Sara's Promise

By: Deanna Lynn Sletten
Chapter One





"Mom, you just don't understand." Fifteen-year-old Sandra Grafton sighed loudly as she pushed aside a stray strand of strawberry blonde hair that had escaped its ponytail. "Everyone, I mean everyone has one."

"Yes, dear, I do understand. But no, you still can't have one," Sara said calmly as she continued preparing dinner. It was past six and her husband was due home any minute from his office in Beaverton. She always tried to have dinner ready for him when he arrived, knowing how hungry he was after his long day of work and his commute between his office and their home in Seaside. She also hoped to have Sandy subdued before he walked through the door.

"You just don't want me to fit in. You want me to be shunned by all my friends," Sandy dramatically accused her mother. "You don't want me to be like everyone else."

Sara turned from the sink where she was filling a pan with water and stared at her teenaged daughter. She wore tight bell-bottomed jeans, platforms, and a form-fitting purple sweater with fringe hanging from the sleeves, along with the color of the day, purple, streaked in her blonde hair. Her face was covered with as much makeup as Sara would allow and from her ears hung long, gold mesh earrings suitable for evening wear only. She was as much a seventies throwback as any of the other teenagers Sara saw coming out of Seaside High School, so fitting in was not a problem. This much Sara would allow, for clothes could be changed and hair could be washed. But she had her limits.

"Not everyone has one, dear," Sara said calmly, returning to filling the pan. "Your friend Brittany doesn't."

"Brittany isn't cool and doesn't hang out with the right people. Do you want me to be uncool like her? Hanging out with the geeks of the school?"

Sara sighed as she headed to the stove and placed the pan of water on the burner. She wasn't agreeing or disagreeing with Sandy, she was just tired of this conversation. "Honey, why don't you let me finish in here? Then I'll make us each a nice mug of hot cocoa and we can talk this over calmly."

Sandy rolled her eyes. "Mom, I'm not three years old anymore. You can't talk me out of it with cocoa."

"Three large marshmallows, just how you like it," Sara said with a wink.

"Mother!"

"Why don't you give Mom a break?" Sammy interrupted as he entered the kitchen looking for a snack. At thirteen, Sammy was as tall as his older sister and slender too, growing so fast Sara could hardly keep him in pants or food. Today he had on tan Dockers that threatened to brush his ankles at any moment and a red polo shirt, clothes he wore when he played his favorite sport, golf. He was the lead player on the middle school team and there was already talk of him playing high school golf a year early. Right now though, he was in search of one thing, food.

"Shut up, club head," Sandy told him angrily. To her, golf was the stupidest game in the world. "This is none of your business."

Sammy shrugged and captured the last chocolate chip cookie from the cookie jar. Giving his mom an "I tried" look, he sauntered back into the living room.

"Sandy, don't call your brother names, and the answer is still no."

Sandy's blue eyes flashed. "I hate you. You're the meanest mother in the world." Turning on her heel, she clomped out of the kitchen and up the stairs, ending her dramatic departure by slamming her bedroom door.

"Why does she hate you today?" William Grafton entered the kitchen loosening his tie and slipping off his suit jacket. Kissing Sara lightly on the cheek, he gave her that knowing smile of a parent who'd walked in on this scene many times before.

"For the same reason she hated me yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. I can put up with purple hair and funky clothes, but I refuse to let her pierce her nose," Sara said lightly. She rarely got angry, especially when it concerned the children. She had an easy way of handling everyone and everything, making it appear she was a pushover, yet usually quietly getting her way in the end.

William smiled at his wife's calm demeanor. In their seventeen years of marriage, he couldn't remember ever seeing her blood-boiling mad, a complete opposite of their daughter who seemed to always be in a rage.

"So, how was your day?" she asked as she started cutting carrots.

"Better than yours I bet," he told her with a mischievous smirk.

Sara stared over at him and rolled her eyes, acknowledging that being with the kids wasn't always easy. She continued watching her husband, appreciating his tousled dark hair and animated brown eyes as he told her about the new house plans he was drawing up for a client. She knew there was much more to tell but he rarely spoke of the larger projects the firm was working on or bidding for. Designing homes was his passion, imaginative and personal spaces like the home he'd built for them here in Seaside. The other projects brought in the big money, but she knew the homes brought him the most personal satisfaction.

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