“Yes, I was just running and I got too hot I think.”
“Yeah, it’s starting to heat up a bit. We’ll probably get a lot of rain soon,” Leona says.
Amelia walks over to the table and sits with her head down. She scratches her head and then her arms, all the while chastising herself for showing nervousness. But learning what Leona might’ve done makes her skin crawl, even though she’s still trying to come up with a logical reason as to why she has Roland’s wallet.
“Did you find your keys?” Amelia asks while scratching her neck. She bites her lower lip while waiting for a response, praying Leona doesn’t suspect anything about the drawer.
“They were in my purse all along. I guess I didn’t see them.” She shrugs.
Amelia inhales her dinner and gets up from the table. She can’t spend another second pretending to be genuine, so she puts her plate in the sink and turns to rush upstairs.
“Hey! You have a birthday coming up in a couple of months. Is there anything special you want?” Leona hollers.
Yes, for you to vanish into thin air. “Whatever you decide would be fine with me. I’m not very picky.” Leona stares at her stoic face and shakes her head.
“Oh come on, all girls turning sixteen want something special.”
“Well, it will be summertime, what about going to a water park?” Amelia offers.
“That sounds like fun! Sure, I’ll plan the whole thing. Maybe we can have a little barbecue afterwards and invite some of our neighbors over,” Leona suggests.
Amelia nods in agreement. “Sounds good! Thank you.” She flies upstairs before her mouth gets her into trouble.
Before bed, she gets on her knees and prays for God to help her and her parents to stay strong. When she finishes, she crawls into bed and falls asleep. In her dream, she’s walking toward a house in the desert. She’s barefoot and the desert sand is brushing up against her white gown. The wind is blowing fierce and strong, but it’s warm and inviting to her. The sign on the billboard reads “Arizona real estate.” She continues strolling along so that she can get closer to the reddish-brown house, but it seems like it’s taking her forever to get there. A man with two little puppies is standing on his front porch, waiting for someone to save them. He checks his watch over and over, but no one shows.
Amelia looks behind her and sees a cactus with a single pink flower on top. None of the other cactuses have flowers on them. Finally reaching the front door, she’s surprised she can’t get in and somehow knows that something is keeping her from entering. She runs around to the side of the stucco house and stares inside the window.