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Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen - page 13 / 18





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have the best view.”

He wasn’t kidding. Though the room was tiny, with a twin bed, a bureau, and not much room for anything else, the lone window looked out over an undeveloped area of land, nothing but sea grass and sand and water. “This is great,” I said.

“Isn’t it? It was originally my office. But then we had to put the baby’s room next door, so I moved to the other side of the house. I didn’t want to keep her up, you know, with the noises of my creative process.” He chuckled, like this was a joke I was supposed to get. “Speaking of which, I’d better get to it. The mornings have been really productive for me lately. I’ll catch up with you at dinner, all right?”

“Oh,” I said, glancing at my watch. It was 11:05. “Sure.” “Great.” He squeezed my arm, then started down the hallway, humming to himself, as I watched him go. A moment after he passed the door to the pink and brown room, I heard the door click shut.

I woke up at six thirty that evening to the sound of a baby crying. Crying, actually, was too tepid a word. Thisbe was screaming, her lungs clearly getting a serious workout. And while it was merely audible in my room, with just a thin wall between us, when I went out in the hallway in search of a bathroom to brush my teeth, the noise was deafening.

I stood for a second in the dimness outside the door to the pink room, listening to the cries as they rose, rose, rose, then fell sharply, only to spike again, even louder. I was wondering if I was the only one aware of it until, during a rare and short moment of silence, I heard someone saying, “Shh, shh,” before quickly being

drowned out again.

There was something so familiar about this, it was like a tug on my subconscious. When my parents had first started to fight at night, this had been part of what I’d repeated—shh, shh, everything’s all right—to myself, again and again, as I tried to ignore them and fall asleep. Hearing it now, though, felt strange, as I was used to the sound being private, only in my head and the dark around me, so I moved on.

“Dad?” My father, sitting in front of his laptop at a desk facing the wall, didn’t move as he said, “Hmmm?”

I looked back down the hallway to the pink room, then at him again. He wasn’t typing, just studying the screen, a yellow legal pad with some scribblings on the desk beside him. I wondered if he’d been there the whole time I’d been sleeping, over seven hours. “Should I,” I said, “um, start dinner, or something?”

“Isn’t Heidi doing that?” he asked, still facing the screen. “I think she’s with the baby,” I said. “Oh.” Now, he turned his head, looking at me. “Well, if you’re hungry, there’s a great burger place just a block away. Their onion rings are legendary.”

I smiled. “Sounds great,” I said. “Should I find out if Heidi wants anything?” “Absolutely. And get me a cheeseburger and some of those onion rings.” He reached

into his back pocket, pulling out a couple of bills and handing them out to me. “Thanks a lot, Auden. I really appreciate it.”

I took the bills, feeling like an idiot. Of course he couldn’t go out with me: he had a new baby at home, a wife to take care of. “No problem,” I said, even though he was already turning back to his screen, not really listening. “I’ll just be back in a little bit.”

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