The Wells Legacy

Without you, today's emotions would be the scurf of yesterday's ~Hipolito


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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Eighteen: Part One

Recently, I spent some time thinking about the events in my life that led me to where I currently was. When I looked back to the times when I was worrying about college and my classes, I almost feel silly. If I didn’t get into one school, then I could have applied to another. If I didn’t like a class, then I would take another. If I didn’t do well, then I would try again. At that stage in my life there were so many opportunities to fix every little mistake, but I always made it seem like the sky would come crashing down at any moment. Now, things were different. Having the perspective of issues that were much more grand, I was beginning to learn how fragile life was, and how different my challenges were becoming as I was getting closer to graduating.

Which led me back home to talk about some of the big changes in my life.

“I’m sorry–what was that?” Mom squeaked.

I sipped my coffee slowly while Mom hovered over me. I was home for winter break and I finally spilled the beans to her about Sabin. It felt like the right time to do it since he was actually invited over the a classic Wells Christmas. The least I could do was give her some background. Well, more than I did when I first announced we were dating. Since things were a little vague between us, I never went into more details. Plus telling my mom that my boyfriend was much older than me and had PTSD wasn’t exactly a conversation that one has over the phone, or over text.

Especially over text!

Since I dropped that bombshell on her while we were in the middle of having a nice chat, I could understand why Mom was leaning against the counter with both her thumb and index finger around the bridge of her nose. It was a lot to take in. Not only was Sabin eleven years older than me, but he was also dealing with his past–a past that now I was learning about. Since telling me about his PTSD, I only heard bits and pieces of what happened, but honestly, I didn’t know if I would ever know the full story.

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“PTSD?” She sighed. “Well that sure is a lot of information to take in at once.”

My fingers fiddled around with the ear of the mug. What could I say? I looked over at my puzzled mother and offered her the most sincere smile I could manage. By sincere, I meant a very crooked attempt at a smile. I knew it was a lot to handle. I was still struggling with being around Sabin whenever he had an episode, but I was still around and I had no intention of disappearing. I was not about to budge. Sabin was worth it.

I didn’t tell anyone yet, not even the man himself, but I was in love with him.

“I know it’s a lot to hear, Mom, but I just want you to know. I really care about him, and he’s a big part of my life now,” I admitted.

Mom nodded. There was that Wells approval. “I understand that, but this isn’t like some baggage from a previous family, or even helping someone recover from an injury. This is something that can also take a toll on you. PTSD is no joke.”

I knew that very well. Sometimes it would get so bad he wouldn’t want me near him. We were rarely intimate, and if we were, then we would have to be very careful. Apparently he was working on that in therapy, because he wanted to feel close to me without any triggers. It was our work in progress.

“Alma, are you listening?”

“I know it’s not a joke. I know it’s a lot to hear, but I just need you to know. So, please don’t ask about his service, because I don’t think he’s ready to talk about that just yet.”

“Okay, I get it.”

There was a silence between us–a growing tension that someone could cut with a knife.

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“You’re not going to tell Dad, are you?” I asked softly without looking up from my drink. Seeing how Mom reacted, I wasn’t about to go through all that with Dad. He was like a bulldog when it came to that.

Mom laughed almost instantly as she grabbed her cookbook from the counter. As she walked towards me, she stopped and shook her head. “Honey, this is all you. It’s none of my business to tell him these things, but it would be good if he knew. You know how much he cares about you.”

With that, she stepped out of the kitchen and waltzed out into the living room.

Now I was left with the weight of time that was left before I would be forced to talk with my Dad. I had a relationship before and even some issues we talked about, but even then he got all riled up and wanted to “make things right”. Whatever that meant.

Luckily my was cup was still full, so I wasn’t about to race upstairs to tell Pops the great news. I was going to embrace every single sip of the magical drink if it meant that I had more time to mull over the speech I was writing in my head. However not all moments were meant to be dragged out like I wanted.

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“Hey, kiddo. I didn’t hear you come in!”

Well, here goes nothing…

 

 

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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Eleven

Winter break for college students meant that finals were finally over and it was time to sit back, relax, and go back home to spend the month with family. I was eager to go back home since I hadn’t seen my family much since the beginning of the school year. I knew I missed a lot, because each time I would call or Skype with my mom, she would fill me in on all the different happenings in St. Claire. Now I had an opportunity to be part of these moments rather than just hearing about them through the grapevine.

My semester concluded with average grades. Well, three B’s and one A’, which to me wasn’t as well as I knew I could do. There was always next semester to really kick butt. Dani was in the same boat as I was, however her sorrow did not come from having average grades but rather knowing that she would be leaving Saul for a good month. Unless they would find a time to meet up over break, which as romantic as it sounded was close to impossible being that Saul’s family lived in Washington and we were all the way on the other side of the country.

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“I’m going to miss that big goof,” Dani sniffled in the taxi that was bringing us home from the airport.

“Aren’t you going to Skype and stuff?” I asked.

“Well,yeah, but you know that it’s not the same.”

I was going to say something about it being a good way to stay in touch over long distances and periods of time, but I knew that it wasn’t the communication that she was talking about, but rather the physical aspect of her relationship with him.

“Ah well,” I cleared my throat and gave her a pat on the back. “The Holidays will be over before ya know it. Then you’ll be able to get back to him.”

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While Dani’s mind was elsewhere, I looked out the window as the suburban area of St. Claire finally came into view. One by one, we drove by all the decorated houses. I always loved the holiday lights. All the bright colors illuminated the front lawns and even if the town was behind on getting an adequate amount of snowfall for that time of year, the feel of the holidays was apparent.

I said goodbye to Dani once we made it to my house and as the taxi drove down the street with my friend, I stopped to gaze upon my home. Bright lights were hung up along the roof and festive decorations were set out on the lawn. It had been quite some time since I saw that lawn, and it felt like it was ages since I saw those decorations. Not wasting another moment, I threw my bag over my shoulder and pulled my suitcase behind me until I got to the door.

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The door swung open and I was nearly tackled to the ground by my twin brothers. Holy smokes! Those little rascals were not so little anymore and their excitement to see me was truly appreciated.

I ruffled their hair with the palm of my hand and laughed only to end up coughing due to the cold. “I take it you missed me?”

“Yes! So much! Caius sleeps in your room all the time now! Old kitty!” Oren exclaimed while Jax huffed and puffed—trying his best to climb on top of us.

I smiled at the thought of Mom’s cat sleeping in my room. Caius had been with us for such a long time now, and even though I knew that he probably wouldn’t be around forever, it was nice that he was able to be around for everyone through all the years. We didn’t know how that cat was still going so strong, but who knew, maybe we had a super strong cat.

Unfortunately I knew the same couldn’t be said for poor Angelo, who had “run away to join his bandit brothers”. At least that’s what Mom wanted the twins to think. Normally she would tell us the truth, but over the years it had appeared that she had softened up a lot more. Well, for the sake of the holidays and the happiness of my brothers, I didn’t say a word about poor Angelo.

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“Thought I heard someone over here,” Dad said, walking through the doorway and straight towards me so he could embrace me. “Aw, pumpkin, good to see you. Was your flight alright?”

“Yeah. It was just fine!”

Before long everyone had come downstairs to greet me. I swore we were catching up more much before I even unpacked! My brother was maturing before my eyes and I admit I now had to take back any mocking comment I ever made about his facial hair looking like peach fuzz! Then there was Mom. She looked just as beautiful as ever. I was praying to take after her when I got older, then again I wouldn’t mind if I was more like Dad. I was pretty blessed with two parents who were aging like fine wine! Dang!

As much as I wanted to stay up with all of them and catch up, I knew that I wouldn’t last. The flight from school tired me out and the not so smooth ride in the taxi didn’t help either. I was ready to hit the hay in my own bed, in my own room. Tomorrow would be a day for catching up and reminiscing—a true Wells holiday tradition.

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“Good morning, sleeping beauty.”

After a quick rub, my vision was finally clearing up to see that Mom was moving my curtains away from the windows. “W-what time is it?”

“Sorry to break it to you, but it’s almost nine. I figured I’d wake you so you can come eat some breakfast.”

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I yawned as I sat up. “Who’s going to be here this year?”

It was rather funny. There was once a time when we spent the holidays together. All of us. That meant including all of my aunt’s and uncle’s, but now that everyone was starting families and moving away for jobs and overall better opportunities, such large family gatherings were becoming rare. Grandma and Grandpa were still there, so that was such a special treat for everyone. I couldn’t want to tell my grandparents about school. They were always such a great support when I talked to them about what it was I wanted to do with my life. On more than one occasion, Granny Attie helped talked me out of reconsidering my goals.

“Your grandparents, of course. They’re excited to see you,” Mom admitted as she moved to sit at the edge of my bed. “Aunt Arecia and her sons, and of course your Grandpa Greyson.”

“Really? It’s a for sure thing for Grandpa G?!” I exclaimed. Grandpa Grey was getting up in age, so his visits weren’t quite as frequent. He lived in a retirement home in Hidden Springs, so traveling was a bit much for him often times, but when he was able to visit us it was definitely a great time!

“You bet,” Mom smiled, “know what’s even more exciting?” She added and didn’t bother waiting for my reply. “We’re not hosting this year. Aunt Arecia really wanted full reign of Christmas Eve. Shuyin says he’s pretty excited. They’ve been cooking and baking for a while.”

“Auntie Arecia? Really?” I couldn’t help smiling. “She sure sounds like she’s full of energy.”

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Mom nodded. “Yeah…she’s in remission, sweet girl. Her treatment went according to plan and she’s been fighting so hard. You know, Alma,” she said, getting up from the bed, “you come from a line of really strong women. Maybe I’m not up there with the rest of them, or at least as high, but when I look at you and your siblings, I know that I did something right in my life. So if you’re every feeling down know that it’s in your blood to overcome even the shittiest of situations.”

“Thanks for the motivational pep talk,” I smirked.

“Hey—it’s all part of the job description, okay?”

Oh, it definitely was. If I had any intention of being like my Mom, I had to start memorizing her format for these lectures. No child of mine would  ever go without knowing they come from a line of fierce women!

I got out of bed not long after my chat with Mom. As much as I wanted to sleep the day away, it was Christmas Eve and I was not going to pass up a once a year opportunity to feast on Mom’s gingerbread waffles. It would be sinful! Downstairs, utensils were clanking against plates and my brothers were in the middle of a debate about a new show that they were obsessed with. It wouldn’t be long, I thought. Oren and Jax often wasted little time in dragging me into their little fandoms.

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“Alma! Alma! Good, you’re up! You can help settle a debate!” Jax shouted with half a bite of waffle in his mouth.

“Don’t listen to him!” Oren pouted. “Captain America will survive! He can’t die!”

Once again Jax finished chewing his food and raised his fork up in the air. “Yeah, right! I don’t think so! He’s going up against Iron Man for creating the Ultron program! I’d be angry!”

“They’re a team!” Oren shot back.

“Not anymore!” Jax hollered.

“Nuh-uh!”

“Yuh-huh!”

The back and forth banter of my siblings had me look past them to the end of the table where Kaden shrugged. “They got a hold of my Civil War comic.”

That. Explained. Everything.

Mom turned away from the counter with another plate of waffles. “Alrighty, settle down everyone. Captain America and all his buddies will be just fine. Let’s enjoy our breakfast before we have to really scramble and get ready. Aunt Arecia would like us at her house at five. And knowing us, we’ll have to leave extra early, okay? It’s going to be a long drive.”

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Dad came in sipping his coffee before he joined us at the table. “Which is why we’re all starting early with our coffee, right, kitten?” He paused for a moment, long enough to see Mom bob her head before speaking again. “This is nice,” he said. “It’s been a while since everyone was present around the table.”

That I could definitely agree with. For many months the closest that I got to have a family dinner was sitting across from Dani in the dorm’s dining room, while scarfing down a bowl of ramen noodles. So, being home was nice. Eating food that wasn’t full of chemicals and whatever else it had, was even better….

“Are you happy to be back home?” Dad asked, finally sampling Mom’s breakfast. “Sure hasn’t been the same without you around,” he chuckled.

“Yeah, it’s definitely nice to be able to sleep in my own bed. Super comfy. Finally.” I answered.

“Have you met anyone new?” Mom asked, only I knew in her cheeky tone that she wasn’t asking about friends, but boys.

“Hey! HEY!” Dad hollered, pointing his fork with a waffled skewered onto it at Mom. “S-she’s in school to learn, ya know! She doesn’t need some boy right now! Right, baby girl?”

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I laughed at his sudden protective response, but I shrugged. I thought back to the first party we attended, and then some of the others, but all that time no one really caught my attention. I really found no reason to go out and look when I had Dani to fill me in on all her romantic happenings. After hearing all of that, I just went about my own business. So, to calm down my Dad, and sadly disappoint my mother, I shrugged.

“Nah, I haven’t. I’ve been keeping to myself for now…”

And even as I said those words, I came to wonder if my entire college career would be just that…”keeping to myself”. I tried not to think about it too much, because there were better things to think about at that moment, like if I could manage fitting another gingerbread waffle into my stomach. Which I did, actually. With a few pauses.

“OKAY! Wells family, let’s get these dishes cleaned up,” Mom exclaimed after we finished eating, and giving Dad a playful smack on the arm. “Time to shower, get dressed, and head out! Our Holiday is just about to begin!”

 

 


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Gen.10- Alma. Chapter Six

~*~Isobel’s Point of View~*~

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There was rarely a day where looking out the window wouldn’t result in the sight of my daughter down on her knees in her garden. It was hard to believe that just a few years prior the flourishing garden was nothing but a patch of soil with seeds we didn’t have too much hope for. The land wasn’t exactly the best in terms of fertility, but Alma didn’t want to give up. She mixed fertilizers, soils, and vitamins which resulted in what we had today. I couldn’t even put together the right combination of words to truly explain how I felt about Alma’s dedication to her garden. She reminded me so much of myself with my art, and so much of Cateo when he fought hard to make his voice heard. She was our daughter from her head and down to her toes. So, if I was so proud of her, then why was I keeping her college letter in the drawer of my desk?

It was only yesterday that it came in the mail and Alma wasn’t hopping to the mailbox with the same zeal that she had just a few weeks ago. I admit it was strange, but after everything that happened in just the last few months alone, I honestly didn’t blame her. I never truly got the full story, but what the judges must have said to her about her plant definitely didn’t give her a great sense of worth in their little community. They were snobs, I told her so many times. Stinkin’ snobs who couldn’t recognize the blood, sweat, and tears of hard work if bit them on the fucking ass! I hated them for doing that to my little girl, but since then she was so involved at home. She stopped worrying about school, and she even stopped wondering about what assignments she would have the next semester. It wasn’t that she wasn’t working hard anymore, but she wasn’t so stressed. Part of me worried her passions were dwindling, but seeing her hard work in her garden kept me trying to think of a good moment to hand her the big envelope with her name stamped on it. As much as I didn’t want Alma to leave my little cozy nest that I created with Cateo, I knew I had to let her know that she could start planning the next phase of her life. But…maybe I would wait until dinner.

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“You know you’ll have to give her that letter sooner or later, kitty,” Cateo murmured from the stool as he quietly strummed his guitar.

“I know, I know!” I groaned and dragged my feet along my studio floor. “After everything, I just want her to feel happy, you know? I mean, she worked her ass off for this. She already has her major in mind and the classes she wants to take. Cateo, what if she changed her mind?”

“Then she’ll change her mind,” he simply replied. “Clearly she still loves gardening.” As a frown began to creep across my plump lips, I watched him set his guitar against the stool. “But I don’t think it’s Alma’s love for gardening or that competition that’s keeping that letter hidden in your desk.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said, crossing my arms.

“Right,” Cateo chuckled, walking to me with his eyes breaking down my defense without even breaking a sweat. “Alma’s not a little kitten anymore, Bel. I hate to admit it too, but I think we should be proud of her. Look at how dedicated she is to what she loves,” he said, pointing out the widow. “That’s our flesh and blood. She’s going to do just fine. Hell, maybe she’ll become some big time botanist! Think of how hard you worked to get to where you are now. She has your drive, Bel.”

Everything he said made so much sense, but it wasn’t anything that I didn’t already know. I knew my sweet Alma wasn’t a little girl anymore. Ah yes, my little girl who refused to keep her diaper on. My little girl who helped me plant the herbs in our first garden.

My little girl…

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“Hey now,” Cateo whispered as his arms wrapped around me. “It’s okay, Mama,” he said, kissing my cheek and then the warm skin of my shoulder.

“It’s–it’s just that fucking dust, I-I swear…” I managed a chuckle when his facial hair tickled my neck, but regardless a few tears escaped me.

Right, like there was any way I could fake my heartache. I was so proud of her, but damn it–I was a mother and I had every right to cry knowing my daughter would be graduating and heading off to college!

I pulled my body away from him, knowing very well what I had to do the moment I would step out of that room.

In my heart, it was now or never.

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Outside the soft breeze blew the hint of spring through my hair. You could almost smell it in the air–Alma’s garden was on the brink of a blossom. No wonder she was tending to her plants like a mother to her children. She didn’t even hear me walk out, so I approached her slowly, the grass between my toes restrained me.

Take your time, Isobel. Fumble with anything and you’ll confuse the girl into thinking she’s getting bad news. Just think of her happiness…

“Alma,” I finally said, raising my hand that held onto the large envelope. It was now crumpled and even a little stained–blotches of dark spots were on the recycled paper. My tears were like acid. Alma, without a doubt, was distracted by the soundtrack of her garden, so I stepped closer, beginning to utter her name like a song.

When her head turned at attention, I didn’t say a word. The only communication I had to give her was a small wave of the envelope. The rustle within showed promise and I knew she felt it too. Alma hopped to her feet and didn’t bother wiping off the dirt from her pants, or even her hands. There was nothing else in her line of vision, but the envelope that was snatched from my grip within moments. The life in her eyes couldn’t have been mistaken for anything else.

Alma knew exactly what was going on.

~*~Alma’s Point of View~*

I had no words when I held the envelope in my hands. No words at all. I was worried sick for months–not so secretly anticipating a thin envelope. After my confidence was rattled by those judges, I didn’t think I’d be able to recover in the eyes of the college board. I thought of the worst scenarios where they built me up only to bring me down. Luckily it was all in my head. All of my cruel thoughts were wrong–oh, so very wrong! In my hands was an envelope as thick as a short novel. It was heavy in my hand, like the weight that I used to feel on my shoulders. This was the weight–the answer within was what drove me nuts for months!

I looked at Mom. She looked blurry to me, and I had no doubt that I looked blurry to her.

“Go ahead,” she managed to say then sniffled noisily.

My mind screeched for me to tear the envelope to shreds, and to free the papers inside it, but my hands were trembling far too much. It was as if I lost my motor functions just out of pure excitement. Oye, how was I going to do this? I finally forced myself to tear open the top of the envelope that crinkled with each touch. Careful, I thought, you don’t want to tear the message you’ve been waiting to hear.

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Oh my god. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Did they not get news of my failure at the competition? Did they not know? Or…did they not care?

Regardless, I reached into the package and pulled out the contents. I knew well what was going on at the presence of catalogs and pamphlets for the school. but all I cared abut was the single-sided piece of paper that I brought close to my face and failed to even read aloud before bursting into a frenzy of incoherent blubbering. I couldn’t believe it.

I did it–I actually did!

I stopped quickly to hug my sobbing mother before running inside where Dad stood with a much brighter expression than Mom. He congratulated me with a tight hug that sent me a bolt of energy to sprint up the stairs for me phone so I could tell Dani. She got her letter a few weeks before I did, mainly because I procrastinated getting my application in till the final minute. Of course with my adrenaline keeping me on a super-high, I did my best to refrain from even trying to type a message after my fifth attempt of writing “I got in!”. Dani was usually great when it came to deciphering messages, but even this one would be difficult for her since we hadn’t talked about college at all. Part of me worried that we wouldn’t get into the same school, but dang it–“ERT GT UNN!”

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Send.

“Mom, Dad!” I shouted from upstairs as I began running down. My feet stomped down hard against the steps. “I’m going to the Lace’s! I’ll take my bike!”

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I didn’t even wait for them to say anything. Dinner wasn’t for a few hours, so there was no harm in going out to visit my best friend at work! The bike ride was exhilarating. The wind whipped against my cheeks and cooled off my heated brow. Honestly, I didn’t care if a few bugs ran into my teeth. I was too excited; I was in academic ecstasy!  When I made it to the diner, I hopped off my bike and busted through the door, panting and wheezing like someone running away from the terrible danger of a zombie, or a coyote–whatever worked, right?

“Oh my!” Mrs. Lace yelped, nearly dropping her notepad. “Alma, is everything alright?”

“Y–” I stopped for a moment to catch my breath. “I…”

“No rush, sweetie. Breathe, please,” she giggled.

“Is Dani working today?” I finally managed to spit out.

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“She sure is.” She pointed toward the cafe side of the diner. The moment I heard the confirmation, I rushed through the doors connecting the two places. All I was able to shout were quick thanks before continuing my rush to Dani.

She was expecting me, because I found her leaning against the counter where she kept all sorts of sweets that her dad made. With her elbow on the counter and her other hand clutching her phone, she wiggled it around and called out to me.

“Were you high when you wrote this?” She joked.

“I have news! I declared.

Suddenly, all jokes aside, Dani straightened out and looked at me. I had a feeling that part of her knew what I was going to say, but she waited for me to confirm. “Don’t keep me waiting, lady. I’ve tried make sense of this for the last two minutes. You’re lucky no one wanted coffee recently, otherwise I would’ve been a horrible barista…”

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My jacket was rummaged through quickly in search of the acceptance letter I had stuffed into one of the pockets. I was so excited that I even forgot, for a moment, where I had stuffed it. When I did eventually find it, I stuck it out in front of Dani and squealed. “I did it!”

Dani yanked the letter out of my hands and quickly scanned it. First, she read the heading and her eyes widened at the college insignia at the top. It was the same school she got accepted to. Not a sound left her open mouth, but I watched her mouth “No way!”

“I got in, Dani!”

Dani stuffed the letter back into my pocket and we grabbed each other by the wrists before jumping up and down the way we used to when we were younger. There was relief in the moment and another wave of excitement. With us going to the school, we could consider rooming together, which was always the fantasy we played out during out little make-believe games. Dani and Alma–stuck at the hip since Day 1. Dani was like my sister, so knowing she would be at the same school just made it all seem better. I guess we were each others support systems. We talked about boys, school, my garden, and more boys–when it came to Dani’s life. I mean, she was like my other half. I loved my other friends, but there was a bond that some friends shared, the one that ran almost as deep as blood.

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The cheering and squealing soon subsided and Dani reached up to high-five me.  The clap of our hands was like a roll of thunder. Strong and bold.

“I can’t believe it. Sucks that Gia isn’t with us, but at least we’ll have the breaks to spend time together,” Dani mentioned. “So, it’s not like we’ll never see each other after high school. Now that would really stink!”

“Yeah,” I confirmed. “We can definitely make it work, but I’m just so relieved because this school has the best gardening program. They have two huge greenhouses, they have amazing botany courses and just–“

Dani rolled her eyes and bumped me with her hip. “Like I’ve been telling you, woman. One mistake won’t cost you your career. Even doctors fuck up every now and then, but they learn.”

“Doctors?” Laughing, I shuddered. “I don’t need to hear that sort of stuff, Dani! But I guess that’s true. I’ll finally get my chance.”

Before long I realized that we had spent a few hours talking about what we were looking forward to about starting school somewhere else. The excitement was all too real and then we started making mental notes of the shopping that was ahead of us. We had so much ahead of us and knowing we wouldn’t be apart made it that much more special. But the time for all that would come eventually. For now, I had to head back home before my mother would lose her mind from my sudden fleeing.

But, soon enough, Dani and I both knew that our college preparations would stop being just talks of fantasies and daydreams. Soon, it would all become a reality. Holy crap…

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Th rest of the day, I enjoyed my high. I think after being worked up all the time for the last few months granted me that sort of ease. Dani and I were going to attend the same University. It was going to be around a seven hour drive from our homes, but it would be worth it. Plus, wouldn’t this be our opportunity to truly explore and bask in what the college experience should be? Well, what we got from the movies and such! I couldn’t wait! I was so eager to learn and to see what that sort of experience would bring me. Who knew, maybe I would meet some famous botanists and maybe even go to some parties! Amazing! I scrolled through my e-mails on my phone to see that I even got a welcoming message from the school. A piece of paper was solid proof that I got in, but it didn’t stop me from feeling like it was all so surreal. The more I read, the more excited I got. This was no longer a fantasy of mine, but a wish that was coming true.

Three knocks sounded against my door frame, which ushered my attention away from the bright screen. I didn’t even bother shutting my door.

“Hope you’re not busy,” Kaden said, then slowly revealed that he wasn’t alone. Holding his hand was Claudine who walked in with a shy smile spread across her face. “Claudine bears a gift…”

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She was carrying a bag of goodies. I knew they were the work of her dad, because I knew they were my favorite: cosmic brownies that smelled like my childhood. How could I say no to that? Well, plus I had a hell of a sweet tooth. Chocolate was my weakness and sugary sprinkles were the drug that went hand in hand with chocolate. YUM!

“Thanks so much,” I said, sitting up on my bed. “Wanna share some now? We all know that I’ll just polish them off the moment I’m left alone with them”

Kaden looked at Claudine and shrugged. He let go of her hand and walked in deeper into the room. I did admit that I invited them to stay for more than one reason. My brother was finally public about his relationship with my best friends sister. It was really sweet to see them together since you know, she was basically the reason my brother smiled more. It was kinda sweet, you know–the puppy love that we all hoped would last. Plus, it was interesting to me that my brother had an actual love life, unlike me. My love life consisted of tending to a garden and serenading plants in need of cheering up. Yeah. That was about it.

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Regardless of my feelings, I enjoyed their company in my room. Claudine was a sweetheart and congratulated me on my recent acceptance into the college. She joked and asked for me and Dani to invite her and Kaden to all the college parties. Yeah, because I could definitely imagine them doing all of those crazy things–beer pong, keg stands, streaking–well, um, whatever actually happened at those parties. How should I know? My only knowledge about those things was from movies and books. If people really ran around in togas, then that would be insane.

“I have to ask, Alma,” Claudine stopped her giggling and touched me on the shoulder. “Are you scared at all about the change? I mean, the school year is almost over. You’ll be moving to another state over the summer. Does not being only a mile or two away from home scare you?”

I tucked a strand of my hair behind my ear and shrugged. It was something I thought of, yeah, but did I fear this kind of change?

“No,” I replied. “I think I’m a lot more excited than I am scared. Home will always be home, but this experience is something that can bring about the best change in my life.”

Oh, how I hoped I was telling not only Claudine, but myself, the truth.