Emily ran after Joanie, and entered the arbour to find her sister with her knees drawn up to her chin, hugging her shins. Her forehead rested on her knees as her long hair hid her face. Her shoulders trembled with emotion.
"Are you alright Joanie? What's going on?" Emily said as she sat down.
"Just leave me alone." Joanie sobbed, and turned her back on Emily.
Emily went around the bench to sit in front of Joanie and put her arms around her sister. Joanie really lost it then. She began to cry so hard that her entire body vibrated. Emily just held her and rocked back and forth with her until the meltdown subsided.
" I...I..I've been seeing Jeff Pike.He didn't want you to know....he said it would upset you since he preferred me to you."
" What !!!" Emily jumped off the bench so suddenly that she almost knocked Joanie over.
"Are you crazy? That guy is a sleezebag!!"
"You dated him for six months."
"I only dated Jeff. because David didn't seem to be interested, so I wanted to make him jealous. It didn't work, so I tried to break up with Jeff after a month. He just wouldn't take no for an answer, he wouldn't leave me alone. I finally got rid of him by threatening to slap a restraining order on him. I told you all this at the time. Weren't you listening?"
"I was, but Jeff had always been nice to me, polite and flattering. I just wanted to go to my senior prom, and he was the only one that asked me. I didn't go to the junior prom because nobody asked me. You turned down three boys before you chose one. Nobody sees me, only you. We look alike, but everyone makes a big fuss over you, and I might as well be invisible. I'm so jealous of you sometimes that I actually hate you!"
Joanie was not only hurt and embarrassed, but now she was angry, too. She was sick of being ignored.
"People notice me because I make them. I'm right in there faces. You're shy, you keep your head down when you walk. No one can see how beautiful you are. Besides, you're not invisible you've got lots of friends. More than I do, that's for sure."
"Yeah, but they're mostly girls. That didn't help much when I needed a date for the prom. I know you told me that he wouldn't leave you alone and all the rest of it, but I just wanted a boyfriend to take me places. He took me to the movies and the carnival, and the zoo. I actually had fun for the first three weeks. The fact that he wanted to keep our relationship a secret just made it more exciting."
Emily sat down beside her sister, who was now sitting properly on the bench with her arms resting loosely on her knees. Emily picked up Joanie's injured arm and turned it over to reveal the ugly bruise.
"Tell me what happened."
Emily said gently.