Chapter 1

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My world has been turned upside down. Hearing the news today that both my parents will not be released from the hospital anytime soon, has me worried.

"You must stay strong for your little brother, my dear," I hear my mother say over the phone.

"When are you coming home, mom?" I ask. My heart is aching. Tears well in my eyes. Mrs. Bradly our neighbor stands in the hallway watching me, while I talk to my mother. My brother watches television in the other room oblivious to what is going on.

"I don't know darling. Your father is much worse off than we first thought." I hear her cough, as she speaks through the phone. "I'll be alright. I've made arrangements with your grandmother. She has agreed to take you for a few weeks."

"Mom...we don't even know her." I look up at my friend's mom, and she looks sad. "I want to stay with Mrs. Bradly."

"I know sweetheart, but this is for the best right now. You will love being at your grandmother's estate. It will be alright. Trust me." She coughs some more, and it appears she's having a hard time catching her breath.

Another voice comes on the phone. "I'm sorry Tayla but we must help your mother right now. We'll keep in touch and let you know how they are doing."

"Who is this?"

"The nurse taking care of your parents. My name is Julie. Here's my personal cell number. You can contact me anytime you need to."

I jot down her number. "Thanks," I say and hang up.

I look at Mrs. Bradly and she walks to the refrigerator and pours a glass of milk. "It will be alright. Here take this." She hands me the cup, saying, "Your mother has made arrangements for a car to pick you up in the morning. In the meantime, let's go to your house and gather some things for you and your brother."

She puts her arm around me and together we walk into the living room where I see my friend Elise play video games with my little brother Kyle.

"But we want to stay here with you," I argue.

"I know. But it's for the best right now. Besides, you will still be able to call us—anytime." She grabs my coat and hands it to me.

I give a sad smile. "Come on Kyle, let's go gather some of our things."

"Can't I do it later? I'm winning." He's deep into his game and I see his tongue stick out on the side, indicating he's trying hard to concentrate.

"We'll be back. It won't take long," I press.

Mrs. Bradly intervenes. "Don't worry Kyle, we'll save your spot on the game. Go with your sister, for now."

He reluctantly gets up, letting out a huff of frustration.

As we walk to our house next door, Kyle bursts in disappointment, "Why can't we stay at Mrs. Bradly's house?"

"Because mom wants us to go live with our grandmother."

"We don't even know her." I watch Kyle kick a rock into the street.

"I know." We've never met our grandmother before. The only thing mom ever said about her was that she lived far away, on some estate. I don't know why they don't speak to each other. And now, we're supposed to go live with her?

I spend a few minutes in my room as I gather my belongings. I told Kyle to grab his favorite things, too.

"Why do we have to go?" I hear Kyle ask again, calling to me from the other room. "I like it at Mrs. Bradly's." I can hear him playing with his cars, instead of packing.

"I know," I murmur, loud enough for my brother to hear. "Stop playing and pack up some of your toys. It will be okay. Besides, mom said that our grandmother has a huge farm filled with animals. Don't you want to meet them?"

"I guess so," Kyle says sulking. 

Dark clouds begin to form outside and I can hear the wind begin to howl. "We better hurry. It looks like rain will be here soon."

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