The way the leaves fall

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Chapter 2

Julia gripped the handle bars tightly as she sped around a stop sign onto her street. Two story houses with freshly painted white fences lined the street. The grass was freshly mowed and the leaves had been raked into big piles that seemed to rest against the trees that dotted the backyards.

Along the curb oak trees had been planted their branches hung down over the sidewalk casting shadows on the pavement. Julia watched a leaf fall. It shimmered in the fall sunlight, seeming to almost glow as it spun around in the air twisting and turning. The leaf turned upside and brushed against the side walk before finally settling there. Julia took care to swerve around the leaf as she continued on.

A couple of kids dashed out in front of her bike squealing gleefully. Julia hurriedly put her foot down and allowed it to drag on the concrete, stopping the bike just before it hit the little girl, who couldn’t have been more than five.

The boy who looked like he was the girl’s brother pulled her towards the side of the road to let Julia go by. Julia offered a small smile to the young girl, but the young girl only squealed and hid behind her brother. The boy gave an apologetic glance to Julia and she shook her head as if to say, It’s fine.

The boy began to scold his sister and Julia peddled on. Her father would arrive home at four and her mother was off on a business trip so she had plenty of time to get home before they arrived. Deciding that she would visit Tomas, Julia pulled up into the driveway of Tomas Mills, a cute boy tall olive skinned boy who played on the school’s basketball team.

His sister was Kelly Mills, head of the student council, and Julia planned on getting in Kelly’s good graces. She’d been talking with Molly Sheldon, a girl who she played soccer with, and Molly had told her that if she could befriend Kelly it would be a big help to the team. Julia agreed enthusiastically, she would do anything to help her team out and the prospect of making a new friend.

Julia glanced at the window of the house. Her stomach flipped a little at the idea of meeting Tomas and Kelly Mills. They were well known through the school and even though she’d been told Kelly was expecting her she was still nervous. Molly had made it very clear that if Julia didn’t get in Shelly’s good graces there would be a problem for the team, and a problem for the team meant a big problem for Julia, the newest member of the team.

She swung off her black and green bike, resting it against the white fence that bordered the front yard. Quickly she strode up the gravel drive way and onto the cement front porch outside the house.

The oak front doors to the house were decorated in all kind of seasonal items, including fake leaves that sparkled and a knocker that didn’t work. Julia glanced down at the porch and saw that they had rested some squash against the neatly painted white house.

Her mother worked at a law firm and her father was often away on business trips, so no one would be home until around 5:00 which gave her thirty minutes to talk to Kelly. She had to admit it wasn’t much but at least it was something.

As she bent to examine them the door swung open and she stepped back a bit. A girl in a black sunflower dress with olive skin, almond brown eyes, and shiny black hair opened the door.

“You must be Julia!” She exclaimed cheerfully, extending her hand for Julia to shake.

Julia shook her hand awkwardly, noticing the expensive bracelets that covered her arms, from her wrists almost all the way to her elbows.

“Uh yeah I...” she trailed off a bit shocked by the girl’s friendly demeanor and expensive choices. From what Molly had told her Kelly was cold and unfriendly, but to Julia she seemed the complete opposite. “You’re Kelly Mills?” she asked finally, slightly recovering from her initial shock.

Kelly nodded and let out a slight giggle, “Let me guess, Molly sent you?” Her eyes became slightly searching as Julia nodded.

“Er yeah... she wanted me to talk to you about funding the soccer team more.” Julia blustered through her sentences, she wasn’t exactly sure how to talk to this girl.

Kelly nodded slightly, “She always makes me out to be a bit of a bitch, let me guess she told you I was cold and manipulative?”

“Unfriendly too.” Julia muttered, feeling slightly more at ease with this girl than before.

Kelly nodded, “Yeah that sounds like her.” She shook her head slowly her tone implying she wasn’t at all happy with Molly, but she wasn’t go to say it flat out.

Julia merely nodded and blushed, sticking her hands into her pockets. Kelly looked away a bit before turning back to her.

“Oh how rude of me I haven’t invited you in!” she exclaimed. Kelly laughed and stepped into the house, leaning against the door to hold it open. Julia scuffed her feet on the outside of the house but didn’t go in. “I don’t bite.” Kelly promised spotting her reluctance.

Julia blushed and stepped into the house. As soon as she stepped in her mouth fell open. From the neat garden, surrounded by a picket fence outside she’d expected a large, carpeted, well kept home, but the Mills’ home was anything but.

Seemingly large rooms weren’t actually all that big but rather were made to seem large by light colors and floors. Piles of stuff were pushed against the wall and hidden in every corner. While the light from the windows light up the house making it seem cheerful and cozy.

The entry way where she was standing was a small passage really, but with the large windows by the door, pine floors and soft yellow walls it felt more like a grand entryway than the small passage it was. A dark oak bench rested against one wall, shoes, socks, jackets and backpacks all either were strewn across the bench or stuffed under it.

“Sorry I would have cleaned if I knew someone was coming over.” Kelly apologized politely.

Julia shrugged “I don’t mind it makes it feel cozy.” She told her honestly.

Kelly frowned before nodding, “I suppose that’s one way to look at it.” She strode quickly towards the kitchen at the other end of the entryway before picking up a jacket that was resting by the doorway and tossing it onto the bench. “Another way is it’s just messy.” she teased.

Julia laughed. “Yeah that too, but it gives it a human feel to it. When I was in Molly’s house I felt like I was living out of a catalog. I didn’t want to touch anything because I thought I would break it.” She confessed.

Kelly laughed from the kitchen, “Yeah that sounds like Molly.” Julia nodded even though Kelly couldn’t see and leaned against the doorway to the kitchen taking it in.

It was painted a light blueish gray color, hardly the color she’s expect after coming in from the entry way, but oddly enough it worked. The counter tops were a dark gray marble bordering on black and the cupboards looked like a lighter wooden version of the countertops. A metal fridge was positioned in the middle of the kitchen and that’s what Kelly was leaning against. Two large windows bordered the front wall, looking out over the gardens.

“You want lemonade or something?” Kelly asked opening the fridge and taking some out for herself. Julia frowned she didn’t want to look childish, but Kelly was offering and it sounded pretty nice.

“Sure, I’ll take some.” She muttered nervously. Kelly didn’t seem to notice or think it childish, instead she took out a second glass from the cupboard and set it down beside her own, pouring a good amount of lemonade into both.

“Here you go.” Kelly said cheerfully, turning back to face Julia and handing her the glass. Julia thanked her and took a sip, enjoying the sweet taste. “Here why don’t we sit down?” Kelly suggested leading Julia into the dinning room in the back of the house.

It was quiet a nice room, with big windows and an open feel to it and so Julia didn’t object. The two pulled out chairs and sat down at the large dark table that took up more than half the room. Paper and trinkets were strewn across it like every other part of the house but Julia didn’t really mind.

They two sat and talked for awhile getting along quiet well and enjoying their lemonade. After a while Kelly turned to Julia. “So what was it Molly sent you here to ask me about?” she asked.

Julia paused, she’d forgotten all about that. “Oh er something about funding the soccer team more.”

Kelly shook her head, “The soccer team is already highly funded I’m not sure I can convince the student council to give them even more funding especially given the general opinion of Molly Sheldon.”

Julia raised her eyebrows, she was aware that the entire school thought Molly Sheldon was a bitch but after getting to know her more she wasn’t sure that was true. Kelly seemed to notice Julia’s uncomfortableness and changed the subject.

“So, you’re on the soccer team?” she asked.

Julia’s eyes light up and she nodded. “Yeah it’s great. I love it!” she exclaimed which made Kelly giggle for some reason. “What?” she asked.

Kelly shook her head, her eyes sparkling with amusement. “Nothing, I just can’t believe you like it. You seem so nice.” she teased.

Julia frowned. “The girls on the soccer team are nice.” She smiled excited with her new idea. “You’d see that if you join!” she suggested.

Kelly shook her head, “Nah I tried playing in my fifth grade year. I was horrible, plus it didn’t help that I hated my team mates.”

“Well the people I play with are nice.” Julia muttered defensively.

Kelly nodded, “I’m sure they are. I mean everyone had their thing... but I just thing I’m more of a student council girl than a soccer girl.”

Julia nodded, “I can understand that.” She muttered.

Kelly smiled and her eyes lit up, “You should come to a session one time.You don’t have to join or even come to another session.” she added hurriedly as Julia began to shake her head. “I’m just saying give it a go, you might like it.”

Julia paused for a moment before smirking, “Fine, but then you have to at least go to try outs for the girls soccer team.”

Kelly frowned for a second, and unreadable emotion in her eyes, before nodding. “Okay it’s a deal.” she smiled again. extending her hand to Julia. Julia shook her hand smiling.

“It’s a deal.” she echoed.

They spent the rest of the afternoon bantering cheerfully together and the time flew by without Julia even realizing it. Julia glanced out the window and cursed, it was late afternoon probably early evening, which meant that her parents would be home soon.

“What time is it?” she asked, worriedly.

Kelly frowned and glanced at her watch, “5:30. Why?” she asked.

Great so her parents were definitely home. Julia shook her head, running her hands through her hair. “I need to go. I didn’t tell my parents I was coming to visit you.They’ll be worried.” she explained.

Kelly nodded. “Oh, ok. Well it was nice talking with you.”

Julia smiled, “Yeah thank you. I promise I’ll call and ask before I come over next time.”

Kelly laughed, “Sounds good. See you then?”

“See you then.” Julia smiled as Kelly walked her out to the porch.

“Oh wait, I just realized how are you going to call me and ask if you don’t have my number.” Kelly asked.

Julia smirked. “You’re right I guess I can’t.”

Kelly nodded and raced back into her house emerging a minute later with a slip of paper. “Here I wrote it down.” she panted, a bit out of breath. Julia laughed.

“You could have just given it to me to put in my phone.” she pointed out.

Kelly shrugged. “Yeah I guess I could have but where would the fun be in that?” she asked.

“There wouldn’t be any.” Julia joked smiling again.

Kelly nodded and leaned up against the doorway. “See you soon?” she asked.

Julia nodded “See you soon!” she called as she swung herself onto her bike and road away up hill towards her house. She was happy, almost ecstatic as she began to peddle, she’d liked Kelly and she was glad she had made another friend. However, her happiness soon wore off as she broke in her driveway.

Her house loomed up in front of her. It was another two story house, with the red clay colored shudders and a white picket fence. The garage was the same white color as the house, and the garage door was the same colors as the shudders. All in all it was a decent house, but it wasn’t a great house.

Julia sighed as she thought of what her parents would say when she came inside. She had never been late before, but she doubted that would help much. Taking a deep breath she pulled her bike into the open garage and stepped into her home.

Immediately upon her arrival, the scent of dinner, which turned out to be lasagna, overwhelmed her senses. Her kitchen, which now looked cold and empty in comparison to Kelly’s, was painted a faint beige. The counter tops were an ugly cream, and the cupboards were a weird mix of the two colors.

The sound of voices and footsteps drifted in through the large white doorway, that lead into the dinning room. Her mother and the uncomfortable stiffness she always brought with her entered the room.

Julia shifted on her feet before looking up. Her mother at 6ft was an imposing figure. She had bright red hair and sharp green eyes that Julia swore could cut through glass. Her mother worked at a law firm and as a result she made a good amount of money but she way rarely home, expect on sunday’s when she demanded they go to church.

Julia winced at the cold expression on her mother’s face and she rubbed her arm sheepishly. Her mother glared at her.

“Where were you?” she demanded.

“I was at Kelly’s.” Julia informed her.

Her mother frowned slightly, “I wasn’t aware we had a Kelly in our neighborhood. Is she knew”

Julia shook her head, “She’s been here for a while I think. I hung out with her for an hour and her house looked well moved into.”

"“What’s her last name?” her mother asked curiously.

“Mills.” Julia muttered.

“That can’t be right.” her mother muttered.

“I’m pretty sure it’s right. She goes to my school.” Julia grumbled.

Her mother shook her head, “I wasn’t aware the Mills’ had a daughter. I’ll have to meet her and determine if she’s a good influence or not.”

Julia snorted, “She’s a nice girl I’m sure you’ll like her.” She grumbled, not really sure why her mother was so obsessed with ‘Kelly’s influence.’

“Don’t roll your eyes at me-” Julia began to give her mother a questioning look but her mother’s cold stare stopped her-“Look, you’re at the end of middle school you’re almost in high school and there are lots of...people in the world who might create a bad influence I just want to make sure you stay on the right path.” her mother explained.

Julia frowned. “What sorts of bad influences are you talking about?” she asked.

Her mother looked happy that she had asked and Julia knew that her mother probably thought that she was asking so that she could not hang out with the ‘wrong’ sort of people.

“Well you know, criminals, atheists, those sorts of people...” her mother paused for a bit and Julia bit her lip, she knew what her mother was going to say next. Even though she was silently praying her mother wouldn’t she knew it was coming. “And those er queers.” Her mother finished.

Julia felt as her mother had cut her or hurt her right than. She knew her mother was bound to say it, but it still hurt. Though she wasn’t exactly sure why it hurt. It wasn’t as though her mother was insulting her, but deep down that’s what it felt like.

“Go wash up.” Her mother instructed.

Julia nodded and hurried upstairs, glad for an excuse to not continue the conversation. She stuffed Kelly’s number in her pocket and decided that she’d call her after dinner.

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