• III •

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When I walk back into the bedroom, there's the temptation to walk around the large house, but I have a feeling it's something I shouldn't do. I walk past one of the bedroom windows and notice the heavy snow flakes that are falling from the gray sky. I then remember it was beginning to snow when Caitlyn and I were leaving the circus.

I'm not sure how long I stood there in front of the window, watching each snowflake fall to the ground and trees. It must have been a while because Caitlyn comes into my room to tell me it's time for dinner around the time the sky was getting even darker.

"You're not going to pout the whole time during dinner, will you?" Caitlyn asks me.

We're walking down the stairs, and I recognize exactly where we're heading. When we enter into the dining room, I'm shocked at how full the room is. The long dining table is filled to brim with strangers, but the chair at the end is empty. A few spots are left open around Ryder, which is closest to the big chair.

Caitlyn walks over to where Ryder is, and I'm guessing I'm supposed to follow her. As I pass by the strangers, I can feel their heated gaze watching me. Their eyes seem to follow my every move, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me nervous.

Ryder lights up by smiling once Caitlyn sits down beside him. His arm wraps lowly around her waist and he leans toward her ear, whispering something to her. I awkwardly stand behind them, not knowing where to sit. The only spot now available is the one on the left side of the big chair.

Caitlyn smiles at me after I sit down in the chair. Ryder is across from me, and no one has taken up the spot of the head chair to my right. I happen to glance at the woman who is sitting beside me; only to be surprised that she is the woman in the photograph down the hall.

Smiling she says, "Hello, you must Aurora. I'm Rebecca, and it's a pleasure to meet you." She says.

The woman offers her hand for me to shake, and I quickly do so. With her long, brown hair and light brown eyes, she's radiating warmth and a motherly feel. I release her hand and awkwardly push a piece of my blonde hair behind my ear. I then realize I haven't brushed my hair and I took a shower maybe an hour ago.

As I'm about to respond, the door to the kitchen flings open and a young girl, who looks to be around sixteen or seventeen, walks in with a tray filled with food. She walks to each person and sets down a plate of dinner in front of them. The girl has to take a few trips back into the kitchen to refill the tray with plates of dinner.

When my turn comes around for receiving the food, the young girl smiles nervously as she carefully places the plate in front of me. I'm not sure why she would feel nervous. If anything, I should be the one feeling nervous.

"Thank you." I say, looking down at the mashed potatoes, grilled chicken, green beans.

Everyone seems to be whispering as I pick up my fork. Feeling their stares and assuming they're talking about me makes me pause from taking a bite out of the green bean.

Caitlyn clears her throat dramatically. After years of being friends with her, I'm able to figure out which clearing of the throat is real and which one is an attention-getter. This time it's for the attention. I look at her.

"So, Aurora, Ryder was wondering if you could tell him about the time in high school when we were in the school play." She says.

I lift an eyebrow in disbelief, now looking at Ryder to see if this is true. He nods his head, but when I'm about to begin to explain, I notice the extra eyes on me. It seems as if every person at the table is looking at me, waiting to hear the memory.

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