| We all sleepwalked to bed that night. Numbed. What was going to happen? Their dog? They had a dog? Slaughtered? Why would robbers eliminate a dog? What did they take? All these questions floating in my mind. I dreamed of questions.
Morning came. Bright, blinding sunlight rained on my face. I opened my eyes.
"Stacy, don't go," I whispered.
"I don't want to go," replied a voice, full awake. I turned over in bed to see the occupant lying on the inflated mattress. "I don't want to go," repeated Stacy.
"I'm sorry about your dog," I said.
"That dog wasn't mine. My mom had taken in a stray dog. I never liked it."
Stacy sat up. "I think my mom is awake. I'll be right back."
I followed her and stopped outside the guest bedroom, where her mother slept. I stayed unseen.
"Mom?" Stacy was tentative. "Mom, when are we leaving?"
"Honey, I already told you, you don't have to leave with me. I don't want you to come. It's too dangerous. Those robbers are still circulating around our town. We don't know what their motives are, besides stealing."
I heard Stacy sigh. "Mom, I am coming with you. I want to protect our family just as much as you do." Now, Stacy was indignant.
"I already told you, Stacy, it is too dangerous." I could hear Tracy's tone rising, they way Mother's does when I am being stubborn. "Now, we are not going to speak of this anymore." I heard Stacy sigh once more, before her feet shuffled as if she were turning to leave. Swiftly, and soundlessly, I returned to my bedroom and leaped onto my bed just as Stacy entered.
With her head bowed, she said, "I'm not leaving." I wasn't sure what to say, so I just bowed my head, too.
| Breakfast the next morning was awkward. I didn't know what to say at all. Stacy silently ate her cereal and milk. Mother quietly ate her oatmeal and read her magazine, glancing at the stairs ever so often. Tracy would not let Mother assist her in packing. I stared at my toast for awhile before actually touching it.
Tracy was filling her suitcase upstairs; she had nailed a flight to go home the next day. I knew Stacy would not be the same after her mother left. I've never had an experience like this before. I was never skilled in comforting my friends. Unlike my school mates, who usually were sometimes sad and weak in such circumstances, Stacy seemed tense and determined, yet worried.
Footsteps. Footsteps coming down the stairs. "Stacy, I want to tell you something," said a sullen Tracy. Stacy looked up, accusation in her eyes. Her face suddenly relaxed and they both went back upstairs.
This gave my mom and me an opportunity for discussion. "Sarah, I never got a chance to talk to you about what you think of all this. I feel like we should talk about it. I know you were really looking forward to Stacy coming over...and now this happened."
"It's ok, Mom. I think I can deal with it. Although...I think I'll need some help in consoling Stacy."
"I know, dear. Don't worry, I think I know how to handle situations like these." We both glance up as Tracy and Stacy reenter the room. They wear the same face. Tracy casts a glance my mother's way, and Mother nods in return. She was ready to leave. They both piled into the car and we watched them drive away from the front porch. My eyes wandered to stare at my friend. She stood stock still, gazing at the absence of the vehicle. I went inside to fix up some grilled cheese sandwiches. I brought two out with me back to the porch where Stacy still stood in her original position, gazing. I sat in the chair and set down Stacy's sandwich beside me as I began to eat mine silently.
"I can't believe she left me," Stacy said to the driveway. I stopped chewing. I swallowed. "I mean, she knew how much help I could be. She's never listened to me before, so why should she listen to me now?" Her voice was cracking and her eyes were glassy. I put down my sandwich and plate. My legs rose and I was next to her. My arms encircled her shoulders in an embrace. She returned the gesture and layed her head on my shoulder as her tears flooded out. How long we stood there was beyond me. The next thing I knew was that I had taken her inside, let her wash her face, and presented her with the sandwich. She ate it slowly.