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"She left you a house?"

Christine Morgan's voice exploded from Teddy's cell phone in a series of tinny screeches. Teddy pulled the phone away from her ear, winced as the noise tickled her eardrum.

"Yes, Chrissy," Teddy answered her oldest, most dramatic friend. "Please relax. Breathe."

Chrissy did not relax.

"And you have a secret grandma?" she continued, voice rising in both volume and pitch.

"Great-grandma, actually," Teddy corrected, "And she's not secret, just... dead. And estranged, I guess."

Chrissy exhaled.

"Okay, so your estranged great-grandma died like ten years ago and you're only finding out now that she left you her house?"

"Pretty much," Teddy said.

As Chrissy took a moment to load her next round of questions, Teddy tossed the last of her luggage into the bed of her dad's old blue Chevy pickup truck. Though she tried to pack all the essentials, it didn't amount to much. One duffel bag contained clothes, shoes, and other personal items. A backpack held several miscellaneous household items: Candles and a lighter—She doubted her dad had been paying the electric company—a blanket, a small toolbox, and some cleaning supplies.

She covered the items in a tarp in case of rain, though she didn't think it would. The sun sat high and bright in a cloudless sky.

Since she discovered that she was the owner of grandma's house—of 24 Thornewood Road—Teddy had met with the executor to validate her great-grandmother's will. The executor, an ancient woman with purple-grey hair, had explained that after Rose died, the title had been transferred to her father while Teddy remained a minor. Now 18 and a legal adult, Teddy was officially a homeowner.

"So... are you gonna, like, sell it then?" Chrissy said, sounding less outraged and more confused.

"I don't know," Teddy said truthfully as she hopped into the driver's seat. "But I'm heading out there now to check it out. I haven't seen the place since I was like ten, and I can hardly remember what it looks like."

"Do you want me to come with you?" Chrissy offered.

"No, you don't have to. It's a bit of a drive and I know you have your orientation thing tomorrow."

Chrissy was going to Columbia University that coming fall with a prestigious honors scholarship. The Honors College hosted an early orientation for new students to come to campus, meet their classmates and learn about the university's traditions. Teddy was happy for her friend, but their friendship had taken on a different tone since Chrissy got her acceptance letter the previous year, and Teddy knew all the bad vibes were her doing. It wasn't that Teddy hadn't been accepted into any colleges—she was an excellent student—she just hadn't applied to any. Those days, her and Chrissy began to have less and less to talk about.

"Okay, but will you text me when you make it?" Chrissy said, her voice lowered with concern.

"Always," Teddy said.

After a pause, Chrissy said, "You know I'm always here for you, right? You can talk to me whenever you need to—"

Teddy stopped her friend before she could finish. "I know, Chrissy. Hey, I'm burning daylight. Have fun tomorrow. I'll talk to you later."

She put the phone down on the seat beside her and grabbed her seatbelt, trying not to think about how much the old pickup smelled like her dad. She had cleaned out the truck the day before, had marveled at how many empty beer cans she'd found lying crumpled on the floor. At least anger felt better than sadness, she thought.

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