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The way to Alice's hometown felt like a long one. Nina thought it was most likely due to the anticipation that she felt . After all, she didn't know what she would find there. She just hoped there would be answers.

It was well into the afternoon by the time Nina reached the small town. At any other time, Nina would have described it as a quaint little place, with a feel that made her think of another era. The place was quiet, with Nina only spotting a couple of people out and about. She wasn't surprised by it, after all, the weather was less than favorable. It was bitterly cold as the sun sank ever lower and the winds became like shards of ice.

Small shops lined the streets, decorated with multi-colored lights despite Thanksgiving not having even passed yet. It made the town seem bright, cheery even. It all made Nina think of the picturesque little towns shown on holiday cards. The same sense of nostalgia those gave Nina were stirred up as she drove through the bright street.

She wondered if Alice had felt the same way when she went back. More than anything, Nina wondered if Alice had known it would be her last time seeing those bright shops and picture perfect streets.

The thought cast a shadow across the town, it tinged Nina's view of it with an air of sadness that she struggled to push away.

Not long after, she found herself driving away from the main street and past rows of houses with perfectly kept lawns. Decorations shone brightly, glittering like stars. A memory from a time when Nina was still a child flashed in her mind.

She could almost feel the cool glass of the car's window as she'd pressed her face close and stared at the brightly decorated houses. Nina had been vaguely aware of her parents smiling in the front of the car, her mother pointing out different decorations and Nina's outward joy at the sights obscuring the whisper of envy she felt at knowing all her family could afford was a small tree and a couple strands of garland.

That had been a very long time ago, when things had been easier. When her mother was still alive and Nina couldn't even begin to imagine what awaited her.

Those were the thoughts that were still swimming around in her mind as she parked across the street from the house where Alice had grown up. Nina pulled out the slip of paper where she'd jotted down the address, making sure she was in the right place. Once she was certain, Nina stepped out of the car and into the frigid afternoon, the sun sinking lower in the sky behind the dark clouds that painted the day a darker shade.

Nina crossed the street, and paused on the sidewalk, in front of a house painted a sunny yellow tone. The immaculate lawn was split by a walkway leading up to the entrance—a white door with a golden doorknob. Nina stood there and stared at the only thing that stood between her and the answers that she needed.

She took a deep breath, the cold wind feeling like shards of glass that pierced down to her very bones, and then exhaled in a mist that dispersed in an instant. With a sense of determination that Nina had sincerely missed, she began the walk up to the door, her steps loud against the concrete. They seemed to echo around the quiet street and Nina was almost tossed back into memories of a hallway and the steady sound of her own steps against hardwood floors.

Nina fought back against those thoughts, pushing them as far back as she could.

Not now, she told herself harshly. But in her heart, she felt fear. A fear of what awaited inside and what memories she might find herself trapped in. What would she see in her mind's eye as she walked into a place so familiar to Alice?

All too soon, Nina stood before that white door. She raised a shaking hand, ready to knock on the door and face Alice's parents. And then, she stopped.

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