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    I turned back to face forward, and then Emily stepped out from behind the curtain. A...aw her...eard Kirsten's voice in my head, explaining why she was scared to show her film: This is personal, she'd said. Real. This moment was, too, even if you couldn't tell at first glance. It was fake on the outside, but so true within. You only had to look, really look, to tell.

    The weird thing was that all fall, at school, rehearsals, anytime we passed, Emily wouldn't meet my eyes. It was like she didn't want to see me at all. But this time as we approached each other...ould feel her staring at me, willing me to turn my head, pulling my gaze in her direction...ought it as hard a...ould. But just as she passed me...ave in.

    She knew...ould tell with one glance, one look, one simple instant. It was her eyes. Despite the thick makeup, they were still dark-rimmed, haunted, and sad. Most of all, though, they were familiar. The fact that we were in front of hundreds of strangers changed nothing at all. I'd spen...ummer with those same eyes-scared, lost, confused-staring back at me...ould have known them anywhere.

    Chapter Thirteen

    "Sophie!"

    It was the annual end-of-year party, the previous June, an...as late. Emily's voice, saying this, was the first thin...eard whe...tepped in the door.

    At the tim...ouldn't see her-the foyer was packed, the stairs crowded with people as well-but then...oment later, she rounded the corner...eer in each hand. When she saw me, she smiled. "There you are," she said. "What took you so long?"

    I ha...lash of my mother's face an hour earlier, how her eyes had widened when Whitney pushed back her chair, then slammed it against the table, making all our plates jump. This time, the issue had been chicken, specifically the hal...reast my father had deposited on Whitney's plate. After cutting it up into quarters, then eighths, then impossibly small sixteenths, she'd pushed it all to the side before commencing to eat her salad, chewing each bite of lettuce for what seemed like ages. My parents an...cted like we weren't watching this, like we weren't even aware, keepin...onversation about the weather somehow aloft among the three of us. Still...ew minutes later, when Whitney dropped her napkin on her plate...atched it drift down, draping the chicken lik...agician's scarf as she willed it to disappear. No luck. My father told her to finish her food, and then she exploded.

    By this point, we should have been used to her dinnertime histrionics-she'd been out of the hospital for several months, during which time they'd become routine- but there were still times when the volume and suddenness of her outbursts took us all by surprise. Especially my mom, who always seemed to take every raised syllable, every slam or crash, even the numerous sarcastic sighs like personal attacks. This was why I'd lingered after dinner, standing in the kitchen as my mother washed dishes...ould see her face reflected in the window over the sink, an...ept watching it closely, the wa...lways did when she got upset, worrie...ight see something besides her features tha...ecognized.

    "I got held up at home,"...old Emily now. "What'...iss?"

    "Not much," she said. "Have you seen Sophie?"

    I looked around, past the clump of people beside us and into the living room, wher...potted her o...hort couch by the window...ored expression on her face.

    "This way,"...old Emily, taking one of the beers from her a...orked through the crowd over to the couch. "Hey,"...alled out to Sophie, over the din o...earby TV. "What's going on?"

    "Nothing," she replied, her voice flat. She nodded at the beer. "Is that for me?"

    "Maybe,"...aid. She mad...ace at me, an...anded it over, then sat down as she too...ip, her lipstick staining the rim.

    "God...ove your shirt, Annabel," Emily said. "Is it new?"

    "Yeah. Pretty new."...eached up, running my hand over the pink suede top my mom an...ad found at Tosca earlier the day before. It had been expensive, but we figured the whole summer's worth of wear I'd get out of it justified the price. "I just got it this week."

    Sophie exhaled loudly, shaking her head. "This," she announced, "is officially the worst last-day-of-classes party ever."

    


    "It's only eight thirty,"...old her, looking around the room. There wa...ouple making out o...earby armchair, an...ould se...roup of people sitting around the dining-room table playing cards. Music was coming from somewhere, probably out back, the bass thumping beneath our feet. "Things could improve."

    She took another swig of her beer. "Doubtful. If this is any indication, this summer's going to be the worst yet."

    "You think?" Emily said, sounding surprised. "There were some cute college guys outside."

    "And you'd want to dat...ollege guy who hangs out a...igh-school party?" Sophie said.

    "Well," Emily replied, "I don't know."

    "Lik...old you," Sophie said. "Lame."

    There wa...urst of noise to our left, an...urned to se...roup of people pushing their way into the foyer...a...ir...ecognized from my P.E. class...ouple of guy...idn't know, and, bringing up the rear, Will Cash.

    "See? Things are looking up already,"...aid to Sophie. Instead of looking pleased, though, she narrowed her eyes.

    They'd had some spat earlier in the week, but I'd thought it was resolved as much as anything ever was between them. Apparently not. Will only nodded at Sophie before following the people he'd come with down the hallway to the kitchen.

    Once he was out of sight, she sat back, crossing her legs. "This sucks," she announced, and this time...new better than to disagree.

    I stood up, holding my hand out to her. "Come on,"...aid. "Let's go circulate."

    "No," she said flatly. Emily, who had started to get up, sat down again.

    "Sophie."

    She shook her head. "You two go. Hav...abulous time."

    "So you just want to stay here and sulk?"

    "I'm not sulking," she said, her voice cold. "I'm just sitting."

    "Fine,"...aid. "I'm going to get another beer. You need anything?"

    "No," she said, her eyes on the dining room, where Will was talking to the guy at the head of the table who was dealing out cards.

    "You want to come with me?"...sked Emily. She nodded, putting her beer on the coffee table, and followed me down the hallway.

    "Is she okay?" she asked me as soon as we were out of Sophie's earshot.

    ......
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