Falling Forward

This is for Starfree's first story contest, so here goes nothing!

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Chapter 2

The Usage of Ancient Phones and the Adoption of a Ferret

Life can't possibly get much more boring.

And don't you dare test me, because I'm serious.

You see what it's like moving from a cabin by a lake, that you, your brother, and your parents have all to yourselves while they are on a wildlife field study in the middle of the wilderness, then moving to a 17th-century mansion in Nebraska with your aunt, and having to attend a private school with your twin brother, and the only wildlife around is the topiary garden in the front yard, which technically isn't even wild. We have no cable, Internet, radio, cell signal, and are quite frankly scarce on adventure, right about now.

Though I suppose August and I wouldn't be here if our parents weren't killed by that rabid black bear. Me being only thirteen years old, I suppose this wouldn't be a concern for most kids my age. Well, my mom went up to Canada for a wildlife photography gig with National Geographic, and dad wanted to go with her, "just for the experience."

They never came back.

When we heard the news, it was like my life had frozen right there. These random strangers who worked with our parents kept coming up to us and telling us what great people our parents were and how sorry they felt for us.

But it didn't change anything.

I tried never to act differently on the outside, so nobody ever knew anything was wrong. But deep down inside, I was devastated. Maybe even a bit bitter. I always hoped they would come back. Their bodies were never even found. Waiting, I kept waiting for the day when they would pull up in Aunt Patricia's driveway in Dad's camper and Mom would say, "Oh, Dezzie! You would not believe how lost we got!" But we never even got the chance to say goodbye.

August and I learned to make do. We explored the house and talked, but eventually that got old. Together we attend Newland's Private School, complete with uniforms. We mainly stick together, as we get along better than most brother-and-sister orphaned twins would. For the most part, we hang around three other friends: Eli Savastano, Derek LaBrie, and Blair Maxwell.

Everybody else is either snobby, immature, or just plain, old rude. As long as we stick together, we could pretty much survive the horrors known as middle school.


"Are you hungry?" August asks from my bean bag chair, one of the few pieces of furniture I brought with me into this house. Aunt Patricia was at some kind of work event, so we were home alone. Again.

"Why would I be hungry?" I roll my eyes as I flip through the pages of a repulsive fashion magazine I have seen like a hundred times already. I don't even know how we subscribed, but the outfits were usually good for a laugh. "We just ate like half an hour ago."

"Exactly. So I'm starving. I'm going to get somethin' to eat."

Grrrr... "Fine. I'll come with."

Let this be a shout out to all the thirteen-year-old girls out with brothers who also serve as a bottomless pit, thin as a twig. I feel for you.

I roll myself off the queen mattress and follow him downstairs. So familiar with almost every creaking board in the house, I use the walls to swing myself over the groaning steps.

By the time I reach the kitchen, August already has his cheeks stuffed with popcorn and his arms loaded with two bags of potato chips. You don't even have to tell me how disgusting that is.

"Whah?" he asks, spewing popcorn on me. Excuse me as I vomit in the corner.

"Nothing, just, ugh," I sigh. "Do you want to have 'Derek and friends' over?"

"Sure, high ot?" (Translation: 'Sure, why not?') he swallows the remaining mouthful of popcorn.

I use the ancient black phone that sits on the living room table. Just to clarify, it is the type of phone with the dial that you have to spin to the numbers. And don't even ask me what it's called, because I have no idea.

Anyway, as it turns out, Derek and Blair were able to come, but Eli has to go visit his great-great-uncle to celebrate the adoption of his grandmother's third cousin's pet ferret. But he totally isn't sick, so that's why he is able to go there, but not here. Don't ask. Eli just gets stubborn and doesn't want to admit if he's hurt or sick for some lame reason or another.

When the doorbell rings, I run from the living room couch where I had been bouncing a ball up against the wall. No joke; it was the most entertaining thing my dormant brain could cook up. Speaking of cooking, August is devouring the leftover rhubarb pie Aunt Patricia made last night. She might be short on entertainment, but her cooking is worthy of a five-star restaurant.

I open the door and Blair rushes in to hug me, her dad already pulling out of the driveway in a rusty old pick-up truck.

"Where is he off to in such a hurry?" I ask.

"Not really sure. Business, I think," Blair says thoughtfully. She inhales dramatically as she takes in the surrounding, as though breathing deeper will let her see faster. "You know, despite being here like thirty-five times or something already, it's still breathtaking every time I see it."

I laugh. "Well maybe you can come live here, because you seem to like it more than I do." It's true, Blair seems to really appreciate the display of old-fashioned architecture.

"So what's August up to?"

"The usual."


"You guessed it."

Her laugh rings out through the empty hallway we're walking through. That's Blair: the sister I always wanted, but never got. (Because, you know, I kind of got stuck with August instead...)

August and I do share a distinct resemblance, though. We both have pale blonde hair, greenish-blue eyes, fair skin, and thin figures. Blair has brown curly hair, chocolate colored eyes, and tan skin.

Right on cue, August walks around the corner.

"Oh hey, Blair!" he says.

"What's up, August?" she says as they break out into their usual secret handshake. Blair is just cool like that. Apparently I'm not. One time, I told August we should have a handshake like that, and he told me he might as well tatto LOSER on his forehead. Ouch.

"Not much. You?"

"Same old, same old."

Just then there is a knock at the door. I open it door to find Derek waiting with his mom right behind him. His face is beet red.

"Oh, look at you Deborah!" Mrs. LaBrie gushes, inviting herself in. "It's only been a few weeks, but you seem so much bigger than the last time I saw you!" And with that, she kisses me on the head and moves on the August.

"Look at you, too, Auggie!" she speaks as though she were a close relative. I see Derek hang his head in his hands as Blair starts cackling from a safe meter away. "You look so handsome!" Now I start laughing too as she gives him a big smooch right on the forehead. Suddenly August is mortified, too. Blair and I manage to control ourselves long enough to watch Mrs. LaBrie hug Derek and then for us to usher her out the door, lugging her enourmous purse along with her.

"Last time I ever let my mom drop me off," Derek mumbles.

And then the whole house fills with the sound of all of us laughing.

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