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Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen - page 12 / 18





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even seem real. Her eyes were shut, and she had tiny, spiky eyelashes. One of her hands was sticking out of her blanket, and the fingers were so little, curled slightly around one another.

“She’s beautiful,” I said, because that is what you say. “Isn’t she?” My dad grinned, bouncing her slightly in his arms, and her eyes slid open. She looked up at us, blinked, and then, just like her mom, suddenly began to cry. “Whoops,” he said, jiggling her a bit. Thisbe cried a little louder. “Honey?” my dad said, turning back to Heidi, who was still sitting in the exact same place and position, her arms now limp at her sides. “I think she’s hungry.”

Heidi swallowed, then turned to him wordlessly. When my father handed Thisbe over, she swiveled back to the windows, almost robotlike as the crying grew louder, then louder still.

“Let’s step outside,” my dad suggested, grabbing the paper bag off the end table and gesturing for me to follow him as he walked to a pair of sliding glass doors, opening one and leading me outside to the deck. Normally, the view would have left me momentarily speechless—the house was right on the beach, a walkway leading directly to the sand—but instead I found myself looking back at Heidi, only to realize she’d disappeared, leaving her coffee untouched on the table.

“Is she all right?” I asked. He opened the paper bag, pulling out a muffin and then offering it to me. I shook my head. “She’s tired,” he said, taking a bite, a few crumbs falling onto his shirt. He brushed them off with one hand, then kept eating. “The baby’s up a lot at night, you know, and I’m not much help because I have this sleep condition and have to get my nine hours, or else. I keep trying to get her to get in some help, but she won’t do it.”

“Why not?” “Oh, you know Heidi,” he said, as if I did. “She’s got to do everything herself, and do it perfectly. But don’t worry, she’ll be fine. The first couple of months are just hard. I remember with Hollis, your mom was just about to go out of her mind. Of course, he was incredibly colicky. We used to walk him all night long, and he’d still scream. And his appetite! Good Lord. He’d suck your mom dry and still be ravenous…”

He kept talking, but I’d heard this song before, knew all the words, so I just sipped my coffee. Looking left, I could see a few more houses, then what appeared to be some sort of boardwalk lined with businesses, as well as a public beach, already crowded with umbrellas and sunbathers.

“Anyway,” my father was saying now as he crumpled up his muffin wrapper, tossing it back in the bag, “I’ve got to get back to work, so let me show you your room. We can catch up over dinner, later. That sound good?”

“Sure,” I said as we headed back inside, where the sound machine was still blasting. My dad shook his head, then reached down, turning it off with a click: the sudden silence was jarring. “So you’re writing?”

“Oh, yeah. I’m on a real roll, definitely going to finish the book soon,” he replied. “It’s just a matter of organizing, really, getting the last little bits down on the page.” We went back to the foyer, then went up the staircase. As we walked down the hallway, we passed an open door, through which I could see a pink wall with a brown polka-dot border. Inside, it was silent, no crying, at least that I could hear.

My dad pushed open the next door down, then waved me in with one hand. “Sorry for the small quarters,” he said as I stepped over the threshold. “But you

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