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Authors: Erica Cope

Lark

 

Lark

 

 

 

 

 

By Erica Cope

 

LARK

 

Copyright ©2013
by Erica Cope.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

“I See The Moon” –by Unknown Author

 

Editing by Heather Sloan
and Maya Bentley

Cover design by Eden Crane www.edencranedesigns.com


 

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.

             
“Sorry, I was trying to be quiet so I didn't wake up Maddie Rose, but your scream probably took care of that.”

             
At the same time, we pause and cock our ears toward the general direction of Maddie’s bedroom, listening for a minute. Since we don't hear any indication that Sleeping Beauty has been disturbed, we continue talking, albeit a little more quietly. Crisis averted. As cute as Maddie may be, she can be a holy terror if she doesn't get her beauty sleep.

             
I grab a chocolate-coated, chocolate chip granola bar from the cupboard. My guilty pleasure. I figure I might as well take advantage of my superb metabolism while I can. I’m one of the fortunate ones who never has to worry about what I eat. I’ve always been petite, almost delicate looking. It's the main reason I’m a good cheerleader. I’m pretty easy to toss up in those fancy stunts. My keen organizational skills have also earned me the spot as captain this year and the responsibility is a little daunting.  Not only do I have to pretty much run the practices and plan all of our routines, I also have to organize all the Homecoming spirit week activities, all the pep rallies and even the try-outs for next year’s squad this spring. I’m beginning to wish I would have decided to take it easy this year but the girls voted for me and I don’t want to disappoint them.

             
“What are your plans for today?” I ask my mom, knowing that everyone will be asleep by the time I come home.

             
“Eh, just going to do some work on my new painting this morning while Maddie naps and then I thought about taking advantage of the pool today since the weather is still so hot.”

             
This fall has been unseasonably warm. It's already October but the temp hasn't dropped below 90 degrees yet. I could blame global warming, but Kansas weather is usually pretty wonky. It can be 70 degrees on day and snow the next. Paul had an in-ground pool installed last summer which comes in handy since the public pools always close on Labor Day.

             
“That sounds fun. Too bad I have to work,” I add grudgingly. I’d much rather spend the day at the pool.

             
“Well, you know Paul would still give you an allowance if you would just accept it. Then you wouldn’t have to work so hard and you’d be able to enjoy the pool with Maddie and me today instead.”

             
“And you know that I like to make my own money,” I remind her for the millionth time, though the offer is tempting. I just think I’m a little too old to be depending on my parents for all the things that I want. Besides, I kind of like my job. Most days anyway.  

             
Mom just shook her head. She didn’t understand my adamant refusal to take any of Paul’s money. It’s not that I’m a self-less person or anything. I just feel like he has already given me so much as it is that it seems wrong to take anything else from him. I’m already agreeing to let him pay for college and that was hard enough for me to accept.  

“Paul and I have a dinner to go to tonight with the director of that new art gallery about two of my new pieces, so Jessica is going to stay with
Maddie.”

             
Jessica is a sophomore and is on the JV cheerleading squad. I met her last year at tryouts. She is sweet and great with kids. Maddie Rose loves her so she quickly became her favorite sitter.

             
“Ooh! Which two pieces?” I ask her excitedly.

Mom has been painting for years. She is pretty well known for her landscapes but in the last year she has been experimenting with more abstract pieces which have attracted the interest of a few galleries. Her landscapes are my favorite because I never “get” the abstract stuff.

              She tells me all about which two pieces she is hoping the art gallery is interested in as I finish my not-so-good-for-me granola bar and chug some orange juice straight from the carton despite her glare. I laugh at her attempt to appear stern. It’s hard to take her seriously with a paint brush tucked behind her ear. 

             
“I better get going.”

             
“Well, try not to work too hard!” she jokes.

             
“Ha! I'll try!” I respond as I start making my way to the front door.

              We both know that the movie theater is probably number two on the avid reader's dream job list, number one being the library, of course. Most days at the theater, you work for about fifteen to thirty minutes before each show selling the tickets or working at the concession stand. Then you have the next couple of hours to do practically nothing while the patrons are watching the shows. Just about all of the employees bring books to read during these breaks.

             
I grab my hideous, but required, vest and the book I started re-reading last night and head out the door. I can already tell today is going to be stifling. The heaviness of the muggy air suffocates me as I trudge toward my faded blue Civic that took me an entire year to save for. It’s sort of a piece of junk. The radio barely works, the windows have to be manually rolled down, and it doesn’t even have air conditioning. I seriously cannot wait until fall finally decides to make an appearance.

             
We only live about fifteen minutes away from the theater, but sometimes when I have a little extra time to kill before my shift starts, I take the back roads. It’s especially invigorating on nice, crisp fall mornings when the air smells like burning leaves and dew. But this morning it just smells hot. I can't wait for the cooler weather. These above average temperatures are ruining my favorite season. Regardless of the heat, the peaceful country scenery is a nice change of pace. I don't understand how anyone could deny the beauty of Kansas. The flint hills, the tall grass, the wildflowers. I think it's pretty wonderful. But of course, that may be because I’ve never been anywhere else so I have nothing to compare it to.

             
Unfortunately, I can only continue on for so long before I have to get back on the highway that takes me to work. Just as I pull onto the main road, I recognize the tall figure ahead of me with chin length, greasy black hair.

             
Brian is walking to work again.

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