Chapter 14

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Grammy would not shut up about Lily the entire three hours it took to get back to Saranac.

She went on and on and on about how my daughter looked and acted just like me, how she was so cute and adorable, how she had such a lovely and friendly personality, how she had a spark in her that could light up the world. I remained silent, letting Grammy speak. I knew she was happy to have finally met her only great granddaughter. I was happy she met her, too.

"Ok, Grammy, that's enough now," I said, pulling into the parking lot of the old hut-shaped house that the potluck was held in. It was said to have belonged to the ancient Native Americans, but I knew that it had to have been renovated yearly. After all, I was pretty sure the Native Americans didn't have ceiling fans and tube lights back in the day.

"I could go on forever, though," Grammy said. I chuckled lightly.

"I know. But you need to contain yourself. Carter's going to be at this thing and I don't want him knowing. This still stays a secret, all right? Just because you know doesn't mean that the entire town should, too," I told her.

"Oh, all right," Grammy huffed, grabbing her purse. I picked up the food  we had brought from the backseat of the car and then we both walked in the brisk, cool air into the heated hut. More than half the town was already there. I could hear Mrs. Knowles's booming voice as she instructed the numerous volunteers where to place the food. I walked up to the food table as one of the townspeople engaged Grammy in conversation.

"Chicken pot-pie for fifty people!" I said, smiling at my neighbor.

"Oh, thank you so much, Arya. You're a doll," Mrs. Knowles said, snatching the dish from my hands and handing it to Mrs. Corina to put by the entrees.

"Do you need help with anything?" I asked, knowing full well that she would assign me to serve food or something. Mrs. Knowles couldn't refuse giving someone orders; she liked to be in charge.

"I'm glad you asked!" she exclaimed, smiling at me and wiping the sweat off her brow. "You see that box over there? There's a lighter and bags of tea candles in there. I want you to help Carter put those on each table. I want five candles on each table," Mrs. Knowles said, a slight glint in her eye. I internally groaned. I knew she had purposefully assigned me a task that Carter was already doing. She was one of the many townspeople that were still rooting for Carter and me, even though it was never going to happen.

I dragged my feet over to the boxes of candles and picked up a bag. I rummaged through the box and took out the lighter and then made my way to the other side of the room. Carter had started on the right side already and was making his way towards the center. I decided to start on the left side.

At each table I went to, I was forced to have a short conversation with whoever was sitting there. Too many people knew that I was back in town and this was the first time that the entire town had gotten together. It was the perfect opportunity to catch up, even though that was the last thing I wanted to do.

"Arya! Look at you! You've grown up so much!" Betty Vance said. She was an older woman around Grammy's age. They used to be in the same book club a few years ago.

"Well, you know. Time," I said, placing five candles in a flower pattern on the table and lighting each one.

"You look beautiful," Betty said. I smiled at her.

"Thanks, Betty," I said.

"How's your school going?" she asked as I moved down a table.

"I'm done with undergrad. Just waiting to get into law school now," I replied, pulling out a few candles and then lighting them.

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