When I woke up the next morning, it was past eight. I groaned. My stupid alarm clock hadn't gone off. By the time I got out of the shower, Rita was gone. I thought that maybe Aunt Dana might still be around, but alas, she wasn't.

In the Kitchen, I found a note from her.


Had to go to work. Feel free to roam around. There's a key underneath the vase on the mantelpiece for you. I'll be back around 7. We can have dinner. If you need anything, call me: 677-3139.


Aunt Dana

I folded the note and stuck it in my pocket. I went over to the mantelpiece and sure enough there was a key under the vase. It was actually a very interesting vase. It had all these intricate designs surrounding it. I was surprised that there weren't already flowers in it. Aunt Dana had this hobby with vases. All vases she had were already filled with some sort of flowers. All vases but this one. I looked at the top, but it was closed. It was a fake vase. I laughed. Aunt Dana really did have all kinds of vases.

I grabbed my bag- it was not a purse, but a side-bag; I refused to carry a purse- and locked the front door. I memorized the address in case I got lost and walked down the street. It was actually pretty busy. People were everywhere. I found myself passing many groups of people happily chattering. I tried to keep a straight face and walk past them without glancing too much.

I missed Layla. I missed Andrew and Gina. Gah. I didn't want to switch schools. It was hard to keep myself together. I turned into a drugstore in hopes of avoiding more people moving in groups. I kept looking behind me until the cashier started to eye me warily. I flashed him an uneasy grin and headed for the nearest aisle.

Right then, I heard laughter as a saw three girls and two guys walk into the store. The cashier smiled at them cheerily, but one of the girls widened her eyes and stared at him. He seemed confused. The rest of her friends rolled their eyes and headed for the soda section. Then it hit me that I was in the soda section. I froze for a moment and then turned my back and headed for the next aisle down.

I was pretending to stare at the merchandise when I felt eyes on the back of my head. I snapped around and almost screamed. I saw black hair covering a face with blue eyes. The person behind me chuckled apologetically.

"Oh whoa, are you alright?"

"Yeah, you just gave me a minor heart attack."

"Sorry, I just couldn't help it." I stared at him, not sure what he meant. He gestured to the aisle. I found that I was standing directly in front of a set of fake teeth. I turned a crimson color. He just smiled.

"I didn't think you needed them." I couldn't take it. I had to save myself somehow.

"I wasn't looking at those," I said glancing around, "I just wanted a toothbrush." I grabbed the first one I saw, waved it in front of his face, and headed to the counter. I didn't dare look back. I paid for my purchase and left the store. I suppose it served me right for trying to go shopping on my own.

I was a little ways down the street, when the same guy from the shop came running.

"Hey!" I turned around.

"You forgot this." He handed me a small white paper bag. I could see the outline of the red toothbrush. He smiled.

I couldn't help it. I laughed. "Oh. I guess I forgot. Thanks." There was no hope now.

"No problem. I have to get back. Bye?" I stared at him for a moment as he inched away from me, back to the store.

"Yeah," I regained some composure, "Sure." Oh so smooth.

I didn't really buy more clothes: just some random notebooks, pens, and other school supplies. I ate lunch in a small café down the road. It was called La Petite Maison. I resolved to go there more often. There were couches and a beautiful fireplace. Plus the food was great quality and inexpensive. I was surprised that it was so empty. The owner came out and smiled at me. She took my order with the strangest expression on her face. I couldn't understand why. I left the counter and dropped down into a red comfy chair.

She came down and sat across from me. "You're new, aren't you?"

"Yeah, how did you know," I asked.

She smiled. "I don't know. Instinct?" She laughed. "I'm Kerry."

"Christine. Nice to meet you." Kerry stood up once more and disappeared behind the counter for a few minutes, returning with my order. I sat there and just talked to her about moving and a few worries about the new school. Kerry listened patiently. It felt great to have someone to talk to; I didn't realize how much I was yearning for the feeling.

I got back home around one-o-clock. Rita wasn't home yet. I dropped my bags in my room and picked up the cordless phone. I had to make sure my baby was alright. I called the auto shop and they said she'd be ready in about a week. I could feel the excitement in my chest. Nothing was going to stop me from getting my car back.

I hung up the phone and started back up the stairs when the phone rang again. I ran down to pick it up, but the phone went immediately to the answering machine. How odd. There had only been one ring. I decided to let the machine get it and turned around again until I heard the familiar voice.

"Dana. Come on Dana, I know you're off today. Please pick up. I need to talk to you. It's really important. Fine. Call me, whenever you can and I try to do it before they come alright?"

Why was Uncle Joey so worried? He sounded so—agitated. But then again, I suppose Uncle Joey always sounded agitated. I chided myself. I was probably overreacting. And didn't Aunt Dana have to work? I guess Uncle Joey just had the wrong schedule. I laughed. Uncle Joey was so scattered sometimes.

"Christine! Help. Me." I could hear Rita's muffled voice. Sure enough, when I turned the corner, I saw her holding so much stuff. It covered her face completely.

"How did you get home," I demanded.

"I got a-" she cut off as I saw my answer in person. He was carrying a few bags too, but definitely not as many as Rita. How chivalrous. I flashed a quick smile before I took half of Rita's bags to her room. I couldn't believe Rob was here.

Rob and Rita had been going out on and off for 2 years now. They got into a lot of minor fights and constantly made up. Anyone could tell from half a mile away that they had great chemistry together; they just weren't mature enough. I grinned at the thought. This is coming from me. The last time I saw Rob, Rita had been crying and Rob had angrily thrown MY favorite picture frame to the ground and crushed it. Needless to say, I was infuriated. He didn't even apologize.

I just wanted them to make up their mind. I guess I'd prefer them apart, but if they really cared about each other, it didn't matter. I sighed. I had convinced myself I'd seen the last of Rob and there he was again. Life was the same, but so so different.

AN: Another chapter. Tell me what you think. J.