Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, even though it was so odd to me that my sister wasn't there. I really wished she could've been, but I understood that Cadence needed to rest. I wanted to know more about her new job, but I also realized there was no reason to ask about it. Everything was just fine.
After I helped my mom clear the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher, I decided to head upstairs. I doubted Lucy or Em would have called since I'd already talked to one and the other would be busy trying to avoid her family. Emma really hated crowds of any kind, even if they were related to her, and I was pretty sure the meal this year was supposed to be at her house. I did think maybe Milo or Wes would've called, though. They both lived just down the street from Jack Cook, and it was possible they might've seen him. They might want to know what was going on, and I'd be happy to explain to them that it was an accident and nothing to worry about.
Sure enough, I had missed calls from both of them. I made myself comfortable on my bed and decided to call Milo first. He's a brainiac, sort of like Emma, except without the social awkwardness and disdain of most other people. I didn't get ahold of him, so I left a message and called Wes. I don't know that there exist in the whole world two other best friends who are such opposites as Wes and Milo, except for maybe Lucy and Emma. Wes is a jock and not too bright, but he has a heart of gold. He picked up on the second ring.
"Hey, Cassidy," he said, and I was pretty sure he was chewing on something. Knowing him it was probably a slice of his mom's pumpkin pie. "What's going on?"
"Not too much," I said, wondering how my attitude had changed so drastically since this morning. "Just returning your call."
"Oh, yeah. I was just wondering how your sister is. I heard about Drew. They were pretty good friends, right? So terrible." I heard a clunk of silverware against china. "She okay?" His mouth was full now, and I could hardly understand what he was saying, so I was glad the question was a short one.
"She's fine," I said with a shrug. "I mean she's upset I guess. She's at my grandma's house right now. But what happened to Drew was just awful. These things happen, though, Wes. People fall down rock climbing, slash their necks open, and die. It's sad, but the sooner life gets back to normal, the better off we will all be."
The phone was silent for a very long time, and I thought maybe we'd gotten disconnected. I was just about to call Wes's name when he said, "Cassidy? Are you feeling okay? Do you really mean that?" There was no food in his mouth this time, and every word was crystal clear.
I readjusted on the bed. "Sure. What do you mean?"
"Cassidy, a girl died. And she's not even that much older than us. How can you be so insensitive?"
"Insensitive?" I could hear the offense in my own voice. "What are you talking about? I'm not being insensitive, I'm just being honest. That's all."
"Dude, you just said 'these things happen' and 'the sooner life gets back to normal, the better off we will all be.' I don't think Drew's family's gonna be getting back to normal anytime soon."
I listened to him replay my own words and realized they didn't sound very nice. Nor did they sound like something I would say. Yet, that's exactly how I felt. It didn't make any sense. "I'm sorry, Wes," I said, trying to figure out what was going on in my own head. "I don't mean to be insensitive, I really don't. I talked to the doctor that was there with Drew last night, and that's the way he put it, so I guess that's why it came out so clinical when I said. I didn't mean anything by it. I am sorry Drew is dead."
"Could you be any more blunt?" I could hear that he wasn't quite willing to accept my excuse in the tone of his voice. "You talked to the doctor? That's so weird. Did you have to go to the hospital or something?"
"No," I replied, shrugging. "He came here." Why wouldn't he come here to pay me a visit? Doctors could do thatright?
"Oookay. Well, I just wanted to check on your sister. I'm glad she's okay. I hope she comes back soon."
"Yeah, thanks." I didn't know what else to say. Everything that came out of my mouth sounded foreign. "Guess I'll see you at school on Monday."
"Oh, no. Didn't you hear? They cancelled school for Monday. Because of the funeral."
"They did?" I was shocked. We didn't even close school when there was a foot of snow on the ground. My first instinct was to declare this was "cool," but remembering what Wes had just said about me being insensitive, I said, "I see," instead.
"All right, Cass. Talk to you soon."
I disconnected the call and stared at my phone for a few moments. Wes was acting weird. That was the only explanation for why he would think I was acting weird. I wasn't acting weird. Was I?
* * *
By Saturday morning, I was completely resolved to the fact that Drew's death really wasn't that big of a deal. I knowI sound like a horrible person. But I realized later that this really wasn't my fault. I had basically gone back to life as normal, and even though all of my friends thought I must have suffered a severe blow to the head to be so nonchalant about my sister's friend dying and Cadence being MIA, I was okay with it.
Most Saturday mornings, my dad makes pancakes, and this one wasn't any different, except we were out of chocolate chips. It was disappointing, but it didn't stop us from enjoying a nice breakfast. My parents still wore worried looks, but I think they were just missing Cadence. At least, that's what I told myselfthe fact that my sister typically wasn't home even on weekends anymore since she'd started college didn't cross my mind as we sat around the dining room table making smiley faces with fruit on top of our flapjacks.