The house was deadly quiet. At least it seemed like no one was home to harass Ellen in her current state of comatose grief. She struggled up the steps to her room, totally exhausted even though it was only one in the afternoon. Ellen thought about calling Melisha; maybe Melisha could confirm that Jack was lying. Maybe Melisha could set this whole thing straight. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

       Just as the tears start falling again, Ellen heard a blood-freezing shriek.

       ELLEN GET DOWN HERE NOW!

       Shit, Ellen thought. By the sound of her dads psycho voice, youd think that Ellen had demolished his new hand-held DVD player. Ellen was scared"this was beyond bizarro. She couldnt ever remember hearing her dad sound so mad.

       I SAID NOOOOWWWW!

       Ellen turned around and went back down the steps, propelled by the fear of Ed. She walked into the kitchen, where Heather was waiting. Ellens father was pacing at a painfully slow pace"Ellen imagined blood-colored smoke seeping out of his ears and nose. Meanwhile, Heather was slumped over the kitchen table, crying.

       Who died? Ellen used sarcasm, which was clearly a bad choice. She looked at her mother. Heather was holding Ellens diary. Shit, shit, shit.

       Ellen, go get your red backpack, her dad demanded.

       Ellen hesitated. No.

       GODDAMMIT, I said get it, and bring it down here now.

       Heather gasped.

       Ellen trudged back up the stairs, her heart beating, beating, beating. She grabbed the backpack and thought about stashing its contents. But her dad surprised her"he was right behind her standing in her doorway. She hoped Heather would help her out with this one. But she was still down in the kitchen.

       Give it to me! He took it and went down to the kitchen table. Ellen walked into the room just as he was unzipping her now-infamous bag. He lifted out the purple teddy and K-Y Jelly. He threw the items on the table, said, YOURE GROUNDED! Then he left the room. Ellen heard her dad speed away from the house in his Del Sol. She was immediately relieved that her dad was gone. She thought her mom would be more reasonable.

       But as Heather cried more, any sort of sympathy from her seemed further and further away. Through her tears, Heather looked Ellen straight in the eyes"with a beady, ballistic expression. Ellen, you were not brought up this way. I didnt raise a small-town slut.

       What did you say to me? Ellen was outraged that her mom didnt want to talk this out"and that her mom didnt even attempt to understand.

       I know you heard me.

       It took Ellen a second to figure out what was going on. She kept thinking about all the times Heather had told her to write in her journal. She just wanted to read it, Ellen thought. Now Ellen wished she take those words and stuff them down her mothers throat.

      I am so pissed that youd read my diary. Pissed! Youre the one who told me to write in it. What is this? A Fascist family? Ellen was roaring angry"and she was losing it.

       Dont you even think about turning this around. I dont want to hear it. And if you use that tone with me" Heather looked like she might combust. You are a little"

       Oh, come on, Mom. Come on! Ellen said, finally backing"and breaking"down. I swear, this is not what you think. With that, Ellen started balling. This situation was way more serious than she could handle"especially after being so brutally dumped.

       Heather wasnt listening or even paying attention to the hurt her daughter was feeling. She just said, We have more to worry about than your sex plans. Whats all this crap about your sister, Ellen? You obviously have low self-esteem, but why do you want to...how did you put it? I think you wrote, Id like to pull Eves fake fingernails out one by one. Slow and painful is the only way to torment Eve. Heather cried. And what about the mean things you wrote about me? What about your dad? Do you hate us that much too? Do you know how it makes me feel to hear you make fun of my yoga tapes or your dads car?

       Mom, Mom, I"

       You know what? I cant even look at you right now. Go to your room"if youre smart, you wont come out.