By: Erica Cope

To my Poppa.

I hope I made you proud

Chapter 1

“Mia.” I hear a lyrical voice whisper my name but it’s so dark that I can’t see anything or anyone.

I gasp audibly as I’m suddenly encased in a bright yellowish light and well, last time I checked, perfectly ordinary teenage girls didn't glow in the dark. But here I am, glowing like the sun. I fruitlessly scan my surroundings trying to figure out where I am, but the dazzling golden light blinds me.

“It’s time.”

I jolt upright out of my lumpy old twin bed. The early morning sun streaming in through my window curtains casts a pinkish hue on my yellow bedspread. It was just a dream.

Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I glance at the digital clock sitting on my bedside table. The glaring red numbers show that my alarm is set to go off in about 30 minutes. My heart is thumping too hard to even think about falling back asleep. After stretching and yawning some more, I make my bed. I’m the kind of girl who can’t really function for the rest of the day unless I know my bed is made. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and immediately regret staying up so late last night. The only cure for those dark circles under my eyes would be more sleep, but unfortunately, sleep isn’t an option since I have to be at work in a couple of hours. It’s times like this that I regret not paying more attention when Mom was giving me all those lessons on the art of applying make-up.

This morning I feel more exhausted than usual as I sluggishly make my way down the hall to the bathroom. I wish I could blame it on the late game and the party that always follows a win, but alas, captain of the cheerleading squad or not, I’m not much of a social butterfly and so I rarely attend any of the parties that my friends look forward to every weekend. Instead, I came straight home last night, curled up with my favorite book and stayed up way too late reading it. Every once in a while I'll make an appearance at those social gatherings, but usually I feel too awkward to stay long. I’m not a big drinker and it's really not all that fun watching everyone around you get hammered, while you sit back drinking your coke minus the rum. I just can't make myself drink the stuff. Beer is gross and liquor is grosser.

After a quick shower, I comb through my stick-straight hair, unable to completely tame that one lock of wayward hair that always kinks out funny from years of twirling it around my fingers. I pull my hair back in a ponytail then I throw on my black work pants and white button up shirt. I’ll save the ugly maroon vest until I actually get to the theater. I tip-toe down the hall, pass Maddie Rose's room and sneak a peek at the sleeping baby before I make my way down to the kitchen to grab some breakfast.

My sister will be two years old next month. Some people may think the fact that my mother has a 17-year-old and a 23-month-old baby girl is kind of weird. I mean, if I’m honest, I guess it kind of freaked me out at first too. But really, I wouldn't trade Madeline Rose for anything.

I was born at the end of my mom's freshman year of college, the result of a summer fling gone sour. Apparently the guy just up and left without even saying good-bye and mom never heard from him again. When mom met Dr. Paul Carrington about five years ago, I was relieved. My mom is the best mother a girl could ask for, but I always felt like she had been cheated out of the great love story she so deserved. Paul is sort of perfect for her with his goofy charm. They got married, he adopted me, and a few years later Maddie Rose was born.

Maddie has blonde hair like me, but my straight hair is more golden and her hair is so light it’s nearly white. She inherited our mother's perfect curls. I’m more than a little jealous over that fact. Her hair is still pretty short, so her curls stick out in random places, but it only makes her that much more adorable. I know that most babies are cute, but Maddie is seriously beautiful. She has adorable chubby cheeks that are accentuated by sweet dimples. Her eyes are a stunning deep blue, almost like sapphires. Mom's and Paul's eyes are both blue too, but theirs are not as vivid as hers. I’m the oddball with my ever-changing hazel eyes. Some days my eyes look gray, other days they look brown, but they always have a greenish tint to them.

I enter the kitchen where I find my mom bending over, looking for something underneath the sink. She is wearing her usual paint-splattered gray drawstring pants and an old faded blue tank top. Her long, light-brown hair is pulled up in a messy bun with a few of her pretty curls falling loose in the back and around her face.

“Mornin' Mom,” I greet her and she nearly jumps out of her skin.

“Gah! You snuck up on me Mia. How do you make it down those stairs without so much as a creak?” she asks me, exasperated. This is almost an everyday occurrence. Apparently I’m just sneaky like that.

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