The Babysitter, Part Two

PART ONE

Summer. Finally.

And not just any summer. The next two months were going to be amazing for a number of reasons. One, I had just graduated high school, which meant none of the usual AP work that was required before the first day of school. College would present its own challenges, of course, but I could at least take a huge breath in the meantime. Two, our parents were going to be out of town for eight full weeks on a business trip rounded off with a vacation at the tail end. While I wasn’t exactly a party girl, it would still be nice to have some extra freedom.

Paige was the only complication. My step-sister and I were the same age, and absolutely nothing alike. At first, I had been excited to finally have a sibling. That is, until we actually started living together. She and I were polar opposites, to put it lightly, and I was the one who was always stuck dealing with her since our parents were rarely around. I didn’t mind getting her in trouble for ‘borrowing’ my homework, or for breaking curfew, or for plenty of other transgressions. However, our parents were usually the ones who handled the punishments. There was no way Paige would listen to me, and it’s not like I could be calling our parents every day for help.

As much as my irresponsible sister often felt like my responsibility, this was also my summer. Maybe it would be better if we just stayed out of the other’s way, and coexisted to the best of our ability. My friends could have the main floor, and she could have the furnished attic, or vice versa. I could always keep a journal of anything inappropriate she did in our parents’ absence, and report the notable ones when they got back.

Of course, it was difficult to ignore Paige when she was already messing with my plans on the first day of summer break.

It took three back to back phone calls to get her to pick up, and she didn’t answer the last one until the fifth ring or so. “What’s up, Alyssa?” she asked, “Are you dying or something?”

“No. Paige, you said you’d pick me up at four. It’s nearly 4:20.” Unfortunately, we only had one car between the two of us, and it had gradually defaulted to being ‘hers.’ I had so many after school activities that I usually got a ride from a friend. The more I didn’t drive our car, the more ownership Paige felt, which made things frustrating when I eventually did need it. Like after my ballet class, where I didn’t really know any of the other girls that well. I offered to drop my sister off at home first, but she insisted that it would be easier for her to drive and swing by the studio on the way back to the house. Except, as expected, she clearly didn’t keep track of time, and now I was stranded without a ride.

“Ooh, 4:20?” she giggled, “That means it’s time for something else. Sorry, you’ll have to wait a little longer. Actually, why don’t you just get someone else to drive you? I’m comfortable, and I really don’t want to put a bra back on.”

“Paige, I’m the last one here! Come on, it’ll just take a minute.”

“Hmm, let me think. How about . . . No. You can walk.”

“What? No! Paige, it’s hot, and-”

“Tough, little sis. Use the time to think about how you should stop being a stuck-up brat and an obnoxious tattletale. Bye, Alyssa!”

“Wait-”

Before I could get past the first word, I heard the low beep of her ending the call. Groaning in frustration, I re-dialed twice to no avail. After sending a very pointed text that included a threat to get our parents involved, I leaned against the nearest wall and scrolled through my contacts to see if there was anyone I could think of that might be both free at the moment and close enough to the studio. Aside from it being hot, I was also going to tell Paige that it would be about an hour’s walk back to the house. Thankfully, I had shorts and a tank top to wear over my leotard, but I’d still rather avoid such a long commute.

And yet, that’s what I ended up doing. I figured it made more sense, as otherwise I would potentially spend even more time in the sun calling various friends and waiting for them to get their shoes on and drive over.

Paige’s parting words echoed in my head as I began the walk. That attitude towards me was exactly why there was no way I’d ever succeed in getting her to listen to anything I said. My driver’s license said that I was five feet tall, but the truth was that I hadn’t even made it that far yet. Standing at a painfully under average 4’11 and ¾, pulling off ‘intimidating’ was an impossible task, especially against my sister who seemed to grow another inch every year. Even when I wore heels and she was barefoot, Paige towered over me. Her body was a lot more womanly as well, while I was stuck looking like a tween who had barely started developing. It was fine at school, as my nice outfits worked wonders in offsetting my unfortunately tiny body, but ballet was a prime example of times when I had a lot less going for me. In just a leotard and with pinned up hair, I was constantly mistaken for one of the younger girls any time the studio hired a new teacher or assistant. And, while my classmates respected me and didn’t care about my size, the same couldn’t be said for my sister. She was only a month older than me, but acted like it was years thanks to the way she looked in comparison.

Silver lining, there were advantages to being a small dancer. So far, that was about the only perk I had been able to find as the shortest person I knew.

Little did I know, however, that my size was about to work against me in a way I never would have imagined.


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PART TWO

By the time I got home, I was in no mood to deal with Paige.

While I had cooled off mentally, the same couldn’t be said about my body. It’s not like I could just wear my leotard and nothing else in public, and the ballet studio had already been locked by the time I realized I was stranded with no ride. Stripping down naked outside obviously wasn’t an option, so I had to put on my street clothes over the leotard and suffer through the summer heat. There was some shade to be found here and there, but two miles was still two miles.

My sister’s door was open upstairs, but I didn’t bother. She would just dismissively wave off my complaints, and my time was better spent taking a shower and maybe grabbing the keys so I could head to my friend’s place earlier than planned before Paige could claim the car for herself again. Ugh, except she probably had the car keys in her purse or somewhere else in her room. Demanding them would start an argument, and politely asking for them would just reinforce the idea that it was HER car, rather than ours.

I hadn’t even gotten fully undressed when yet another inconvenience added to the day’s seemingly never ending list. The doorbell rang. “Paige!” I exclaimed. There was no way I was about to open the front door in just a leotard; plus not even the pins in my hair had kept my red locks from getting a little sweaty from the long, hot walk. “Can you get that?” I instantly winced in regret. Why had I asked? That never worked with her.

“Get it yourself, ‘Lyssa!” she called back. Even with my bedroom door muffling her voice a bit, it was easy to make out the usual presumptuous tone. I was the responsible sister, which meant she could be lazy and assume I’d do stuff like this. “It’s probably some scam artist, anyway.”

Probably. When you weren’t actively waiting on something or someone to arrive, it was almost always some salesman trying to pitch something and wasting twenty minutes of your life despite the constant ‘no, thank you’s’ said again and again.

But Paige and I were in charge of the house for the next eight weeks. What if it was actually something important?

Another ring of the doorbell caused me to groan in frustration. “Paige, come on!” I exclaimed. Swinging my door open so she could hear me more clearly, I said, “I’m not dressed. Just get the door, okay?”

“Then put some clothes on! It’s not like you have anything to hide, anyway.”

“PAIGE.”

A third ring.

“I’m comfy, sis. And I’m still not wearing a bra,” she said, not even making the effort to turn her music down, “Seriously, it’s fine. They’ll go away eventually.”

Another ring.

“COMING!!!” I yelled. My earlier frustrations with Paige were starting to resurface now that she was being as unhelpful as ever, and the time between the doorbell button being pushed was getting shorter and shorter. The same could be said about my temper. Storming down the hall, unfairly projecting my annoyance at my sister towards the impatient person at our front door, I practically had to bite my tongue to keep from loudly swearing in response to the fifth doorbell ring.

Why did I always have to do everything in this house?!

Fantasy Alyssa would yank the door open and scream ‘WHAT?!’ to the person on the other side. The real version of myself, however, simply took a breath before placing her hand on the doorknob. I just hadn’t had a chance to vent about the unfair walk home to my best friend yet, which was why I was so pent up. The only way I survived life with my step-sister was by bitching about her to whoever would listen, since aiming my anger directly towards Paige just caused her to giggle and pat me on the head.

Opening the door before a sixth ring cut through the house, I found myself face to face with a tall brunette girl. Maybe in college, if I had to guess. “Can I help you?” I asked. She had a backpack and a duffel bag with her, rather than a clipboard. That was a good sign.

“You must be Miley.” Without waiting for an invitation, she stepped past me and into the house. “About time. It’s rude to keep people waiting.”

“Umm.” The last thing I expected was a girl with a more patronizing tone than Paige. Also, what the fuck? This wasn’t her house; she couldn’t just waltz in like she owned the place. “No. I’m Alyssa. Who are you, exactly?”

“Nice try, Miley. I heard about that trick already. What, was it babysitter number three who circled the neighborhood for an hour after being sent away with fake directions?” Her duffel bag landed with a heavy thump on the wooden floor below, and she placed a hand on her hip. “I’m Noelle. And if it saves us a little time, I’m not an idiot. So, let’s try this again. You must be Miley.”

After a long moment of silent confusion, things clicked into place. Miley. The thirteen year old brat who lived down the street.

The embarrassing part was, I wasn’t even insulted that I was being mistaken for a girl her age. It happened enough at the studio, so of course the same thing was happening right now when I was only wearing my leotard. “No.” Rolling my eyes, I explained, “Miley lives three doors down. I can show you her house, if you want.”

“Right. So you can sneak off or run away? No, thanks. I already had my exercise today, although I’m not below chasing you down if I have to.”

I just sighed. “You’re not listening. Look. Noelle, was it? I’m not Miley; I’m her neighbor. Call her parents if you don’t believe me.”

“Hmm,” Noelle looked me up and down with a confident smirk, “Pass. I’d rather just deal with you myself.”


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