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Weak and Broken

Chapter Seven

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Chapter Seven

Whiskey Lullaby

January 21st, 1998

Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

            Joni sat in her last period class, listening to her math teacher drone on. She really wasn’t paying any attention. Over the past few days, she hadn’t been paying attention in class. Her mind was on a mixture of things. Her parents, Isaac, whom she hadn’t seen since dinner on Monday night at the Hansons’, and the sleepover she and her sister were having. Maybe she would get her guitar out, and play a little something if she felt up to it. She hadn’t picked up her guitar, or sat down at a piano since Christmas Eve a little less than a month ago. She wondered how Isaac was. Maybe if she got a free moment, she would pop across the street just to see how he was. She doubted it, since her aunt and uncle were visiting old friends that night. That meant she would be in charge. She wondered if Taylor had told Kaitlynne about his brother’s identities yet. She wondered what her reaction would be. She hoped she would take it okay and not give the boy the wrong intentions. She was glad Kaitlynne had finally gotten a date for tomorrow night. She only wished it was mom who had asked for every detail instead of her.

            The bell brought her from her thoughts, and she quickly left the room. She got her stuff from her locker, and met Allysen by her car.

            “Hey, girl,” Allysen cheered as she approached, her backpack thrown over her shoulder. She ran her hand over the roof of the car. “I still can’t believe this is your car.”

            Joni just shrugged. “My parents bought it for my sixteenth birthday.”

            “Man, your parents must’ve been loaded,” Allysen remarked.

            Joni didn’t respond. She just pretended Allysen had said anything, and she got behind the wheel. Allysen got in beside her, then laughed, as one of the high school hotties caught a look over at Joni.

            Allysen laughed. “Ooh, Joni. I see you’ve caught the eye of Kyle Gordan, the school’s leading quarterback.”

            Joni looked over at the tall brunette standing at the other end of the parking lot. He passed her a smile, which she barely returned. She shook her head, and looked over at Allysen. “Yeah right, Ally. What would Kyle Gordan see in me?”

            Allysen shrugged. “I don’t know, a potential girlfriend, maybe?”

            Joni rolled her eyes. “Yeah right, I don’t think so.” She started up the car. “Now, let’s go before my sister starts to worry that I’ve forgotten to pick her up.”

            Allysen groaned. “You mean, we have to pick up the little one?”

            Joni sighed. “Yes, Allysen. I’m not leaving her to walk home on her own, it’s a long walk.”

            “I’m sure you can do it this once,” Allysen urged. “She’s almost thirteen, she can look after herself.”

            Joni shook her head. “Age has nothing to do with it. She’s still my sister. Our mother never left her at school to walk home, and neither will I.” And with that, she left the parking lot.

            Joni picked up Kaitlynne, and her friend Susan. They got in the back seat, and Joni introduced Kaitlynne to Allysen, while Kaitlynne introduced Susan to Joni.

            “Hello,” Kaitlynne smiled cheerfully to Allysen.

            “Hi,” Allysen replied. “Wow, you two are nothing alike. Besides your looks, you two are as different as night and day.”

            “We didn’t used to be,” Kaitlynne said, trying to hide the slight sadness in her voice.

            Joni passed her sister a small smile, then drove home. Kaitlynne and Susan spoke most of the ride home.

            Joni pulled into the driveway, and put the car in the garage. Uncle Jacob and Aunt Lynda had already left; their car was gone. As they headed for the front door, Joni caught sight of Walker shoveling his driveway. It had snowed earlier that day, and he wanted it to be clean for when Diana got home. He looked up as he saw Joni heading inside.

            “Hello Joni, Kaitlynne!” he called across the street.

            “Good afternoon Mr. Hanson,” Joni replied.

            “Isaac was looking for you earlier,” Walker said, once he’d crossed the street.

            “Really, when?” Joni asked, her heart jumping slightly.

            “About a half hour ago,” Walker answered.

            “Where is he?” Joni asked.

            “He went out to the movies with Taylor and a few friends,” Walker said. “He wanted to see if you wanted to go, but you weren’t home.”

            Joni’s heart sank. “Oh… how is Ike?”

            “He’s good,” Walker answered. “He’ll be getting his braces off soon.”

            “Really? Cool,” Joni replied. “I guess that’s a relief for him.

            Walker gave a big nod. “Ooh, yeah. He came home almost ecstatic when he found out the other day.”

            Joni laughed light, which did Kaitlynne good. It was good to hear her sister laugh again.

            “Well, I do hate to cut our conversation short, but I’ve got to get the driveway finished before Diana comes home, and before Avery has a fit taking care of ZoŽ,” Walker smiled.

            “Okay, and I’ve got a sleepover to host,” Joni answered. “And tell Isaac I said hi.”

            “Okay. I’ll see you later, and I’ll tell him you were asking about him.” And with that, after a final goodbye, Walker headed back across the street to finish the driveway, and Joni headed inside.

            Allysen nearly freaked out when they got inside. “Oh my God… you didn’t just call that man, Mr. Hanson did you?”

            Joni shrugged. “Yeah, why?”

            “And his sons, Isaac and Taylor, daughters, Avery and ZoŽ?”

            Kaitlynne was confused. “Huh? What about them? They’re just our neighbours.”

            “You girls are so lucky,” Allysen said. “You guys live right across the street from Hanson!”

            “Who?” Kaitlynne asked.

            Joni sighed. “Do you remember the band that was on all those magazines up in Toronto?”

            Kaitlynne nodded. “Yeah.”

            “Well, they are our neighbours. Isaac, Taylor and Zac are Hanson,” Joni explained.

            Kaitlynne shrugged. “So?”

            Allysen nearly shrieked. “Oh my God… if only the kids at school knew… Joni, you’d be Miss Popular…”

            “And that’s exactly who I do not want to be,” Joni said. “So, you are not going to say anything.”

            “You’re going to have to say something sooner or later.”

            “I’m hoping later rather than sooner,” Joni said.

            “And the press would have a field day if they found out you were dating Isaac Hanson…”

            “Allysen,” Joni held her hand up. “Stop. I don’t really care who they are. I’m not dating Isaac yet, anyway. They are nice neighbours, we’ve had dinner with them, and they’re a nice family. I don’t care about the status of the family.”

            Allysen shrugged. “Okay, whatever. So, what are we doing?”

            The girls sat around the living room, watching a movie, and eating pizza.

            “Don’t spill anything on the couch,” Joni said. “If you do, my aunt and uncle will ground Kaity and I for life.”

            “We won’t,” Susan answered.

            The movie finished, and the friends went their separate ways; Susan and Kaitlynne crashed in Kaitlynne’s room, while Joni led Allysen to her room. Once there, Joni flopped down on her bed. Today had been a long day. She looked up when she heard Allysen rummaging through her backpack.

            “Why didn’t you just leave that downstairs?” Joni asked.

            “Because of this.” Allysen pulled out five bottles of liquor; Meyer’s dark rum, Kailua, Dr. McGillicudy’s Peach Schnapps, and Vodka, along with a couple of Smirnoff’s.

            Joni looked at the alcohol now sitting on her bedroom floor. “How did you get a hold of this? You’re still underage…”

            “I stole it from the bar at home,” Allysen answered simply. “And you are going to have a drink.”

            Joni shook her head. She didn’t want the alcohol in her room. “No, Allysen, put it away, please. My sister’s in the next room. I don’t want her to catch me drinking… I’ll be a bad influence.”

            “Oh, c’mon. Kaitlynne and her friend are probably too busy playing with their Barbies to care about what we’re doing in here,” Allysen said. “Why are you so concerned about Kaitlynne anyway?”

            “Because I’m her older sister,” Joni answered. “Since our parents died, I’m the one she’s going to look up to, and I don’t want her to see me doing something bad, and have her think that because I’m doing it, she can do it too.”

            “You need to let it go, Joni,” Allysen said. “It’s been what, almost a month? I think it’s time you let it go, and have a drink. I’ll go and get the Pepsi and milk from downstairs.” And Allysen left the room.

            Joni sighed, and stood up to look out her bedroom window, which faced the Hanson family home. She knew Allysen was only trying to help her, but she wasn’t ready to let go. Not yet. Her parents had always been there when she or Kaity had needed them, and now, Joni had to be there when Kaitlynne needed her. She watched Diana pull into the clean driveway; Walker got it finished after all. Jessica and Mackenzie chased each other on the front lawn, then greeted their mother with a huge hug and a kiss. She sighed, watching the happiness radiating off of that family of nine, and a tear escaped her eye.

            “Hey.” Allysen’s voice came from behind her. She was back.

            Joni hastily wipe her cheek, and turned around. “Hey.” Maybe a drink would help her forget the memory of that awful day. She joined Allysen on the floor of her room, after locking her door.

            “Choose your drink,” Allysen said.

            Joni reached for the rum and the Pepsi, mixing a strong drink. She had a couple of these at parties back home, and knew she liked them. Allysen had brought up a carton of orange juice, and mixed herself a vodka and orange juice.

            “Cheers.” The girls clinked cups, and each took a long swig of their drinks. The rum burned lightly at Joni’s throat, and she sighed. That felt so good.

            Allysen laughed. “I told you this would be a good thing.”

            Joni nodded, but still had a couple of doubts. Why did alcohol have to be so tempting? She finished the drink, then mixed herself another, already beginning to feel the alcohol. The doorbell sounded a moment later. She groaned, and got up to answer it. She went downstairs, the drink still in her hand, and opened the door. Isaac was standing on the front steps.

            “Hey,” he smiled. That damned smile made her melt every time she saw it.

            “Hey,” she answered, leaning up against the doorframe. Everything seemed brighter now to her, with the alcohol in her system, and seemed to move in slow motion.

            “My dad said you were asking about me,” Isaac said.

            Joni was confused for a moment, before she remembered the conversation earlier that day. “Oh, yeah. I was just asking how you were.”

            “Well, I’m doing good,” Isaac said. “I dropped by earlier to ask if you wanted to come to the movies with Taylor and a few friends, but you weren’t home.”

            “I know. Your dad told me.”

            “Who is it?” Allysen called from the stairs.

            Joni cringed. “No one… I’ll be there in a minute.” And she closed the door to give her and Isaac a little more privacy.

            “I see you’re having a sleepover, so I won’t keep you,” Isaac said. “I just wanted to see how you were doing with everything, and since we haven’t seen each other in a couple days, I thought you might like to see me…”

            Joni nodded. “Yeah, I did, and I would invite you inside, but my parents said no boys, and there’s a Hanson fan inside, so that would not be good for you.”

            Isaac looked at Joni confused. Did she just say, her parents said no boys? “Um… your parents?”

            Joni froze, now realizing what she had said. “Um… I ah… I meant my aunt and uncle… I… ah…”

            Isaac gave her a reassuring smile. “It’s okay.” It was then that he noticed the cup in her hand, and her light state of instability. A light breeze came around the corner of the house, and that’s when he caught a whiff of the distinct smell of rum. “That’s not alcohol in there, is it?” he asked, stating the obvious in a question.

            “What? Oh, don’t worry about it, I’ll be fine… I just need something to help me let go, you know…”

            Isaac nodded, although he knew she was going about it the wrong way. Her friend was not a good influence on her, especially when she was at her lowest low. Alcohol would only make it worse. He wanted to tell her not to drink anymore, but knew she wouldn’t listen to him. The best he could do was offer help that he was certain she wouldn’t take willingly. He placed a hand on her shoulder. “Listen, if you happen to have too much tonight, don’t be afraid to come over, and I’ll help you out, okay? You can come over at anytime, even if I’m not home. Someone will be home, and know you can come over whenever you like, right?”

            Joni nodded. “Yeah, I know. Don’t worry, Ike, I’ll be fine. I promise.”

            Isaac nodded. He just hoped nothing happened tonight. He was worried about her. “Okay. Well, I’ll let you get back to your sleepover. And remember, if you need anything, anything at all, I’m right across the street.”

            “I know,” Joni replied. “I’ll see you later.” And she went back inside the house, and back to her room.

            Isaac stared at the closed door for a moment. He hoped she didn’t get hurt tonight. If she did, he didn’t know what he would do. She was co concerned about protecting her sister, and trying to let go, she had nobody to protect her. He wanted to be there whenever she needed him.

            Joni got back upstairs and into her room, where she continued to drink. She and Allysen drank until well after Kaitlynne and Susan had gone to bed. Both Allysen and Joni ended up in the bathroom with their heads in the toilet numerous times, before they were finally able to go to bed, which was the floor. Joni felt guilty for the drinking binge, and thought about calling Isaac, but she couldn’t deny how good she felt now that she had been drinking. For one night, she had forgotten about her parents’ deaths. She had finally been able to let go for one night.

Chapter Eight