“Okay,” she said, but her voice dripped with doubt. Her brown doe eyes, which were shaped like Mama’s, were filled with the deepest look of sorrow. “Can you get the jar? And the bag of coins?”

I sighed, but agreed. I hurried to the living room where we’d left the jar and the bag of change sitting the night before. The Mason jar was wrapped with pink and black ribbon, and it was almost full of coins. We had started the jar when Mari was diagnosed seven months ago. The jar had the letters NT written on the side, which stood for negative thoughts. Whenever one of us had a bad thought race through our minds, we’d place a coin in the jar. Every negative thought was leading to a beautiful outcome—Europe. Once Mari was better, we’d use the money to go toward us backpacking across Europe, a dream we’d always wanted to bring to life.

For every present negative thought, the coins were a reminder of better tomorrows.

We had eight jars filled to the top already.

I sat back down on Mari’s bed, and she pushed herself up a bit then grabbed the bag of change.

“Pod,” she whispered.

“Yes, Pea?”

Tears raced down her cheeks faster and faster as her small frame was overtaken by emotion. “We’re going to need more change.”

She poured all the coins into the jar and when she finished, I wrapped her up in my arms where she continued to fall apart. They had been married and healthy for five years and it only took seven months of sickness to make Parker vanish, leaving my poor sister brokenhearted.

“Lucy?” I heard as I sat on the front porch. I’d been sitting in the rocking chair for the past hour as Mari rested, trying my best to understand how everything that unfolded was destined to happen. When I looked up, I saw Richard, my boyfriend, hurrying my way as he leaped off his bicycle and then leaned it against the porch. “What’s going on? I got your text message.” Richard’s shirt was covered in paint as always, a result of him being the creative artist he was. “I’m sorry I didn’t answer your calls. My phone was on mute while I drank my sorrows away about being declined an invite to yet another art gallery.”

He walked up to me and kissed my forehead. “What’s going on?” he asked again.

“Parker left.”

It only took two words for Richard’s mouth to drop. I filled him in on everything, and the more I said, the more he gasped. “Are you kidding? Is Mari okay?”

I shook my head; of course she wasn’t.

“We should get inside,” he said, reaching for my hand, but I declined.

“I have to call Lyric. I’ve been trying to for hours, but she hasn’t answered. I’m just going to keep trying for a while. Do you think you can go check on her and see if she needs anything?”

He nodded. “Of course.”

I reached out and wiped some yellow paint from his cheek before leaning in to kiss him. “I’m sorry about the gallery.”

Richard grimaced and shrugged. “It’s okay. As long as you’re okay with dating a turd who’s not good enough for his work to be showcased, then I’m okay with it.”

I’d been with Richard for three years now, and I couldn’t imagine being with anyone other than him. I just hated how the world hadn’t given him a chance to shine yet; he was worthy of success.

But, until it came, I’d stand by his side, being his biggest cheerleader.

As he went inside, I dialed Lyric’s number one more time.


“Lyric, finally.” I sighed, sitting up straighter as I heard my sister’s voice for the first time in a long time. “I’ve been trying to reach you all day.”

“Well, not everyone can be Mrs. Doubtfire and work part-time at a coffee shop, Lucy,” she said, her sarcasm loud and clear.

“I actually only nanny now. I quit the coffee shop.”

“Shocking,” she replied. “Listen, do you need something, or were you just bored and decided to call me repeatedly?”

Her tone was the same one I’d known for most of my life—complete disappointment in my entire existence. Lyric had a way of putting up with Mari’s quirks, especially since Mari had finally settled down with Parker. Lyric was, after all, the one who introduced the couple to one another. When it came to my relationship with my eldest sister, it was the complete opposite. I often thought she hated me because I reminded her too much of our mother.

As time went by, I realized she hated me because I was nothing more than myself.

“Yeah, no. It’s Mari.”

“Is she okay?” she asked, her voice drenched with fake concern. I could hear her still typing away on her computer, working late into the night. “She’s not…?”

“Dead?” I huffed. “No, she’s not, but Parker left today.”

“Left? What do you mean?”

“He just left. He packed his bags, said he couldn’t deal with watching her die, and drove away. He left her alone.”

“Oh my God. That’s insane.”

“Yeah, I agree.”

There was a long moment of silence and me listening to her type before she spoke again. “Well, did you piss him off or something?”

I stopped rocking in the chair. “What?”

“Come on, Lucy. Since you moved in to help, I’m sure you haven’t been the easiest person to live with. You’re a lot to handle.” She somehow managed to do what she always did when I was involved in any situation—she made me the villain. She put me at fault for a coward walking out on his wife.

I swallowed hard and ignored her comment. “I just wanted you to know, that’s all.”

“Is Parker okay?”

What? “I think what you meant to say was ‘Is Mari okay,’ and no, she’s not. She’s dealing with cancer, her husband just left her, and she hardly has a penny to her name, let alone the strength to keep going.”

“Ah, there it is,” Lyric murmured.

“There what is?”

“You’re calling me for money. How much do you need?”

My stomach knotted at her words and a taste of disgust spread on my tongue. She thought I’d called her because I wanted money? “I called you because your sister is hurting and feels alone, and I thought you might want to come see her and make sure she’s okay. I don’t want your money, Lyric. I want you to start acting like a freaking sister.”

Another moment of silence passed, along with more typing.

“Look, I’m swamped at work. I have these cases coming up for the firm, and I can’t be pulled away from them right now. There’s no way I’d be able to get by her place until maybe next week or the week after.”

Lyric lived downtown—a short twenty-minute drive away—but still, she was convinced it was too far away.

“Never mind, okay? Just pretend I never called.” My eyes watered over, shocked by the coldness of someone I’d once looked up to in my life. DNA told me she was my sister, but the words she spoke conveyed that she was nothing more than a stranger.

“Stop it, Lucy. Stop with the passive aggressive approach. I’ll drop a check in the mail tomorrow, all right?”

“Don’t, seriously. We don’t need your money, and we don’t need your support. I don’t even know why I called you. Just mark it down as a low point of mine. Goodbye, Lyric. Good luck with your cases.”