Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 89

Page 89


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“You went to New York without telling me?” he shouts.

“Please don’t yell at me.”

“I have every right to yell at you, Arden, because you scared the hell out of me. What would I do if anything had happened to you? What made you think you could run off to a different state without checking with me first? I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately, I really don’t. You used to be a good kid. And now you’re sneaking around, using drugs, going hundreds of miles away and lying about it—I feel like I don’t even know who you are anymore.”

“You don’t,” Arden says.

“What was that?”

Arden pauses. She could just let it go. It would be easier for her not to ask for what she wants.

But she has come this far.

“You don’t know what’s gotten into me because you’re never around,” she says.

“That’s ridiculous. Of course I am. You’re sounding like your mother.”

“No,” she says. “You’re at the office all the time—”

“I have a job.”

“—and when you’re home you’re always holed up in your study or watching TV or doing your fantasy football. You’re always too busy for us.”

“This isn’t about me,” he says. “This is about you, disappearing without so much as a text message.”

“This is about both of us,” she says. “If you want me to act more like your daughter, then you can start by acting like more of a father.”

“Arden,” he says, and his voice is brittle. “Do not get on your teenage high horse and try to lecture me. I need you to come home, and we are going to talk about consequences.”

“I’m coming home,” she tells him, “but we need to talk about a lot more than consequences.”

It’s not that her mom was the bad guy and her dad was the victim, she realizes. They were both bad guys. They were both victims.

“I love you, Dad,” Arden adds. “I love you so much. This was something I needed to do. But I’m sorry I made you worry.”

Her mother taps her on the shoulder. “May I speak with him for a moment?”

Arden passes over her phone. Her mother takes it and closes herself in the small bedroom, so Arden can’t hear her parents’ conversation. She stares out the window while she waits. There’s an ambulance trying to drive down the one-way street, its siren wailing, but a moving van is parked in front of it, blocking its passage, so the wailing just goes on and on, and presumably someone is dying right this moment while the EMTs try to figure out a way forward. None of the pedestrians seem at all disturbed as they continue walking absurdly quickly and texting on their phones. Watching this scene, Arden feels very, very glad that she does not have to live in this city.

A few minutes later, her mother emerges from the bedroom and hands back Arden’s phone.

“He’s mad,” Arden says.

“He was scared, Arden. We need to get you home. Not least because you have to be at school in about eighteen hours,” her mother says.

Arden grimaces. “One problem. The Heart of Gold is dead. I left it parked on the street somewhere in Brooklyn.”

“Where?”

“Outside of Jigsaw Manor?”

Her mother sighs. “Do I even want to know?”

Arden shakes her head.

“To be honest, I don’t want you driving that hunk of junk all the way to Cumberland, anyway. It’s dangerous. I can’t even believe your car made it here in the first place. I can book you a train ticket now, and your father can pick you up from the station.”

“No. I want to get the Heart of Gold repaired. I’ll pay for it; you won’t have to worry about it, I promise. Mom, I’m not leaving my car.”

Her mother relents a little. “Let’s go look at it. We’ll see how bad it is, and we can work on getting it fixed, but there might not be time to do that today and still get you home at a reasonable hour. Does that sound fair?”

Arden nods. “We need to find Lindsey, too,” she says. She calls her now, but it immediately goes to voice mail. She texts her, as well, though if Lindsey’s phone is off, then she doesn’t expect a text message will help with matters. She wonders where Lindsey slept last night. She wonders if she’s okay. And she thinks that there is a big difference between sacrificing everything for another person and just doing your best to keep that other person safe.

“Where is Lindsey?” asks her mother.


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