While we did our thing, the Pants lived quietly in the top of Carmen's closet. They were summer Pants -that's what we had all agreed on. We had always marked our lives by summers. Besides, with the no-washing rule, we didn't want to overuse them. But not a day of fall, winter, or spring went by when I didn't think about them, curled up in Carmen's closet, safely gathering their magic for when we needed them again.
This summer began differently than the last. Except for Tibby, who'd be going to her film program at a college in Virginia, we thought we'd be staying home. We were all excited to see how the Pants worked when they weren't traveling.
But Bee never met a plan she didn't like to change. So from the start, our summer did not go the way we expected.
Bridget sat on the floor of her room with her heart pounding. On the carpet lay four envelopes, all addressed to Bridget and Perry Vreeland, all with Alabama postmarks. They were from a woman named Greta Randolph, her mother's mother.
The first letter was five years old, and asked them to attend a memorial service in honor of Marlene Randolph Vreeland at the United Methodist church in Burgess, Alabama. The second was four years old, and told Bridget and Perry that their grandfather had died. It included two uncashed checks for one hundred dollars apiece, explaining that the money was a small bequest from their grandfather's will. The third was two years old and included a detailed family tree of the Randolph and Marven families. Your Heritage, Greta had written across the top. The fourth letter was a year old, and it invited Bridget and Perry to please come visit whenever they could.
Bridget had never seen or read any of them until today.
She'd found them in her father's den, filed with her birth certificate and her report cards and her medical records as though they belonged to her, as though he'd given them to her.
Her hands were shaking when she went into his room. He was just home from work, sitting on the bed and taking off his work shoes and black socks as he always did. When she was very small, she'd liked to do it for him, and he'd liked to say it was his favorite thing in the day. Even at the time it had made her worry that there weren't enough happy things in his days.
"Why didn't you give these to me?" she yelled at him. She strode close enough for him to see what she held. "They are written to me and Perry!"
Her father looked at her like he could barely hear her. He looked that way no matter how loudly she talked. He shook his head. It took him some time to figure out what Bridget was flapping in his face. "I am not on speaking terms with Greta. I asked her not to contact you," he said at last, as if it were simple and obvious and not a big deal.
"But they're mine!" Bridget shouted. It was a big deal. It was a very big deal to her.
He was tired. He lived deep inside his body. Messages took a long time to get in and get out. "You're a minor. I'm your parent."
"But what if I had wanted them?" she shot back.
Slowly he considered her angry face.
She didn't feel like waiting around for an answer, letting him set the pace of the conversation. "I'm going there! " she shouted at him without even thinking about what she was saying. "She invited me and I'm going."
He rubbed his eyes. "You're going to Alabama?"
She nodded defiantly.
He finished with his socks and shoes. His feet seemed small. "How are you going to manage that?" he asked her.
"It's summer. I've got some money."
He thought about it. He couldn't seem to think of a reason why she couldn't. I don't like or trust your grandmother," he told her finally. "But I'm not going to try to forbid you to go."
"Good," she snapped.
Excerpted from The Second Summer of the Sisterhood byAnn Brashares Copyright© 2003 by Ann Brashares. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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