CHAPTER 1

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"Get off that damn laptop and do some actual work, would you?" my mother shouts from the kitchen, directly across from me in the living room.

Groaning, I sit up from my sprawled position on the sofa.
"Mom! You know how important this is! I'm waiting for the most important e-mail of my life." I reply, running my fingers through my jet-black hair- messing up my messy bun even further.

"Well, lying on the sofa and staring at your laptop screen isn't going to hurry it up, is it?"
I shoot her a blank look but don't answer.

"I thought so. Now, come here, make yourself useful and help me with these dishes." Mom orders, standing with her left hand on her hip.

I huff and stand up, stretching my arms over my head.
"With the way you order me around, you would think that I'm eight, not eighteen," I mutter under my breath, making my way across the room.

Mom arches one of her eyebrows. "Did you say something, Aanya?"

"Nope," I reply, my lips stretching into an innocent smile.

"Good," my mother says, laughing and dropping her 'intimidating pose'. "Now get on with these dishes."

As I wash and dry the dishes, my mind wanders off.
Today will be it. It will decide everything. Everything I've been working towards my whole life.

At least that's what I've been telling myself for the past week.

Getting into The University of Michigan has been my dream for as long as I can remember. All my life, I've pictured this day; the day I receive my acceptance letter, the day I find out that I'm finally going to America. That's what kept me going forward, and I never once doubted it.

Now, I'm not so sure.

I don't realize my hands are shaking until my mother steadies them with her own. She takes the plate from my hands and places it in the sink.

My voice trembles as I speak, "What if I don't get in, mom?"

Placing her hands on my shoulders, she looks into my eyes. "Don't you ever doubt yourself, Aanya. You know how hard you have worked towards this; we believe in you, you believe in yourself and that should be enough," she states firmly. "Anyway, it's not the last day yet. There is another day left. You will NOT lose hope yet, okay?"

All I can do is nod, as she hugs me tight, saying every single thing which was left unsaid.

* * *

Having given up on pacing compulsively around in my bedroom, I flop down onto my bed and resort to just staring at the ceiling. Thousands of thoughts race around in my mind, but I could hear each one clearly like it was being whispered right in my ear.

You aren't good enough, you never have been.

You know you aren't going to get in.

Unable to bear it any longer, I blast some music on, so loud that I can't hear my own thoughts over the din.

"TURN THAT THING OFF, RIGHT THIS INSTANT!"

Ugh, I guess my mother didn't approve of my choice of distractions.

Sighing, I put the music off and return to the living room, dragging my feet behind me.

"Aanya," my mother starts as soon as she sees me. "Stop moping around for no reason, would you?

"Also, get this off my dining table." She gestures to my laptop, which had somehow migrated to the table.

A heave another huge sigh and do what she told me to.

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