Rio, who knows me like a book he’s read every day for ten years, watches me with narrowed eyes. This isn’t the way it usually goes. Usually I’m the one who faces trouble by making noise, who pulls Rio out the door and into a thunderstorm when he’d rather be doing just about anything else. Usually I’m the monkey in the zoo who throws fruit at you through the bars of the cage and screeches right in your face. But this is different. This is about Maddie, my sweet silent sister. Now I stand without speaking, immobilized in a puddle of my own panic.
“Sadina, take it easy, we’ll find her,” Rio says. It’s for himself as much as me. He loves Maddie too. He reaches out to touch my hand; I’m twirling a strand of hair tight around one finger. It’s a baby habit, pulling on my own hair whenever I stress out, something I should have shaken off in first grade. Rio pulls my hair out of my hand and tucks it behind my shoulder, and just like that, with that one touch of ordinary, the regular me starts to seep back into place.