sinking back into the couch. Her sisters crowd around her, comfort and familiarity. It’s enough for now, to believe that this would really be nothing to worry about.
Until he shows up again, until Meredith finds out.
Until the next person shows up.

             Amy is on the front porch when Meredith gets home.
“Olivia is going to be disappointed. It’s not even 8 and you’re already home.”
Meredith laughs, sitting beside her on the swing. “No matter what time I came home, Olivia would have an opinion about it, along with plenty of words.”
“How was it?”
“It was really nice. One of the easiest dates I’ve been on.”
“Well, don’t let any of them hear you say that. They’ll be asking to meet him soon enough.”
“What are you doing, sitting out here by yourself?” Meredith pats Amy’s leg before putting her arm around her. Amy leans her head back, dreading what she knows she has to do.
“Thinking about Jane.”
“Uh oh. Is she mad at you again?”
“No. Actually, I caught her doing something that she’s been afraid to tell you about.”

         “Can I come in, baby?”
Jane looks up from her book to see Meredith at her door. Knowing why she’s here, she just nods. Meredith sits beside her on the bed and takes her hand. She gives it a kiss, then asks Jane, “Will you tell me about them?”
Jane looks at her, surprised. “Ok.” She tells her, even though she’s not quite sure she can. She starts with her baby sister. Ellie was just learning to walk on her own. Jane loved holding her hands, just so she could be the one helping her walk. She remembers her older brothers, they always let her tag along. She wasn’t allowed to leave the yard unless one of them was with her. They never minded letting her go wherever they went. Thomas was 11 and Ben was 9.
“What’s wrong?”
“I remember Ben and me. They put us in the same room, but all he did was sleep. And then they took him away in the middle of the night, and I never saw him again.”
Meredith can’t make the lump in her throat go away. She’d heard a version of Jane’s tragedy from her social workers. But hearing it from Jane, all these years later, was so much harder than she’d been able to prepare herself for. Jane never talked about her family. They’d only come to haunt her in the middle of the night.
“Do you want to see them?” Meredith follows Jane to her computer, and watches as she expertly types everything in. “There.” Jane says, stepping back. Her beautiful family smiles back. Jane only points out her siblings. After a second look at Jane’s mom, Meredith realizes why she looks familiar.
“Janey, your mom and Amy look alike.”
Jane just shrugs. “I guess.”
Meredith reaches to stroke her hair. “I’m glad you remember them, Jane. You need to know where you came from, and if this helps, then that makes me happy. It doesn’t hurt my feelings or upset me. I promise.”
Jane puts her face in her hands. “This is too confusing, Meredith.”
“What’s confusing, baby? You had a family before us. And now you have a family after them. No one can replace them. Your sisters know that, and I know that. It doesn’t bother anyone.”
Jane still doesn’t look convinced.
“How about this. You keep doing what you’ve been doing, and I don’t need to know about it, not unless you want me to.” With these words, Meredith wraps her arms around Jane, and then lets her be by herself. There’s no answer when she knocks on Sarah’s door, so she heads down to the kitchen when she hears someone.
“You’re back!” Olivia says when she sees her mother. “Wait, you’re back?” She checks the time, looks outside, then looks at Meredith, brows furrowed. “There’s still light out. Was he that bad?”
“You know, Olivia, a date doesn’t have to go on overnight just to be good.”
Olivia’s mouth opens. “What?” she yells, surprised, and Meredith laughs. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Yeah, I’m sure,” Meredith teases, sitting at the counter. Olivia joins her, and from where they sit they can see the gardens in the backyard. There were four flower gardens that they had each dug, planted, and cared for. Jane’s thrived the most, and surprisingly, so did Olivia’s. Meredith had all the vegetable gardens, and they were eating something from them almost every day. They can see Amy in her garden, picking flowers to take home.
“Did Amy talk to you about Jane?”
“Yes, and I talked to Jane. She feels guilty enough about what she’s doing that she sneaks around to do it. I told her it didn’t bother me, but she just can’t see how.” Meredith shakes her head. “I should’ve been talking to her about this from her first day. So she knew from the beginning it wasn’t a big deal.”
“I don’t think it would’ve mattered, Mer. She never talked about them. As far as she was concerned, they didn’t exist.”
“Yeah, I guess I’d rather have her deal with it now, than making her deal with this when everything was so fresh and raw.”
Olivia is quiet. When she thinks about Sarah, Olivia knows Meredith would rather deal with her situation now, too. The only problem with that is that no one knew how to deal with it. They had all spent too many years dreading it, with endless thoughts of ‘what-if’s’. Before Olivia can get lost in her own loop of thoughts, Amy comes through the back door, bringing in the smell of dirt.
“Hey.” She greets them, setting the flowers down and joining them. She grins at Olivia. “Giving mom a lecture about her dating habits?”
“Hardly.” Olivia answers, rolling her eyes. Her mom and sister laugh.
“I picked some from your garden.” Amy motions at the flowers. “Haven’t you been out there lately?”
Olivia shrugs, making Amy shake her head. She couldn’t figure out how Olivia spent the least amount of time in hers, yet her garden did the best.
“Hey, mom?” Jane comes down the stairs, stopping at the bottom. “Can we go for ice cream?”
Meredith turns to her older daughters. “We’ll go if they go.”
In half a heartbeat Jane is giving them that look.
“Jesus, kid,” Amy says. “One day that’s gonna stop working.”
“Not today!” Jane yells, and Amy grabs for her. Olivia catches her instead, and they get her to the ground with no effort.
“What do you think?” Amy asks Olivia. “Underarms or feet?”
Olivia looks down at Jane, squirming and already laughing uncontrollably. “Both!”
Jane’s screams have Sarah running down the stairs seconds later.
“Jesus, you guys!” she yells at them. “I thought she was being stabbed.” She sits at the bottom of the stairs.
“We’re going for ice cream, Sarah.” Jane tells her from the floor.
“No thanks.”
Jane sits up silently, and Sarah knows better than to look at her. But of course she does anyway.
“Ok, ok. Fine.” Sarah shakes her head. Jane gives her a big grin, but when Sarah doesn’t smile back, it disappears.
“Continue.” Sarah tells her sisters. Jane screams.
“No!”
            Meredith watches Sarah. It wasn’t always easy to tell when she was upset. But when she was younger, she had no problem letting Meredith know. She remembers the time before Sarah gained some confidence and trust. She had been attached to Meredith’s hip. But the day came when Sarah started to stay out after school and get phone calls from other kids. She got invited to birthday parties and sleepovers, and before long she was Miss Popular. There were times Meredith had to keep her home because she hadn’t seen her in days. But it made her world to see Sarah thriving. Once she got past all her fears, though, it was hard to go back. It almost seemed like Sarah was afraid to ever be vulnerable again. Like she was going to take a step back and not be able to move forward again.
            Tonight, something is up. Although her sisters are acting fine, they don’t notice how they’re acting towards Sarah. It comes naturally to them to be protective, whether they realized it or not. It’s the easiest way for Meredith to tell when something is wrong.
“You haven’t touched your ice cream.” Meredith says.
Sarah shrugs. “I’m just not in the mood.”
“Since when do you need to be in the mood for ice cream?”
Sarah gives a half-hearted laugh, but doesn’t say anything else. Meredith lets it go. Whatever’s bothering Sarah doesn’t seem too serious. If she needed her, Meredith knows Sarah will come to her.

            “Guys, that was fucking horrible.” Sarah moans. She’s on Jane’s bed with a pillow over her face. She sits up suddenly, pointing at Jane. “What the hell was with this going out for ice cream?”
Jane doesn’t hide the hurt. “I just wanted us to all go out together. We weren’t even gone for thirty minutes.”
Sarah glares. “Well you could’ve picked a better time.”
“Well you could’ve said no!” Jane shouts back.
“Right.” Sarah replies sarcastically. Jane glares back at her.
“Then go. Get out of my room, I don’t want you around now.”
“Jane,” Amy starts to say.
“No. There, now I’m saying no.” Sarah smirks.
“Sarah.” Amy warns, but neither one hears her. Olivia sits back watching, amused.
“Well I don’t care, get out of my room!”
“NO-“ Sarah shouts back, and before she knows it, Jane has jumped on her.
“Oh, my money’s on Jane.” Olivia says, leaning forward.
Amy shakes her head. “I don’t know, Sarah’s pretty pissed. You know how she gets when she’s mad.” They watch as the two of them come tumbling by. Jane has managed to pull Sarah off of her bed, but can’t quite get her to the door.
“Oh, c’mon Jane! I’ve taught you better than that!” Olivia yells at her. Jane is losing and she knows it. So does Sarah, who is laughing now. This only angers Jane more.
“Ow, fuck!” Sarah screams. Jane is fighting dirty now. In response to Jane’s bite, Sarah grabs her arm and pinches her bicep as hard as she can. Jane lets out a piercing scream. Sarah clamps her hand over her mouth. It’s an automatic action for both of them. If they were picking on Jane when they were younger, all she had to do was scream and Meredith would come running.
“Don’t do that, Jane!” Sarah hisses, letting go. She takes advantage of this brief pause and Jane ends up on the floor.
“Ok, ok. Enough.” Olivia goes to Jane. “Look, now you’ve made her cry.”
Sarah rolls her eyes, trying to catch her breath. “Yeah, well, it’s not that hard. Amy makes her cry, like, every other day.” Amy would laugh, except Jane really is crying.
“Janey, you ok?”
“Fuck you.”
“Oh, Janey.” Amy says, reaching for her. Jane sits up, pushing her away.
“What’s your problem, Sarah?” she asks. Sarah looks at her, and something about the way she asks makes her stop. Jane stands up. “I was just trying to make you feel better! And it wasn’t just for you, but way to go. Now I feel like shit. Again.”
She leaves Sarah standing there, speechless.
“Oh, great,” Olivia mutters. “Now she’s running to Meredith.”
“She’s not running to Meredith.” Sarah says quietly. “I’ll go talk to her.”
“You sure?” Amy asks, following her to the door.
“Yeah.” They turn to Olivia.
“You coming?”
Olivia looks at them, then goes to Jane’s computer. “Have you seen them?” she asks her sisters.
Amy and Sarah look at each other. Sarah shakes her head.
“I have.” Amy says quietly, sitting on the bed.
“What are they like?” Olivia asks.
Amy smiles. “Beautiful. Happy.”
They’re all quiet until Amy tells them, “You can see for yourself.”
Olivia hesitates. “Jane would hate us.”
“Yeah, we should leave that decision up to her.” Sarah adds. She puts her head in her hands. “God, I’m such an idiot. I didn’t mean to yell at her like that…”
Amy puts an arm around her. “Everyone’s a little touchy right now. Besides, you know how she likes to overreact and make us feel guilty over nothing.”
“She didn’t have to try hard this time.” Sarah mutters, getting up. “I better go find her.”
“What are you thinking about?” Amy asks Olivia after Sarah leaves.
Olivia shrugs. She’s still at Jane’s computer. “Really, I was just thinking about you and Jane. Sarah’s going through all this shit, but you two won’t ever have to.”
“Well, it would probably be just as upsetting for me as it is for Sarah. My mom was a drug addict, Ollie.”
“But you still miss her, right?”
“Yes, I do. When she wasn’t messed up, she was a good mother. But when she was…”
Olivia doesn’t ask, although she wouldn’t know. And Amy knows better than to try to explain, because Olivia never knew whether her own parents were good people or not. They had given her up for adoption, a decision that was made before she was even born. It was the only piece of information Olivia had about her birth mother, yet it resulted in a hundred other things she knew nothing about. Why had she given her up? Was it her decision, or someone else’s? Did her birth mother even know who Olivia’s father was? Deep down Olivia knows she’s probably better off not knowing. What her life was now more than made up for her lack of answers. She’s reminded of this as she looks around Jane’s room. It’s covered with years of love in the form of pictures, letters, notes, movie stubs, anything and everything that could’ve saved to be reminded of the four of them. *Jane kept everything-stuffed animals that Sarah somehow always managed to get from those claw machines, bracelets and keychains Olivia made every summer that they went to camp (Jane refused to go), and the glow in the dark stars Amy had put above Jane’s bed when she’d first moved in were still up there. Olivia and Amy watch as it gets easier to see them. It had been a long time since the two of them had shared secrets and fears in the dark. It was something they had done often as kids.
“Are you nervous at all?” Olivia whispers, her head touching her sister’s. Amy doesn’t need her to clarify the question.
“Yes. But I’m happy at the same time. Isn’t that weird?”
“I don’t know, doc, you tell me.” Olivia teases. Amy elbows her. “It’s perfectly normal.” Olivia assures her, even though Amy doesn’t need to be told so. But it’s comforting, and that’s what she needs.
“It’s gonna be strange, you not having the same last name as us. I get why it upsets Jane.”
Amy rests her head on Olivia’s shoulder. “I will always be your big sister.”
“So you’ve been telling me for 14 years.”
Amy smiles into the dark.
“Think they’re ok?”
“It is awfully quiet.” Amy observes, yet neither makes a move to get up.

           Sarah finds Jane in her garden, cutting flowers and putting them into a basket.
“You picking those for me?” Sarah asks.
Jane looks over her shoulder to glare. “I’m not picking, I’m cutting. And each one is your stupid ass head.”
Sarah tries not to laugh, making Jane glare harder. She grabs a flower and aggressively cuts it into several pieces.
“Ok, look. I’m a little edgy. Can you understand that? I know it’s not an excuse for what I said, but give me a break.”
“Give ME a break! I was only trying to help!”
“I know that now, and I’m sorry you’re feeling bad, too.”
“Again.” Jane corrects her. She stops cutting the flowers. Sarah sits down just outside the garden. It’s dark out, and each day it came later and later. The lightning bugs are out, and the breeze off the coast is warm.
“Why do you do it, Jane?”
Jane looks over her shoulder. “Do what?”
Sarah picks at the grass as she quietly says, “Hide what you’re doing from us.”
Jane takes her time turning around. “Cuz I didn’t want you guys to think you weren’t good enough. Or that you were doing something that made me want my real family instead.”
“But, Jane. They were your family. And they loved you.”
Jane is quiet. Sarah gets up and moves into the garden. “It doesn’t bother us, Janey. You can still keep it a secret whenever you do it, but we don’t mind. We’re glad you still think about them.”
“Why?”
“You can’t forget where you came from. If you had a family that loved you, and you miss them, then they deserve to be remembered.”
Jane turns so she’s sitting beside Sarah and their shoulders are touching. “What do you remember?”
“Everything that was bad. It’s hard to forget.”
“Do we make it easier?”
Sarah sighs. “I never used to remember. Not until today. But I’m counting on you guys to help me forget.”
Jane watches her with those eyes. Sarah can’t help but think those thoughts that bring up tears. It took a lot to make her cry.
“I just don’t get it. Life is such bullshit sometimes. Where’s the sense in tearing apart a family like yours, never giving you the chance to see them again, but keeping mine around, who show up when I never want to see them again?”
“Maybe to bring all of us together. To Meredith.”
Sarah pauses. She’d never thought about it like that. If she let it, this thought would help, but she’s too far into her emotions to let anything help. Jane can see this, so she slips her hand into Sarah’s.
“Help me find our stars.” She’s glad when Sarah tilts her head back. It’s quiet as they look for the 5 stars in the twilight that, to them, represented their family. It takes a few minutes, but Sarah is the first to find them.
“Guys?” They hear Ollie at the back door. Jane looks over to Sarah, still gazing at the stars.
“We’re in my garden.” Jane calls to Olivia. Amy is with her when they find them.
“What are you doing?” They join their sisters on the ground, and Jane’s world is right again when they all settle into each other. It would take more than this for Sarah, but Jane was ok now.
“Look up.” Jane tells them, and they do.
“God, it’s been ages since I’ve looked for those stars.” Olivia sighs.
“Not me.” Amy and Jane say together, and Jane looks at her in surprise. Amy just smiles back.
“What, kid, you think I forgot about them? I look at them every night before I go to bed.”
Jane stares. “Me, too.”
Amy laughs. “I know.” She shakes her head, still smiling. “I miss you a lot, Janey.” she says simply. Jane is at a loss for words. It just never occurred to her.
Olivia lies on her back. “Today has been deep. I could use some simplicity.”
Amy snorts. “What do you know about anything simple?”
“I don’t. That’s why I need it.”
“How bout this? I love you, Ollie.”
“I love YOU, Janey.”
“I love you, Amy.”
“I love you, Sarah.”
And it was enough.

            Sarah is gone. Amy realizes this as everything comes together over the course of a few minutes. Sarah’s silence and distracted answers. She hardly answered phone calls or text messages. When Amy had asked Jane a couple of weeks ago about Sarah’s odd behavior she’d said that Sarah was rarely home, and when she was, she locked herself in her room.
Sarah’s room. Amy takes the stairs two at a time, earning herself a bruised shin when she trips at the top. She’s glad no one’s home, because the thud and her cursing would’ve been heard by someone. If she’s about to find out something bad about Sarah, she wants to be the only one.
As Amy opens her younger sister’s door she is well aware of what this whole mess has to do with. But whatever Sarah is doing, she’s keeping it well hidden. Amy can’t find anything that could give her any kind of clue. Instead, she sits down on Sarah’s bed, hugging a pillow that hold the scent of her sister’s perfume. Where the hell is she? There’s not enough time to think of a lie before the rest of their family finds out.
A quick glance around the room doesn’t give away much to anyone who doesn’t know Sarah. She didn’t hold on to things like Jane. It wasn’t easily seen what was important to her. But Amy can see. Even in the daylight, she can see the five, small, glow-in-the-dark-stars on Sarah’s closet door. The dried flower petals on her dresser that came from their gardens. A picture Jane had drawn when she was little. Her seven-year-old version of their house with their family in front of it.
The sound that pierces through Amy’s thoughts makes her jump, scrambling for her phone. Sarah’s muffled ringtone gets louder when Amy pulls it out of her pocket.
“Sarah!” she shouts.
“Amy?” It’s hard to hear her.
“Sarah!” Amy yells again. There’s so much background noise, and Amy can just imagine where Sarah might be calling from.
“Amy, I’m ok. I can’t tell you anything, but I’m fine. Tell everyone I love them.” And that was it. The silence is deafening after all the noise. Amy tries Sarah again, but makes herself stop after seven calls. They’re all going to voicemail.
Amy fights back tears mostly out of anger. What the hell was going on?
           
            It all started with that stupid party, the one Sarah’s co-worker mentions. Sarah doesn’t want to go, but the alternative is always the reason she finds herself in places and company she’s not always familiar with. Staying home is no longer a safe option, though she finds out soon enough that life will find you in the shittiest places you try hiding out in. Needing a distraction, Sarah knows she’s going to end up at the party when Andrea promises it’s going to be worth it, because it’s Duncan’s gig. Wild isn’t even close to the word that could describe some of the shit Sarah had seen, though it’s not what she associates when she thinks about Duncan’s parties. Bordering on desperate for her thoughts to be nothing, Sarah spots Ryan before her options become choices she always regrets. Knowing the odds of seeing him here were in her favor, Sarah feels lighter than she has in weeks as she watches Ryan watching her. A constant, fleeting thought brings color to her cheeks that no one can see because it’s dark. Ryan wasn’t like every other guy she found herself with, and the days that followed their night together were so confusing.
Not confusing enough to stop them from seeking each other out at parties before settling for what was available if the other wasn’t there. But this isn’t one of those nights, Sarah thinks, watching Ryan’s eyes get darker the closer he gets.
“Well, well.” He greets her. “I was beginning to think you went and got one of those relationship things. You’ve been MIA.”
Sarah wrinkles her nose. “What’s a relationship?”
“Don’t really know. Maybe we should find out.” He was always saying things like this.
“Hey, Ryan.” someone says, but he’s not paying attention to anything but reaching for Sarah’s hand.
“What are you doing?” Sarah laughs at him.
“Just checking.” He rubs her ring finger and she pulls her hand away.
“Yeah, right.” Sarah tells his smirking face.
“I’ll drink to that!” Ryan shouts. It takes twenty more minutes of flirting and drinking, but they both know it’s going to happen eventually. It always takes a few drinks before either one is bold enough to say or do something. If it were any other guy, Sarah wouldn’t be nervous, because she wouldn’t care. But all the feelings calm down, just like they always did. They casually slip away from the mass of bodies growing and receding around them, the pace of the music controlling the space they move through until they’re finally alone. This will be a first. They usually went to Ryan’s place, but it doesn’t look like either one is willing to wait that long.
“This is a first.” Ryan echoes Sarah’s thoughts out loud, pulling her through a door.
“The only first.” she teases. He grabs her, tickling her enough so she’s leaning into him before pushing her onto the bed. He pauses long enough to take her in, then lies down beside her.
“Need another drink?” Sarah teases. She hates how she is with him, so unsure of herself, but so sure of him, and the things he’ll do to her.
“No, you’re the only thing I need.” This shuts them both up. Moving to close the little space between them, their bodies connect with enough force to bring a sound of satisfaction from each of them. They both want this bad, and Sarah leads Ryan to be a little rougher than he normally is. What they did between them was never just something to get over with, but it always ended eventually.
“And life is good again.” Ryan, still breathing hard, whispers this in Sarah’s ear, even though they’re alone. Sarah smiles in the dark.
“Life is good for now.” she corrects him, making him laugh softly. She loves the sound of it in her ear, in the dark, the two of them beside each other.
“Yeah, you’re right. Eventually you’ll disappear on me again, leaving me with all my crazed thoughts.” He sits up, turns, and pulls her arm so she’s sitting up, too.
“Ok, but what will all those other girls think if I’m around all the time?” They start sorting through the strewn about clothes, trading shirts and underwear.
“What will would all those guys think?”
Sarah pulls on her jeans. “They’d probably think I was in one of those…what did you call it?”
“Relationship.”
“Right. We can’t be leading everyone on.”
When their clothes are on, and their feelings start confusing them, Ryan grabs Sarah as they get to the door. She feels the pulsing music on her back as he presses his body to hers, and then his lips, the door the only thing keeping them upright.
“Don’t go MIA on me for too long.”
She has no answer, but he’s gone before she can pull herself together, anyway. She doesn’t seem him the rest of the night, and it gives her a satisfying feeling. She’d never be able to stand seeing him be casual with other girls. Not that it matters.
Ryan’s not around to keep her occupied, but there’s another guy hanging around giving Sarah a bad feeling. Wherever she ends up, he’s there. It wouldn’t be so weird if he wasn’t staring so hard at her.
A few more drinks and Sarah finds the nerve to walk up to him. He doesn’t see her until she’s in his face. He’s as surprised as Sarah is with herself. His mouth drops open.
“What’s your problem, dude?”
He has no answer. Sarah can see his bottom teeth. She gives him a dumb look.
“You know, if you’re gonna keep your mouth open like that, you should say something. Otherwise you’re gonna swallow a fuckin fly.”
His mouth snaps shut. They stand there and stare at each other.
“I’m Marcus.”
“Ok.” Sarah says. “What does that have to do with you staring at me and following me all night?”
Marcus blushes, taking a step back. “Shit, I’m sorry, it’s not like that -“
“Wait. Have I seen you before?”
His eyes snap up and lock onto hers, and Sarah’s mouth goes dry at the fear in his eyes.
“No, no, I don’t think so.” he says way too quickly, but Sarah recognizes him. The fear in Marcus’ eyes grows, and he turns to leave.
“Wait!” Sarah doesn’t mean to yell as she grabs him. “Where do I know you from? Tell me, because I can tell you know.” It’s bugging her, to know something, but not enough to put it together. He’s holding back, and it brings this whole situation to a new level. Sarah can’t quite keep up, and whether her head is spinning from whatever this is, or from drinking, she doesn’t know. But she knows this is all so strange, and something’s not right.
“Whoa, hey. You ok?”
Sarah grabs his arm. “Yeah. I think.”
Marcus peers at her face, decides something, and sighs. “Ok. Ok.” He looks around, then says, “Let’s go somewhere a little calmer. Can you walk outside?” She can, but she has to lean on him.
“Here.” Sarah stops him once they’re outside, collapsing in a chair. She’s not about to go too far from the party, but she also isn’t going to make it any farther.
“What the fuck is going on?”
Marcus watches as she takes deep breaths, trying to calm herself. “Are you sure that you’re –“
“Marcus.”
“I know who you are, Sarah.” he says quietly, looking at the ground. Sarah shakes her head.
“And who am I?”
“My sister.”
“Your what?”
Marcus stays quiet as he keeps his head down. “A couple of weeks ago, did you someone show up at your door?”
Sarah swallows back a bad taste. She can only nod.
“Same.” Marcus says, finally looking at her. Sarah stares at him, then leans over her chair and throws up. Marcus winces. He’s pretty sure this was more from the news than the night’s drinking.
“This can’t be happening.” Sarah gasps.
“Look, maybe now isn’t the best time to be sharing any of this. Do you want me to take you home?” he asks gently.
“Yes, please.” Sarah tells him, tears falling down her face.
“Did you come with anyone?” Marcus helps her up. Sarah just shakes her head. “Do you want to call anyone?” he presses, clearly concerned. Again, Sarah just shakes her head.
“Ok.”
“Just get me home.” Sarah pleads, and Marcus stops looking so unsure and guides her to his car. Home is the last place she wants to be. Calling Amy was an option, but if Sarah shows up in this state, there’s no way she could keep from laying this all out on Amy. Same with Olivia. The only thing Sarah can hope for is that her mom and sister are asleep. She makes Marcus promise he won’t say a word during the drive. He keeps his promise until they’re in the driveway.
“Do you want my number…” he trails off, unsure of what should be said. Sarah starts crying again, and she’s pretty sure she’s going to be sick again.
“Can you just meet me somewhere tomorrow?”
Marcus nods. “Of course.”
Sarah makes is to the back of the house before throwing up in some bushes, the smell of honeysuckle so strong it makes her cry harder. “Fuck,” she gasps, recognizing the feeling of panic that had once blanketed her childhood. Something inside her clicks, making her take a deep breath. “Get it together.” she whispers to herself, finally feeling somewhat in control. When she’s inside a noise from the front of the house pulls her towards the living room. Olivia and Jane are fast asleep, both spread across the couch and each other, a tangle of arms, legs, and blankets. Sarah hadn’t even noticed Olivia’s car.
          The tv is blaring, but Sarah knows better than to turn it off. Olivia always sleeps with the tv on. Sarah looks over her sisters, wanting so bad to curl up with them and be comforted. But this problem of hers, she refuses to share it with them. She can feel how much it’ll kill them, because it’s all she can do not to let it take her down.
Sarah gives them another look before stumbling up to her room. Thank God Meredith’s room was at the other end of the hall. Collapsing on her bed, Sarah cries herself to sleep for the first time in years. It had taken so long for her to overcome this same helpless feeling when she was younger. Trust had been the reason why. But now, she has more people in her life than she’d ever hoped for, and she knows she can depend on every single one of them.
She just can’t turn to any of them with this.

            Jane hears her at six the next morning, knows it’s Sarah because Meredith always sleeps in on Saturdays. Wherever she’s sneaking off to, Sarah doesn’t want their mom to know. She listens as Sarah pauses at the living room doorway, and then her footsteps become quiet when she leaves through the kitchen door. Apparently, she doesn’t want anyone to know where she’s going. The front door is only steps away from the living room.
            When she doesn’t hear Sarah’s car start up, Jane makes her way to the living room window just in time to see a car pull up in front of the house. Sarah watches the house as she gets in and it drives off. If she sees Jane watching her, she doesn’t give it away. When it’s still quiet and empty outside after a few minutes, Jane finally moves from the window. Something is up. Sarah often kept things to herself, but this isn’t the same. Whatever Sarah’s doing, she’s keeping it from them. Which means it’s bad, and Jane’s first and only thought goes straight to Sarah’s father as she falls heavily back onto the couch. She glances at Olivia, knowing she should wake her up, but Jane wants to convince herself that if Sarah’s situation is really this bad, then she wouldn’t hide it from her family. Instead, Jane turns the tv up to drown out Olivia’s snores, hoping Sarah is just getting a ride to her car because she’d left it at whatever party she was at last night. Jane lets an hour go by before calling her sister.
……………………………….