Thicker Than Water

Chapter Three:
Flashback: Junior High

The schoolbus was busy with children as it pulled into the front courtyard of Southwest Middle School, spilling it's contents out across the grass as students greeted friends and shrieked about what they had done over the summer.
In the midst of the melee, two girls stood, watching the craziness with quite different airs.
"Where do you suppose we go?" The younger of the two whispered. Her sister cast her a grin, gripping her hand tightly in hers.
"In through the in door, of course." She said simply. "Come on, Annie. It's no big deal. I mean, it's just school. We've been to school before. Just cos we're in a new neighbourhood, and..."
"And we don't know any of the other kids here, because all the kids we went to elementary with went somewhere else..." The girl labelled Annie shivered. "I don't want to be here, Sylvie. It's big and it's scary. I want to go home."
"We're not babies." Sylvie shook her head resolutely. "We're eleven and we're in sixth grade. Sixth graders do not run home to their Moms because they're scared. Besides, I think it's kinda fun."
Her eyes sparkled. "Lots of new people to meet and new friends to make. Come
on, Anna! We gotta go get our schedules and find our lockers and do all the other neat stuff before we have to go to classes. If we stop out here we'll get trampled on."
Anna bit her lip.
"I want to go home." She repeated.
"Well, you can't." Sylvie shrugged her shoulders. "I think it's this way.
Come on!"
And without giving her sister a chance to protest, she set off towards the big entrance arch, pulling her reluctant companion along with her.
Upon entering the building they collided head on with a black girl of around their own age, sending her tumbling to the floor.
"Watch where you're going!" The girl scrambled to her feet, then did a double take. "Woah, or maybe it's my eyes. How many of you are there?"
Sylvie giggled.
"Two." She said playfully. "I'm sorry we ran into you - we weren't really sure where we were going."
"Well, none of us really knows that on first day." The girl shrugged philosophically, casting each girl an interested look in turn. "But I sure haven't seen you girls before. What are your names?"
"I'm Sylvina and this is Anna. And we moved across DC, so we're new to the neighbourhood." Sylvie explained.
"I'm Marianne." The black girl hoisted her bag more comfortably onto her shoulders. "You sixth graders?"
Sylvie nodded her head.
"Are you?"
"Yes." Marianne agreed. Her gaze flitted to Anna. "Does she talk?"
Anna blushed, and Sylvie squeezed her sister's hand protectively.
"Anna's shy." She said reproachfully. "She talks plenty but she has to get to know you first."
"Okay." Marianne shrugged her shoulders again. She giggled. "It's a good thing you're not both shy. Do you always look the same?"
"We're identical twins." Anna said softly.
"I meant do you always do your hair the same and everything? Cos the teachers are gonna freak, but we can sure have some fun if you do." Marianne linked one arm in each of the twins'. "My sister said the office was somewhere this way, before she took off with her crowd. I hope you're in my homeroom. Wouldn't it be fun to, like, switch places on people?"
"We do that all the time." Sylvie grinned. "Even our Dad doesn't always know which of us is which. It's so funny. On our last birthday party we got identical party dresses and he didn't know who was who so he kept calling the wrong name all the time."
Anna's face broke into a shy smile at this.
"He was very confused." She agreed. "But Mommy doesn't get us mixed up."
"Annie, we don't call her that now we're in middle school." Sylvie scolded. "Mommy is for little kids. We're big kids now."
"I forgot." Anna blushed. "Mom, then."
"We had twins in our class last year." Marianne remembered at this point. "They weren't identical, though. How do you get to be identical twins, anyway? I mean, did you just kinda get born that way?"
"Yep." Sylvie nodded proudly. "Everyone says twins are rare but identical twins are even rarer, so Annie and I are special that way. Mom says twins are in the family, because Dad has a twin sister. There's never been identical twins in the Martescu family before us, though. So we're extra-special."
"And there's the bell, so we're also late." Marianne laughed. "But I think the office is this way. That's where all the kids seem to be going, anyhow."
"We shouldn't be late on our first day." Anna looked fretful, but Sylvie shrugged.
"School is boring." She said. "Finding out where our lockers are and stuff is more interesting and we can just say we got lost. Noone will know otherwise, and we can explore the school a little bit. After all we need to know where we have classes and stuff, don't we? And where we eat lunch and all that."
"Hi, Marianne!"
A boy of their age passed at that point, casting the black girl a wave. Marianne returned it with a self-conscious grin.
"Who was that?" Sylvie asked curiously, as they made their way down the hall towards the office.
"A friend of mine from my old school." Marianne shrugged. "His name's Jared."
"Is he your boyfriend?"
Marianne shook her head.
"I don't have a boyfriend." She said. Then she giggled. "But I do think he's kinda cute. Do you guys have boyfriends?"
Anna's eyes became big at this, and she shook her head.
"We're only eleven." She said.
"Boys our age are stupid." Sylvie shrugged. "They're all into sports and mud and silly things like that."
She cast Marianne a conspiratorial look. "But I like the guys on TV. They can be cute, and they're not silly."
"My sister says she had her first hickie in sixth grade, but I think she's lying." Marianne looked thoughtful. "She thinks she's all special because she's eighth grade now and she's dating some class president dude from last year. But she says some of the seventh graders might be cute, if she wasn't too old for them." 
She shrugged. "I dunno. It might be fun to have a boyfriend. You know, now we're not in baby school with the first graders."
"Maybe." Sylvie sounded cautious. "If they don't make you go watch ball games and stuff. It might be okay, if you were going to the roller rink or Chuck E Cheese, though. I mean, I guess some of the older guys might be cute."
Anna twisted her hands together.
"I don't like boys." She admitted quietly. "I like music and my barbies."
Marianne gazed at the younger twin for a moment, then she grinned, shrugging her shoulders.
"Okay." She agreed amiably. "Then Sylvina and I will share the boys. Do you mind me hanging with you, by the way?"
She grimaced, as both twins shook their heads.
"My friend Celia is in sixth grade too, but her Dad took her and her sister to Barbados for three weeks and she's not back till Friday. Doesn't it just bite?"
"Barbados?" Anna's eyes became big. Marianne nodded.
"Yeah. Her dad's some head honcho in a company and since he and her Mom split up he likes taking Cee and Bridget all over the place on vacation. It totally sucks. Mom and Dad never take us anywhere more glamorous than Orlando."
She pulled another face. "It's so totally unfair."
"We've been to England." Sylvie's eyes sparkled. "Our Aunt and Uncle live there and we stayed with them and went to London and Brighton and Swindon and all kinds of places."
"Wow." Marianne looked envious. "I've never been to Europe."
"It was fun staying with Aunt Aja and Uncle Craig." Anna agreed in her quiet voice, twisting a stray curl of hair around her index finger as she did so. "And there was a party, because it was our cousin's birthday, so we got new dresses and everything."
"It was fun except for Sammi's birthday." Sylvie scowled.
"Sylvie, you know we have to be nice to Sammi because she's our cousin." Anna sounded reproachful, and Sylvie shrugged.
"I am nice when she's there. I just think she sucks." She said unrepentantly.
"Well, girls, we found the office." Marianne pointed out at that moment, as they reached the end of the corridor. "Guess this is it - no more baby school now we're in sixth grade, huh?"


Prologue: April 1st, 1997
Chapter One: Sylva's Request
Chapter Two: Samantha...and Jesta
Chapter Three: Flashback - Junior High
Chapter Four: In The Big Apple
Chapter Five: Flashback - Sammi's Eighth Birthday
Chapter Six: Flight
Chapter Seven: Anna
Chapter Eight: Flashback - The Martescu Home
Chapter Nine: Old Wounds
Chapter Ten: Jesta's Clue
Chapter Eleven: In Translation
Chapter Twelve: Flashback - Thick As Blood
Chapter Thirteen: A Friend In Need
Chapter Fourteen: Anna's Secret
Chapter Fifteen: Wedding Day
Chapter Sixteen: Flashback - First Kiss
Chapter Seventeen: Crossing The Line
Chapter Eighteen: Colin
Chapter Nineteen: Settling Up