Page was worried.
Amber had been gone before, sometimes for a lot longer than she was gone now, but usually she would tell Page where she was going.
She had told her, but Page knew she was lying.
Methodically, she brushed her barbie's hair over and over again, wishing she could have hair that long and straight. Chad had found the barbie in a dumpster a while back. It was Page's favorite toy.
Page lived in a tent city under the bridge to Newark. That meant that a whole bunch of people who didn't have the money for a house with strong walls made houses out of cardboard and bedsheets. Cars beeping their horns usually started coming in around 6:30, so it wasn't that late yet. She had lived there as long as she could remember. It was her home.
In the cold, early morning light, Page sat nuzzled inside a wool blanket looking at her neighbors. Some of them were nice, like the pregnant lady named Maureen. Others could be scary, like Ron, but she got the feeling that everybody here was a good person and deserved to be happy.
She was just about to put her doll away and go back to sleep when she heard panting sounds coming from behind.
Worried that it was that scary dog again, she got up to run towards Maureen's camp (she always kept a fire going) when she saw that it was Twitch.
He was bleeding a lot, and had two bags slung over his shoulder. They were big and black, and looked really full.
He was holding Amber.
"Amber! You're back!" Page got up and ran towards her sister.
Twitch laid her down clumsily on the cement, stood up for a moment, and then collapsed on the ground.
Page went to hug her, but saw that she was bleeding too. Her eyes were closed. "Amber..." She said. "Amber, are you okay?"
Twitch was still panting on the ground. "She..." He sat up. "She's..."
Amber opened her eyes.
"You're okay!" Page gave her a hug.
"Ow!" Amber winced. She smiled anyway, hugging back.
"Be gentle with her, Page. She... Took a fall."
Page sat down crosslegged beside her sister. For a few minutes, she just watched them. Twitch eventually caught his breath, and laid back on the ground, falling asleep. Amber, on the other hand, just sat there, leaned up against the cement wall - playing with Page's hair.
Eventually, she had to say something. "What happened? Where's Chad?"
There was pain in Amber's eyes. Not just a physical pain, but deeper. She didn't even have to answer.
"Merry Christmas, Page. I love you."