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Stones of Summer: Instinct (Part 1)

Chapter One
Fall/28

"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable."
Madeleine L'Engle (1918 - )

As we age, there are things only experience can teach us. Yet there are things we may never learn as we are not exposed to the situations that teach us. I have learned things, things I will never forget. And because I hope you will never be exposed to them but truly believe that you should be wholly prepared, I'm going to tell you a story. It has a bit of humor, some love and tragedy, but mostly, it is about a girl who struggles to find her way home and her place in life. She must face her mistakes and live with all the consequences, but do not doubt, she has the courage to face another day.
I'd like for you to learn about the people whose lives were altered so drastically that summer, and the only way for me to do that is for me to show you, through my eyes, what happened.


Chapter Two
Spring/17

"Never expose yourself unnecessarily to danger; a miracle may not save you...and if it does, it will be deducted from your share of luck or merit."
The Talmud

Every summer, my parents trekked southwest to meet up with a group of other conservationists and government officials to determine the progress of the year. It was a long tedious couple of months spent in conference rooms and shabby hotels. The heat followed us as we would move further south, yet they did this every year. And every year, they would drag my unwilling body right along with them. At the time,
their excuses were that I was too young to be left alone and that they didn't trust my knowledge about the tigers to leave me home.
Well, this year they could have no complaints. I would be eighteen in a few weeks and I was old enough to do as I pleased. The excitement of being able to leave the stinking hole that was the compound and venture out into uncharted territory like America or Britain was all I could think of. Now I just needed an opening to appear.
"Jancy, you've got a letter!" My planning would have to be put on hold.
"Whose it from?!" I yelled back from in my room. My door opened and mom peeked her head in holding said letter.
"Aunt Julie, do you want me to leave it in on the table..." I jumped up and filched it from her fingers.
"No, I'll read it now." She smiled and walked out, leaving my door wide open. I peeled the seal of the envelope up with my finger.
"Mom! Door!" I pulled the pages of letter out. She didn't come. I glared and looked up.
"Mom!" I yelled as I fell back with the letter pressed to my nose. Footsteps came toward my room.
"You forgot to close my door-"
"Really? Are you really that lazy? The door isn't two feet from you and you're calling your mother to close it?" I peered over the letter, glaring at the offending person.
“What are you doing here?" I knew why he was here, he lived here, but why was he in my doorway? He chuckled and plopped down onto my bed. I screeched and tried to push his weight off.
"Get out fat a**!" He laughed and rubbed his sweaty arms and face all over my blankets and pillow.
"Ew!" I screamed and slammed him with the same pillow. He just continued laughing.
"MOM! Chris is in my room!" This time mom did answer. I bet she had been there
the entire time.
"Chris, leave her alone. Jancy, stop yelling, our house isn't that big and Chris isn't actually hurting you." She chastised from I assume the kitchen. Chris got up, ruffled my hair and dodged my fist.
"Temper, temper." He was out the door before I could find something worthless to throw at him.
Scowling I turned back to my now creased and crumpled letter.
Aunt Julie's handwriting was slanted and close together and I had to really focus on what she wrote-

My favorite niece-
I know well what is coming up and how you dread it, so I will not draw this out. I have received a job in London and wanted to know if you would like to visit me for a few months.

I jumped up and screamed for joy, throwing my hands in the air. I turned back to the letter immediately.

I may have a job you can start at, no previous training required, so that you won't be bored the entire time. Also, your uncle's granddaughter, about your age, will be staying close by. She is going to college nearby. I thought that you could maybe talk with her about some summer courses. I'll wait for you reply. I wish my cursed sister would just get over her phobia of the telephone. No one else is listening in on your calls, but I doubt she will ever believe me. Take care my lovely girl, and pack for a cool and rainy summer. I find it quite comfortable, yet you may not. I do not understand how your house functions in such heat, but then again, you have been raised in it, it probably doesn't both you much now, does it?
Write soon so that I may prepare your room. I look forward to our summer together.

Signed,
Aunt Julie

I looked up in such happiness I thought I might burst. I danced around mom ad Chris in the door way, moving out into the kitchen.
"I'm going to have such a wonderful time!" I pressed the letter to my chest and sighed.
Such a relief to know I would be out of here within a few weeks and I could start my life!
"What has got you so happy?" Ignoring the questioning looks I got from the two sour pusses, I grasped Chris's hands and led him into a waltz, although he didn't really make an effort. I twirled around the kitchen, happy as the lark
Mom snatched the letter from my hand and I let her. Let her bask in the goodness that was Aunt Julie!
Dad walked in and smiled at me, I smiled back.
"Hello daddy, I've the most wonderful news!" I kissed his cheek and forced him to dance with me in Chris's place. Dad followed the steps better although caught off guard.
"And what might that be? And who do I owe a favor for putting my little girl in such high spirits!" I turned and grabbed the letter from Chris, before he had even finished reading it.
"Look, look. I'll have such a splendid time and I can go to school too!" I handed in the letter and twisted around, humming lightly and picturing myself in the latest fashion from London. I scooted past mom who was busy chopping at vegetables erratically. I stole one, some yellow squash, and popped it into my mouth. She swatted at my hand but I just moved on. I skipped around Chris, who was being extremely nice by not saying a word, leaving me in my happiness and not raining on my parade. He was leaned against the wall closest to my room with his arms crossed over his chest, just staring at me I'm sure, with in eyebrow raised.
"Isn't it the most glorious news!?" I exclaimed, wrapping my arm through dad's. He looked troubled but I was probably looking at him in the wrong light. How could this news trouble anyone?
"I'll have to write Aunt Julie immediately, or phone, phone! Or mom please let me use the phone." I fluttered across the small expanse of the kitchen and pulled mom away from her chopping.
"Those vegetables are dead enough, pay attention to me. Please tell me you'll let me phone Aunt Julie, right now, to tell her yes! To shout and scream and tell her I'll be there as soon as the first plane leaves!? Oh please mom!" She yanked her arm back and I began to see something was wrong. I turned to dad.
“Daddy? Please? I haven't asked for anything like this ever! Just one phone call, two minutes at the most. I'll just tell her and then hang up right away!" As if to prove I lifted the receiver to my ear and readied my fingers over the numbers.
"No! Jancy, put that thing down and go... go, clean your room, or something!" She yanked the phone from my hand and slammed it back down. I whirled on her and glared.
"Why not?! And I've already completed my chores today!" She was scoping the vegetables into the pan with some oil.
"Because I said so, now enough of this talk." I cried out in frustration, turning to dad whose eyes were scanning the letter.
"Dad! You can't let her do this!" He looked at me with a grim frown.
"Jance, we need to talk this over before we do anything, it came at a very bad time. We've got so much to do still." I threw my hands up to cover my ears.
"You really do hate me!" Mom made a noise and slammed the knife down.
"Jancy, we've already had this discussion, now stop it. Act your age." I cried out again, incredulous. I turned on her.
"I am!" I pointed at my self, nearly hitting myself in the face.
"People my age leave home, get jobs, go to college. They don't live with their parents who act like they are children!" Mom settled her steely gaze on me.
"People your age don't act so immature and irrational. They think things through, talk things through. They don't yell at other people just because they don't get their way." She spoke evenly. I groaned in frustration, throwing my hands up.
"I'm going to be eighteen, you can't stop me!" She frowned and went back to preparing dinner, ignoring me.
"Really?!" I stared at her back. "And you're calling me immature?!" Dad called my name warningly. I stormed to my room turning back just before I slammed my door to yell that I hated them.





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