April 30, 2009


Later that night, I can't sleep. I lay staring at the ceiling in the dark, tracing patterns in the prickly popcorn texture with my eyes. A lopsided heart ... A sleeping kitten .... A blossoming flower ... When I was little, this used to help put me to sleep, but tonight it just keeps my mind wheeling.

Is Mom really serious about wanting to move? Is she really that willing to leave everything behind and start over?

Well, I guess “everything” isn’t much for Mom. Just this house, the dogs and, well, me. Only the house would be staying behind. But what’s in Connecticut for her – for us?

Family, of course. It would be great to be able to see Andrew more often. And more than once during the two weeks we were visiting Gretchen I thought, “So this is what it’s like to have an older sister.” Not that having Mom isn’t enough, but it was nice to have someone else besides Mom to talk to and get straight answers from.

But other than Gretchen and Andrew, what else? I hope not John Bainbridge. That would just be too much for me to deal with.

Perhaps … hope? A chance at a new beginning? I know Mom needs that. Ever since Billy’s death and the divorce, Mom hasn’t had much to hope for. It must be really lonely for her.

But what about me? I love Fort Myers; I love Florida. I love my friends, and my school, and riding my bike to the beach. Could I really give it all up? Could I ever be that ... brave? Unselfish?

And then, as if sleepwalking, I’m getting up in the dark and feeling my way along my bedroom walls to the door. I'm stepping softly across the hall to Mom’s room. The door creaks as I slip inside.

“Mom?” My voice is swallowed by the still silence.

I hear a faint rustle as Mom moves slightly under the thin sheets. “Hmmm?”

I take a deep breath. In the darkness, something within me sparks. “Let’s do it.”

April 28, 2009

Couching the Idea

“Hel-lo honey? Are you with me?”

Mom waves her hand in front of my blank stare, snapping me out of my silent perseveration. I smile. “Sorry. I’m here.”

“It’s OK.” Mom picks up the remote and clicks off the TV. “I was just saying that I really miss Gretchen and Andrew. It was so much fun seeing them.” She curls her feet up underneath her on the couch. “We need to do that again soon.”

I snuggle down against the arm of couch, facing Mom, my arms wrapped around my knees. “I know. It’s too bad we don’t live closer to them.”

Instantly, like she was shot through with a bolt of electricity, Mom sits upright. “Really?”

I frown. “Huh?”

“You wish we lived closer to them?” Mom’s voice is rushed with excitement.

I peer at her sideways, cautiously. “Or that they lived closer to us....” The look in her eyes makes me nervous. “Moooom....” I warn. “What are you...?”

Mom readjusts herself on the couch, crossing her legs. “Well, I was just thinking,” she starts, casting her eyes to the ceiling as if this new thought is just entering her mind. “I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to make a change? To start somewhere new, with our family around us?”

My jaw drops. “Mom. You cannot be serious.”

Mom keeps up her lighthearted tone. “I mean, it is the perfect time to do it, if we ever were to do it. We still have a month before school starts, and my job – jobs – aren’t anything to stick around for, and---”

“Mom. Stop!” I grab her hand. “Are you really saying you want to move?

“Oh, I don’t know.” Mom pulls her hand from mine and waves it dismissively. “I’m just saying, wouldn’t it be nice?”

“No! No, it would not be nice!” I push myself up to sitting, slamming my hands into the couch cushions. “Move?! To Connecticut?! Have you completely lost your mind?

Mom looks at me defiantly. “Well, why not? What’s holding us back?”

“Um, everything!” I cry. “Friends, school, work. Everything.

“We could make new friends. I could get a new job. There’s actually an opening for a librarian in a town not too far from Gretchen. Some place called South Haven. It seems really cute, with little shops along the main street and a big town green with a gazebo and--”

“Stop stop stop! I don’t even want to know how you know that.” I stare at her until she meets my gaze. “Mom. For real. You’re talking crazy!

Mom looks as if she's about to say more, then lets out a giant sigh. “OK. I know. It’s crazy. I’m not really serious.” She looks down at her hands in her lap. “I just started thinking about it, and then I looked up a few things online, and it got me a little excited.” Mom smiles wistfully. “It was just a kooky idea.”

I stare at my mom’s face, where the glimmer of excitement that lingers is mixed with obvious disappointment. I feel like I should say something – give her hope by telling her the idea isn’t totally crazy – but instead, I just shrug. “Totally kooky.”

Mom presses her lips together and picks up the remote. “Yep. You’re right.” She places it in my lap. “Here you go.” I watch her walk out of the room.

April 21, 2009

Solitary Confinement

A week after the Katie/Brandon/Guitar Hero drama, Mom and I sit side-by-side in the den watching the news. Or rather, she sits watching the news while I just stare blankly at the screen.

"So corrupt. They should be sent straight to jail, no questions asked." Mom shakes her head in disgust as two men are paraded across the screen in handcuffs. I try to focus on the story but my mind keeps wandering, so I settle for mumbling an incoherent "mmm hmm" instead.

Luckily Mom doesn't notice, because she's been bugging me about my "depressing attitude" ever since we got home from Connecticut. She keeps asking why I'm spending all of my time in my room or reading alone in the backyard. "Is something wrong?" "Did you get in a fight with Katie?" "Why don't you go out with your friends?" I think she finally gave up when I said that if she really wants me to get out the house, I'm sure Dad would love for me to visit.

Mean, I know. But I couldn't help it. I just need my space.

For the past few days I haven't been able to concentrate on anything other than the fact that I've basically lost my two best friends - and to each other, on top of it. Yes, they asked me to stay and hang out that first day, but I felt nauseous every time I saw Brandon turn three shades of red just because Katie looked in his direction. And yes, Katie has called me every day, like usual, but I can't bare to hear her refer to the two of them as "the classic Hollywood It-Girl and Cute-Nerd Combination" one more time, so I've been sending her straight to voicemail.

OK, so maybe lost my two best friends is over-dramatic. Maybe it's more like "banished my two best friends for my own sanity."

April 19, 2009

Sunday Recap #2

Hi friends! New to the story, or just need a reminder? Here's the latest happenings with The SPIT Sisters:

A lot has changed in Lucy Malone's life since Sunday Recap #1. Lucy and her mother Bonnie fight about whether to go to Connecticut to visit Lucy's sister-in-law Gretchen and Gretchen's 4-year-old son Andrew. With the summer drawing to an end, Lucy doesn't want to miss a moment of time in Fort Myers, Florida with her best friends Katie and Brandon.

But Bonnie wins the argument (as mother's usually do), and they leave to spend two weeks in Connecticut - just as Katie and Brandon discover that they may have more in common than being Lucy's friends.

When Lucy and Bonnie first arrive to Connecticut, it's a little rocky. Gretchen runs a successful event-planning business and is preparing for a large fundraiser for one of her clients. She is extremely stressed - and a little self-absorbed. Bonnie also has some trouble adjusting to being back in Connecticut and seeing first hand that life has gone on after the death of her son (and Lucy's brother) Billy.

But things turn around quickly, and Lucy ends up having a lot of fun spending time with her mother and her nephew. There are only two problems...

The first is that Lucy feels completely cut off from what is happening at home. She hasn't spoken to Brandon or Katie since she's been away - neither of them return her calls - and she begins to wonder if they're mad at her or just too busy spending time with each other.

The second is John Bainbridge. He's the reporter that Bonnie became "pen pals" with after Billy's death. Bonnie ends up meeting John for coffee (and Bonnie never drinks coffee!) to thank him for his support during that hard time in her life. Bonnie swears they are just friends, but Lucy is beginning to wonder if there's something more going on.

When the two weeks are up, Lucy is happy to go home but also nervous about what she missed. As soon as she gets back to her house, she tries to call Brandon and Katie. When neither of them answer - again - she heads over to Brandon's house (right next door). And that's when her suspicions are confirmed - Brandon and Katie are "together."

Lucy knows she should be happy that her two best friends really like each other, but she can't get this nagging feeling out of her head - or her heart - that something isn't right. Does Katie really like Brandon? Or will she just break his heart? Either way, more than Brandon's heart is at stake...

Check back often to keep up with The SPIT Sisters! The drama is just beginning.

April 16, 2009


Katie tackles me in a huge hug, and the plastic Guitar Hero guitar that’s still strung across her chest digs sharply into my side.

“Er, hi,” I gasp as she gives me a tighter squeeze before letting go.

“Omigod, I missed you!” Katie’s eyes are warm and sincere, and I instantly feel horrible for almost speaking badly about her to Brandon. Katie is such a good friend – I’m the weak link in our friendship.

“I missed you too! Didn’t you get any of my messages?”

“Ugh, who knows.” Katie rolls her eyes, pulling her long wavy hair over one shoulder. “I get soooo many messages, it’s like, almost ridiculous.” Her sweet laugh stings. “I want to tell people, I’m only one girl!” Katie does this a lot – reminding people of her popularity by calling it a burden. She shoots Brandon a dazzling smile. “Right?”

Brandon instantly turns bright red and looks toward the street. I can’t help but frown. “Yeah, well, um,” he mumbles, scratching the back of his head absently while keeping his eyes off of us, “I’ll let you two talk.” He rushes inside, closing the door behind him.

Eeeeee.” Katie squeals softly the moment he’s gone, grabbing my hands and jumping up and down. “Isn’t he so cute?” She looks at the closed door and smirks, adding proudly, “He’s so embarrassed around me. He’s always blushing. It’s really cute.”

“Yeah. Cute.” If Katie notices my sarcasm, she ignores it.

“Sooooo, whaddaya think?” She looks at me with intense anticipation.

“About what?” I ask, my expression blank. I know I’m being spiteful but I don’t want to give her the satisfaction of knowing that Katie+Brandon is not just on my mind, but the only thing on my mind. I still just can’t believe–

“About me and Brandon. Duh.”

“Oh, right.” I shrug. “I think it’s great.”

Katie narrows her eyes. “You do?”

“Of course. My two best friends. It’s the best.”

I’m a horrible actress, and I’m not even trying to act enthusiastic, so I know Katie must notice my bland tone this time. But she smiles triumphantly. “Good. Because I like him.”

I stare back at her, and then smile. “Good.”

“Yep.” Katie pulls a lipgloss out of her pocket and smears it across her lips without breaking my gaze. And for a split second, I feel like we’re in some kind of showdown – me versus Katie, the underdog obvious. I wonder if she feels it too – for some reason I get the sense she can see right through me, like she can read my thoughts and knows exactly how I’m feeling.

But then Katie smiles warmly and the feeling is gone. She grabs my hand. “I’m so glad you’re back. For real.”

“Me too.” My smile is genuine this time. But I can’t say the same about my answer...

April 14, 2009


“Was that ... Katie?!” For some reason I’m whispering.

Brandon raises his eyebrows at me and smiles. “I know, right? I can’t believe it either.” He glances down the hall and then steps out onto the front stoop next to me, quietly closing the door behind him. “We’ve been hanging out like, every day. Weird, right?”

“Really weird!” I blurt out before thinking. Brandon looks at my quizzically. “But, but ... awesome!” I add quickly.

He shakes his head and his goofy smile returns. “I know. Luce, she's like, the perfect girl. She loves PlayStation and hanging out with my brothers. And she's totally into X-Men.”

“Katie?!” I squeal incredulously. I suddenly wonder if my plane landed in an alternate universe instead of Fort Myers. Katie? Playing video games? What is going on?

“Yeah. Katie.” He shoots me a look like the answer is obvious. “Luce, why didn’t you tell me she was so laid back and, I dunno, cool?”

Because laid back and cool are two words I would never, ever associate with Katie Heeley, I think, trying to keep from scowling. But instead I mumble, “I’m sure I’ve said that.”

Brandon gives me a sideways look, and I force my face into an exaggerated smile. “So,” I ask cheerfully, “are you guys, like ... together?”

Brandon shrugs. “I guess. I dunno. But I really like her, Luce. I mean, a lot.” He lowers his eyes and starts kicking loose chucks of cement off the edge of the step. “I keep thinking I must be dreaming or something, that a girl like her actually likes me. I mean, me. No one ever likes me.”

He looks up and grins. He looks so hopeful, and well, dopey. But in a cute way.

It makes me suddenly furious. I have the overwhelming urge to shake him. To yell, That’s not true, you idiot! Lots of girls like you! She should be thankful that you like her! You’re the cool one. She hates video games. I’m sure she’s annoyed by your brothers. And she probably thinks Jean Grey is a nail polish color. She is totally wrong for you!

But then his brown eyes catch mine, and my chest tightens. I know that if I’m ever going to say something, to tell him what I’m thinking, it has to be now. This moment. I take a deep breath. “Brandon, I…”

“OmiGOD! Lucy!! You’re HOME!”

My head snaps up to see Katie’s face pressed against the window screen for a split second, and then the front door swings open.

April 10, 2009

Reading Break

Thanks to Karen at FolkHeart Press for giving The SPIT Sisters a guest blog opportunity! We hope you all check it out and enjoy it:

April 9, 2009

While You Were Out...

Brandon’s face softens with surprise when he sees me. “Luce! You’re home!” He smiles widely.

An instant wave of relief washes over me when I realize that no, he's not mad at me or avoiding me, and I’m suddenly giddy. “Yeah! Hi!” I cry, and before I realize what I’m doing, I throw my arms around him in a huge, tight hug.

Brandon chuckles. “Whoa! What’s up?” He pushes back slightly, and I take an awkward step back. “Why were you knocking all frantic and everything?”

My face flushes. “Oh, you know… I dunno… I just…”

Suddenly, loud rock music starts to blast out from somewhere in Brandon’s house. “Brandon! Hurry up!” someone calls out – I can’t tell if it’s Taylor or Tommy.

“Hold on!” Brandon turns back to me and rolls his eyes. “Sorry – we’re playing Rock Band. So what’s up? Tell me.”

I sigh, giving in. “I tried to call you last week, and today, and you never picked up.”

“Oh man, yeah, sorry about that.” Brandon pulls his curly brown hair behind both ears. “Stupid Tommy ran over my cell with his bike. It’s like, totally ruined.” He gives me a lopsided grin. “Why, d'ya miss me?” he asks slyly.

My heart stops. Literally.

And then Brandon reaches forward and playfully punches me in the shoulder. “Nah I’m just kidding Luce. Seriously – were you mad?”

“Ha, ha,” I force out, swallowing hard. “Um, no I’m not mad. I mean, I wasn’t mad and I’m not mad. I was just bored. I wanted to know what was going on.”

Brandon shrugged. “Oh, well in that case, be prepared to be disappointed. It’s been super boring. Rained like five times.”

“Really? Nothing new has happened? At all?” My voice sounds a pitch too high. But I’m suddenly back to feeling giddy. Surely Brandon would be all too excited to tell me if--

“Braaandon!” a new voice calls out from inside in a sweet whine. “I can’t get this song right! Help meee!”

And then I deflate. Unfortunately, this voice I can recognize.

April 7, 2009

Who's There?

I hop swiftly up the front steps of the Bennett house and rap quickly on the front storm door, the glass rattling precariously in its flimsy steel frame. And then I wait.

Brandon’s house looks a like lot mine but a little more, well, unkempt. The gray paint on the wood siding peels and curls in places like ribbons on a birthday gift, and the window screens are marred with gashes and holes. A semi-deflated soccer ball stands sentinel next to the tarnished mailbox, which tilts slightly to the left, a large dent in its side.

I imagine it’s hard for Mr. and Mrs. Bennett to think much about how the house looks from the outside, though, when they have five boys living on the inside all under the age of 20. Brandon, his two older brothers – 18-year-old Jim and 16-year-old Jesse – and his two younger brothers – 8-year-old twins Taylor and Tommy – keep his parents pretty busy. Mom always says she doesn’t know how they do it.

I absentmindedly flick at a piece of chipping paint on the door, waiting, but there’s no response. Maybe no one’s home – although that’s pretty unlikely at the Bennett house. I knock rapidly again, and then press my ear up against the glass.

Very faintly, I think I can hear the muffled vibration of music coming from inside. Someone is home.

Frustrated, I start banging on the door continuously for about thirty seconds – until it suddenly flies open.

“Oh!” I cry, startled, my pounding fist stopping just in time to avoid accidentally punching an annoyed-looking Brandon square in the chest.

April 2, 2009

Call Waiting

The loose knot that I felt in my stomach the entire time I was in Connecticut seems to tighten with a tug as Mom pulls the car onto our street in Fort Myers. I’m anxious and tense, and I can’t wait to get into my own room and back to my normal life.

"Almost home sweet home!" Mom sings. I roll my eyes and bounce my leg up and down nervously. It feels like Mom is driving ridiculously slow.

We finally pass Brandon's house on the way to ours. My eyes scan every inch of his peeling gray bungalow before we go by, hoping it will give me a sign of what I've missed since I've been away. But the house is as silent as Brandon has been for the past two weeks.

Finally, we pull into our driveway and I step out into the hot Florida sun. I take a deep breath of the familiar air, tilting my face toward the cloudless sky. Home. At last.

After I help Mom unload the car, I rush to my room and slam the door. Then I frantically call Katie's cell phone. It takes five rings for her voicemail to pick up.

“Hi Katie! I'm back!” I practically squeal into the phone, my voice straining with fake lightness. “Um, call me!” I hang up, cringing at how stupid I sounded. I stare at my phone in my hand, willing it to ring right back.

Two minutes pass. I lie down on my bed and stare at the ceiling. I listen to my mom opening and closing drawers in her room. And then I pick up my phone and call Brandon’s cell. Eight rings and a mechanical voice states that he is unavailable – Brandon was never one to bother setting up his voicemail.

“Hey, it's me. Just wanted to see what was up." Luckily I’m able to better control myself for this message, although now I'm feeling close to hysterical.

Another few minutes go by and still nothing. So I pick up the phone again and call Katie's house. Mrs. Heeley picks up after two rings.

“Hi Mrs. Heeley, is Katie there please?" I ask tensely.

“Oh hi sweetie. No, she's out with her friend." Mrs. Heeley says absentmindedly. "Want me to tell her you called?"

"Um, yeah, sure. Thanks!"

I throw my phone down on my bed and lie back down. Why am I stressing out? I ask myself. Nothing even happened! What am I worried about? Am I worried they're avoiding me? Because that would be ridiculous – they're my best friends. Why would they be avoiding me? I didn't do anything wrong.

I'm just not going to think about it, I tell myself resolutely and force myself to stand up. I'm just going to unpack my suitcase and then go read and not think anything of it, because it's stupid.

I unzip my suitcase and start pulling out handfuls of crumpled clothes, throwing them on my bed. It takes about thirty seconds before I start thinking again… Or maybe they're not avoiding me, but they just aren't thinking about me. Maybe they're off having fun and forgot today was the day I was coming home.

Suddenly I freeze, a pair of shorts in my hand, as a brand new thought enters my cluttered mind. Maybe they’re off somewhere together, and they don’t want me to interrupt.

A seagull screeches outside my window and snaps me back to reality. I dig through the layers of clothes on my bed to find my cell phone, just to make sure it’s not on silent mode or anything. But no, it’s on. No missed calls.

“That’s it, I can’t take this anymore,” I grumble. Slipping my phone into my pocket, I rush out of my room and out the front door, and then start running to Brandon’s house.