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1. First Day
I awoke before my alarm clock even had the chance to go off. Just like every other morning this past summer, the sun came streaming through the blinds of my bedroom window, across the wood floor, and inched across my bed just enough to reach my pillow. I guess that’s the downfall of having the only bedroom that faces the front of the house. Only this was not just another summer day. Today was the unavoidable day that most teenagers dread at the end of every summer. Today was the day that freedom officially ended and another school year began. But it wasn’t just another school year. I was starting my junior year of high school-The most important year of my academic career. I was already feeling the pressure. It felt like a beeping noise blaring in my head as a warning reminding me of what was at stake. Beep, Beep, Beep. My achievements of this year would determine what college I would attend when I graduate. Beep, Beep, Beep. They could determine my future career. Beep, Beep, Beep . . . and just when the beeping seemed like a new permanent fixture in my head, I realized that the infuriating noise was not the looming presence of my future, but my alarm clock.
As I reached over to turn off my alarm, my hand brushed the silver picture frame that I kept on my nightstand. The small, plain frame held a picture of me and my parents at my 7th birthday. Laced over the frame was a charm bracelet my mother had given to me as a present that year. They were the only memories I had of my parents. The only memories that survived the fire. I was seven when it happened, so I don’t remember much. And maybe that’s a good thing. I was told years later that my father died before he was even pulled out of the house. My mother hung on for almost a week before dying in the intensive care unit at our local hospital. I can still remember the funeral followed by moving trucks packing up the only place that I had known as home. My mother’s brother and his wife became my adoptive parents. They weren’t able to have children of their own, so they were more than happy to take me in as their new daughter.
“I’m up Aunt Sara,” I shouted in return.
With one more look, I placed the frame back on the white nightstand and grabbed my clothes off of my desk chair. I put on my dark denim skinny jeans, a white tank with lace scalloped across the top, and my ballet flats. I always loved fashion, but generally found myself one season behind. I walked into the bathroom, which was conveniently attached to my bedroom, washed my face, threw my hair into a loose ponytail, and took one last look in the mirror. I was average height and would have considered myself to look like every other average seventeen-year-old girl who lived in California; except I didn’t live in California, at least not anymore. My aunt and uncle lived in the Midwest, so when they took me in, they moved me out here to live with them. And out here, I looked nothing like the average teenage girl who all seemed to have more ‘earthier’ complexions and overall look. My skin was fair but not in an “I’ve-never-seen-the-sun kind of way”. It was almost translucent but with a soft golden glow that I could only credit my mother for. I looked exactly like she did when she was my age.