Defining Us (Book 2 of Discovering Me Series)

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Chapter 29: Borderline - Tove Styrke

***Elle***

I was determined to change things my final year at Sella Moora. Not myself necessarily, but the way I approached life and interacted with others. I was going to relax and wade into activities, instead of diving headfirst and monopolizing everything. I needed to facilitate new leaders, ones that could take over with ease after my absence. The grades, test scores, and extra-curricular I needed to get into the college were already accumulated; my essays were written and my applications were sent off. My future plan was in the works. I only needed to maintain what I had done to secure my spot as valedictorian, which was easy enough. It freed up plenty of time to spend with my friends. I was even open to getting a final high school sweetheart. It would be a last hoorah and provide a much-needed dose of excitement.

It wasn’t going to happen with Ry. Before Izzie arrived, he was the closest thing I had to a best friend. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t attracted to him. I’d also be lying if I said I had never thought about it. But at the end of the day, we were too alike to last. We both needed to be right; we both needed the last word; and we both needed to be the center of attention. It would be more of a competition than a relationship. Friendships can function like that. In fact, ours thrives on it. But romantic relationships can’t solely consist of dramatic back and forths and sly teasing; they need to contain humility and compromise – two skills we had yet to fully grasp. And that was okay; we had time to learn how.


I dragged my suitcase to the housing office. The campus was vacant. The only students permitted back at that time were the students assisting with first year orientation.

“Eleanor Woollard.” I presented my student ID to the man working at the counter.

“Which dorm are you in this year?” My mom asked.

“Hepburn.”

He put my key on the counter beside my ID. “Can you tell me if any of my roommates are here?”

He scanned the list. “Yes, two. Isabella Zapata and Morgan Cohen.”

“Thank you.” I put my card back into my wallet and attached my key to my key ring.

“I thought Isabella’s last name was Hales.” My mom questioned when we were back outside.

“She took her mom’s maiden name this summer after the falling out she had with her father. She’s always been close to her grandparents and she’s reconnecting with her mom.”

“Poor dear. She is such a sweetheart. You should invite her to stay with us for spring break.”

I smiled at the thought. “I will. She’d love that.”

“Will Ryan be coming back to school early too?”

“Yes.” I braced myself for the next comment.

“You really need a boyfriend. He would be a good choice. I know Scott hurt you, but you need to move on.”

I rolled my eyes. “I broke up with him. It was over a year ago. I’m more than over it. You know nothing about Ry other than he’s cute. ”

“You are a beautiful girl, Elle. There is no reason you should be single. Are you making yourself available? Boys don’t like it when you –“

“Mom, please leave my romantic life to me. I am more than capable of handling it.”

“You need to be more open to advice. You do not know everything. –“

I spotted Nick in the distance, walking in the direction of the housing office with his father.

“Nick!” I practically sprinted towards him, anxious to get away from my mother.

“Elle.” He chuckled with nervousness and accepted my hug.

“You say more than that when a lady approaches you, Son. Be a gentleman.” His dad put his hand on his shoulder.

Nick flushed and looked down at his shoes. “She’s my friend. This is how we talk to each other.”

“Excuse him. We’re still sprucin’ up his people skills.”

“It is quite alright. I can tell he’s a sweetie pie with plenty of home trainin’. I keep telling Elle she needs to settle down with a southern boy. They know how to treat a lady.’” My mother’s southern twang slipped out.

“Dad’s from Michigan.”

“Hush, Hon.” She retorted to my point.

“Where are you from?” Mr. Monroe asked.

“Charlotte, North Carolina.”

“We live in Raleigh. How did you meet your husband if he’s a northerner?” He crossed his arms, genuinely interested.

“He went to UNC on a basketball scholarship. I was a cheerleader. I never could resist a charming man in Tar Heel blue.”

I was bored with their conversation, having heard the story a million times. “Mom, I need to start unpacking. I have a lot to do tomorrow.”

“Right. It was nice to meet you Nicholas –“ She shook his hand. “And Mr.—“ She prompted his father.

“Monroe.”

“Lovely to meet you, Mr. Monroe.” She shook his hand.

I mouthed ‘sorry’ to Nick as I walked by him.

“Why were you so insistent on me getting me a boyfriend? I can take care of myself.” I walked in front of her, frustrated.

“Eleanor, you have always been too headstong. There is no shame in stepping aside and letting a man take the lead every once in a while. I don’t want you to be a lonely spinster. I want grandbabies.” She caught up to me.

“I’m seventeen, Ma. Give it a rest!”

“I just want you to be happy.”

“I am happy. So happy it’s crazy.” I retorted through gritted teeth.

“No need to get all hissy with me, Missy. I was just trying to help.”

“You’re always ‘just trying to help’. Do you understand these conversations flair my compulsions? I can’t be perfect for you and it eats at me everyday.”

“Elle, I didn’t mean to –“ She reached for my back.

I exhaled to calm myself. “Call Dad, tell him we made it here okay.”

“If that’s what you want, Honey.” She backed off, giving me the space I needed as she made her phone call.

I didn’t need to unlock the door when I arrived at my suite. It was propped open. Mr. Cohen was in the process of hauling a box into Morgan’s room.

“Hi, Mr. Cohen.” I waved.

“Oh, Elle, it’s so good to see you.” He put the box down in the doorway of her room, turned around, and gave me a hug. “This will be our last time moving in.”

“Don’t remind me.” I smiled when he let go.

“Where’s your mother?”

“In the hall talking to my dad. My brother Jordan is in trouble for playing video games until 3AM before his first day of school. Where’s Morgan?”

“At the car getting another box. She should be back up soon.”

“Elle!” Izzie cheered, running to me at top speed. Our collision embrace was surprisingly nice. I knew she missed me as desperately as I missed her.

“I am still not used to your new last name.”

“It might take a while, but you’ll grow to love it as much as I do. Zapata. Ugh, so much fun to say.” She rolled the letters properly; making it sound far more beautiful than the butchered American pronunciation I was given at the housing office.

“You’ve got that right. Your new cut has almost grown out.” We walked back to my assigned room.

“I know. My hair grows really fast.” She ran her fingers through her natural waves.

“The difference between your highlight hair and natural is creating a cool ombre effect, which is very in this season.” I unlocked my bedroom door.

“Where’s your mom?” She followed me inside.

“Away. I sort of snapped at her.” I wiped my desk off with a sanitizing wipe from my purse.

“Why?”

“She was mercilessly pushing the boyfriend thing again.”

“Don’t you want one? That was one of the bullet points in the PowerPoint detailing your senior year.”

“Well, yeah, but she doesn’t know that. She is always asserting herself into my life, trying to mold me to be exactly who she is because she loves her life so much and wants me to have it too. Beware: a war always breaks out when we decorate my room.” I was able to put my purse after deeming my desk as clean.

“My mom and I are having the opposite experience decorating mine. She had me explain where I wanted things and she’s putting them there without complaint.”

“She’s next door?”

She nodded.

“I’m going to go say hi.” I went through our connecting bathroom. She was right behind me.

She was fluffing Izzie’s pillows and smoothing the wrinkles out of her bedspread.

“Mamà, --“ Iz came around to stand by my side.

She looked up and smiled. “You are Elle, right?” She guessed with apprehension, approaching me with her hand out.

“Yes, Ma’am. We’re huggers around here.” I held open my arms.

She laughed and hugged me. “Isa talks about you nonstop.”

“Mooom,” Iz whined.

“It’s the truth, Chula.” She smiled at her as she pulled away.

“Should I call you Ms. Zapata or –“

“Leslie. All of Izzie’s friends are so polite. You can loosen up around me, Cuchura.”

“Cuz she’s a cool mom.” Iz teased as she started helping her unpack.

“What, does she bring you snacks and condoms?” I joked, catching on to Iz’s Mean Girls reference.

She silently went to her desk and picked up a large bag of gummy bears and an even larger box of condoms, neither of which I had noticed until that moment.

Obnoxiously loud laughter came from my mouth.

“They are school supplies. I know she loves sugar and she and her boyfriend are sexually active. I feel they are as necessary as pens and pencils.” Her mom situated Izzie’s stuffed frog and ballerina bunny in the middle of her pillows.

“I’m sure that was a fun conversation.” I leaned my back on the wall and crossed my arms.

“It was painless, actually. We talk about everything.” She put them back on her desk.

“Elle!!” I heard my mom calling my name from my bedroom.

I sighed. “Mom’s calling. That’s my cue to leave. She’s killing me. Iz, you are the keeper of my will. Honor my final wishes.” I propped myself up off the wall.

“Fleeting Moment will be singing at your funeral and will dedicate every concert to you there after.”

“Thank you. I love you, Babydoll. What we shared was beautiful. Farewell.” I proclaimed dramatically turning to leave.

“Would you like me to ask her if she wants to go the grocery store with me? The kitchen needs to be stocked.” Leslie offered.

I turned around. “Really, you’d do that for me?”

“You’re my baby’s best friend. This is what I am supposed to do as her mom.” She looked to Iz for verification that her gesture was within her job description.

She nodded.

“I’m still getting used to the whole mom thing.” She explained to me sheepishly.

“Here’s my list, Mamà.” Iz handed her a piece of paper.

“I will be back soon.” She kissed her on the top of the head. “What is her name?” She asked me.

“Kimberly.”

“Okay, I will leave you girls alone to catch up.” She went through our bathroom to meet my mother.

I hugged Iz again. “She’s really trying.”

“The letter she wrote me for my birthday was beautiful. We love each other.”

“I’m happy for you, Babe.”

“I heard you were back. I figured you’d be in your other half’s room.” Morgan walked in after knocking on the doorway.

“You know me well, Mom.” I let go of Izzie’s hands and went to hug her. “Do you know when yours will be here?”

“Sami’s parents flew in from the Congo last week. They are the ones bringing her to school. They will be here in a few hours.”

“Prepare to have your aura read, Iz.” I warned.

“Should I be worried?” Her eyes widened.

“No, Delia and Geoffrey are harmless. Highly eccentric, but selfless and nice.” Morgan followed up.

“What are your auras?”

“I got orange-yellow. According to them, it means I am creative, intelligent, detail oriented, a perfectionist, and scientific.” I recalled.

“Very accurate.” She turned to Morgan.

“Blue. It is supposed to mean I am caring, loving, love to help others, sensitive, and intuitive.”

“Again, very spot on. Now I’m excited.”

“Is Miles here?” I asked Iz.

“Yes, but I have not seen him yet. No boys are allowed in the suite until the parents are gone.”

“But what about going to his?”

“My mom’s here. It’s fine. I’ll see him later. Of course I miss his face, but we’ve been texting all day. I can wait a few more hours.”

“Big night planned?” Morgan pointed to the school supplies Leslie provided.

She blushed and shoved them into her desk drawer. “No, my mom bought them. For the record, they will not be used together and she has no concept of how often we make love. I will be set for about ten years. ”

I held up two fingers and showed them to Morgan, contradicting her claim.

“No.” Iz pointed at me.

“What if he takes my advice and starts wearing more dark colors?”

“That’d only cut it to five. It’s not like he never has them. He would not be touching me if that were the case. This is a baby-free zone.” Iz gestured to herself with her hand. “Testing has proved we’re good on the other front.”

“Better safe than sorry.” Morgan approved.

“Are you doing okay after your break up?” She switched the conversation topic to her.

“Yeah, he said some things that made it very easy.”

Morgan looked at me, silently asking if she said too much. I cringed.

“What?” Iz looked between the two of us.

“He is under the impression you and Milo are bad influences on the rest of us.” I answered with apprehension.

“I told him he was wrong.” Morgan quickly added.

She sighed and looked up at the ceiling with tears in her eyes. “Everyone’s going to hate my this year, aren’t they?”

“No, Babydoll. The ones that do don’t know you. You’re going to get plenty of kiss-ups too. We’ll be here, at your side, ready to back you up.” I hugged her.

Morgan joined in. “Don’t even get me started on Sami.”

This made her laugh. “Lots of fight hat.”

“We love you. Nothing will change that.” Morgan assured.

“I’m so happy to have you back.”

“We never left.” I kissed Izzie’s cheek.

Morgan eventually went back to her room to help her dad unpack her things. Iz helped me remove the rest of my bags and personal effects from the van my mom rented. Leslie kept my mom preoccupied by getting her to help her organize and decorate our kitchen and living room. Izzie sat at my desk, played music from her laptop, and talked to me as I decorated my room to my liking. My Mom and Izzie’s came into my room as we were doing it.

“This is beautiful.” Leslie complimented, staying at the doorway.

I figured she was informed about my OCD and didn’t want to invade my personal space without permission. I really appreciated the gesture.

“Thank you.” I smiled at her.

“You’ve done a great job in here, Honey. Les and I are about to head out. We’re going to go have dinner together. We figured you’d like to stay here and keep getting settled in. We’ll be here until tomorrow. Call if you need anything.” My mom extended her arms to me.

I gave her a hug. “I love you, Mom.”

“I’m sorry about earlier.”

“It’s okay. I know it’s easy to forget.”

She smoothed down my hair and sighed. “You’re growing up too fast. I don’t like it.”

I smiled. “I’ll always be daddy’s little girl. Consult him if you miss me.”

“Bye, baby. I love you.” She kissed my cheek.

“I love you too. Travel safely.”

“I’ll be in touch.” She waved on her way out.

Leslie finished hugging Iz and the two of them left together.

“I think our mommies are best friends now.” Iz returned to her seat.

“I think so too. It’ll be good for them. Your mom’s really sweet. I see bits of her in you.”

“Audrey looks more like her, but I’ve been told I do too.”

“Yes, that’s true, but I mean the way you act. You’re both playful, but understanding when it matters. And when I look into your identical eyes, I can tell you’ve seen and done a lot you’d rather forget.”

“I think that’s why I feel so comfortable around her after what transpired in the past. I know she gets it, what I go through. Most of its stuff that can’t be explained; you’ve either gone through it or you haven’t.”

“You’re really good for each other.”

“I always wanted a mom, but I didn’t know how much I needed her to be the one to step in until she was back.”

“Are you ever scared things will go back to the way they were?”

“Everyday. It’s not enough to stop me from counting on her. I know Audrey has the same fear with both of us. We have a history of falling back into our old habits when we are scared. We just need to be reminded that someone believes in us to make it through the times we forget to believe in ourselves.” She tucked her hair behind her ear as she looked down at her lap, playing with her hands.

“I’ll help you keep being brave.”

“Because we’re sisters?” She looked up to smile at me.

“Soul ones. I know we were brought together for a reason and I have faith that we won’t separate for good.”

“We will be cuddling tonight. Your bed or mine?”

“Are you sure you won’t be ditching me for your boyfriend?”

“A wise woman once said, ‘we’re basically married’. My almost wife deserves more affection than my international drug smuggling imaginary baby daddy.”

I laughed. “Should I even ask?”

“It’s best not to. It’s pretty weird, even for us.”

I cracked a smile. “My bed.”

“Sounds good.” She started spinning in my desk chair.

Iz, Morgan, and I took a snack break in the living room, watching a show we agreed upon. Pastel blue hair, backwards cap, vintage band tee, cut off shorts, and beat-up converse, Sami walked in true to form. Her back was turned as she was dragging in a trunk riddled with travel stickers. Her father kept trying to help her, she kept shooing him away.

“Samilla, you cannot shake hands with a clenched fist. You must be more welcoming and accept the help of others.” Her Father attempted to reason.

“Take it away, Dad. You and Gandhi have it covered.” Sami dropped the trunk and walked out the door.

Morgan leapt out of her seat and chased after her.

“I apologize for Samilla’s behavior. My parents have been feeding her processed food and she has not been meditating. Her heart chakra is unbalanced. She’s angry, guarded, and not in touch with her emotions. It is a shame really. She has a beautiful soul.” Her mother explained, walking towards us as her friend put Sami’s trunk in her room.

Izzie and I stood up. She offered her her hand first. “My name is Izzie, Mrs. –“

“Geoffrey and I are not married. We believe it is a glorified form of slavery. We blended our last names to be unified, but we are together of our own free will, not a legal document. Call me Delia.” She shook Izzie’s one hand with both of hers.

Iz immediately grasped where Sami got her views of relationships; Morgan and I learned years prior.

“You have a lavender aura. You have a very active imagination. You are a visionary that daydreams frequently. You are also very in touch with your physical body.”

“That’s a pretty good description of me. I am a dancer.” Izzie told her, a bit skeptical.

“I knew it. Namaste, Izzie.” She released her hand.

She held mine in the same way. “You are still orange-yellow, Elle. It is okay to let go. It will free you.”

“I will try to work on that.”

“Namaste, Elle.” She bowed her head.

I did the same, unsure of what to do.

“What is Sami’s aura?” Iz asked out of curiosity.

She let go of my hand and returned to her to answer the question. I smothered my hands in hand sanitizer when Delia wasn’t looking.

“Hers changes frequently changes in shade, but always remains in the red family. She is angry right now for the fore mentioned reason, so it is muddied red, but she returns to deep red most often – grounded, realistic, active, strong will-power, and survival oriented.”

Morgan and Sami walked back in with bags. They dropped what they carried in and Geoffrey proceeded to take them to Sami’s room. As Delia greeted Morgan in the same way she greeted us, Sam came over to us.

She hugged us at the same time. “Please ignore everything they do and say. If you must absorb it, forget it promptly and never speak of it again.” She detailed for us quickly. “I’ve missed you so much!” She let go us with over-exaggerated enthusiasm.

“Samilla, is Finn available? I need to read his aura to ensure it is compatible with yours.”

“Mother, you loved The Runaways, The Ramones, and The Pretenders growing up. You have five tattoos, none of which are flower child related. I wear your old jean jacket that’s riddled with band patches. I know you are capable of dropping the hippie-dippieness for five minutes!” Sami lost it when Finn was mentioned.

“I have evolved past that and found peace. That is what I want for you, Samilla, for you to find your sunshine.” Delia was unfazed by her outburst, still smiling.

“You sound chronically stoned.” Sami walked past her with a scowl. She was out of the suite in a matter of seconds.

“We’ll just um – we’re going to go help her.” Izzie excused herself and the rest of us trailed after her.

We found her outside, sitting the backseat of an eco-friendly car with the door open and her legs outside the car. Her head was in her hands; her shoulders shook as she heaved and stifled her cries.

“Sam, it’s okay. We’re not judging you. Please don’t cry.” Morgan hugged her. Izzie and I sat on the curb.

“I’m not.” She dried her tear-stained cheeks with the back of her hand.

“What’s not the problem?” Iz wrapped her arms around her legs.

“I’m a hypocrite. I lash out at others because they persecute me for being different. I just did the same thing. Usually, I can handle how they are without a problem; I even like it at times. I hurt her feelings to deflect her question. She did nothing wrong.” She squinted her eyes and stared off into the distance.

“That’s why you’re upset -- like that’s it?” I aired my surprise.

“I can’t explain why I did it. And I’m terrible at saying sorry. I have physical responses to my emotions because I cannot explain them. I can scream, cry, or punch something. Take your pick.”

“Crying’s good.”

“Just hug your mommy. Your auras shall merge and you will be one.” Izzie advised playfully.

Sam struggled not to smile. “Shut up.”

“You know the hug will work. She loves them.” Morgan smoothed down Sami’s hair as she remained at her side.

“But she makes her own deodorant now. She’s not wearing sleeves and I don’t want to get it on my arms.”

“#HippieProblems.” I interjected.

She directed her middle finger at me. I blew her a kiss.

“Suck it up and hug her. She’s nice.” Iz instructed.

She groaned. “Fine.”

Sami put on her sunglasses to shield her puffy eyes. We went back to our suite, our arms around each other. She hugged her mom. Things were instantly resolved. Her parents set up her room as she connected her game console to the television.

“Done.” She joined the three of us on the couch when she was done.

“Picture.” I pulled my phone out of my pocket.

We put our heads together. I held my phone out in front of us. I posted the photo online with the caption: Reunited at last! #GirlPower.

We watched television huddled together after ordering Thai food from a local restaurant that delivered. Their wide variety of food catered to Morgan’s allergies and Sami’s veganism.

There was an unexpected knock at the door. We all stared at it instead answering.

“Not it!” Morgan, Sami, and Iz managed to say before I even thought about it.

I used my legs to hoist myself up and walked to it. I saw the boys through the peephole. I cracked it enough from them to see me, but not enough for them to enter.

“May I help you?”

“We are here for friendship.” Finn kept a straight face, but his tone was playful.

“Who are you?” I nodded to the boy I had never seen before.

Olive skin and hair of honey – that is what I noticed first. His slim but athletic build, meticulously neat haircut, and perfect posture made him look like a young solider parading around in civilian clothes.

“Adam Lofaro, Prince Milo’s undercover bodyguard. You are Eleanor Woollard.” He offered me one of his hands.

“Elle.” I corrected as I shook his hand with a smile.

“Dude, you need to loosen up. No one is going to believe you are a student. Slouch and put your hands at your sides. And we’ve been over this, It’s not ‘Prince Milo’, it’s Miles or Milo.” Ryan critiqued.

“I did get a major military vibe from you. Just say you have strict parents. You can make it work for you.” I reassured him to soften Ry’s blow. “How do you know we’re all here?”

“Don’t post a group pic online if you don’t want people to know who you’re with.” Finn answered.

“Sami’s parents are here. I don’t --”

“Fun.” Finn wormed his way into the suite. I blocked the others from doing the same.

“—know their stance on boys in the suite.” I concluded.

“Oh, Finn, I hoped you would stop by. I must read your aura!” Delia cried.

“I think we’re good.” Ryan pushed past me, winking. I swatted him on the back of the head. He whined and glared at me as he rubbed it.

“If we are an inconvenience, --“ Adam started to apologize.

“Get in here, the dam has been broken.” I ushered him inside.

“I brought all of you cupcakes if that is any consolation for interrupting girl time.” Miles hugged me with one arm.

“It is. Thanks, Son of Sexy.” I patted him on the back.

“You are still doing this?”

“He is still attractive.”

He shook his head as he walked inside.

“Thank you for saving me earlier, Nick.” I gave him a hug.

“No problem. Parents are pretty intense sometimes.”

We walked inside together.

“Elle, your cupcake is the one with sprinkles.” Milo offered me the white box. I carefully lifted mine out.

“Circle sprinkles, my fave.” I licked the bit of frosting I had on my finger.

“Sami, yours is the one with white frosting. It is vegan.”

“You are the true M.V.P, Miles.” She accepted hers.

“And Morgan, yours is gluten-free. It is the green one.”

“You’re so sweet.” She settled into the couch with her snack.

“You know how much I loved baked goods and I’m the only one that doesn’t get one?” Iz put her hands on her hips.

“I wanted to make fun of you lack of patience. The face you are making right now makes it worth it.”

She looked like a frustrated puppy. It was beyond cute. I enjoyed messing with her for the same reason.

She relaxed her face -- unfurling her eyebrows and unclenching her jaw.

“You get two, Beautiful; double fudge chocolate chip, your favorite.” He gave her the entire box.

“You’re lucky I love you.” She got on her tiptoes and kissed him.

Sami’s parents left after identifying everyone’s aura. Our food was delivered. We ate it as we participated in the multiple conversations taking place. When things quieted down, the television was turned off and Adam stood in front of it.

“I will be spending the year with all of you. I have seen your pictures and read your personality profiles. I feel as though I know all of you. It is only far that I introduce myself and allow all of you to ask questions.”

Sami raised her hand.

“Yes?” He called on her.

“Were those personality profiles created through observation or did we take a test we were unaware of?”

“Observation. The palace had specialists analyze and decipher your behavior during your stay in Listonenia.”

“A creepy invasion of privacy, but I’ll let it go because I’m sure you discovered what I do when an injustice takes place. And I take it that you’re smart enough not to cross me a second time. Continue.” She crossed her arms.

He cleared his throat. “My name is Adam Lofaro. I am nineteen years old. I graduated from The Listonenian Military Academy this past spring at the top of my class. I specialized in engineering. I am currently serving in the Listonanian Royal Navy as a midshipman. Any questions?”

“What are your favorite things, hobbies? You just gave us a resume.” Morgan replied.

“It will make it easier for you to blend into our group.” Izzie added.

“Right. I am not used to discussing myself. I enjoy fixing cars and other machinery. People assume I greatly enjoy books; they are always giving them to me as gifts, but I prefer to read comics at my leisure. I like the art. Star Trek is my favorite television series. Lord of the Rings is my favorite film franchise. Does that suffice?”

“You’ll fit right in. You can sit down if you’d like.” I told him.

“Still need to relax. You’re allowed to act like a teenager at this school.” Ryan tried to steal one of Izzie’s cupcakes.

“No! Mine!” She slapped his hand away with force before he got close.

“I told you she would react like that.” Milo reminded him, keeping his arm around her.

“I don’t play around with my baked goods.”

“I know. That is what I said to him. He does not listen.” He kissed the side of her face.

“I have an activity.” I stood up from my chair. I went to my room. I picked up the cut up pieces of paper, pens, box, and duct tape I set aside.

“So, we’re going to write down what we hope to accomplish this year. We’re going to put it in this box. The night before graduation, we’re going to open them up, read them aloud and say whether or we did it.” I returned to the room with my supplies.

“That’s a great idea.” Morgan complimented.

“Thanks, Mom.” I gave her a piece of paper and a pen.

I gave them to the others too, Adam included.

“What’s the duct tape for?” Ryan eyed it with fascination.

“To seal the box. No one is allowed to peek or change their goal. It will stay on the shelf in our living room. The tape allows us to see if it has been tampered with.” I sat back down. I crossed my legs and used the top as a writing surface.

‘Learn to let go and be free’

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