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chapter four: beach strolls and talk shows

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"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."

~Inception









Kelsey pulled out another picture from the box lying on her bed and surveyed the wall to see where she should put it.

"Well Jacob, I don't know what to tell you dude," she said, talking to her phone propped up against the wall.

Her brother's face was on the other end, his phone held at an unflattering angle, but he didn't care. "And so mom said she's moving back to Wisconsin."

"Wisconsin?" Kelsey repeated, pinning the photo onto the wall. "Last time it was Arizona."

A sigh crackled through the speaker. "But she's going to visit Aunt Camila for a few days first."

"She's flying all the way to the Philippines? She just went there, like, a couple months ago."

Jacob shrugged with one shoulder. "I really think she's going to leave dad this time, Kel."

"When are you going back home?"

"When the semester ends. Probably two weeks."

"Maybe you can talk them out of it," Kelsey murmured, then looked at the screen.

Her brother's curly black hair was matted flat on one side and an explosion of fluff on the other. "It's been me and you over the past five years, anyway."

"Yeah," Kelsey agreed, "but at least there's still a little togetherness while mom and dad are still hanging on."

She pulled out another picture and smiled. She turned it around towards the screen and said, "Remember this?"

Jacob squinted and then groaned. "No, put that away! Make it stop!"

The photo depicted Kelsey and Jacob, both in middle school, wearing a tooth fairy and tooth costume. Kelsey had ordered the wrong size for the tooth fairy costume, so Jacob stood in a pink tutu and princess crown, with rosy red cheeks, and a box filled with white pebbles that were labeled 'teeth'.

"Hey, I don't look much better," she laughed, noting the bulges underneath the bulbous tooth costume where they'd stuffed pillows into the edges to make it fill out.

"What is it?" A muffled voice asked from the other end of the phone.

Kelsey recognized it to be Jacob's roommate.

"Go away, man! It's nothing!"

"Let me see! Kelsey, show it again!"

"No!" Jacob howled, the phone bouncing too much for Kelsey to see anything but a foot flying in the air.

"Bye!" Jacob shouted, and quickly ended the call.

She shook her head, still chuckling, and stuck another pin into the photo. Next to it was a polaroid of her and her family, taken in the mountains from their summer vacation.

Her mother and father stood on either side of their two kids, smiling big for the camera.

They'd gone to college together in the Philippines and had been madly in love ever since...or so everyone thought.

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