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My Sister's Keeper By Bill Benners Characters: 12305

Updated: 2018-05-28 11:26


SYDNEY PICKED ME UP at the hospital and drove me to the site of Martha's accident. A southwesterly breeze had brought in warm tropical air and with it, the scent of the Japanese Cherry blossoms lining the other side of the road. As we stood at the corner with cars and trucks streaming past, I closed my eyes. Martha, what happened? Talk to me, Babe.

Years of memories popped into my head, one on top the other like a Fourth of July fireworks show. Things I'd long ago forgotten. The time Martha went to Donald Wolfe's house and punched him in the nose because he'd punched me at school. Martha pressing a towel to my bleeding leg after I fell over a chain-link fence and split my calf open. Martha lifting a neighbor's dog off the street and carrying it all the way home after it had been hit by a car.

I followed skid marks in front of me to the right where they jumped the curb. Tiny bits of glass, plastic, and metal lay in a ribbon of sand that stretched along the gutter. They meant something, but I'd had no sleep. I couldn't think. My mind was only clicking on one cylinder.

"See anything?" Sydney asked.

I looked back up the steep hill and shook my head. "I don't understand how she could have just rolled off into the street."

"That's a steep hill."

I tried to imagine that—her coming down that hill not being able to stop, bumping off the curb into that steady stream of traffic—but it didn't work for me. No way could that have happened. "I don't think she would have come down that hill in the first place. It's too rough. The sidewalk's all pushed up by the roots in places."

"Unless she did it deliberately."

I didn't want to think about that. I'd read her story. I knew where it had stopped with Chelsea poised on the brink of suicide and I told Sydney about it. "But I don't think Martha did this to herself. Not now. The timing's all wrong."

"Which means you think somebody had to have pushed her."

I didn't want to think about that, either. The thought of Martha being shoved into traffic and knowing what was going to happen was just too difficult to consider. My throat closed up on me as I felt the fear she must have felt and I grunted to clear it. "Who would have done that?" My eyes stung again.

"A mugger maybe?" I pondered that, but didn't reply. "Or someone from the warehouse."

I wiped my eyes, turned away from the corner, and looked up and down the street. "This is not on the way to the warehouse, so what was she doing here?"

"Looking for something?"

"Minutes earlier, she'd called Sam from the warehouse and surely had intended on waiting for him. So I think she must have either followed someone here…or was brought here."

"So—either way—there had to be someone else here."

"And she could only have come from that direction, " I said, looking east. "—or down that hill."

Sydney and I walked eastward for two blocks looking for some kind of clue, but found nothing that seemed to be connected. We returned to the corner and started up the hill when something caught her eye. She reached into the ivy next to the wall, pulled back a large class ring, and held it out on her open palm. "Some guy lost his class ring. UNC. Sigma Nu. He shouldn't be too hard to track down." She looked inside the band turning it slowly. "It's—" She gasped.

"What?"

"It's Scott's. Scott McGillikin's."

"You've got to be kidding." I looked inside. There it was. Robert Scott McGillikin. It looked clean; no dirt or film on it anywhere. "Wonder how long it's been laying out here?"

"It couldn't have been very long anyway. I've never seen him without it."

I bounced it in the palm of my hand. It was heavy. Not the

to his car. When David saw Scott, he raised his head and spoke in a slur. "Where's…Ashleigh?"

Scott tossed David's bag behind the seat and helped him into the car. "She's waiting for you, David. She asked me to take you to her."

"Why…isn't…she…here?"

Scott fastened David's seatbelt, thanked the hospital volunteer for his help, and got behind the wheel. "Ashleigh was identified at the hospital this morning and the local police are out looking for her." He opened the packet of information the hospital gave him and found a telephone number for Ashleigh. "But she's going to join us later." He set the page to the side and fired up the car's engine.

David's tongue was thick and his mind sluggish. "When?"

Dropping the faked accent, Scott replied, "Tonight, I suspect." He pulled the gearshift back and the car rumbled off.

ASHLEIGH PACKED A FEW BOXES and placed them into the Honda Civic she'd picked up for six hundred dollars, then called David's room to tell him what was going on, but got no answer. She called back, got through to the nurse on duty, and was told that David had checked out.

"What? He just had surgery yesterday! He's not supposed to check out until day after tomorrow. Please check again."

The woman on the line assured her he had checked out.

Ashleigh tried not to lose control. "When? How?"

The nurse transferred her to an administrative clerk and when she put her on hold, Ashleigh got beeped and switched to the other call. "David?"

"Hello, Ashleigh." The man's voice sounded familiar.

"Who is this?"

"I think you know."

"What do you want?"

"Would you like to speak to David?"

Ashleigh grasped the edge of a table to steady herself.

"Ashleigh?" The voice was sleepy.

She dropped into a chair. "David? Are you all right?"

"What's…going…on?"

"I don't know, Sweetie. Just—"

"As you can see, " Scott said, "he's fine…for now."

"What do you want?"

"There's that little matter of one hundred fifty thousand dollars."

"I don't have it anymore! I spent it!"

"Come on, Ash. All of it?"

"I've got…" she exhaled, "…maybe a third."

"Fifty thousand? That's like a million dollars in some parts of the world."

"Fine. It's yours."

"Good. Bring it to Wilmington tonight and keep your phone on. I'll let you know where to meet me."

"I'll never make it. My picture's all over the TV."

"That's your problem, darling." The line went dead.

"Dane? Dane!"

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