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  • Home > Katie McGarry > Crossing the Line     

    Dear Lincoln,

    I saw this card today and thought of you. I know that I wasn’t who you came to meet, but I’m glad we had a chance to talk. Even though I was just his little sister’s best friend, Aires still felt like a brother to me.

    Between you and me, I keep smiling when I think of the look on your face when we decided to sneak out of the wake without being caught. That was a strange, messed-up night, and I’m grateful you were there to help me through it.

    I know how I miss Aires so I can only imagine how you miss Josh. Just remember that I’m thinking of you.

    Can I write you again? Will you write back? I hope you do. I sort of feel like we were meant to meet.

    ~ Lila

    Dear Lila,

    Thank you for the card. I’m going to admit, I’m not much of a kitten guy, but I appreciate the thought. Mostly, I appreciate your note.

    Yeah, I agree, the night of Aires’s funeral was messed up, but messed up in a good way. Mom and Dad thought if we met Aires’s family that it would help us with losing Josh. I thought Mom and Dad had it all jacked up, and in a way, they did. It wasn’t meeting Aires’s family that helped, it was talking to you—so thanks.

    And no, I don’t mind if you want to write me again. Even if you do it in one of those kitten-hanging-from-a-tree cards.

    ~ Lincoln

    Lincoln

    Is it weird that I feel close to you even though you’re hundreds of miles away and we’ve only met once? I hope not. I’m glad that you’re in my life.

    ~ Lila

    On the computer screen, the question “Why?” glares at me like the correct accusation it is. This dialogue between Lila and me, it breaks every unsaid rule about our relationship. We never plug in like this. Never. Not that part of me hasn’t wanted a faster connection to her. A link beyond the letters, but there was something about the written word that made our relationship safe.

    And now we’re crossing lines. The one relationship I need, the one relationship I depend on...I’ve jacked it up. Fitting since I have a natural inclination toward destroying anything good. It’s genetic, my sister tells me. Anyone sharing our bloodline is inherently doomed.

    “You should have talked to me before buying it,” my father shouts at my mother in the kitchen. “I made a budget.”

    My home is a volcano, a constant gurgle of hot lava on the verge of explosion. I try to ignore my parents, but it’s difficult. We have one computer in the house, and it sits wide open in the family room. From the corner of my eye, I have a clear shot of how Dad’s hands shake with anger and how Mom’s frustration paints her cheeks a frightening scarlet.

    “Why should I have to ask your permission for anything?” A chair slams into the wooden kitchen table and Mom’s high heels stomp against the tile floor. “It’s my money too. And as for the budget—you never asked me what I wanted.”

    I asked you why. Lila’s words appear on our direct message conversation.

    I rub at the lines on my forehead, and a tense uneasiness paralyzes my fingers over the keyboard. I don’t know why I did it. That’s a lie, I do know, but I don’t know how to tell her. I don’t know how to salvage this.

    I’m sorry, I reply.

    I didn’t ask for an apology, she rapid-fires back, I asked WHY!

    Because I love you. It’s as if someone places two hands around my heart and chokes it. I love her. I’ve fallen for a girl I met only once, a girl I’ve exchanged letters with for two years. There’s no way she can feel the same about me. Those words would push her over the edge.

    I want to keep her, but what do I say? What can I do?

    Like the warning tremors before an eruption, my parents’ argument becomes more heated. Mom turns on the blender to drown out Dad. In response, Dad yells louder and bangs his hand against the table, making the china clink against the water glasses. The baby who was sleeping moments before, my nephew, begins to cry. It’s not a cry, it’s a shriek—one that causes my skin to peel back from my bones.

    The noises press against my skull, scattering my already screwed-up thought process into more of a mess. I can explain, I type. Though I’m not sure I can.

    Then EXPLAIN! She’s a fast typer. Too fast. My heart thumps in my ears. I mentally will the chaos around me to stop and pray that Lila will...what? What is it that I expect her to do?

    “Where the hell is Meg?” my father roars. “That baby is her responsibility! I never agreed to be her babysitter.” He never agreed to be a grandfather at forty-five either.

    My eyes dart to my father, dressed in his polo shirt and slacks in preparation for my graduation, to the baby dressed in a blue onesie pulling himself up in the playpen placed in the middle of the spacious living room. His entire face flushes red. Drool pours from his small gaping mouth. He wails again, the sound like a tornado siren.

    “Meg’s out,” Mom screams over the blender still grinding away. Meg just turned seventeen and is gone—at eight in the morning, meaning she never came home last night. She left Junior with us. With me. I also never agreed to be a babysitter.

    As if on cue, the front door clicks open. Impressive—my sister has returned before noon. Maybe today, she’ll hold her son.

    I don’t acknowledge Meg. I don’t even glance at her. Instead, I focus on the cursor blinking on the screen. I have seconds before I completely lose Lila. I made a mistake, I type. I—

    The screen flashes to black. “What the hell!”

    “I need this,” Meg says as she straightens from resetting the computer. She tucks her freshly dyed chin-length blue hair behind her ear. “Get out of here.”

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