Worthy, Big Sis

Abigail is having lunch alone in the cafeteria and studying for her midterm exams. Her mother and cousin are expected later that evening, so she’s hoping to get most of her studying done before they arrive. Her phone rings, and she doesn’t recognize the number. She answers.

“Abigail. This is Jillian Hawkins.”

“Jillian? I didn’t know you had my number. Did Neil give it to you?”

“Not exactly.”

“Okay. What can I do for you?”

“I’m going to be in Portland and wanted to see if we could meet up.”

“You want to meet me?”

“Yeah. Neil keeps telling me about you, so, since I’m going to be there, I thought I’d see if you’re available.”

“When are you here?”

“End of the week. I have a pharmaceutical conference so I’ll be there through the weekend.”

“My mom and cousin are going to be in town, and I want to spend time with them.”

“Okay, what about early afternoon Thursday? I can always ditch out on one of these seminars and we can hook up for drinks somewhere.”

“That could work.

“Great. I’ll be at the Hyatt. I’ll ring you up when I get in.”

When Rhiannon and Genevieve arrive, Abigail takes them by the rehearsal hall, where Neil’s working on a new number for the band. After the introductions, Neil asks Genevieve, “Can you play a didgeridoo? It’s an aboriginal instrument from Australia.”

“Why are you asking her about this?” Abigail says.

“I want to expand the band’s sound. You said she’s a prodigy.”

Genevieve considers it. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Excellent. I know a guy who could teach you.”

“Why don’t you just ask him to be in the band?” Abigail says.

“He wants too much money.”

“Do you need keyboards?” Genevieve asks.

“Sure,” Neil says.

Genevieve goes to the piano and sits. “Any requests?”

Neil thinks it over. “Steely Dan.”

Genevieve nods and looks through her music books. She takes out her Steely Dan songbook and turns to a page. She props the book on the music stand and begins playing the piano portion of Aja. Neil nods in time with the music.

“Oh yeah, she’s way better than I am,” he says to Abigail.

Rhiannon sits beside Abigail and puts her arm around her daughter. “Now this is something I recognize.”

“Jillian called me,” Abigail says to Neil.

“Jillian, my sister?”

Abigail nods. “She wants to get together tomorrow afternoon.”

“Did she say why?”

“She says she just wants to hang out. She told me you didn’t give her my number.”

“I wouldn’t have needed to. Ever since she came face to face with Dad’s infidelity, she’s spent her time chronicling as many of his past indiscretions as she can.”

“She has?”

“I’m willing to bet she knows more details about the circumstances of your birth than you do. It’s probably how she got your number.”

“She doesn’t have anything better to do with her time?” Rhiannon asks.

“I think it’s a hobby. Some folks do needlepoint, some play chess. Jillian spends time investigating our father.”

Abigail has a thought. “Didn’t you say someone called looking for my number a month or so ago.”

“Yes. She said she was from some campus organization,” Rhiannon says. “I quizzed her and she seemed to know the right answers, so I assumed she was legit.”

“That was probably her,” Neil says.

“What’s she like? Does she take after either of your parents?”

“She kind of got the worst of both — Dad’s intensity with Mom’s determination. Since she cut Dad off, she’s added self-pity to the mix as well.”

“Well, now I’m really looking forward to this. Anything else?”

“Don’t be polite. She doesn’t respond well to politeness. If you have something on your mind, it’s best to just say it.”

Genevieve finishes and everyone applauds.

“So, think you can use me?” Genevieve asks Neil.

“Sure. Think your mother would want to move to Portland?”

“I seriously doubt Aunt Rosie would want to move,” Abigail says. “Seattle’s familiar to her. Plus, our grandma is there.”

“You’re welcome to join us while you’re here,” Neil tells Genevieve. “If we’re ever up your way, we’ll look you up.”

“So, some sight-seeing followed by some Italian, then we get to hear your band,” Rhiannon says. “Sounds like the perfect Friday in Portland.”

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