The Cullen Girls Part 7
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Arts Entertainment

The Cullen Girls: Part 7

Follow the lives of Meredith, Amy, Olivia, Sarah, and Jane Cullen, as they navigate the unknown territories that come with building a family through adoption.

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Kerri Caldwell
Kerri Caldwell

Jane puts her face in her hands. "This is too confusing, Meredith."

"What's confusing, baby? You had a family before us. And now you have a family after them. No one can replace them. Your sisters know that, and I know that. It doesn't bother anyone."

Jane still doesn't look convinced.

"How about this. You keep doing what you've been doing, and I don't need to know about it, not unless you want me to." With these words, Meredith wraps her arms around Jane, and then lets her be by herself. There's no answer when she knocks on Sarah's door, so she heads down to the kitchen when she hears someone.

"You're back!" Olivia says when she sees her mother. "Wait, you're back?" She checks the time, looks outside, then looks at Meredith, brows furrowed. "There's still light out. Was he that bad?"

"You know, Olivia, a date doesn't have to go on overnight just to be good."

Olivia's mouth opens. "What?" she yells, surprised, and Meredith laughs. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Yeah, I'm sure," Meredith teases, sitting at the counter. Olivia joins her, and from where they sit they can see the gardens in the backyard. There were four flower gardens that they had each dug, planted, and cared for. Jane's thrived the most, and surprisingly, so did Olivia's. Meredith had all the vegetable gardens, and they were eating something from them almost every day. They can see Amy in her garden, picking flowers to take home.

"Did Amy talk to you about Jane?"

"Yes, and I talked to Jane. She feels guilty enough about what she's doing that she sneaks around to do it. I told her it didn't bother me, but she just can't see how." Meredith shakes her head. "I should've been talking to her about this from her first day. So she knew from the beginning it wasn't a big deal."

"I don't think it would've mattered, Mer. She never talked about them. As far as she was concerned, they didn't exist."

"Yeah, I guess I'd rather have her deal with it now, than making her deal with this when everything was so fresh and raw."

Olivia is quiet. When she thinks about Sarah, Olivia knows Meredith would rather deal with her situation now, too. The only problem with that is that no one knew how to deal with it. They had all spent too many years dreading it, with endless thoughts of 'what-if's'. Before Olivia can get lost in her own loop of thoughts, Amy comes through the back door, bringing in the smell of dirt.

"Hey." She greets them, setting the flowers down and joining them. She grins at Olivia. Giving mom a lecture about her dating habits?"

"Hardly." Olivia answers, rolling her eyes. Her mom and sister laugh.

"I picked some from your garden," Amy motions at the flowers, "haven't you been out there lately?"

Olivia shrugs, making Amy shake her head. She couldn't figure out how Olivia spent the least amount of time in hers, yet her garden did the best.

"Hey, mom?" Jane comes down the stairs, stopping at the bottom. "Can we go for ice cream?"

Meredith turns to her older daughters. "We'll go if they go."

In half a heartbeat Jane is giving them that look.

"Jesus, kid," Amy says. "One day that's gonna stop working."

"Not today!" Jane yells, and Amy grabs for her. Olivia catches her instead, and they get her to the ground with no effort.

"What do you think?" Amy asks Olivia. "Underarms or feet?"

Olivia looks down at Jane, squirming and already laughing uncontrollably. "Both!"

Jane's screams have Sarah running down the stairs seconds later.

"Jesus, you guys!" she yells at them. "I thought she was being stabbed." She sits at the bottom of the stairs.

"We're going for ice cream, Sarah." Jane tells her from the floor.

"No thanks."

Jane sits up silently, and Sarah knows better than to look at her. But of course she does anyway.

"Ok, ok. Fine." Sarah shakes her head. Jane gives her a big grin, but when Sarah doesn't smile back, it disappears.

"Continue." Sarah tells her sisters. Jane screams.

"No!"

Meredith watches Sarah. It wasn't always easy to tell when she was upset. But when she was younger, she had no problem letting Meredith know. She remembers the time before Sarah gained some confidence and trust. She had been attached to Meredith's hip. But the day came when Sarah started to stay out after school and get phone calls from other kids. She got invited to birthday parties and sleepovers, and before long she was Miss Popular. There were times Meredith had to keep her home because she hadn't seen her in days. But it made her world to see Sarah thriving. Once she got past all her fears, though, it was hard to go back. It almost seemed like Sarah was afraid to ever be vulnerable again. Like she was going to take a step back and not be able to move forward again.

Tonight, something is up. Although her sisters are acting fine, they don't notice how they're acting towards Sarah. It comes naturally to them to be protective, whether they realized it or not. It's the easiest way for Meredith to tell when something is wrong.

"You haven't touched your ice cream." Meredith says.

Sarah shrugs. "I'm just not in the mood."

"Since when do you need to be in the mood for ice cream?"

Sarah gives a half-hearted laugh, but doesn't say anything else. Meredith lets it go. Whatever's bothering Sarah doesn't seem too serious. If she needed her, Meredith knows Sarah will come to her.

"Guys, that was fucking horrible." Sarah moans. She's on Jane's bed with a pillow over her face. She sits up suddenly, pointing at Jane. "What the hell was with this going out for ice cream?"

Jane doesn't hide the hurt. "I just wanted us to all go out together. We weren't even gone for thirty minutes."

Sarah glares. "Well you could've picked a better time."

"Well you could've said no!" Jane shouts back.

"Right." Sarah replies sarcastically. Jane glares back at her.

"Then go. Get out of my room, I don't want you around now."

"Jane," Amy starts to say.

"No. There, now I'm saying no." Sarah smirks.

"Sarah." Amy warns, but neither one hears her. Olivia sits back watching, amused.

"Well I don't care, get out of my room!"

"NO-" Sarah shouts back, and before she knows it, Jane has jumped on her.

"Oh, my money's on Jane." Olivia says, leaning forward.

Amy shakes her head. "I don't know, Sarah's pretty pissed. You know how she gets when she's mad." They watch as the two of them come tumbling by. Jane has managed to pull Sarah off of her bed, but can't quite get her to the door.

"Oh, c'mon Jane! I've taught you better than that!" Olivia yells at her. Jane is losing and she knows it. So does Sarah, who is laughing now. This only angers Jane more.

"Ow, fuck!" Sarah screams. Jane is fighting dirty now. In response to Jane's bite, Sarah grabs her arm and pinches her bicep as hard as she can. Jane lets out a piercing scream. Sarah clamps her hand over her mouth. It's an automatic action for both of them. If they were picking on Jane when they were younger, all she had to do was scream and Meredith would come running.

"Don't do that, Jane!" Sarah hisses, letting go. She takes advantage of this brief pause and Jane ends up on the floor.

"Ok, ok. Enough." Olivia goes to Jane. "Look, now you've made her cry."

Sarah rolls her eyes, trying to catch her breath. "Yeah, well, it's not that hard. Amy makes her cry, like, every other day." Amy would laugh, except Jane really is crying.

"Janey, you ok?"

"Fuck you."

"Oh, Janey." Amy sighs, reaching for her. Jane sits up, pushing her away.

"What's your problem, Sarah?" she asks. Sarah looks at her, and something about the way she asks makes her stop. Jane stands up. "I was just trying to make you feel better! And it wasn't just for you, but way to go. Now I feel like shit. Again."

She leaves Sarah standing there, speechless.

"Oh, great," Olivia mutters. "Now she's running to Meredith."

"She's not running to Meredith." Sarah says quietly. "I'll go talk to her."

"You sure?" Amy asks, following her to the door.

"Yeah." They turn to Olivia.

"You coming?"

Olivia looks at them, then goes to Jane's computer. "Have you seen them?" she asks her sisters.

Amy and Sarah look at each other. Sarah shakes her head.

"I have." Amy says quietly, sitting on the bed.

"What are they like?" Olivia asks.

Amy smiles. "Beautiful. Happy."

They're all quiet until Amy tells them, "You can see for yourself."

Olivia hesitates. "Jane would hate us."

"Yeah, we should leave that decision up to her." Sarah adds. She puts her head in her hands. "God, I'm such an idiot. I didn't mean to yell at her like that…"

Amy puts an arm around her. "Everyone's a little touchy right now. Besides, you know how she likes to overreact and make us feel guilty over nothing."

"She didn't have to try hard this time." Sarah mutters, getting up. "I better go find her."

"What are you thinking about?" Amy asks Olivia after Sarah leaves.

Olivia shrugs. She's still at Jane's computer. "Really, I was just thinking about you and Jane. Sarah's going through all this shit, but you two won't ever have to."

"Well, it would probably be just as upsetting for me as it is for Sarah. My mom was a drug addict, Ollie."

"But you still miss her, right?"

"Yes, I do. When she wasn't messed up, she was a good mother. But when she was…"

Olivia doesn't ask, although she wouldn't know. And Amy knows better than to try to explain, because Olivia never knew whether her own parents were good people or not. They had given her up for adoption, a decision that was made before she was even born. It was the only piece of information Olivia had about her birth mother, yet it resulted in a hundred other things she knew nothing about. Why had she given her up? Was it her decision, or someone else's? Did her birth mother even know who Olivia's father was? Deep down Olivia knows she's probably better off not knowing. What her life was now more than made up for her lack of answers. She's reminded of this as she looks around Jane's room. It's covered with years of love in the form of pictures, letters, notes, movie stubs, anything and everything that could've saved to be reminded of the four of them.

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