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How she came into this world, no one knows. She came and left just as suddenly as a lightning bolt, or a flash of light. We’ll never know what happened, but we will know this. Life is not just about living; it’s about loving what life is.
Laura walked into school, slightly nervous, but excited. It was her first year of high school, and she was determined to do well. Her life until this point had been struggling through everything, she couldn’t seem to do anything right, until this summer. Thinking back, she smiled, biting back the tears that threatened to overwhelm her every time she thought about it. After all, it’s not often someone leaves you with an impression like Emma did.
“Mom, I’m fine here! Why do I have to go to Dad’s?” Laura groaned for the umpteenth time as her mom threw the suitcases into the back of her truck.
“Because sweetie, there’s more to life than just sitting around and watching TV. It’s no wonder you don’t get better grades. Your life is spent sitting around waiting for something to happen, instead of, of, just doing something,” her mom explained as she made sure the door was locked.
“Mom, I will be bored out of my mind before I even get there! At least here we have people to talk to,” Laura cried.
“Like you ever talk to them,” her mom grunted as she closed the back of the car. “Last time you had a friend it was, what, second grade?”
“Yeah, and she totally turned on me and made me cry every day of third grade,” Laura muttered.
“Oh, come off it. You couldn’t stop talking about her in second grade!” her mom said in an overly cheerful voice.
“You hated her and now I hate her,” Laura shot back. “You hate Dad too!”
“Laura, Laura, how could you say such a thing? I loved your dad, things just, well, things just didn’t work out for us. Look Laura, I know that this may be hard, but I need you to do this for me. If I can get a steady job somewhere, I can pay off this car and our apartment. We’ll be free to do what we want to do. Your dad wanted things to be better for both of us, but after your brother’s death, things didn’t work out. Baby, sweetie, please do this, just this summer. I promise that things will get better.” Laura’s mom held out her arms for a hug, but she turned away. Her mom sighed and got into the driver’s seat while Laura clambered into the passenger’s. The engine drowned out anything else that could be said as the two made their way to the airport.
Laura walked through the terminal to the baggage claim, looking straight ahead and trying not to notice that instead of terminals A, B, C, D, E, and F, there was only one terminal and that there were only two planes there, the one she got off of and one that was boarding. There was something about its smallness that made her uneasy, but she didn’t know why. At the baggage claim she grabbed her bags and looked around. Everywhere there were people greeting others or tourists looking at the tourist stands. She finally caught sight of the person she was looking for, someone she hadn’t seen since she was four. He looked the same as ever, bald spot on the top of his head, a medium-sized man with a rather large stomach.
“Dad?” she asked, coming closer.
“Laura! I’m so glad you could come!” her dad smiled, his face suddenly becoming boyish. He held out his arms to her and, feeling a little awkward, she hugged him, patting his back once or twice before releasing him.
“How was your flight? Did it go okay? Did you sleep at all? Are you hungry?” he asked as he picked up her bags.
“Um, you know, I could take those-” her voice trailed off as he went outside through sliding doors. She was amazed at the view.
“Something, isn’t it,” smiled her dad as he led her over to a car. He opened up the trunk and placed her bags inside before going over to the passenger side and holding open the door for her. Laura slid in, still gazing around her in wonder.
“How do people live in this place?” she asked her dad, gazing out the window.
“Well, same as we do just about everywhere else, except here we’re extra careful about what we do. That’s why we don’t use much electricity, and why trash collections only happen once a month. You’ll love living here, that’s for sure,” grinned her dad. All of Laura’s excitement drained.
“You do have a TV, right?” she asked, turning to look at her dad.
“Nope, and we only have one phone in the house too,” smiled her dad, looking at her astonished face with something close to laughter. “You’ll get used to it. You’ll see.”
When they pulled up in the driveway, there was another car already parked by the garage.
“Oh goody, when Martha comes to cook, there is no way you will believe that she’s the only one making it,” her dad rubbed his hands together. He pulled her things out of the trunk and walked up the front steps, humming to himself.
“Martha! We’re home!” he cried, knocking on the door with his elbows. A kindly woman opened the door. She looked to be about Laura’s mom’s age, and that put Laura’s back up. She walked stiffly forward into the house, trying not to betray any emotion. She was immediately swept up in a warm embrace.
“So you must be the Laura your dad has talked nonstop about,” Martha smiled, releasing Laura. Her manner was so nice that Laura smiled back, and then remembered that she didn’t like this woman who was taking her mom’s rightful space.
“You’ll be just perfect for my daughter, Emma, who will be coming in a couple of days. You’ll just love Emma. I’m sure you’ll be the best of friends,” she smiled at Laura before bustling off to the kitchen.
“Get your hands off that pie, you snitcher. Here, be helpful and put the salad with dressings on the table.”
"I wasn’t touching your pie, accuser. How come you always blame me?”
“Because you’re the only one to blame, and I caught you red-handed.” Laughter came from the kitchen. Laura sat down on a chair near the door and put her head in her hands. She didn’t want her dad to marry this person, he was supposed to love her mom, and only her mom. To Laura it didn’t seem fair that her dad had found someone else when her mom still wore their wedding ring. Laura began to feel terrible about what she had said to her mom earlier about hating her dad. Laura knew that her mom really loved her dad and hadn’t been able to get over the divorce, although it had been the lesser of the two evils. Laura began to shake with fear when she remembered the fights that had echoed about the house the year before the divorce. It all had everything to do with her baby brother who hadn’t lived to be more than three. Cancer took him when he was a couple of months old, and he was just too young to fight it. Laura had given up some of her blood and bone marrow to help him, but it hadn’t been enough. He died three days before his third birthday. Her dad took it really hard, the doctors had told her mom that she couldn’t have more babies, and to her dad’s mind, it was her mom’s fault that they had lost their son.
“Laura? Dinner’s ready,” Martha looked around the corner and saw Laura just sitting there.
"I’m not hungry,” she muttered.
“Come now, you must be hungry after your long trip. Please, at least come and sit with your dad and me. You don’t know how much he’s missed you. You’re all he talks about sometimes, well, most of the time. Just for dinner, then you can go up to your room,” begged Martha. Grudgingly, Laura complied, and even ate a little, before going upstairs.