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A New Summer

“Are you sure you have everything?” asked Sarah, pushing back her hair and looking at her daughter across the room.

“I think so. Aunt Helen’s going to go shopping with me when I get there. She said not to bring much because I will be getting a lot more,” replied Karin, standing up and dusting off her hands. Carefully picking her way across her room to avoid the open suitcases and the piles of clothes, she made her way next to her mom and surveyed the room.

“I guess cleaning up is going to be a chore,” laughed Sarah, tousling Karin’s hair. Karin ducked under her mom’s hand, but smiled too; looking at her normally tidy room that now more resembled a place where monkeys had come to play.

“Well, the sooner it’s started, the sooner it gets done. I’ll take the bed, you get the floor. On your mark, get set, go!” shouted Sarah, slashing her hand down like a racecar starter.

“No fair, you have less to do!” protested Karin.

“Exactly, I’m a genius,” replied Sarah, grinning at her daughter. Though it took a little bit longer with the both of them throwing clothes at each other and taking breaks in between laughter sessions to catch their breath, before too long Karin’s room had regained its original tidy look.

“Mom, do I really have to go?” asked Karin, laying on her freshly made bed.

“Sweetheart, we’ve been over this already. You agreed to go visit Aunt Helen while I go on this work trip. I promise, when I get back I’ll fly out there and have you show me around all the great places you’ve been to, and you can introduce me to all the nice people you’ve meet. Believe me, this is a fabulous opportunity for you, and I’m sure Helen has thought of wonderful things for you to do while you’re there. I bet you won’t even miss me,” reassured Sarah.

“I still am nervous. I haven’t made a new friend since elementary school, and since Emily moved, no one really wants to talk to me. I’m the know-it-all weirdo who writes her own music,” grumbled Karin, rolling over to look at her mom.

“That is exactly why this trip will be good for you. Not only will you meet new people, but you can get away from that stereotype you’ve stubbornly been carrying around since you started high school. Honey, you know I wouldn’t make you do something you don’t want to do, but Aunt Helen is really excited about you coming out. I’m sure you will have so much fun you won’t even realize that you are missing me,” Sarah smiled, tousling her daughter’s long blond hair.

“I’m not so sure about that. At least I know I’ll get a job, working at her photo shop. That’s something, right?” Karin replied, ducking out from under her mom’s hand.

“Of course. Ops, there’s the bread, must be ready. Meet you downstairs in ten? Finish up packing, and I’ll have a sumptuous dinner ready, right out of the microwave,” joked Sarah, heading down the stairs to the kitchen. Karin rolled onto her back and studied the glow in the dark stars she and her mom had put up on her ceiling when Karin wanted to be an astronaut. Looking at them, Karin suppressed a smile, she knew what her mom was thinking when she bought the stars, no daughter of hers could ever go up in a small capsule and look down on the earth from thousands of miles away, both were terrified of being just a few feet above ground. Sighing, Karin looked over on her bedside table, where her airplane tickets were lying in wait for her to pack. Flying, so high you couldn’t make out the individual features of the landscape. Great, she couldn’t wait.

“Karin! Dinner’s ready! Time to come down!” called Sarah, tearing Karin from her thoughts.

“Coming, be there in a second!” Karin called back down, hastily throwing in her carryon her ipod and cellphone chargers, collecting her music from around her stand and putting it in her guitar case, followed by her guitar. She paused a second, looking at a necklace her best friend had given her, before the accident, then put it around her neck, hiding it beneath her shirt. Sarah didn’t know Karin still had it, she thought it had gone out with all the other things, before the fight, before the accident.

“Karin! I’m not going to wait, it’s time to come down!” shouted Sarah again, playfully. Neither one ate before the other did, it was a family thing to wait, even if it meant eating dinner at one in the morning, which happened when Sarah took the late shift at work.

“I’m coming! Hold your horses!” Karin replied, grinning silently to herself. Her mom was always joking about one thing or another, and Karin was going to miss that when she went away for the summer.
She ran down the stairs, taking them two at a time, and practically ran into Sarah at the foot of the stairs.

“I was just coming up to check on you. I’m glad you came down, saved me a trip,” smiled Sarah, enfolding her daughter into a hug.

“I’m fine, it’s not like I can get lost between my room and here, right?” Karin replied, her voice muffled by her mom’s shoulder.

“I know, but I can still be a mom, can’t I? Besides, dinner’s getting cold. Let’s go,” Sarah smiled, putting her arm around Karin’s shoulders and steering her to the dining room. The two sat down and ate the delicious spaghetti and sauce Sarah had made from scratch, with fresh garlic bread from their favorite bakery down the street.

“We’d better be getting to bed, we both have a big day tomorrow. Good night, sweetheart, I’ll see you bright and early in the morning,” smiled Sarah as they finished washing the dishes.

“I love you mom,” Karin smiled, hugging her mom.

“I love you too. Now, off to bed with you, young rascal.”

Karin woke up to the loud noise of her alarm beeping. She groaned and leaned over to shut it off, only to have it run away from her on two wheels.

“Whose grand idea was it to buy an alarm clock that ran away from you when you went to turn it off?” grumbled Karin as she threw her sheets off and went chasing after it, stumbling over the suitcases in the dark. She finally located the annoying thing, trying to wedge its way between her closet doors, and shut it off. Muttering about the insane hour, how most teenagers would be going to sleep right about now, and how she wouldn’t be able to do anything but sit for the whole day, she went over and opened her shades, covering her eyes against the bright sun just peeking over the horizon.

“You’ll see that every day, over the ocean no less. Try getting some sleep with that blaring in your windows. If I remember correctly, Helen isn’t too fond of curtains. Threw them out every time I bought some to put in our room. Ahh, the good old days,” sighed Sarah from the doorway, holding a steaming mug of coffee in her hands.

“It’s still too early,” complained Karin, rubbing her eyes with one hand while reaching for the outfit she had picked out last night for travel.

“I’ll see you downstairs in a few, bacon and eggs sound good?” Sarah tossed over her shoulder, not waiting for a reply, Karin loved her mom’s scrambled eggs. A little bit of cream cheese, cheddar cheese, fresh avocados, what could be better? they say something and we have to trust they are telling the truth.”

“Time to go, sweetie. Don’t want to be late to our plane, now, do we?” asked her mom jokingly, though Karin could tell Sarah was holding back tears. Karin went back up to her room and gathered all her things, a suitcase, her guitar case, and her shoulder bag, and managed to make her way down the stairs balancing all three. She met her mom in the front of their house, loading both their things into the back of the car.

“Okay, are you absolutely sure you have everything? I won’t be able to send you anything, remember? If you forget something, maybe Helen will buy it for you, or you’ll have to do without,” warned Sarah.

“Yeah Mom, pretty sure I have everything. Thanks for, everything. I’ll miss you so much,” Karin murmured, hugging her mom tightly.

“For goodness sakes, we’re together through the airport, don’t make me cry just yet,” Sarah smiled, though tears glistened on her cheeks in the early morning light. Karin just hugged her mom a little bit tighter before putting her things in the trunk of her car.

“I just hope the renters will take good care of the house. Let’s go,” sighed Sarah, getting into the front seat. Karin slid into the passenger seat next to her mom and double-checked she had her purse in her bag.

They arrived at the airport and parked the car in the long-term parking garage, unpacking everything and doing a last triple check everything was in order.

“Okay, time to go. Got everything? Good,” smiled Sarah bravely. She picked up her two shoulder bags and rolled her suitcase out of the garage. Karin picked up her guitar and started following her mom, taking deep breaths to prepare for the day ahead. All the people she would need to talk to ran through her mind, reminding her just how painfully shy she was. Meeting Helen would be difficult, she hadn’t see her aunt since before her dad’s death, and she was his sister.

“Come on sweetie, we have to check in, and you need to catch your plane,” called Sarah from the front of the doors in the airport.



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