"You can't change the past."

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The next morning, I awoke beside Shawn in his bed. I turned over to face him and say good morning, only to find him sound asleep. Thank God, I thought. He had been tossing and turning all night, unable to settle down. I knew he was worried. A few times during the night he had gotten up and went downstairs, probably to check to see if his parents' cars were in the driveway. I was almost positive that they were still MIA, because I hadn't heard anyone else in the house during the time I was awake. I hadn't slept well either.

I stayed at still as I could, terrified that I would wake Shawn up. He needed sleep. Looking at the analog clock on the wall, I could see that it was almost nine. Aaliyah was probably already awake; I wondered how she was doing. I wasn't sure if the power was back on, but light poured through the windows, illuminating the room.

I heard foosteps in the front hall, followed by the slam of a door. Next I could make out the sound of someone climbing the stairs. I turned to the door, which was slightly ajar. I could make out a figure walking down the hall towards the room. Please be one of Shawn's parents, I prayed silently to myself.

Shawn's father pushed open the door. He was slightly startled to see me, lying in bed beside Shawn.

"Oh," he gasped, "Hello there." Realizing Shawn was sleeping, he lowered his voice. "You must be Grace," he reasoned.

I had never formally met Shawn's parents. They knew that we were together, yet I had never had an opportunity to introduce myself to them. Shawn didn't like hanging out at his house, for reasons unknown to me. So this was the first time his father had actually laid eyes on me.

"Nice to meet you," I whispered, slightly embarrassed given the circumstances. I slowly sat up, casually running a finger through my tangled hair. I wondered if I should attempt to shake his hand over his sleeping son.

"Nice to meet you as well," he replied, "I'm Manny." He knelt down beside Shawn and gently shook him, attempting to wake him up. "Shawn...buddy...wake up."

Shawn started to stir. He groaned softly and streched his arms above his head. When he seperated his eyelids, he was surprised to see his father standing over him.

"Dad...? Dad!"

"Nice to see you Shawn," he replied. Shawn jumped up and wrapped him in a tight hug, but Manny hugged his son back with little enthusiasm.

"What's wrong Dad?" Shawn took note of his lack of spirit. He peered over his father's shoulder. "Where's Mom?"

Manny stood up and rubbed his temples in frustration. "She's not here."

"Is she okay?" Shawn asked frantically. I put my hand on his shoulder and rubbed it softly, attempting to calm him.

"She's fine," Manny replied. "But I don't know when she'll be home."

"What do you mean?"

Manny glanced at me out of the corner of his eye. "Grace," he began, "I really don't want to be rude, but would you mind giving Shawn and me a moment alone? Aaliyah is downstairs, maybe you can help her find some breakfast."

"Of course," I said, standing up and heading downstairs. Aaliyah was sitting at the kitchen table, munching on a bowl of Lucky Charms.

"Hi Grace," she smiled through a mouth full of cereal when she saw me.

"Morning, Aaliyah." I smiled back. The two of us casually chatted back and forth until finally Manny came back downstairs. He hugged his daughter tightly and took a seat at the table with us.

"Shawn's still upstairs," he told me. "You're welcome to head there; he might need someone to talk to." Manny shot me a distressed look. I stood up from the table and headed upstairs.

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