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The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Family Ties.
The roar of a moving van pulling into the house across the street averts my attention from the cherry popsicle in my hand. A sky blue Cadillac convertible, top down, with a family of three seated on white leather interior pulls over to the curb in front of the house.
The tall man’s biceps peek through the end of his t-shirt sleeves as he climbs out of the car. His brown hair reflects the midday sun.
The woman in the passenger seat gets out, taking off her wide-brimmed straw hat. Her long, red hair tumbles over an old t-shirt and khaki shorts that fit close to her body. Her smile is full of comfort.
A girl in a bright blue shirt, black shorts, and dark red hair plaited in a French braid scrambles out of the back seat.
As hot as it is today, I know it’s cooler here than inland. A perk of living in the coastal city of Encinitas, California.
Maybe I should take the girl a cherry popsicle to welcome her to the neighborhood.
But the rules are clear:
1. Do not leave without permission
2. No one is allowed inside without permission.
3. Chores first. Homework second.
4. Do not talk about the family.
5. Do not make friends.
6. Do not argue.
The punishment is stiff for rule breaking and I want to stay out of trouble.
I toss my popsicle stick and return to the lawn mower out front, yanking on the starter until it fires up with a loud rumble. By the time I make my way across the yard and back once, the girl is standing in my driveway. I kill the motor.
Her sapphire eyes gleam. “Hi. I’m Arissa.”
“Sara,” I return hesitantly.
“How old are you?” she asks.
“I’ll be fourteen in October!”
“Arissa!” the woman shouts from their doorway.
Arissa flashes a beaming smile at me. “Come on!” She takes off for her house but I remain rooted in place.
Do not leave without permission. Chores first. Do not make friends.
She stops and turns, gesturing for me to follow.
©Debi V. Smith, LLC 2015