I didn’t think she would do it. I told Rose, “Don’t worry. It’s probably just an attention thing.”
But she stripped into her underwear, took a running start, and splashed into the pool. When her head popped up, she wore the biggest, goofiest “Daisy” grin. Rose almost killed her. My jaw permanently unhinged.
And she floated on her back, barely even shivering.
Rose said when our mother isn’t around, Daisy tends to go crazy. And not the I’m going to drink my sorrows away and snort some coke rebellion. She just does things that our mother would condemn, and Daisy probably knows we’re more forgiving. When Rose saw that Daisy survived the jump without a bruise, she simply called her stupid and then let the issue drop. Our mother would have ranted for a solid hour, flipping out over any injuries that could have ruined her modeling career.
More than anything, I think Daisy just wants to be free.
I guess I was lucky enough to escape my mother’s strict scrutiny. But maybe not. I didn’t turn out perfect. One could even say that I am royally f**ked up.
We climb the stairs to the highest floor, and Daisy turns the doorknob, the biting cold prickling my bare arms. The roof. She took me to the roof.
“You’re not planning on jumping are you?” I immediately ask with wide eyes. “There are no pools for you to land in this time.”
She snorts. “No duh.” She lets go of my hand and sets her beer on the gravel ground. “Do you see this view?”
Skyscrapers light up the city, and people even explode fireworks off other buildings, the colors crackling in the sky for tonight’s celebration. Cars honk below, kind of drowning out the majestic atmosphere of the night.
Daisy extends her arms and inhales deeply. And then she screams at the top of her lungs. “HAPPY NEW YEAR, NEW YORK CITY!” It’s only ten thirty, so technically it’s still New Year’s Eve. Her head turns to me. “Scream, Lil.”
I rub my hot neck, anxious. Maybe it’s the lack of sex. Or maybe sex is the one thing that’ll help me feel better. So…is sex the cause or is it the solution? I don’t even know anymore. “I’m not a screamer.” Lo would disagree. My cheeks flush.
Daisy faces me and says, “Come on, it’ll make you feel better.”
“Open your mouth wide,” she teases. “Come on, big sis.”
Am I the only one who thinks that sounded perverted? I look over my shoulder. Oh yeah, we’re alone.
“Scream it with me.” She bounces on her toes, preparing to say “Happy” but she stops when I don’t share her enthusiasm for the holiday. “You’ve got to loosen up, Lily. Rose is supposed to be the uptight one.” She grabs my hand. “Come on.” She leads me closer to the ledge.
I take a glance down. Oh God. We’re super high up. “I’m afraid of heights,” I tell her, shrinking back.
“Since when?” she asks.
“Since I was seven years old and Harry Cheesewater pushed me off a jungle gym.”
“Oh yeah, you broke your arm, didn’t you?” She smiles. “And wasn’t his name Chesswater?”
“Lo made up his nickname.” Good times.
She snaps her fingers in remembrance. “That’s right. Lo put a firecracker in his backpack in retaliation.” Her smile fades. “I wish I had a friend like that.” She shrugs, as though that time has passed for her, but she’s still young. She can always grow closer to someone, but then again, with our mother dragging her every which way, she probably has less time for friends than any of us did. “Okay, enough Lo talk. He was supposed to be banned from the conversation tonight, remember?”
“Forgot,” I mumble. Most of my childhood stories involve him. I can count very few where he isn’t present. Family trips, he was there. Reunions, he was there. Calloway dinners, he was there. My parents might as well have adopted him. Hell, my grandmother bakes him her special fruitcake for no reason at all. She’ll mail it to him every so often. He charmed her somehow. I still think he gave her a foot massage or something nasty.
I squirm. Ew.
“Let’s play a game,” Daisy suggests with a giddy smile. “We’ll ask each other questions, and if we get them wrong, then the other person has to take a step towards the ledge.”
“Uhh…that doesn’t sound fun.” My fate will rest in her ability to answer a question.
“It’s a trust game,” she said, eyes twinkling. “Plus, I want to get to know you better. Is that so bad?” Now I can’t say no.
She’s testing me, I think.
“Fine.” I’ll make the questions easy so she’ll know the answer and I won’t have to feel my heart pop out of my chest.
She positions us so we stand maybe four feet from the ledge. Shit. This isn’t going to be fun. “What’s my birthday?” she asks me.
My arms suddenly heat. I know this. I do. “February…” Think Lily, think. Use those brain cells. “…twentieth.”
Her lips twitch into a smile. “Good, you’re turn.”
“When’s my birthday?”
“August first,” she says. She doesn’t even wait for me to tell her she’s right. She knows she is. “How many serious boyfriends have I had?”
“Define serious.” I don’t know this one. I truly do not. I wasn’t even aware she started dating until I heard Josh’s name thrown around while we were shopping for Charity Gala dresses.
“I brought them home to meet Mom and Dad.”
“One,” I tell her with a less-than-confident nod.
“I had two. Don’t you remember Patrick?”
I frown and scratch my arm. “Patrick who?”
“Redhead, skinny. Kind of immature. He used to pinch my butt, so I broke up with him. I was fourteen.” She takes a step closer to the ledge since I’m clearly the worst sister ever.
I sigh heavily, realizing it’s my turn. “Uhh…” I try to think of a good question, but they all contain Lo somehow. Finally I land on something semi-good. “What part did I play in the Wizard of Oz production?” I was only seven, and upon Lo’s request, his father pulled strings and took his son out of the performance so he didn’t have to play the Tin Man. Lo was so happy that he never had to rehearse with the class. He slept in the back of the room, his mouth hanging open, taking an extra nap time while we tried to memorize condensed, age-appropriate lines.
I miss him.
“You were a tree,” Daisy says with a nod. “Rose said you threw an apple at Dorothy and gave her a black eye.”
I point at her. “That was an accident. Don’t let Rose spread lies…” That story is in her arsenal to use against me, I swear.
Daisy tries to smile, but it’s a weak one. I can tell my relationship with Rose is something that upsets her, so I let my words taper off. She asks, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”
I should know this. Shouldn’t I? But I have absolutely no clue. “An astronaut,” I throw out.
“Nice try.” She takes a step forward. “I’m not sure what I want to be.”
I gawk. “That was a trick question. No fair.”
She shrugs. “Wish you thought of it first?”
I look at my distance from the wall and then hers. Two more steps and she’s on the ledge. “No thank you.” I’m ecstatic she’s answering my questions correctly, but I feel a little guilty I’m sucking at hers. I think she knew I’d fail at this game.
Maybe she wants to lose, and this way, I can’t tell her to jump down. Not if it’s all part of the game. Jesus, I hope that’s not the case. But my stomach sinks at the thought. It seems more and more likely it is.
“What’s my middle name?” I try an easy one.
“Martha,” she says with a laugh. “Lily Martha Calloway. Doesn’t it suck to be named after our grandmother?”
“Look who’s talking, Petunia.” She was saddled with a second flower name.
“You know what boys always ask me?”
“Have you been deflowered?”
I’ve heard that one before.
Her eyes meet mine briefly. “Have I?”
The cold nips my neck. “Is that my next question?”
“You’re a virgin,” I say, hesitant. Right? The last we talked about this, we played a game on our family’s yacht, and both Daisy and Rose said their V cards were still intact.
She takes a step forward, her boots hitting the ledge.
Whaaa… “You’re lying,” I say with huge, round eyes. When the hell did she lose her virginity? To whom?!
She shakes her head and her hair flaps in the wind. She tucks a strand behind her ear.
“Was it Josh?”
“No,” she says lightly, as if it’s not a big deal. Maybe not for me, it wasn’t. I’ve actually tried to suppress the memory of my first time. It was awkward, and it hurt a little. Whenever I think about it, I start to blush. So I’ve buried it deep, deep in the recesses of my mind.
“Who? When? Are you okay?”
“A couple months ago. I don’t know…girls had been talking about sex in class, how they’ve had it and stuff. I just wanted to see what it would be like. It was okay, I guess. Definitely not as fun as doing this.” She wags her eyebrows playfully.
“But who…?” My eyes may literally pop out of my face. Please don’t be like me, is all I can think.
“A model. We did a shoot together, and he moved back to Sweden, so don’t worry, you won’t run into him here.”
I am learning so much about Daisy in one night. It’s hard to digest. I feel like I’ve just gorged myself on Five Guys Burgers and Fries, close to puking a little.
“How old is he?” Please don’t be statutory rape. I don’t know if I can hold in that secret.
I relax. “Does Rose know?”
Daisy shakes her head. “No, I haven’t told anyone that I lost it. You’re the first. You won’t say anything, right? Mom would kill me.”
“No, but…if you start hav**g s*x, you should be careful.”
“I know.” She nods a lot. “Do you think…do you think you can take me to the clinic? I kinda want to be on birth control.”
“Yeah, I’ll take you.” Another secret I’ll have to keep from the family, but this one I’ll gladly take. Unplanned pregnancy can be avoided, and girls shouldn’t feel ashamed to be on the pill. “Just promise you won’t go crazy and have sex with a bunch of random guys.” Because I would and look how awesome I turned out.
“Ew, I wouldn’t do that.” She scrunches her nose, and the bottom of my stomach drops. And this is why I can’t tell anyone else in my family about my addiction. Rose was right. They just wouldn’t understand. “Will I go to college?” she asks another question for our game. I can’t even remember if it’s her turn or mine.