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Laura sits on the cherry wood bench; the rhythmic ticking of a clock calms her nerves and allows her to gently sink into a pool of bliss. Taking a quick look around the room Laura’s lips formed a thin line; she shook her head and swiftly walked over to the coat hanger by the front door. “Lauren, what’s wrong?” a warm melodic voice called. Laura turned around and shook her head, instantly regretting how rude she must seem, Laura with just about as much grace as a baby elephant ran out the house. As she stood outside the large lagoon blue house Laura scoffed and rolled her eyes, anything would be better than this, anything. ‘I know, I should be happy for my sister, but I…NO! There is no excuse. You need to march back in there and apologize.’ With her heart set on marching back inside Laura turned around. Through the bay window Laura saw her older sister and fiancé cuddling. Shaking her head she continued down the street. It was a big enough town, more like a smaller city. The soft and fluffy white snow allowed her boots to sink right through. As Laura walked around the small city at 7:12 a.m. she saw people opening their shops, restaurants, stores, businesses, and pulling up into large parking lots for skyscrapers. They all smiled or waved when they caught Laura staring. It was like everyone knew exactly what he or she needed to do without the help of anyone.
Laura sighed and pulled her gray hat over her ears and long curly black hair. Putting in her white iPod headphones the song ‘Earth Angel’ by Death Cab For Cutie gently played as an accompaniment to her exploration. By the time she had made it to Main Street her warm brown boots were covered in snow, her dark blue pea coat looked, as it was the twilight sky. Laura blew hot air onto her blue-gloved fingers. Frantic and violently shivering Laura tried her best to remember the route she took to get here. Nobody was outside yet due to the fact that it was Winter Break. Exactly a week before Christmas, the only people out were too much in a hurry to realize that the tall milk chocolate skinned 14-year-old girl had no idea how she was getting home. Laura’s eyes opened wide as she giggled quietly; home…she hadn’t called a place home since she was about 8-years-old. That’s when things began to fall apart. Laura closed her eyes; it was when she became 8-years-old that she stopped answering to Lauren. She stopped singing and playing piano. The one thing she never stopped doing was writing. It was a safe haven, it wasn’t like anybody read or even knew where she hid her notebooks. Also her laptop had a difficult password for anybody to try and guess. It actually surprised Laura how good her older sister Shannon and her fiancé Michael turned the place around. Turning around, Laura brushed the soft snow onto the ground and off the bench. She sat, turned off her iPod and listened to the noise of the town. The red trolley moving smoothly while cars rushed past, the sound of little children waking up elated to find the snow still fresh. Families enjoying each others’ accompaniment. Sighing Laura rolled her eyes; it was just much easier before everything happened. Before her mother became inadequate, before her father died, before she was sent to live with her sister.
Shannon rolled her eyes as she and her fiancé Michael carried her little sisters hundreds of boxes into the girls’ room. Shannon kicked the fifth large heavy box labeled ‘Books’ into Laura’s’ room. Shannon looked around the large white room that was full of cardboard boxes and three suitcases. “What, did she pack her entire house and three libraries?” Shannon said sitting on the fluffy white bed without sheets or pillows that was pressed against the right side of the wall. “Now sweetie, your sister has been through a lot, seeing how young she is I’m surprised she didn’t go through a ‘I hate everyone’ phase.” Michael said while running his fingers through Shannon’s long luxurious brown locks of hair. “It is a miracle that she is alright, I wonder where she is right now, I haven’t seen her since the car and moving van pulled up an hour ago.” Shannon said sitting up with a strong feeling of dread heavy in her stomach. Waving her tan arms in front of Michael’s guilty looking face she asked, “What happened when I was making breakfast?” Michael’s stunning green eyes darted to the floor and his curly light blonde hair shrouded his face. “Lauren was sitting by the piano when I walked in, her fingers were posited on the keys for the beginning of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Waltz. I heard her begin to play and sing ‘Once Upon A Dream’. Then suddenly she stopped. I didn’t want Lauren to know that I heard her play, so I went to the coat hanger. She walked over there and I said ‘Lauren, what’s wrong?’ she shook her head, got dressed and left.” As soon as Michael finished and looked Shannon gave him the type of look that you give a moronic adult. “First, she doesn’t like being called Lauren. Second, she hates singing and playing the piano in front of people. That’s besides the fact that it was obvious that you were spying on her. C’mon let’s go find her. Hopefully the poor thing hasn’t gotten lost and froze. The two went inside the muted blue car and drove around the large town searching for a girl in a gray hat, blue and gray plaid scarf, blue coat and gloves with brown boots.
Shannon sighed and pulled into the mini mansion’s garage. Tiling her head sideways she noticed the fait sound of her sisters’ voice. It was the type of voice that you would never forget, long after you meet her and even if you ever do forget her name, her voice and face will always be present. Shannon left a sleeping Michael in the car and as silent and sly as a fox she followed the voice. Sure enough Laura was sitting at the couch-swing on the neighbors porch. Laura had a warm red blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She was rocking back and forth between the two 15-year-old twins that were next door. They were shielded from the gently falling snow. “That must really suck.” The girl said, she licked her thin lips and blinked her baby blue eyes. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail. “I for one believe that it’s a really good opportunity to know new people, to create a name for yourself. To finally continue doing what you love.” Laura drank a bit more eggnog and shook her head no. “I’m fine, playing the piano will just make everybody think that I’m fine. I want to be fine but things don’t happen that quickly. You never get over something like that; you just learn to deal with it. I never learned.” Laura stood up finished with her drink. She placed it on the table and said “Thank you, so much.” She walked away and waved back at the twins. When she was farther away she spoke in a curious tone. “I never did learn their names.”
Shannon who was sneaking by Laura was caught off guard when she heard her younger sister say in her warm, sweet, harmonious voice “You can come out now, I really don’t want to learn how to pick a lock with freezing fingers.” Shannon slowly crept under the street lamp and walked over to the door. As she took out her keys she found herself saying “Do you actually know how to pick a lock or were you just saying that?” Shannon waited for her sister to answer. “I read about it, but never figured out if the book was making it up or not.” Laura said. Shannon rolled her eyes at her sister and opened the cherry-wood door. Before Laura could run up to what was now known as her room, she was embraced by warm, loving arms. Although Laura wanted nothing more than to stay and melt into the embrace, she struggled free and practically flew to the other side of the room. Looking up was like peering into her mirror image, same loose curly black hair, milk chocolate skin, onyx eyes, and full pink lips. “No,” Laura said in a quiet almost inaudible voice, “just…just leave.” Laura said looking straight into her mother’s eyes.
“Now, Lauren…” her mother started but never finished. “I TOLD YOU TO NEVER CALL ME THAT!” Laura screamed almost in tears. This was her last straw, and it was falling to shreds. “You promised that you would always be there, you are a liar. Just a liar, it hurts to even look at you and remember all the false promises you made. All the lies you told. I don’t care if you were trying to protect me or whatever lie you are going to come up with now. You should have told me. I had every right to know. Everyone else knew. Shannon knew, the neighbors knew, the entire world knew. But not your daughter. Did you ever really love me?” Laura finished in tears; a brief silence was soon filled with more angry and hurt words. “Don’t you dare say that. You know that I loved you, I still love you. I wanted to come back home but there were things that I had to deal with first.” At her mothers words Laura rolled her eyes and looked at her sister Shannon. “I’m going to go ahead and guess that this was all your idea. Did you expect us to hug this out and be a happy little family? This isn’t the Brady Bunch. Heck, if it was that show would not have been as popular.” Shannon looked at her little sister and laughed as if she just heard a hysterical joke. “What is so funny young lady?” Their mother said watching Michael attempt to sneak out of the living room. Shannon replied “It’s just that I have never seen Laura blow up like that. She’s usually so quiet and agreeable. Way to sweet that it makes me want to murder her and see if she would ask if I needed help.” The two women and young lady all looked at each other and each had a slight epiphany.
The girls mother Penelope knew that she would never fix Laura’s broken heart. It didn’t mean that she shouldn’t try.
Shannon realized that it would take a while to even remotely understand what her sister was going through. It would take some time to be as close as she was with her sister and mother. But it would make their connection stronger.
Laura realized that you could never actually fix a heart. She just ran out of Band-Aids, but stitching it together slowly would ease the pain and although the ache would still be there, she should try to understand and listen to her mother’s reasons.
Michael walked back into the room to find Laura, Shannon, and Penelope huddled together by the fire singing Christmas carols and leaning on each other for the support that they had needed so long ago. He walked in setting down the platter of cookies. They dug in and finished the night reading T’was the Night Before Christmas, savoring warm eggnog and cookies. While decorating the tree, Shannon and Laura felt like young children again when the world was large and new. The curiosity and hope that Santa Claus was coming was present in the air. They placed their presents under and hoped that more would arrive in the morning. They got on their knees and prayed wishing happy birthday to he newborn king. As they all drifted to their bedrooms, Laura remembered a tradition that she and Shannon had held since Laura had been able to talk. She crawled in Shannon’s bed taking Michaels spot. Shannon laughed softly when she saw Laura and crawled into bed next to her. Michael set up shop on the floor.
As soon as Penelope was certain that everyone was asleep, she did something that she had done years ago. Dialing the number, she hear three rings then a surprised voice say “Hello Penelope.” Penelope smiled at her husbands’ voice. Since they never actually got divorced they lived in a two family house together and never spoke. “The children have fallen asleep, do you want to be the elves or the Claus’s?” Laura who was eavesdropping by the door smile and felt like the world was a bit brighter and fresher. As a new layer of snow was resting on the world, Laura felt complete. She felt loved and like she could rule the word. Things were finally looking up for the best. “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” played in the background