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My dad held his hands at the bottom of the large steering wheel. It drove me nuts because when he'd tried to teach me how to drive (and failed miserably) he'd yammered on about keeping my hands on the ten and two positions. But that was the past, and it wasn't me who had been driving for an hour straight. I couldn't complain about my sore and stiff leg muscles, at least not out loud—not unless I was willing to listen to him rightfully grumble in return.

A couple of days before this trip, he sat me down and said that no matter what, by the end of June we had to make the trip up from Boston to Maine to visit Mom. Now, seeing the beach along York Harbor and the happy families emerging from their campers and making their ways to the rocky beach made me regret my choice to come. Once upon a time we were them, spending hot days together swimming in the sea and eating ice cream. We didn't need to take this route to get to York Heights, but it was as if Dad sensed I needed a few minutes to absorb that we were back. The salty breeze caressed my face from the open window and memories of us as a family washed over me.

The coast couldn't go on forever, and the van found its way to York Heights, passing by my old elementary school and onto the road that led to my mother's house. Tall trees stood on both sides, offering the long row of houses a sense of privacy. I'd gotten so used to the city—the high-rise buildings, the masses of people, the wide sidewalks—that I had forgotten that we used to live so uncomfortably close to nature.

In a way, I missed the coast of York Beach—this little village in Maine and how it always felt like summer. Not that I remembered much. When I tried to picture my old classmates' faces, they were just blurry images and one semidecent image of my childhood best friend, Jessie. On the day we left this town to move to Boston her freckled six-year-old face had tears running down its cheeks, and her hands were wound in her curly brown hair. When we came back briefly for eight months when I was fifteen, it helped that she'd sent pictures in the mail. Jessie and I didn't connect that much—so much for the lifelong friends you're supposed to make at age six—and I made few friends. No one particularly memorable.

Dad pulled up beside the four-foot high, grey stone wall that separated the road from my mother's house. Once he turned off the engine, the noise of the tools clattering around in the back of the vehicle stopped. With all the traveling he did for work, it always came as a surprise that none of his carpentry equipment or projects smashed into smithereens. He'd had this blue work van for years, and it always shone, tended to with care, as he did with all aspects of his life, namely me. We didn't do anything, not so much as move to get out of the van. We couldn't believe this was how our day was going.

"Okay, I'm willing to compromise," I said, breaking the silence.

"Emma, we are at your mother's doorstep. I think it's a little late to compromise. You'll have the summer to catch up with Jessie. It'll be fun."

"Dad, we weren't all that close to begin with. I sat with her at lunch sometimes, that's about it."

"You've been writing back and forth since you left. You're probably closer than you think."

"Writing someone and being friends with someone are completely different things," I insisted.

"You used to be close. Don't you remember?"

"When we were six, not so much when we were fifteen." I dismissed him. "I'm willing to spend two weeks of summer with Mom."

"Emma," he said, and then sighed.

"Two weeks is a significant amount of time." Prodding his leg with my shoe made him turn in his seat to look at me. His face held reluctance, and I knew he didn't want to drop me off here. "Two weeks with you? That's like blinking. Two weeks with her? Just the idea of blinking hurts. That's constant arguing, possibly crying—angry tears, of course—slamming doors, endless swearing . . ."

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