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Jan came in and stopped, looking at us. She reached behind her and closed the door gently. I could tell that she was making a quick adjustment. She had been geared up to demand that Ron justify her inexcusable behavior. But she saw Ron in my lap, crying, holding onto me, and she said quietly, "She'll be okay. We thought her nose was broken, but it isn't. Ron, she says she's your sister."
Ron slid off my lap and sat next to me on the bed. "Fuck," she said quietly. She looked up at Jan. "You're gonna yell at me, aren't you?"
Jan looked a bit lost, so I said, "We're not going to yell at you, Ron. We do need to understand why you did that, and we do not think it's acceptable, no matter what, to attack somebody like that. But we're your parents. This isn't the first time we've had to talk to you about something you did, something we think was wrong, and it won't be the last, I'm sure. What you just did was inexcusable, but it was also completely out of character for you, so we need to understand, even if we don't condone it."
Jan had sat down on the other side of Ron, and she put her arm around our daughter and squeezed.
"Ron," I said, seeing her expression, "leaving is not an option. We're your parents, and if you run away we will find you and bring you home. And right now we have to have this conversation. You know we do."
She sighed a deep, wrenching sigh. "Do we have to talk about it tonight?"
I made a quick decision. "No, but it does have to be in the morning. First thing. Agreed?"
She nodded. Then her shoulders sagged. "Shit, that fucking bitch is in my room. Where am I gonna sleep?"
"Here," I said. "With us. We have a sleeping bag."
I expected a protest, but she said, "Okay. Can I go to bed now?"
"Sure," I said. I stood and got the sleeping bag from the closet. There wasn't a lot of floor space in the room, especially since we'd installed a second desk for Ron, but I laid the sleeping bag at the foot of the bed, reminding myself that I had to walk carefully if I got up in the middle of the night and had to use the bathroom.
Ron kicked off her sneakers and slid into the sleeping bag. "Don't you want to take off your jeans?" I asked as she vanished.
"Fine like this," came a muffled voice from deep within the layers of fabric.