After a few minutes, the liar and my mother returned from their expedition into my room. “It’s only one thousand eight hundred and…fifty dollars,” my mother said as she counted the money. “Enough of the money is gone to pay for a meal at Elemantra’s, get some nice wine to accompany it, and to help cover Simon’s part of the bill as well, no doubt.” I noticed that she said nothing about Nova. In the game of my mother’s judgment, Nova was largely left out of that arena; I guessed that coming from a wealthy and famous family helped her in more ways than one.
“I didn’t take any of that money,” I said, resisting the urge to stomp my foot. I could already see the hairline fracture I’d created on the countertop; I probably would have broken the floor or something if I had let myself react the way I wanted to. I, however, couldn’t help the verbal outburst that was to follow. “And I wasn’t home before Molly. She called me while I was at school, asking if she could borrow my code because she forgot hers. She must have taken the money, framed me, and then wandered around for half an hour or something before coming back into the house as herself!”
Molly’s eyes were filling with tears in an instant. “Stop it, Mina! I didn’t take that money and you know it! No matter what lies you tell about me, there’s no way that Dad and Cassie are going to believe you!” She turned to them, letting one tear snake its way down her cheek. “I stayed after school today to work on a project. I told you guys about this. You have to believe me!”
“Of course we do, Molly,” my mom said. She hugged Molly and stroked her hair, calming her as though Molly were a five year old child and not a fifteen year old teenager. “It’s alright, sweetheart. We know you wouldn’t take that money. We trust you.” She turned towards me and looked up from Molly to glare at me. Even from across the room, I could see the anger displayed prominently on her face. There would be no escaping this wrath; Hell hath no fury like a mother defending her favorite child…especially if that child was the Devil incarnate. “Wilhelmina Gabrielle Percival, how could you do such a thing? Why would you accuse your innocent sister of doing something like this?”
“Innocent?” I said, unable to help the scoff that followed. “Mom, she’s obviously playing you, can’t you see? She’s been playing you for years, ever since we moved into this damn house, and it only got worse after you married Sam! She sees the blatant way you disrespect me and resent me and she’s been exploiting it this whole time!” Wow, this really wasn’t very normal for me, to speak my feelings like this to my mother. What was wrong with me?
“Resent you?” My mother’s hand flew to her chest in indignation. “Wilhelmina, I do not--”
“Save me the sob story, Mom,” I said, rolling my eyes and holding up my hand in an attempt to shut her up. “I’ve known this for years. I can even understand it, just a little, if I look at it through your twisted perspective. I mean, I was the reason that you felt forced into marrying Dad, even though he said you didn’t have to keep me.”
“And I was the reason that you felt you couldn’t attend college, even though you had a full scholarship and people to watch me during the day.”
“And I was the reason that you pressured yourself into moving in with Dad, even though Grandma and Grandpa explicitly said that they were not going to kick you out of the house.”
“And I was the reason you made all of these horrible life choices…except that I wasn’t. You did what you did and you blamed it on your baby. You have let me think for so long that I am the reason that your life is so crappy and you have never, ever let me forget that! You know what? For that, I am sorry. I am so sorry that you don’t know how sorry I am. I’m sorry that I’m such an obligation to you!”
There was a long moment of silence. I stood behind my counter, fists shaking by my side. Molly was staring at me with an open mouth, while Sam and my mother both looked at me calmly with calculating eyes.