Upstairs, Cory pulled the clarinet case out from under her bed and stared at it. She’d had to beg for lessons. Her mom told her she’d just quit when it got hard and she wasn’t wasting the money if Cory wasn’t going to do something with it. Cory had shown her—she was still playing six years later and she was in marching band. But still . . . The fun had worn off and her music teacher was giving her harder stuff to learn. She really wasn’t putting in enough practice time lately. She thought of quitting, but how could she now? Instead of playing, she stood up, collapsed onto her bed and flipped the end of the spread over her. She could hear her mother in the next room, slamming drawers and muttering to herself. Cory drew her knees up to her chest and shut her eyes. She knew how it would be if Jess went to live with Dad next summer. She felt her mother’s complaints all around her, penetrating her skin like a thousand stinging needles. Something crashed into the sink and set her heart pounding.
The bathroom door slammed and muffled the words her mother shouted to no one but herself. It was the same conversation in an endless loop: How can he get away with this? What does he think we are supposed to live on? How could he walk out on them and ruin her life? Cory pulled the spread up over her head. It got quiet.
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