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[8:28 AM]

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For once, Edwin actually wakes up early.

 

It’s the last weekend before Casey and Derek start their senior year, and Edwin mentally cheers at the thought. Only one more year and they’ll be off to college and out of his hair permanently. And what about him? Well, eighth grade smells like a new beginning—maybe Michelle finally comes to her senses after weeks apart.

 

George had given Edwin free reign to organize something special for their last week of summer vacation since they spent it locked in, their finances always on the edge. Edwin had planned every activity down to the second. They’ll be spending the day at a local park nearby, and this time around, Edwin won’t try the top hat trick. 

 

He’s already learned his lesson from last time.

 

Edwin rubs his eyes and mumbles a sleepy, "Good morning," to Nora, passing her in the hallway. He goes straight to the laundry room, looking for a clean t-shirt—again, Michelle will undoubtedly realize what a man he’s become over the summer break.

 

Opening the dryer, Edwin finds a few hockey jerseys, and tangled up in one of them, is a dark red bra. Scratching his head, Edwin removes the item to look at it closer.

 

"Don’t!” A voice reaches his ears. “I just folded our clothes, they're up there." Lizzie points at the shelf next to him. She’s holding a full basket of clothes from their parents' room. "Those are Derek's."

 

Edwin smirks.

 

"Uh-huh. Does this look like it belongs to Derek?" He holds up the underwear at the level of her face.

 

"That’s odd," Lizzie takes it seriously, coming over to get a better look. The bra has a delicate satin bow, and yet, it doesn't look too girly or childish, it’s actually the exact opposite. The bra is a little too mature. And she’s never seen it before. She’s used to doing laundry duty because, sadly, her other siblings—minus Casey, of course—have a warped perception of what constitutes cleanliness. In the last two years, Lizzie has memorized each piece of clothing that goes through their washer and dryer. She knows everyone's regular outfits and preferred pieces, and this bra has never been in the regular rotation. It’s just materialized out of nowhere. "I just dumped the stuff that was in Derek’s hockey bag into the washer. He said it was just his uniform...but uh, maybe it belongs to a girlfriend or something? But then like, remember that speech he gave us at the table the other night, where he said, and I quote, ‘I'm taking an indefinite break from girls’."

 

A shadow of curiosity appears on their faces.

 

"I dunno then," Edwin says after a beat, dangling the bra in his fingers, twirling it like a baton. 

 

“Give me that,” Lizzie says, grabbing the bra from his hands, irritated by the way he handles it. Boys.

 

Heavy and obnoxious footsteps bang down the stairs and towards the kitchen, and Lizzie and Edwin already know who they belong to. Derek appears a moment later, running blindly into the kitchen, already looking around for something to eat. 

 

Edwin clears his throat. "Hey bro, funny thing. This was in your stuff—"

 

Derek barely pays attention to him, opening a jug of juice to drink straight from the bottle. "What, now?" Derek grunts, just barely looking at him. Derek does a double-take, and he stops to stare as soon as his eyes fall on the source of the issue in Lizzie’s hands. 

 

"Uh, it's a bra,” Derek says, lamely. 

 

Edwin resists the urge to laugh at the way his brother's mouth goes slack. He decides to play it safe and just throw him a look. “Who does it belong to?" 

 

Lizzie tries to nudge him, giving him a look that clearly says mind your own business

 

Derek huffs. “Simple,” he says, pausing for a moment to collect his lazy thoughts, but as soon as he starts to speak again, Casey enters from the backyards in her gym outfit, undoing her ponytail. 

 

"Hey," Casey greets cheerfully, pulling off her headphones. Her eyes immediately fall onto the red garment. "Wait—My lingerie! Gosh, I’ve been looking for it everywhere.” Looking happy, Casey takes it and smiles. Casey also doesn’t seem aware that both Edwin and Derek are also standing in the room. “Thanks for finding it, Liz."

 

With her bra in hand, Casey just walks out of the room and the place instantly seems to have bubbled up by the awkwardness. 

 

Derek just stands frozen in his path, his eyes trailing after Casey’s retreating figure.

 

Edwin and Lizzie turn their eyes to him in a silent question. Lizzie has one eyebrow raised and Edwin's eyes are the size of tennis balls. 

 

"Of course it's not hers," Derek says as he starts walking backward. He holds up his index finger. "We’ll just let her think that, okay? I don’t need her to hurt my ears this early in the morning. The day’s barely started, and I really don’t want her going on and on about how sinful and depraved I am."

 

Derek turns around and goes outside and it takes him three attempts to close the dutch door properly behind him. They hear the car ignition start instantly.

 

"Can you believe this guy? What a weirdo." Edwin takes advantage of his brother's absence to scoff, but Lizzie isn’t smiling.

 

"Uh—actually,” she says. “I would’ve believed it wasn’t hers if Derek had said it was. Since when does Derek get all messy or pass up the chance to make fun of her?"

 

Blinking, Edwin turns to Lizzie. "You’re right.” 

 

“He also skipped breakfast..." Edwin adds after a moment. "So, uh, are we going… to do something? Should we talk to them?"

 

Lizzie looks astonished at the idea. "Hell no, let the matter rest," she says firmly.

 

He swallows. "Good ‘cuz I think there's still room to go back to bed—” He trails off, “...and forget this ever happened."