The Girl Called # 11: Family
A FEW weeks later Hanna, Nicky and Kari were sitting at Red’s Inn, which was owned by Fredrick Quinn, a man about in his late forties. Everyone called him either Red or Mr. Red.
They were all sipping milkshakes; Kari’s was a vanilla, Nicky’s coffee and Hanna’s was a chocolate. As they sipped their shakes, Red came up to them and asked, “So guys; how do you like your shakes?”
They all gave thumbs up and suddenly, they all fell off their chairs and landed on the floor.
“Brain Freeze?” Red asked, grinning. The girls nodded.
“Ugh, I hate it when I have those things,” Nicky groaned, massaging her head. Hanna and Kari nodded. “So Mr. Red,” Nicky said sipping slowly, back on her seat, “Are you coming to our last game?”
Red nodded. “Of course. Are you all on offense?”
“Basically,” Nicky replied.
“Hanna’s been giving us some tutoring,” Kari said. Red looked at Hanna.
“Really? Well that was very nice of you, Hanna.”
Hanna blushed. “Oh it’s not hard. They’re better than me!”
“Not TRUE!” Kari and Nicky exclaimed at the same time. “She’s way better than me,” Nicky said. “And she works harder.”
“I wish Erica would stop bothering her,” Kari said.
Hanna groaned. “Totally. Last week, she sent a message to Cory Bruce, saying that I wanted to meet him at lunch period in the parking lot. When no one showed up he went back inside and got detention. I haven’t seen him since.”
“Hmm..” said Red. “This Erica couldn’t be the same Erica Rhode, could it?”
Hanna looked puzzled. “The same Erica? What do you mean—”
Hanna was interrupted by Nicky’s phone ringing. Nicky quickly dug through her purse and withdrew the phone.
“Hello?” she said.
“Oh, hi Mrs. Anderson.”
“Um, Nicky, is Hanna there?”
“Uh-huh, she’s right here; I’ll put here on the phone.”
“Oh, thank you.”
Nicky passed the phone to Hanna. “It’s your mom.”
“Hi, sweetie. Can you be home in five minutes?”
Hanna looked around the counter of the shop. “Sure, why?”
“Well, your aunt is having a Reunion on Friday. We need to have Meeting in about—oh my goodness, three minutes. Hanna, you have to come home, right NOW!”
“Okay, I’m coming. Bye Mom.”
“Bye, Hanna. Love you.”
Hanna quickly left Red’s Inn and biked back home as fast as she could: with chocolate milkshake dripping on her wheels.
~* * * *~
Hanna finally flung herself on the couch while Mike, Kayla and her older sister Imani, or Manny as they called her, sat on the floor. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson sat together on the piano bench. As Hanna took off her hoodie,
Mrs. Anderson began to speak.
“Alright, we’ve had this Meeting for one purpose: to vote on what should we schedule the Reunion for on the 17th or the next day? Mike?”
“Nothing for me,” he answered. “But do I have to go?” he added.
“Yes, who’ve already spoken, Manny?”
“Fine by me.”
Being nine wasn’t the best age for Kayla. But what could she do, say no.
What’s a good excuse? she wondered. Ooh! I know!
“I can’t make it,” she finally said.
Mrs. Anderson looked puzzled. “Why not?”
“Because, I promised Lucy could come at our house on the 17th. Umm… when is the
“Soon, and you’re going.”
“Oh-man!” Kayla groaned.
“Anyway,” Mr. Anderson said, “How about your, Hanna?”
Hanna though about it. “I don’t think so, but I’ll have to check with Nicky and Karri.”
“Because, we’re probably going to Nicky’s to bake cookies for our Sunday School.”
“I almost forgot, when’s your last game?” Mrs. Anderson asked.
“Okay, that settles it, the reunion will be on the 17th at Robinson Park.”
Hanna smiled. “Case adjourned.”
~* * * *~
At school, while the team was doing some drills, Mr. Roberts came up to them and made them do a huddle. “Alright gals,” he said, “you may be wondering where is our co-coach Mrs. Oliver. Well, it seems her sister is having a baby in Georgia. So, she is going to help her while her husband stays here. But, she won’t be back in time for the game and she’s needs to be here or else we can’t play. So the game is going to be changed from the 11th to the 17th. Is that alright with everyone or is someone gonna’ speak up? Hm?
He didn’t wait for any answers.
“Okay, now let’s get out there and finish this practice!”
As Hanna jogged out to the field, she barely noticed that she had made a big mistake not saying anything. When she got home, Mrs. Anderson was talking with Hanna’s aunt on the house phone.
“Yeah, and everyone is coming…. Yep, on the15th of this month… uh-huh.. no, not 16th, 15th——”
“Oh no!” Hanna suddenly exclaimed. Mrs. Anderson took the phone off her ear and looked curiously at Hanna. “What happened?” she asked. Hanna looked right and left. “I-I thought I saw a mouse.” she stammered.
Mrs. Anderson raised her eyebrows.
“Really?” she asked, or actually, said.
“Yeah…. I’m going to finish my homework.”
Hanna ran as quickly as she could up to her room and locked the door shut.
“What am I going to do?!” she pondered. “Mom’s going to be so disappointed that I probably won’t be able to go.” Then a sudden dreadful thought popped into her head. “What if Mom doesn’t let me go to the game. What if I have to sit around with Kayla and say how tall I am and how I rather be at my game than at this STUPID Reunion. Ugh!
Why did it have to be on the same day? I’ve got to talk to Mom…. I know! I’ll go talk to Dad; he’ll reason with Mom.”
But Mr. Anderson was not home at that time of the day. He wouldn’t be home by dinner, and Hanna knew she would explode if she didn’t tell someone by then. Then she remembered someone else who she could talk to.
“Wanna meet me at Red’s Inn?”
“Sure, what time?”
“Uh… Okay, I’ll meet you there in about ten minutes.”
“Fine, see yah later.”
Hanna quickly hung up the phone, slipped on her purple coat, raced down the stairs and yelled as she closed the door, “Bye, Mom; going to hang with Nicky at Red’s Inn.” and before Mrs. Anderson could utter a word, she was gone.
Hanna unlocked her bike and peddled down Snediker Street towards Red’s Inn. When she finally got there, Nicky wasn’t there yet. That’s fine, Hanna thought as she sat in a booth by a window. As she looked over what she wanted over the panini list, a shadow came over her table. She looked up only to see Cory Bruce. He wore a blue T-shirt with an apron that said:
RED’S INN and it had his name printed but it said CORYN. Hanna giggled. “ ‘Coryn’? Is that what Mr. Red calls you?”
Cory snickered. “Yeah, right; it’s only a typo. The lady who wrote this for Mr. Red has some hearing problems; besides, she is his mother.”
At this, they both laughed and talked more about things that they didn’t have the time for since they were both busy with the soccer season and everything. Finally, when they started talking about their last games, Hanna. She suddenly became quiet. Cory stood, waiting for her to finish what she was saying “You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah… I guess,” Hanna answered. “It’s just that—I may not be able to make it to the final game.”
“‘Cause, my mom wants me to go to a Reunion; on the same day!” Hanna groaned at this and placed her head on her arms.
“Where’s it going to be?” Cory asked.
“At Robinson Park,” Hanna said, which was muffled by her sleeve. Cory bent over the table and when Hanna lifted her head he was smiling.
“Don’t sweat,” he said. “You’ll be able to play.”
He left quietly and as he went behind the counter into the kitchen, Hanna realized: “Hey, you forgot my order!” she yelled across the room.
Cory blushed when he came back, but there was no swagger in his step.
~* * * *~
When Nicky finally got there, Hanna got straight to the point and told Nicky what was going on and how she was wondering if she would help. As Hanna talked, Nicky was silent which was not normal because Nicky was always her cheerful talkative self. But when Hanna ended, Nicky told her what she thought.
“I think you should go to the Reunion.” she said.
Hanna was shocked.
“What?!” Hanna exclaimed. “Why do you say that?”
Nicky took a deep breath.
“Look, if you were ever wondering back in the beginning school when Erica Rhode asked why I would go so low as to hang out with you and Tony, it’s because… I used to be Erica’s best friend.”
Hanna’s mouth opened like a door. “When?” was all she could say.
Nicky took a deep breath. “When I was four, Erica became my best friend. We hung out together, went to the Red’s Inn and were like sisters.
"Now, let me tell you this: Erica was already rich when we became friends. She almost never thought of money. The number one thing to her was play-money—” at this Hanna giggled “—but when she came home from her rich summer camp, she became this snobby, mean and stuck-up girl who seemed to think of me as some sort of toy.
"All she wants is for her own pleasure, nothing for others. When she came back I was hurt... a lot. And whenever I see her be mean to someone, it hurts to remember how she really was before.”
After Nicky told the story of Erica’s past, Hanna felt as if she met two new people: the sad, lonely Nicky and the sweet and friendly Erica. But something didn’t make sense.
“What does this have to do with me?” Hanna asked. Nicky sighed.
“I don’t want you to be like Erica, always wanting something for yourself. But I like Jesus, someone who cares about others more than herself. I believe that’s the true Hanna Anderson.”
~* * * *~
After Hanna locked her bike in the backyard of her house, she walked upstairs and went into her room. She thought of what Nicky had said, of Erica’s story. She then realized that she forgot something: she forgot to pray.
She knelt down by her bed and prayed.
I… I need your guidance and help for this situation… I don’t know what to do—well, I do but I’m afraid I’ll lose everything I’ve been working for. Fame. Popularity. Friends. I was wondering… Could you tell me, if I should do what my gut tells me but what my hearts wants? Please LORD Jesus, I wait for your call.
As soon as she stood from her bedside, she knew she would to do.