Chapter 1

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I sprawled across the front lawn, the vivid green grass tickling my legs, the sunshine showering me, the scrambled branches splitting the sky into puzzle pieces. I tried to focus on the blinding sunlight instead of my throbbing thoughts. How many more of those summers will I still have?

The summers where we sat in front of the TV for days, licking our orange creamsicles, were long gone. So were the ones where we went to camp for the entirety of the summer. Now, the summers were dedicated to studying and getting ahead on extracurriculars, whether it meant spending hours in front of the piano or playing tennis in the blazing sun.

The summers in the future would be even worse, especially when we go to college or go to work. Those summers would be spent apart from Kayla, or being trapped in an office building when the sun begged to come in.

Sighing, I sat up, looking towards the front door to see if Kayla was coming to tell me the plan of the day. The door was still closed, so I leaned against the tree next to me, picking at the freshly mowed grass as I waited for her.

Suddenly, a figure loomed over me, blocking the cracks of sunlight that the leaves let through. Squinting my eyes, I looked up and faced my twin, whose auburn hair glowed in the sunlight and whose brown eyes squeezed in a smile.

"Hey, what are we doing today?" I asked, leaning against the tree for support as I stood up.

"Actually, I'm going camping," Kayla said as I noticed the purple duffel bag hanging at her sides.

"Camping?"

"Yeah, I forgot all about it until yesterday. Ivy called me."

"Oh. But what about the program we're doing at school? The one where we help out some of the new kids get familiar with the school before school starts?"

"Oh, don't you know that I didn't get in? I mean, if I did get in, you know I'd do it with you, right?"

I shrugged as Kayla flashed me a reassuring smile. I smiled back, trying to hide the uneasiness boiling inside of me. With Kayla gone, I'd have to navigate the program on my own, and I should probably make new friends to help me survive the week.

Why didn't you think of this when you refused to join the soccer team when you're ten? One of the times that Kayla and I would be separated was when she had soccer practice. The summer when we were ten, she started learning while I hid in my room, my blanket wrapped around me as I binge-watched seasons of Liv and Maddie.

"Ella?" Kayla asked, turning my shoulder so I'd face her. "You alright?"

"Yeah." I smiled. "Why wouldn't I be? It's just a week."

"Alright then-" Kayla began, the rest of her sentence washed away by the roaring sound of the car engine parked in front of our house.

"Hey!" Ivy burst out of their silver Toyota, crashing us to the ground. "What up, twins?"

"I was doing great before you knocked into me like a football player," I murmured, pretending to be annoyed.

"So grumpy, Ella." Ivy rolled her eyes as she helped us up from the ground. "Anyways, Kayla, you ready to go?"

"Sure!" Kayla brushed the dirt from her sky blue shirt as she swung the duffel bag over her shoulder.

"Kayla! Toothbrush!" Our front door swung open, and mom ran out, her flip flops clicking against the ground. "You thought you'd get away with that."

Grunting, Kayla ran up the slope that lead to our front doors and snatched the toothbrush from mom. Then, stopping in front of me, she pulled me into a hug. I hugged back, knowing it'd be the last time we'll see each other for a week.

"I'll miss you," I whispered in her ears.

"I'll miss you too. Promise to fill you in with what happened. And also, be yourself," Kayla whispered back before pulling away from the hug and running towards the silver Toyota parked in front of our lawn. "Bye!"

"Bye!" I yelled, waving.

With one last wave, Kayla flung herself into the car and slammed the door shut. I sat back down on the grass, feeling my vision starting to blur with the warm tears welling up in my eyes. They fought to get out as the car engine rumbled again. In the midst of the blurred shapes, I saw Kayla's hand waving out the window. I waved back, my hands continuing the robotic motion as the car started to leave.

When the car left my sight, a bit of myself left as well. Kayla wasn't just part of me. She was the sun that I revolved around. We were one, although she decided everything. I didn't mind, we worked that way.

Now I was bread without butter. Bare, plain, and incomplete. This was the thing I dreaded every summer since the summer of fourth grade because it ripped Kayla away from me. It would be when I needed to be independent, to be a good piece of bread without the butter.

I wiped my eyes, tears staining my dry and cracked hands. I didn't bother to go back to the house since all I would do is watch TV, like the last time I did when something like this happened. Don't think about it, the situation at hand is already bad enough.

The tears were still pouring out faster and heavier than Niagra Falls. I looked at the trail that the car went in and followed it. There was nothing to do, and I wanted every last bit of connection I had with her and to do what she would've done.

I ran with the wind by my side, racing alongside me. My brunette hair swished as I kept a steady jog, just like Kayla said to do before every mile run. They said that running would wipe your worries away, and I certainly hoped so.

However, as I turned a couple more corners, the worries came back, plaguing my mind. I wished I could flip a button and all the thoughts would evaporate, but every time I went near the button, the thoughts pushed me back to where I was before.

What if she died like Paige did? What will I do then? Do I want to die as well? Can I find another best friend? Who am I without her? How do I act during the Student Ambassador Program?

The questions flowed like the steps did, but I couldn't turn back towards the house. I needed this run, or else there would be no way for me to get back in shape again for tennis.

When I thought I switched off the button and the questions would stop, something even worse happened. I was watching a movie. A movie of ten-year-old me watching Powerpuff Girls when mom announced the news. A movie of ten-year-old me, dressed in all black, standing with the adults towering around me at Paige's funeral.

I stopped running. Running like this would be too dangerous. Thank god there weren't any cars nearby. I huffed and puffed as I sat on a chair in front of a coffee shop, surprised that I ran to town already.

Holding my head in my hands, I tried to regulate my breathing, which was way easier than regulating my thoughts. Think about pink fluffy unicorns- No, don't think about Paige and Kayla riding pink fluffy unicorns in heaven together. Think about how nice the weather is- No, not about how people can get heat strokes from this weather-

My train of thoughts stopped, abrupt like a car that was about to hit someone. In the distance, an ambulance wailed, a police car sped, and people's eyes traveled to where the cars were going.

Standing up, I began to run as well, sprinting like I was trying to chase the cars. Somehow, running faster did wipe my worries away. With each step pounding as it hit the ground, the worries slipped away. Well, at least until the ambulance and the police car stopped. I stopped as well.

The momentary peace was shattered like thin glass, and my scream could break many more.

A/N

Thank you guys so much for reading! I'm so excited but so nervous to write this novella, but I'm already enjoying writing this story and I hope you're enjoying the story too!

I'll really appreciate it if you'd vote for the book (just click that star)

XOXO

Soph

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