I would like to let you know that Southern Belle is a finalist in the Watty Awards Humor: On the Rise. I would appreciate it if you voted for me :* (well, if you like the book or if you aren't planning on voting for someone else in my category haha).

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It was good to be back.

My blue orbs roamed the room, taking in my surroundings. I was currently standing in the kitchen of my parent’s house, and even though I hadn’t been there in a long time, I felt like I was transported back into my child and teenage years as I looked around.

On the upper-left cabinet in the kitchen, a door was missing because when I was eight, Mel and I had threw a bowling ball at it (for no apparent reason), and the wood cracked in half. I was grounded for two weeks as punishment.

The wooden island still stood strong in the middle of the entire room. When I was eighteen, that was where I placed my Stanford acceptance letter and refused to open it for three hours after it had arrived. A sheepish smile appeared on my face as I thought about how childish that was.

For the longest time, I continued to stand in the kitchen, just trying to remember the memories. When I was eighteen, the only thing I had ever wanted was to get out of this place. Now, at twenty-six, I wished for the exact opposite.

I wanted to stay as long as I could.

As I paced the perimeter of the room, my feet, wobbling in the four-inch heels, felt like they were walking on fire. Wincing in pain, I gingerly bent down and slipped one heel off of my feet at a time. As soon as they came off, a huge sigh escaped my lips. Because of my job, I had to wear heels every single day, but on the farm, wearing heels wasn’t too practical.

“Belle, you made it!” A voice, weak but full of energy at the same time, ripped me away from my trance. I grinned widely at the speaker, my heart twitching as she neared me.

My arms, now extended like airplane wings, were waiting to embrace my mother. Slowly but surely, she limped over to me, and I rolled my eyes; patience was never my thing.

“Yeah, I did. My plane arrived an hour ago, but I didn’t want to disturb anyone. I’m sorry I couldn’t come earlier—my book tour is taking so much of my time that I barely can breathe,” I joked, wrapping my arms around my frail mother. As my head rested on her shoulder, my ears could pick up how frantic her lungs were working.

“At least,” she coughed into her left hand, “you came darlin’. Now, is that boy of yours coming, too?” Her left eye closed, and a half-smile slithered up the ends of her mouth. Although mother had aged—her hair, now somewhat grey, had thinned out, her skin had a couple of more imperfections, and her body weight seemed to just melt of her—her personality had never changed.

My eyes rolled playfully. “I don’t know; he’s pretty busy.”

Running a hand through her loose waves, she shook her head as her lips tilted downwards slightly. “Okay,” she exclaimed, “at least your siblings are coming. Evalyn would be extremely disappointed if everyone doesn’t show up.”

That was information I hadn’t received. My younger siblings, Tom and Alice, both were attending their first year of college now per my example. Although they were happy to attend NYU, they always were chatting to Mom about how much they missed life at home.

 Unfortunately, for Mel, her marriage lasted only about a year longer after she had taken Chase back. She had caught Chase with another woman, and finally, my advice had gotten through her thick skull, and she dumped him for good. They were still on rocky terms currently, but they had agreed to be civil for the sake of the children.

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