Hi! It’s me! Lily! A thoughtful Lily.
So after I wrote last night’s post I went downstairs to get something to eat. They’d all had dinner (they usually eat without me on weekends but I don’t mind, I’m doot dooting) and I hadn’t had any dinner. While I was downstairs microwaving some leftover Dave Grilled Meat, I heard Sabby’s door open and close, then Beth’s door open and close. There wasn’t another sound.
As the microwave beeped, I heard Sabby’s door open again, and then I heard her coming down the stairs. I went to the fridge to snarf some leftover potato salad, and she came into the kitchen. I offered her some potato salad, but she just shook her head and sat down at the table. I collected my food, as well as a soda, and sat down across from her. I was hungry.
She just seemed content to let me eat for a little bit, then she spoke.
“Would you have done it, Lily?”
“Huh?”, I said eruditely.
“Would you have done it. Would you have taken that dare?”
“No!,” I protested, and took another bite of chicken.
Her eyes bored into me. “Say, if Liz hadn’t taken your side, if Beth and Liz would have both pressured you to do it, would you have?”
I swallowed my chicken. “No, I… I don’t think I would have.”
She shook her head. “I think you would have.”
My heart leapt into my throat and I had to stop myself from choking on a piece of chicken. I set the chicken down. “You… what?”
“I think you would have.”
I was silent. My face was red.
“Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you’re that kind of girl. I completely believe you when you say that you didn’t want to, and I think you would have protested and told them to pound sand. For a while. But eventually you would have been worried that you’d lose Liz as a friend and Beth as a sister, and you would have done it.”
I lowered my head. Dammit.
“Lily, you’re a good girl. I worry about Beth and David. A lot. I don’t worry about you as much. You have a good head on your shoulders, you’re smart, you have a good heart.” She paused. “And you would do absolutely anything if it meant that you’d be accepted by people you loved.” She paused. “Or needed.”
I was quiet.
Her eyes bored into me deeper. “I know this because I was the same way, Lily. I know you. I know how desperate you are to be loved, to make up for what you’ve lost, to have as normal a life as you can. You would do anything to have that. Wouldn’t you?”
A tear leaked out of my right eye and ran down my cheek. Sabby reached over and wiped it off with her thumb.
She spoke more gently now. “And it would have never occurred to you… the things I told you earlier. Would it?”
I sniffed and put my head in my hands. I couldn’t help it. A sob escaped. I heard the scrape of her chair against the floor, and then I felt her arms around me, from behind. Her chin was on my shoulder. I sighed and relaxed a little.
“I grounded Beth,” she said. “She’s grounded until we go off to do our thing together. I didn’t ground her because her dare wasn’t appropriate, though it wasn’t. I grounded her because, intentionally or not, she took advantage of your loneliness, and I can’t have that. She needs to understand that being a sister means to build you up, not to tear you down.” She let me go and sat back down in her chair. “And you need to understand that there will never be any conditions in this house for our love, and I will be most displeased if anyone tries to pull that stunt that Beth did. In the future, just say ‘no’. And if that is not respected, then you will tell me, and I will go all Claire Huxtable on them. Do you understand?”
I nodded. I didn’t trust myself to speak.
There was an urgency in her voice now. “Never, ever, be afraid to say no. Do you understand, Lily? Never. Never.”
She stood up from the chair and went up the stairs.
I looked at my food. I wasn’t really hungry anymore. But I forced it down anyway.
Because I fear Sabby was right. And that is the worst feeling in the world.
I’ve had much to think about today.