The command was strident in Monica's voice. It was always the same whenever she forgot to take her medicine. Charity felt her reserve slipping away. She had forgotten how long she had been looking after a crazy sister. Now, you stupid flirt, why didn't you wake up, get a good breakfast and take your damn medicine so we could avoid scenes like this? I hate you. Charity went to the china cabinet and took out a dessert plate. Then she took the bakery knife from its holder atop the counter. She cut a two-inch thick slice of lemon cake and placed it on the plate. Then taking a cloth napkin from a wicker basket, she walked slowly to where Monica and Brad sat at the kitchen table.
"Monica, may I speak to you in the living room, please?" Charity's tone was polite, soft, resigned. She turned to Brad and gave him the slice of cake and the napkin.
"I'm not leaving this room!" Monica shouted. Her face became manic and accusatory. "Whatever you have to say to me can be said in front of my friends." She clasped Brad's arm just as he picked up the cake with it. Brad, seeming to feel trapped, looked searchingly from Monica to Charity.
Charity had seen this look in her sister's eyes many times. Her parents never said what it was, but it was there. I'll bet you had some kind of problem with boys at that school. And because of all your mistakes you've messed things up for me. Mom and Dad won't talk about that school and won't let me go there. Everything for me is ruined because of you. Suddenly, Charity's anger began to surface again.
"Okay. You know the rules. Mom and Dad . . ."
"Rules, fools!" Monica spat out. Then in a sing-song voice she repeated, "Rules are for fools, rules are for fools. That's why they rhyme all the time." Monica erupted in gales of laughter and collapsed against Brad. The piece of cake in his hand dropped onto the table, breaking in two. Charity knew each moment without her medication only pushed Monica deeper into this strange behavior.
"Monica, I will give you three choices: I call the police; I call Mom and Dad; or you tell Brad goodbye and he leaves."
"I don't like being threatened," Monica moaned, her voice assuming an eerie tone. "D-d-don't threaten m-me" Her words fell from stuttering lips and sounded like a two-year-old pleading for desert. "I good girl, you know that. I'm not a slut like you."
Charity froze, the insult searing her nerves. You are definitely sick, talking baby talk and thinking I will just stand here and take your sh**. Maybe if mom and dad won't get you some help, I ought to help you. 'Cause the dope you're on just ain't cuttin' it. And I won't put up with this anymore!!
Charity looked down at the knife in her hand.
Thinking of her parents she screamed in her mind, You're both cowards! You're miserable parents who keep your crazy daughter doped up like a dirty family secret and are too afraid to talk to your sane daughter and tell her what's going on, what life's all about. Why am I being punished for Monica's sorry life?! Yeah, you're rich, but that money won't bring Monica back.
Charity raised the knife.
"Oh, my God! Charity, please!" Brad sprinted for the front door. Charity was only dimly aware of his exit. She heard his voice on the outside of the house, but it sounded so very far away. Why was he yelling, "Help, help!"
"P-please p-put the knife d-down. I be g-good for you."