“Stacie?” Jason called out as he knocked on her door. When she didn’t reply, he opened the door to find her sobbing and packing her stuff into a small suitcase.
“Stacie, what are you doing?” She didn’t respond but turned towards her wardrobe.
“Hey,” Jason said as he held her arm.
“What do you think you are doing? Where are you going?”
“Anywhere but here, Jason. I need to be far from here.”
“But where would you go? This is your home.”
“Not anymore, Jason. I don’t belong here.”
“Of course you do. Come on, I know what mum said is a big blow and that you feel damaged but guess what, I feel damaged too but we shouldn’t be apart from each other. We should stick together now more than ever.”
“I know brother but right now, I don’t want to see my mum’s face right now which means I can’t stand being under the same roof as she,” Stacie explained.
“Please Stacie, you’re hurt and confused and being outside from home isn’t the safest decision to make right now.”
“I’ll be fine…”
“You’re in no position to drive right now.”
“I know; I’ll take a cab.”
“And where would you lodge?”
“I’ll stay at Betty’s.”
“No, she’s at home right now and she knows I’m coming. Please don’t stop me, Jason. I promise I’ll be back. I just need some time alone and away from everyone.”
Jason sighed. “Sure, if you insist. At least, can I drive you to Betty’s place?”
Stacie looked into her brother’s eyes and saw resolve in his eyes.
“Good.” He sat on the bed. Stacie added a few things and zipped up the suitcase.
“I’m ready,” Stacie said, her voice very faint now.
“Are you sure about this?” Jason asked.
“No…but I need to do this.” Jason stared at her for some time. He got up and took the suitcase.
“All right; let’s do this.”
“Thanks.” They left her room. Susan entered the house to see Jason and Stacie descending the stairs.
“Stacie…” Susan stopped when she saw the suitcase in Jason’s hand.
“What’s going on? Where are you going, Stacie?”
“Anywhere else where I don’t get to breathe the same air as you, mum.”
“Listen, I understand that you’re angry but please sit and calm down, okay? You don’t need to leave.”
“I’m sorry mum but I need to do this.”
“But where would you go? This is where you belong.”
“I’m going over to Betty’s place.”
“What? Jason, why don’t you talk her out of it?”
“She says she needs some time alone and I think she does too.”
“Mum, I’ll be the one to bring her back so don’t worry. Let’s go.”
“Stacie please…” They left the house.
“What was I thinking?!” Susan scolded herself.
Stacie tried to stop the tears from flowing onto her face when Jason was driving. He glanced at her and she looked away at the window.
“Hey, you don’t have to hide your tears from me, sis. It’s okay to cry….”
“I don’t want you to see me cry.”
“And why not? Come on, I’m your brother; you don’t have to be shy of me.”
“I wouldn’t but now it so happens that we are not even blood-related.”
“Hey don’t think like that. You are my sister no matter what mum or anyone else says, okay? I’ve grown to know you as my sister and it would take more, much more for anyone to convince me that you aren’t,” Jason assured his sister.
“Much more, huh; like what, a paternity test?” Stacie asked, looking at him.
“Oh no, that wasn’t what I meant, Stacie; don’t twist my words.”
“Yeah, whatever.” The car pulled over in front of Betty’s home. She opened the door and stepped out. Jason hurriedly got out too. Stacie took the suitcase from the backseat and closed the door. Jason walked to her.
“Hey, I understand you’re feeling all emotional right now but pushing me away wouldn’t any of us. You are my sister and I love you, okay? And I agreed to bring you here because I believe you need some space and alone-time to deal with everything. You don’t have to act mean with me, all right?” Stacie nodded, the tears running freely now. Jason hugged her. Stacie began crying now. The gate opened and Betty stepped out.
“Hey there, are you okay?” Betty asked.
“Yes I am,” Stacie said as she got out of her brother’s embrace.
“Okay; please take care of her and don’t leave her alone, okay?” Jason asked Betty.
“Thanks. I’ll be on my way. Take care,” He said. He leaned forward and gave her a peck.
“You too and thanks for bringing me.”
“Don’t mention; see you soon,” He said and got into the car. He drove away.
“Let’s go inside, dear.” She took hold of Stacie’s suitcase and they entered the house together.
Betty handed Stacie another piece of tissue. Stacie took it and blew her nose.
“So what’s going to happen now?” Betty asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Are you going to look for him, your real father?”
“I don’t know….should I?”
“I don’t think so….you have a family, Stacie. You should leave things as it is.”
“Yeah, I think so too. I can’t believe my mum could be that inconsiderate. My dad died because of this, Betty. Do you realize how serious that is?”
“I know and I’m sorry you’re feeling this way but you’d have to act that that conversation never took place if you really want things to go on the way they used to.”
“I don’t think I can ever do that. So, Jason isn’t my brother and I’m not an Archer. Gosh, who am I?”
“You are Stacie Archer, dear. Don’t ever doubt for a moment who you are.”
Stacie nodded. Her phone rang. She looked at it.
“Oh not now,” She moaned.
“If you don’t feel like talking to him now, give me the phone. I’ll talk to him.”
“Okay,” She said and handed her the phone. She answered it.
“Hi….is this Betty?”
“Uh huh…what’s up?”
“What are you doing with Stacie’s phone?”
“Duh, she’s my friend.”
“Is she at your place?”
“Yes she is; why?”
“Can I speak with her?”
“Not at the moment.”
“Is she okay?”
“Yes she is, George but you can’t right now so maybe, all right?”
“All right so let her know I called, okay?”
“Definitely; take care, bye.” She hung up.
“You shouldn’t have told him I was here. He would definitely pass by tomorrow.”
“Isn’t that a good thing? You need as much company as possible during a time like that.”
“But a company like George will be more depressing, trust me.” Betty chuckled.
“Wow…so how is Stacie doing?” Jessie asked Jason after he told her what had happened.
“She’s all emotional…. I took her to Betty’s to crash for some time.”
“Wow….who at all is Susan Archer? She has the power to crush the spirit of anyone around her.”
“I know, right? The fact that this particular news was what killed my father is too hard to take.”
“So what at all does Susan want from all this?”
“I don’t know anymore. She is too much…”
“So she’s all alone at home right now, how satisfying could that be that she’d prefer that than having her family around?” Jason shrugged.
“I so don’t want to go home because I’m sure she’s waiting for me to pick an argument about why I allowed Stacie to leave the house,” Jason said.
“So why not sleep over?”
“No; I’ve to go to church tomorrow and I’ve no clothes here.”
“I’ve got to go; can I check up on the baby?” Jason asked.
“Sure of course; he’s still asleep.” They got up and walked to his cradle. He was soundly asleep. Jason smiled as he touched the baby’s cheek with his finger. The baby squirmed.
“He’s so cute, isn’t he?” Jessie said admiringly.
“Yes he is; just like his mother,” Jason replied as he glanced at her. She smiled.
Two days later, Jason entered the house, humming and met his mother’s glare who looked very agitated.
“Good day, mum; why the long face?”
“Where’s Stacie’s car?”
“I took it to her; she said she needed to make a few rounds.” Susan got up.
“What? First, she took a suitcase, now her car; the next time I’d hear she’s completely moving out. Why did you take it to her?”
“Because she needs it, mum. Don’t worry; my sister isn’t going anywhere.”
“Sure of course; you still have her as a sister but I feel I’m losing her as my daughter,” Susan fumed.
“Well, whose fault is that?” Jason said as he started the stairs.
“Listen to me young man; you better bring her back before she decides to stay out permanently.”
“I will bring her back when she’s ready to come back, mum,” Jason said and entered his room. Susan sighed. She took her phone and dialed Stacie’s number for the nth time that day. It went straight to her voicemail. Susan threw the phone on the couch out of frustration.
“I’m so sorry about everything. I wish there was something I could do to make you feel better,” George said consolingly, as he hooked Stacie’s hair behind her ear as she wiped her tears with tissue. Stacie nodded.
“Come here,” He said to her. He pulled her into a warm embrace.
“When are you planning to go back home?” He asked softly.
“I don’t know,” she muttered. She held on to him tightly. George let go of her and touched her face, wiping a running tear away with his finger.
“You’re going to get through this, Stacie; okay?”
“Yeah…” She looked at him.
“George…” She leaned forward to kiss him. George drew back in shock, holding her by the shoulders.
“Stacie, what are you doing?”
“Kiss me, George.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“Just kiss me.”
“No, I won’t. You’re not emotionally stable to handle a kiss right now, Stacie.”
“Yes I am, please…” Stacie insisted as she leaned forward again.
“Stop it, Stacie!” George scolded her. Stacie started sobbing.
“I understand you’re feeling down but you shouldn’t attempt things you’d gravely regret after the moment passes, okay?” George said softly.
“You’re a terrible person, George!” Stacie cried out as she grabbed her car key on the bed post and rushed out.
“Hey Stacie, where are you going?” He got up and followed her. Betty who was in the kitchen, heard Stacie leaving the house, sobbing. She came out and saw George.
“What’s going on, George?”
“I don’t know…we were talking and then she took her car keys and ran off.”
“What? We have to make sure she doesn’t drive in such an unstable mood.” They rushed outside. Stacie was in her car.
“Stacie, where do you think you are going?” Betty asked, bewildered.
Stacie ignored her as she started the engine.
“Stacie, don’t move that car!” Betty warned. Stacie glanced at her for a moment and took off.
“What, Stacie! Stop the car!” Betty looked at George in despair.
“Tell me you have your car keys on you.”
“Good; let’s go after her.” They sat in George’s car and took off as well. Betty took her phone from her pocket and dialed speed-dialed Stacie’s number.
Stacie glanced at the phone when it started ringing. She answered it, put it on loud-speaker and dropped it on the seat.
“Stacie, can you hear me? Pull over, okay? Please pull over!”
Stacie started crying again.
“Stacie, please pull over! You’re in no condition to drive right now, please Stacie!”
The tears running down Stacie’s face began to blur Stacie’s sight. She wiped her face with the back of her hand.
“What is Stacie doing?” Betty asked, alarmed. Stacie gasped when she saw the big truck crossing her path. She stepped on the brakes abruptly.
“Stacie!” they both screamed. Stacie’s car crashed into the side of the truck. George stopped the car. Stacie’s head hit the steering wheel making the car horn repeatedly.
For few seconds, George and Betty sat in the car, dumbstruck.
“Susan Archer is going to kill me for this,” Betty muttered.
“Let’s go!” They got out of the car and ran to the car. Many people rushed to the scene.
“Stacie!” Betty screamed when she saw blood on Stacie’s face. She tried to open the door. George was on the phone.
“Yes, thank you. Please hurry up,” George said desperately and hung up.
“George, help me! I can’t get her out!” Betty cried out. He rushed to her and they brought her out.
“Stacie, can you hear me?” Betty asked, starting to cry. She turned her head when she heard the siren of an approaching ambulance.
“Hold on Stacie; the paramedics are here, okay?”
Stacie was put on a stretcher and put in the ambulance.
“Let me go with her and you come with your car, okay?” Betty suggested.
“Sure; take care. Are you going to call her mother?”
“I’d rather call Jason. See you at the hospital, George.” They gave each other a quick hug. Betty got into the ambulance. George ran to his car and started the engine. He took off after the ambulance.
“What is it? I told you I didn’t want to be disturbed,” Jason asked his secretary when she entered in the middle of a meeting.
“I’m sorry sir but you have a call. The caller says it is of utmost urgency.”
“I’ll be done in fifteen minutes to tell the one to call me back.”
“The caller says it is about Stacie.” His heart missed a beat at the sound of his sister’s name.
“Is she all right?”
“You could ask her yourself, sir. She’s still on the line.” Jason picked up the phone hastily.
“Hello….who is this?”
“Betty, what is it? Where is Stacie?”
“Stacie’s…here with me.”
“Okay and where are you?”
“In an ambulance.”
“In a what? What happened, Betty? I pleaded with you to keep an eye on her.”
“It all happened too fast. She was talking to George in our room and suddenly she rushed out into her car. George and I followed her and….and…”
“And what happened?!” Jason asked, hitting the table with his fist.
“She crashed into a truck, Jason.”
“My goodness…was she badly injured.”
“She was bleeding all over.”
“Okay…you’re heading to the general hospital, right?”
“Good; I’ll be right there.” He hung up.
“I’m sorry lady and gentlemen but I have a family emergency. Can we continue this meeting tomorrow?”
“Yes definitely, sir; you go and take care of your family.”
“Thank you. And you; cancel all my appointments, okay? I’ll give you a call.”
“Yes sir.” Jason took his car keys, phone, coat and his briefcase. He rushed out of his office. As he drove, he called his mother.
“Mum, please come over to the general hospital right now.”
Susan sat up. “What is it, Jason?”
“Just come, okay? I’ll tell you everything when you get there.”
“Is it Stacie? What happened to her?”
“I don’t know all the details. Just come there, okay? Bye,” Jason said and hung up.
“Jason, tell me what is going on? Hello Jason, Jason… oh goodness!” Susan hung up.
“Yes ma’am,” She replied, entering the room.
“Tell the driver to get the car ready. We’re going out.”
“Yes ma’am,” Rose answered and stepped out. Susan hurried up the stairs.
“Betty!” Jason called out when he saw her. He ran to her.
“Jason… I’m glad you are here,” she said in a trembling voice.
“No one has said anything to me yet. Have you called your mum?”
“Yes; she’s on her way?” She nodded.
“What happened, Betty?” Betty glanced at George who was cracking his knuckles nervously.
“George?” Jason called out. He looked at him and got up. He walked to him.
“We were talking and then…”
“Talking about what?”
“About you know what and then she asked me to kiss her…”
“What?” Betty asked, shocked.
“Yes and I refused. That was when she got offended and rushed out.”
“And you didn’t stop her? You watched her go out when you knew very well that she was emotionally unstable?” Jason scolded.
“I didn’t know she was heading to her car. It all happened too fast.”
“Yeah right; tell that to my mother when she gets here.”
Betty and George exchanged a nervous glance. Jason’s phone rang. He answered it.
“Mum? Are you here? Okay….come to the intensive care unit wing. Okay.” He hung up.
“I don’t think I can face your mother, Jason,” Betty said anxiously.
“Well, you can’t escape her but don’t worry, I’ll be here to save you just in case she decides to strangle you,” Jason said with a wink.
“That’s not funny, Jason.” He chuckled, looking around.
“Jason!” Susan called out. Jason turned to see his mother approaching.
“How’s Stacie doing?”
“No news yet.”
“And what happened to her?”
“She was involved in an accident.”
“Again? And who caused it?” She glanced at Betty and George who were clearly trembling.
“No one did. She crashed her car into a truck.”
“Obviously she was upset about something. Who upset her?”
“Calm down, mum…”
“Betty, what happened to my daughter?”
“I wasn’t with her….George was speaking with her and she ran off…”
“So it was you, huh? I knew you were trouble! I certainly knew it!”
“Ma’am, I didn’t do anything…” George started to explain.
“Mum, I think the doctor is coming to us,” Jason said. Susan turned. The doctor stopped when his eyes met Susan’s.
“We meet again, Mrs. Archer.”
“How’s my daughter doing?”
“I’m afraid it’s not pleasant news.” They all looked at each other.