The first few weeks with her aunt went by quickly. Whitney spent most of her time on the back porch reading and keeping to herself, mostly only talking with her aunt at meals and when she needed help around the house. Whitney hardly ever saw her cousin, as she spent a majority of her time behind her locked bedroom door. Whitney had nothing against it, they both understood why people keep to themselves sometimes.
As the sun was setting, Whitney closed her book and headed inside to help Lily prepare dinner. Lily’s slightly plump figure was justified by her cooking skills. Whitney was yet to be served a meal at her aunt’s house that she didn’t thoroughly enjoy. Tonight, it was pasta. While Lily boiled some water, Whitney set the table for three. She always had strong attention to detail, and even though she was never worried about disappointing her aunt, she was unsure of exactly how long they would be living together and wanted to be as precise as possible. After scanning the table for about ten minutes to make sure every dish was in its proper place, Whitney felt comfortable enough to move on to the next task. She dished up Alfredo for her aunt, then her cousin, and then herself and carefully placed the plates on the table.
Lily and Whitney sat down together and placed their napkins on their laps. “Dinner!” shouted Lily, tilting her head toward the stairs so her daughter could better hear. In the middle of their bites, a door could be heard creaking open in the hallway upstairs. They could hear light footsteps on the stairs heading toward the kitchen. Whitney threw a smile at Lily to show her gratitude for another delicious meal. They both broke eye contact simultaneously when Lily’s daughter walked in.
Still wearing her trademark raincoat, boots, and mask, Lily’s daughter walked up to her and pulled her hands out of her jacket pockets. They were covered in blood. Whitney jumped out of her seat and ran toward her to inspect her cousin’s hands. Lily, less provoked, slowly grabbed them and said to her “What happened this time?” Lily stood up and walked her toward the kitchen sink. Having to stand up on her toes to reach, Lily turned the sink on for her daughter and help her scrub them. “Is she okay?” asked Whitney calmly. “She’s okay.” said Lily, “She’s just a little fragile. Probably a cut from playing outside.” Whitney wondered what she could have done to cut her hands that badly. After she washed up, Lily handed her a large cotton pad and immediately put her hands back in her raincoat. Head down, the little girl non-verbally excused herself from dinner and walked back upstairs to her room. Lily and Whitney watched her pace up the stairs as they both sat back down at the table to finish their meals.
“Does that happen often?” asked Whitney. “Occasionally” replied Lily, trying not to make eye contact. “She may be quiet and keep to herself, but she’s actually pretty adventurous and loves trying things. She probably just slipped in the mud outside and cut her hand on a rock or branch.” Whitney nodded and finished her dinner, just hoping that her cousin’s hands would heal up okay.
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