By: Erica Cope

I type in Ljósálfar first. I click on the first link and discover that it’s the Norse word for Light Elves. Grey gave me a book about elves? I’ve never read a book about elves before. I usually stick to vampires, werewolves and wizards, but I guess I can be open to something new.

It takes me a couple of searches, but I eventually find a pronunciation key. Ljósálfar is apparently pronounced: Lyos-ahl-far.

Geez, who comes up with these names?

“Hey kiddo, what are you doing?” Paul’s voice makes me jump as he joins me in the family room.

“Oh! Hey, Paul.” I close the laptop. “Sorry, I didn’t ask.”

I have a perfectly fine desktop computer in my room that I’ve had for a few years. I was just too lazy to go upstairs. I normally didn’t just help myself to Paul’s things. I feel a little guilty about it even though I know that he is not one to get upset over something like that.

“I don’t mind. What were you researching?” he asks as he sits down on the other recliner. He is only a year older than mom, but while she still looks pretty young, his salt and pepper hair and laugh lines make him appear his age. Not to mention the fact that he wears pleated pants and socks with sandals.

“Nothing much. Just looking up how to pronounce a word I didn’t recognize in this book I’m reading.”

“What’s it about?”

“I haven’t gotten very far yet, but I think it’s about elves.”

“Hm, interesting. Christmas elves or Lord of the Rings elves?”

“I’m not really sure,” I tell him as I flip through the pages of the ancient book.

“Well, your mom wanted me to tell you that dinner’s ready.”

“Okay, I’m going to change real quick and then I’ll be back down.”

I run up the stairs leading to my bedroom two at a time. I toss the book Grey gave me onto my desk where at least six other brand new books are patiently waiting for their turn for my attention. I change into my favorite pair of comfy pants and the t-shirt I designed for cheerleading camp last summer and bound back down for dinner.

“Looking forward to the big game this weekend?” Mom asks as she finishes scooping Maddie’s plate.

“Yep, a little nervous after today’s practice though,” I admit.

“Why?” she asks.

“Coach wants me to do an arabesque 540. I still haven’t pulled it off,” I say as I scoop my plate.

“What is an arabesque 540?” Paul asks. I try to explain that the maneuver requires me to balance on my right leg while my left leg is stretched out straight behind me, then my stunt group tosses me up in the air and I twist a complete circle and a half and hope they catch me at the bottom.

“Ah, well, yeah, that sounds super cool.” He looks completely confused.

I laugh as I twirl another bite of spaghetti around my fork.

“It’s a pretty collegiate level stunt,” I explain. “I plan on meeting my stunt ground before the game to practice it a couple more times.”

“I'm sure you will be perfect,” Mom interjects. “I’ll be sure to have my camera ready.”

That makes me smile because, seriously, she has never attended a game without her video camera. She is definitely one of those moms who obsessively takes about a million pictures a day and records even the smallest details of her children's lives. It was annoying when I was growing up, but now that Maddie Rose is here, I understand her obsession. Every single thing the baby does is amazing to me and I’m just her big sister. “Was Hannah nominated for Queen?”

“Of course,” I reply brightly. Hannah is easily the most likeable girl in school. If anyone deserves to be Homecoming Queen, it's definitely her. “I think she has a pretty good shot at the crown.”

I twirl my fork in the spaghetti and take a big bite. I'm always starving after practice.

“Mi-mi! Bite!” Maddie exclaims with a giggle. I fork a meatball and offer it to her, but instead of opening her mouth like I expected her to, she grabs it with her chubby fingers and shoves it into her mouth. Family dinners are way more entertaining with a baby. Maddie Rose has to be the messiest eater on the face of the earth. But she looks so adorable trying to use her fork that it's easy to look past the spaghetti smeared in her hair. And on her face. And the table. And the floor. And the walls.

“So, Mia, when were you going to tell me about your date for the homecoming dance this weekend?” I choke a little on the bite of spaghetti I just placed in my mouth. How on earth did she find out about that?

“Um, now I guess?” I say, trying to shrug it off like it's no big deal. Which it isn't. Just friends, I remind myself.

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