“And you have a girlfriend.”
“I know. It’s weird.” Then she rests her head on my shoulder and sighs.
And for a moment, we just sit there.
“God, I feel like we have so much to talk about,” I say. I squeeze my eyes shut.
“Definitely,” she says.
Then she lifts her head off my shoulder. When I open my eyes, she’s staring down at the table, lips pressed together.
“Okay, I want to say something to you,” she says after a moment. She slides her arm off my shoulders and wrings her hands together. “So, I don’t know how to say this without pissing you off or hurting your feelings, but I need you to hear me out. I’m just going to put it all out there, okay?”
My shoulder muscles tighten—I feel myself getting defensive. But I try to shake it off. “Okay.”
She bites her lip and nods. “So, I feel like things have been kind of off between us since I started dating Mina.”
“Right? I’m not imagining it?”
I swallow. “No.”
“And, like, I have to admit, it really pissed me off at first. Because I could not understand why you couldn’t just be happy for me.”
“I am, though! I’m so happy for you.”
“I know, but it’s also like you think Mina’s replacing you.”
“No, that’s not . . .” I look up at her. “I don’t think that.”
“But you said that,” Cassie insists. “At the party. You said I was ditching you for Mina.”
“Yeah.” I exhale. “I’m sorry.”
She shakes her head. “I’m not trying to make you apologize. I’m just saying, I think we should talk about this. I don’t think this is just going to go away, you know? Maybe it will be better now that Reid’s in the picture, but . . .”
I shut my eyes. “I don’t know.”
“Honestly, it’s getting to the point where every thing I do, I’m worrying about how you’re going to take it. Like, I don’t want to be that person who gets into a relationship and ignores everyone else. We hate that person.”
“And I’m trying really hard, you know? I feel like you don’t give me any credit for that. I invite you to everything. The sleepover, the party, the fucking pottery place. Everything.”
I feel nauseated, and I don’t know why. “You don’t have to do that.”
“I know!” She throws her hands up. “I know I don’t. But I want to.”
“I don’t want to be a person you have to tiptoe and walk on eggshells around.”
“No, Molly, you’re not.” She shakes her head. “You’re not. It’s just I’m having trouble balancing this. I’m not used to having another person be this important to me.”
She’s staring at her knees, tears pooling in her eyes.
“And I don’t want to lose us, you know?”
I feel my eyes prickle, too. Everything’s a little blurry. I can’t seem to focus. I press my fist into my chin.
“I’m scared it’s inevitable,” I say finally.
“What do you mean?”
“Growing apart. Look at Nadine and Aunt Karen.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little different? Aunt Karen is a homophobe.”
“No, I know. But still.” I swallow. “How many sisters do you know who are as close as adults as they were growing up?”
“Well, I don’t know many adult sisters . . . ,” Cassie says, smiling faintly.
“You know what I mean, though. It’s like, we used to tell each other all of this stuff. Who we liked, or hooked up with, or whatever. But then there’s this shift. It’s like our loyalties switch over, and the relationship becomes the main thing.”
“Okay, we haven’t switched over our loyalties—”
“But we will.” I take a deep breath. “Even if it’s not with Mina and Reid. Eventually. It’s the normal thing that happens. You don’t marry your siblings.”
“Yeah, that would be a smidge incestuous,” Cassie says.
“Just a smidge.”
She laughs, and then sniffs.
“I mean, obviously, you’re right,” Cassie says finally. “And I guess that’s kind of why I wanted the Will thing to happen. Like, maybe if we dated best friends, it wouldn’t be like that for us.”
“But . . . Will’s a no-go, huh?”
I shake my head, smiling.
“So, what do we do?” Cassie asks.
“I don’t know.”
She sniffs again. I look over at her, and there are tears streaking down her cheeks. “Shut up. This is sad,” she says, smiling wetly.
“Change is fucking hard. It’s fucking tragic.”
“Change can go fuck itself,” I say, and I like how it sounds on my tongue. Fuck itself. It catches Cassie off guard. She laughs so hard, she can barely catch her breath.
And all of a sudden, I can’t help but wonder: are the ancestors tuned in to this moment? And do they get it?
I bet they do.
Because that’s the thing about change. It’s so painfully normal. It’s the most basic of all tragedies. Sisters in the Paleolithic period probably felt shitty about this stuff.
And it’s weird how I can know this, but it doesn’t make it hurt less.
REID COMES OVER ON WEDNESDAY to help me test my cake recipe.
And I guess I can’t really put it off any longer: I have to ask him to be my date this Sunday. But in a totally no-pressure kind of way. Because this doesn’t have to be a Thing. It’s just a date. To a wedding. In which the brides are my parents. ALL RIGHT? NO BIG DEAL.
“Okay, it’s ten thirty now.” He leans back against the fridge. “And I’m supposed to be at work by noon. So, don’t let me—oof.”
I kiss him so hard, it sets off the ice machine.
“Oh,” I say, and he laughs, hands catching me around the waist. This is still the strangest thing. Strange that I’m doing this. Strange that I survived not doing this. I don’t know how I ever went five minutes without kissing, much less thirty-two thousand minutes.