"Bunny, you don't know your way around," said Ruth.
"The house is 42 Sea Line Avenue," replied Frankie. "I make a left on Oceanview and it's a straight shot in to where the shops are. I went to the supermarket with Uncle Paul, remember?"
Ruth pursed her lips. "I don't think it's a good idea."
"What do you think is gonna happen? I'm not going to get in a car with any strange men. I have a cell phone."
"It's not a town we know," said Ruth. "I don't want to argue about this."
"But what do you think will happen?"
"I don't what to get into it."
"How do you think I cross the street when I'm at Alabaster, huh?"
"Because I cross the street when you're not there, Mom. Newsflash."
Uncle Paul spoke. "Let her go, Ruth. I let Paulie Junior go in last year when he was only twelve and he was fine."
"See?" Frankie turned to her mother.
"Stay out of it, Paul," snapped Ruth. "Don't make my life difficult."
"You let Paulie Junior can walk into town and not me? Paulie Junior still picks his nose. That is such a double standard."
"It is not," Ruth answered. "What Paul does with Paulie Junior is up to him, and what I do with you is up to me."
"You're treating me like a baby."
"No, I'm not, Bunny," Ruth said. "I am treating you like a very attractive, still very young, teenage girl."
"With no brain."
"With maybe not the best judgment," said Ruth.
"Since when do I have bad judgment?"
"Since you want to go to town fifteen blocks away when we don't know the area and you're wearing a string bikini." Ruth was cross, now. "I wish I'd never let you go shopping for suits with Zada. Really, Frankie, you're wearing hardly any clothes, you go into town, you get lost, what do you think is gonna happen?"
"I'd call you on the cell."
"That's not my point."
"So what -- if I were unattractive, you would let me go?" Frankie asked.
"Don't start that."
"How 'bout I stop by the house and put on a dress?"
"If I were a boy, then would you let me?"
"You want to spoil the last day of our vacation with a fight?" snapped Ruth. "Is that what you want?"
"So stop talking back. Leave it alone and enjoy the beach."
"Fine. I'll go down the boardwalk." Frankie stood and shoved her feet into her flip flops, grabbed the bag where her wallet was, and stalked across the sand.
"Be back in an hour!" called Ruth. "Call me on my cell if you're going to be late."
Frankie didn't answer.
It wasn't that she wanted postcards -- or even that she wanted to go to town so much. It wasn't that Ruth had too many rules, either; nor that Paulie Junior got to go on his own last year.
The problem was that to them to Uncle Ben and her mother, and maybe even to Uncle Paul Frankie was Bunny Rabbit.
Not a person with intelligence, a sense of direction and the ability to use a cell phone. Not a person who could solve a problem.
Not even a person who could walk fifteen blocks all by herself without getting run over by a car.
To them, she was Bunny Rabbit.
In need of protection.
A half hour later and two hundred yards down the boardwalk, Frankie was shivering in that string bikini. She'd eaten half a chocolate frozen custard before the sky had clouded over. Now the cone was giving her chills, but it had cost nearly five dollars and she couldn't bring herself to throw it away.
Copyright E. Lockhart 2008. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
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