Noelle was barely a year or two older than me, but her height made her all kinds of daunting as she looked at me like I was actually troublesome little Miley.
This was NOT good. In just my ballet leotard, I knew I looked nothing like my more put together self, especially since I hadn’t had the chance to shower after a grueling lesson and an annoyingly long walk. Normally, I’d just flash my school ID or driver’s license and that would be the end of it. All those things were upstairs, however, since I had rushed down here to answer the door. And the distrustful brunette before me didn’t seem like she was the type to give me the chance anyway.
“Noelle,” I said, choosing my words carefully. She was a babysitter, and clearly Miley’s track record wasn’t doing me any favors during this mixup. One wrong move, and I was screwed without proof of who I really was. “Follow me to my bedroom?” I suggested, “There are a thousand things in there that will prove that I’m not Miley.”
She gave me a long look. Studying me, if I had to guess, to see if I was telling the truth. The secondhand Miley stories I had heard painted enough of a picture–thirteen year old girl with some serious manipulative tendencies–but I didn’t know their family nearly enough to know the details. Just that the girl probably pouted when she was in trouble and was adept at playing innocent and lying through her teeth, like any tween who had figured out how to game the system at a young age.
So I wouldn’t do that. I would present cold, hard facts.
“Hmm,” Noelle mused, “Okay. We’ll see your room and then I’ll call your parents. Lead the way, ‘Alyssa.’”
The air quotes tempted me to snap something back at her. This day had already been long enough; this was the last thing that I needed. But if Noelle refused to literally walk three doors down to verify the truth, then this was the second best option. “Follow me,” I said. Heading back up the way I had come down a minute ago, this time with an unwanted guest just a few paces behind me, I didn’t even pause to check that she was still behind me when I reached the top of the stairs. If the IDs weren’t enough, senior year was recent enough that I still had all my binders full of assignments. As elaborate as Miley’s schemes might be, there’s no way she could pull off something like that.
And, of course, her parents would clear things up now that I had gotten Noelle to agree to make the call.
When I was a few feet from my door, however, she called from behind me, “Miley, wait.” I turned around on reflex, silently cursing myself for responding to my not-name simply due to how Noelle’s voice pierced the silence. Rather than continuing to address me, she was looking through Paige’s open door. “Hello?”
“Umm, hey,” Paige said. I couldn’t quite see her around the corner, especially with Noelle in the way, but it was easy enough to picture her expression. While Paige brought over her friends unannounced all the time, she was never a fan of when I did the same. “You’re new.”
“Well, yeah. The last few barely lasted a single day,” Noelle replied, “No one told me Miley had a sister.”
“That’s because Miley doesn’t have a sister,” I spoke up, “She’s an only child. Unlike me.” Well, kind of. Technically, I was an only child, even if I legally had a sister at this point.
“Sorry, what’s going on?” Paige asked.
Sighing, I abandoned the beeline I had been making for my bedroom and slipped past Noelle to take a few steps into Paige’s room. “Miley’s parents hired her,” I explained, “And she got the wrong address. End of story.”
An almost imperceptible smile appeared on Paige’s face, but it vanished just as quickly. The only reason I caught it was because I was used to her antics and all the knowing smirks and glances she gave me when getting away with little jabs that were ‘innocent’ on the surface that had patronizing double meanings meant just for me. Because size insults are SO original.
“Miley, we’ve been over this,” Paige said, “You can make up whatever little stories you want, but don’t expect me to corroborate them. Big word, sorry. I’m not going to lie for you, sis!”
Mouth gaping in shock at my sister’s reply–especially what she called me–it took me a moment to collect myself enough to find the words. “Paige, stop fucking around!” I exclaimed, “Tell her who I really am. Who we really are.”
“I just did, Miley. You’re the one Noelle is here for, and your older sister. Oh, and watch your language.” She turned to Noelle. “I’m sorry if you weren’t expecting me. I’ll be coming and going, so just pretend I’m not even here. Did our parents cover you for food?”
“I’m all set, thanks,” Noelle said, “Through Sunday evening, at least.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! Hadn’t my brat of a sister screwed with my day enough?! Rolling my eyes and focusing my attention on the babysitter that seemed to be fully back to the assumption that I was actually the girl she was hired to watch, I went back to the original plan. “She’s lying, Noelle. Come on, let’s go to my room. I’ll show you.”
At that, Paige hopped up from her gaming chair. “Nice try, Miley!” she said, “You know what Mom said. No more spending all day in your room. You’re not allowed in there until after you brush your teeth tonight, remember?”
Oh, my God! She knew I had proof in there, and she was trying to prevent it!!! “Paige-”
“Miley.” How many times had she called me that in a matter of seconds? It was so obvious what she was doing. “How about you tell Noelle who you really are? If you can be honest, for once in your life, maybe she’ll make an exception for you.”
Of course, that one noncommittal word made me skeptical.
‘Maybe . . .’
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Stories of Age/Time Transformation