"Maybe it won't be a big deal." Tara nibbles her bottom lip as she folds and unfolds the ticket in her hand.
"It will be fine. They'll understand," I say. She looks at me for a moment, hope filling her brown eyes. I've failed to convince her, though. She flops onto her back and grabs Yertle, the stuffed turtle I use as a pillow.
"My parents are going to flip. Straight up kill me." She covers her face so it looks like Yertle is talking as she continues, "This is all your fault."
She pulls Yertle from her face and throws him at me. "You and your stupid obsession. I wanted to leave. You were the one who couldn't drag yourself away from Sarah."
My heart falters as she drags the syllables of Sarah's name out into a school-yard taunt. Was it that obvious?
"Geez, Jess," Tara went on, oblivious to the thudding in my ears, "I know you want to get on the team, but stalking the team captain isn't the way to do it."
She doesn't know. "I'm not stalking her. I'm just making friends. My dad says things like this are all about who you know." I set Yertle at the foot of the bed as my heartbeat returns to normal. "If Sarah has a positive social association with me, she'll be more likely to look favorably on my tryouts."
Tara sits up. "That sounds just like your dad." She strokes her chin and looks dramatically toward the ceiling. She lowers the timber of her voice in an imitation of my dad, "Blah, blah ... neural networking ... blah, blah, blah ... favorable outcome ... blah, blah ... social-emotional ..."
Her eyes go big and her voice falters as my dad appears in the doorway. "Hi, girls. How was your day?"
"Fine, Mr. Skinner," Tara mumbles.
"Good. Glad to hear it. Are you staying for dinner, Tara?"
"If it's okay with you." She still hasn't looked up at him.
"We'd love to have the company," Dad says. He looks at me. "Set the table in half an hour, please?"
"Okay, well, I'll let you two get back to whatever you were doing." He turns and heads down the hall. As he walks he adds, "See you in 30. Blah, blah, blah."
Tara's eyes go wide again. She stares at me, frozen, for a beat before we both collapse on the bed, giggling.
Once we can breathe again, Tara wipes her eyes and says, "Your dad is the coolest."
"No, really. I bet your dad wouldn't freak out over a stupid speeding ticket."
"Probably not." There are plenty of other things he would freak out about, though.
Tara resumes fiddling with the ticket she'd gotten the night before.
inspired by Daily Post prompt for 8/10/16: Maybe.