the sister mystery (part thirty-six)

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"Dad," Ron said as we waited, "do I have to start dressing different?" To my surprise, it sounded like she would do it if we wanted her to.

"Of course not," I said. "Mrs. Anson is right about some things, which I'll get to in a minute, but she's not right about you, or about us. You can dress how you want, just as you have. You can sleep in our room, or in your room, or we can find you another room if you'd prefer. But here's the thing she is right about. When you need something, especially something as basic as clothes, you can come to us. You should come to us. We're responsible for you, for taking care of you and making sure you have the things you need." She looked like this was a new concept to her. "Didn't your birth parents buy you clothes?"

"Sometimes. Mostly I got Tracy's old stuff. It was awful, all flowers and lace and shit. And then I had to fix them if they ripped or something." She had been squirming off and on as we drove from Stu's office to the hotel, and now she started again, working her shoulders up and down. "Do I really have to wear this fucking thing?" she demanded.

"I think you'll recall, 'young lady,' that I said, just a moment or two ago, that you can wear whatever you want."

Frustrated, mostly at herself for being such an easy target, she made a fist and punched me in the arm. Then her expression went blank as she wondered if she'd gone too far. I made a fist and punched her, lightly, in the arm.

She smiled. "I hope that fucking Fifteen didn't screw up the mail delivery," she said happily. "I may have to beat him up."

"Of course," I said earnestly, "it was very nice of him to volunteer to fill in for you."

She shook her head, unwilling to dignify this with a response.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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