Excerpt 16

To read Excerpt 15, click here. To read from the beginning, click here.

The Hansens have been visiting Mom’s Cousin Lynne in upstate New York. Due to an approaching ice storm, Dad has decided they must return home instead of continuing the trip to Francie and her family.

Debbie reacts badly.

The nasty odor of burning eggs reaches my nose. As soon as I’d heard the words “No Syracuse,” I’d forgotten all about them. I run to the stove and start scraping the pan. The egg whites are dry enough now.
Mom and Cousin Lynne join me. Mom grabs for the spatula. “Oh, Debbie, this is a mess. All because you wanted them cooked more.”
I refuse to relinquish the spatula, pull it forcibly from her grasp, and return to my vicious scraping. “Don’t worry. I’ll eat what I burned.”
Lynne places a hand on my shoulder. “You don’t have to do that.”
Whether she means I don’t have to eat the eggs or I don’t have to keep cleaning up my mess, I don’t care. I shrug off her hand. “Yes, I do.”
I will clean the stupid pan until it sparkles, and I will eat burnt eggs until I puke. The day can’t get any worse.
Lynne silently returns to her seat.
Mom hisses into my ear. “You apologize to Lynne this instant.”
“No.”
The sound of metal against metal intensifies as I scrub harder with the spatula. With grim satisfaction, I roll back an inch-wide ribbon of black across the bottom of the skillet.
Mom seizes my wrist before the spatula can descend into the pan again.
I wrench away. “Leave me alone. I made the mess. I’ll clean it.”
Daddy’s hand slams on the table, and I turn with a startled hop.
“Deborah Lynne. That’s enough.”
Six pairs of eyes shift between me and Daddy. The sharp crack of his palm against the wood has roused Henry from his paper. Krista’s face crumples at Daddy’s angry expression, and she sets up a wail. I want to cry and howl, too. I run out of the kitchen, back up the stairs to my frozen room, and dive under the covers. I bet Lynne doesn’t think all of her cousin’s children are so well-behaved now.

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