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Then There Were Two

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Joan Girardi sat alone on the small, saggy bed in the cabin she’d been assigned to. Her knees were hugged tightly to her chest, her arms looped around them and her chin resting on her knees as she stared outside the small window. It was a sunny, warm summer day and everyone else was out enjoying it.

She didn’t want to be around anyone. She wanted to be left alone to think, but mostly to grieve. To grieve the loss of something she honestly no longer knew of whether existed in the first place. Maybe she really was just crazy.

“This place blows.” An unfamiliar voice caused Joan to look up and see a girl her age with shoulder-length brown hair and green eyes scowling as she looked around the cabin.

Joan didn’t respond, but she couldn’t help but agree.

“I can’t believe the parental’s sent me to crazy camp.” The girl rolled her eyes and plopped down beside Joan on the bed without waiting for an invitation.

Joan couldn’t help but stare at her in surprise. None of the other girls had even attempted to talk to her since she’d arrived at Gentle Acres the day before.

“So what are you in for?” the girl asked with a raised eyebrow.

When she spoke, her voice was quiet, a little strained. “Lyme Disease.”

The girl looked surprised. “Then why are you here?”

Joan shifted her gaze away, to the floor and didn’t respond.

“My bad. My parents are shrinks. I have this bad habit of trying to psychoanalyze people.” The girl raked a hand through her silky hair. “I’m Judith Montgomery.”

“Joan,” she murmured. “Joan Girardi.”

“Well, Joan Girardi, I don’t know about you, but I say we make this place more interesting.” There was a hint of a challenge mixed with mischievousness in Judith’s eyes that made Joan smile despite herself.

“How?”

Judith grinned and stood up. “Trouble is my middle name.” She stood and held a hand out to Joan. “Let’s go torment Dr. Dan.”

She stared at the girl’s extended hand for a long moment, then slowly accepted the offer of friendship, rising to her feet. Her name was Joan after all.