“Did you wash your hands?” Crisanta’s mother asked absently, setting the salad bowl down on the table before turning. “Oh, I thought you were Kalina.”
Crisanta couldn’t help but smile at that as her mother bustled back into the kitchen. There was just something about it that made her feel a little better. She walked around the table and slipped into her chair, pulling the Italian dressing a little closer to her plate so that, once everyone else had shown up, she’d have easy access to it.
Kalina approached next, quickly looking away when she noticed Crisanta was already there. That might have raised Crisanta’s mood a bit, too, if it wasn’t more likely to be out of fear that Crisanta was going to tell on her about the test than it was out of shame at herself for being a bitch.
“Mom asked if you’d washed your hands,” Crisanta said after a moment or two of silence.
“What?” Kalina glanced up, confused.
“I said, mom asked if you’d washed your hands.”
Kalina rolled her eyes. Crisanta decided not to push it any further.
Their mother brought out the salmon, set it down and started to turn towards the hall, until Camelia showed up, being carried by her daddy. “We’re not late, are we?” he asked, getting a quick kiss in reply.
“Right on time.”
Kalina fussed with the salad tongs for awhile before finally managing to use them to extract a few leaves of lettuce, which were promptly smothered in Ranch. Crisanta, pulling the salad bowl a little closer to her, gave a sideways glance towards her mom, to see if she was going to tell Kalina to have a little more salad with her dressing, but she stayed quiet.
Crisanta munched on her salad, sparing Kalina the occasional glare, and waiting. Kalina glanced over towards her every couple bites, her eyes growing progressively wider and more scared. ‘If she were smart,’ Crisanta told herself, ‘she’d just turn herself in.’
It took a few moments for her thoughts to really sink in, at which point she froze, fork halfway to the next to last piece of lettuce. She didn’t really believe Kalina was dumb, did she? Sure, she had done some stupid things, but who hadn’t?
‘You’re just feeling bitter about her little joke,’ her mind explained. ‘That’s all.’
But if that -was- all, then did that mean her desire to reveal Kalina’s cheating was coming from the same place? She’d thought about doing so before, but she didn’t know that she would have actually gone through with it - she certainly wouldn’t have waited until she had the whole family around as an audience.
“So,” the question finally came, as her dad spooned some peas out onto his plate, “what did you girls do today?”
Kalina’s gaze shot immediately over to Crisanta. She was almost certain she saw actual repentance in there, somewhere, and it made her close her mouth quickly, having hardly realized it had begun to answer.
Then she opened it again. “Oh, just the usual,” she shrugged, spearing the final lettuce leaf. “Nothing special.” She bit down, smiling a little at the look of relief that washed across Kalina’s face.
The girl bit down on her pacifier in surprise, then quickly spit it out and pushed it under her pillow as she realized what had woken her up.
“Hi!” Camelia smiled, bouncing happily on her bed. The girl looked up at her door, and saw that it was standing wide open, not closed, like she’d left it.
“What are you doing out of your crib?” the girl asked sleepily. Camelia had learned to climb out just a few weeks ago, though, as far as anyone knew, she’d only done it a couple times, not enough to get her parents to convert the crib into a toddler bed just yet, especially since she had always just stayed in her own room. At least until now.
The girl rubbed her eyes and rolled over to face her little sister. “It’s too early to play,” she told her. Camelia pouted, until the girl lifted up her blankets and said, “Come here, then.”
Camelia giggled and crawled under the blankets, cuddling up with her big sister. The girl found herself giggling, too, as they laid there together, as if they were the twins of the family. The girl could almost imagine bars growing up around her bed, not so much trapping them as protecting them, keeping out all the pain and worry of the outside world.
The girl smiled contentedly as she stared up at the walls of the imaginary crib, wishing she was brave enough to fish her pacifier back out, but not wanting to risk anyone else seeing, if they happened to pass by, and not wanting to just assume that Camelia wouldn’t find some way to mention that to someone. Continuing with that thought, she gave her pajama pants a tug from below the blankets, making sure they hadn’t ridden down too far, in case she kicked off her blankets, and her parents decided to peek in on her, since her door was already open.
The girl snuggled with Camelia, who was already starting to drift back to sleep. She felt herself yawn, then curl up a little tighter, her own eyes begging her to close them again. She complied, letting her breathing slow back down, letting her imaginary crib reconstruct itself in her mind, blocking out everything until she was just a little baby falling asleep with her sister.
Like that, it was hardly even a conscious decision to let her bladder go, feeling the warmth spread through her diaper, around her bottom, and then…
The girl sat up, desperately trying to stop wetting, but she was already done. “Not again,” she groaned quietly. She glanced back at her door, making sure nobody was watching, then threw her covers back and rolled out of bed. She quickly sat back down, seeing the wet spot on her pajamas.
Camelia gave a little wriggle, but thankfully, stayed sleeping. The girl glanced nervously from her to the hallway outside her door. Should she try to get Camelia to her own room, and changed, while in soggy pajamas herself, or should she change herself first and hope that Camelia didn’t wake up and figure out what was going on?
It took a few moments for the girl to realize how silly she was being - of course Camelia wasn’t going to figure it out, especially if she just closed her bathroom door, as she quickly tiptoed around her bed to do to her bedroom door.
She moved Camelia away from the wet spot on the bed, then decided to just take her out of her sleeper, which fortunately hadn’t gotten very wet. She’d wash it with her bedding, though, since she needed the rest of the family to think that Camelia was the source of the wet bed. She was pleased, in a strange sort of way, to see that the diaper underneath was wet, if not as much so as hers - at least she wasn’t the only one to have used her diaper this time.
She threw out her overloaded diaper, changed herself into a new set of pajamas, and a pair of panties, since she was going to be going down to the laundry room, and the basement steps tended to be loud, then tossed her wet things onto her bed before picking up Camelia and carrying her back to her own room.
Camelia stirred only once, after the girl had, somewhat jealously, put her into a fresh diaper, and was trying to get her stuffed into another sleeper. She stared up at her big sister inquisitively.
“Just go back to sleep,” the girl told her. “You just had a little accident.”
Even though she probably wasn’t going to remember it, the girl still felt kind of bad about lying to her like that, blaming her for something she hadn’t done. After all, who was she going to tell? Camelia was probably the only person she could ever imagine confiding her little secret in.
“Actually,” she started to say, feeling a tad silly. “It…” But Camelia’s eyes were closed, so the girl just shook her head, laughing quietly at herself, then put her back into her crib.
Kalina bit down into her piece of fish, settling back into her chair. “Yeah, pretty boring day,” she answered after swallowing. For the most part, that was even true - she was pretty sure most of her teachers had been just as eager as their students to get through the day so they could start their weekend.
She could still feel Crisanta watching her from across the table, taking her dainty little bites like some sort of princess. She knew she should feel grateful to her sister for not ratting her out after all, and she did, but at the same time, she couldn’t help but wonder why, and what this silence was going to end up costing her.
She didn’t notice she was glaring suspiciously at Crisanta until her sister gave her a strange look, as if trying to ask what in the world she was doing. Kalina stared down at her plate, where she was pushing a pea around with her fork. Their parents had moved on to talking about their day, but Kalina wasn’t paying any attention, nor, she suspected, was Crisanta.
At the very least, Kalina knew, she should apologize to Crisanta. She’d been planning on doing that anyway, once they had a minute alone, and she’d worked up the courage, but she supposed that it was especially important now. She wasn’t even sure what had come over her at school - maybe it was just because she was in a bad mood and Crisanta wasn’t making it any better, or maybe it was Crisanta’s know-it-all, holier-than-thou attitude.
‘Nah, probably not,’ she mused to herself, ‘I’m used to that by now; that’s what she’s always like.’ She giggled out loud; it wasn’t a nice thing to say, but that didn’t stop it from being the truth.
Crisanta gave her an odd look as she picked up her glass of water, most likely meaning to take a sip. Somehow, however, she managed to miss her mouth, instead pouring it down the front of her shirt.
Kalina’s giggling exploded as she watched Crisanta leap to her feet, trying to brush the water off of her shirt. “I’m sorry,” Crisanta squeaked, “I’ll go get a towel.”
Kalina managed to get her laughter under control after Crisanta scurried off to the kitchen, but when she came back out, she couldn’t help but say, “Maybe you should borrow Cammy’s sippy cup,” which was followed a few stray, unsolicited, chuckles.
Crisanta gave her a look that could have set the wall behind Kalina ablaze if she hadn’t been in the way. Kalina coughed and went back to her food.
“I’ll take care of it,” Crisanta told their mom before she could stand up all the way. “Just eat.”
And then, as she knelt down to dry off the floor, she bumped into the edge of the table, knocking her glass over. Kalina burst into laughter as the water rained down on her sister’s head, at least until her sister stood up and yelled, “Oh, shut up!” at her.
“Calm down,” their dad said. He probably would have gone on, if Crisanta had let him.
“Just shut up, you little cheat!” she shouted, throwing the towel across the table.
The table grew silent, Crisanta glaring and breathing heavily on one side, Kalina hardly daring to take a breath on the other.
“What does that mean, Kalina?” their mother asked finally.
She knew she should just confess, but Kalina couldn’t help but take offense at her mom’s tone. “It doesn’t mean anything!” she said instead. “Just because Crisanta says it doesn’t mean…”
“She cheated on her Chemistry test today,” Crisanta interrupted her.
Kalina swallowed, trying to sink down into her chair as her parents’ eyes turned to her. “It was just a quiz…”
“Kalina Anne,” her mother said - and nothing good ever started that way, “is that true?”
“It was just a stupid quiz!” Kalina repeated. “It’s not that big a deal.” But, of course, they weren’t going to see it that way. “Fine, whatever,” she said, throwing up her hands and standing up. “I’m grounded! Whatever!”
“Sit down,” her mother ordered. “You can be grounded after you finish eating.”
“I’m not hungry,” Kalina told her.
“Sit down!” Kalina did, reluctantly, readying herself for the lecture. She knew that she deserved it, though maybe not so much because of a stupid quiz, but that didn’t stop her from returning Crisanta’s inflammatory gaze from earlier. Crisanta, having calmed herself - perhaps a little too quickly, Kalina thought - retrieved her towel and went back to work. Kalina couldn’t see her face under the table, but she was sure that she was smiling as, over her head, their parents told Kalina how disappointed they were with her.