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It was time. Shelle packed her belongings and tidied up the room she had enjoyed living in for five weeks, taking with her the youth she had brought into it, but leaving light and warmth. She was wrapped up in the yellow coat and wore the bracelet on her arm and locket at her throat, crutches under her arms. But then, that locket had always been a staple in her everyday dressing.

She hauled all her bags out to the car-they were being chauffeured again-as James was putting a few of his own in. She took a quick romp all over the house to make it stay in her memory and gave the horses apples for the last time. She was teary-eyed as she got in the car, but somehow managed not to cry. They reached the airport-too quickly for Shelle-and checked in their bags and got their boarding passes. They sat down to wait for their flight to be announced. Shelle absentmindedly put her hand in her pocket and felt a ring. She pulled it out. It was her favourite ring, with a few memories in it, which she had bought in Kansas City, Missouri. It was silver with a blue moon in the middle and a shooting star at its bottom tip. It was sort of cheap, though she had spent a few dollars on it, and when it said "sterling silver," the silver started to flake off as soon as she bought it. She returned it to her pocket with a smile.

"Flight 101, from London to Los Angeles, California, gate 5, now boarding."

"That's us." James got up and ran a hand through his hair. They handed in their passes and got on, both fully intending to sleep (after all, it was a long flight). They took off in what took about twenty minutes and Shelle put the trusty mints in her mouth. When they were in the air, Shelle watched the landscape that she had come to know and love fade until a blanket of clouds covered it. She talked to James, wrote a little and finally succeeded in falling asleep. But James was fully awake and going through Shelle's things to find some paper because some lyrics were coming into his head. He penned a few and spied a book in her bag. He had to pass time somehow. It was a battered copy of L.M. Montgomery's The Story Girl and he started straightaway. He finished a couple hours later, when Shelle awoke. They talked for a little longer and then it was time for lunch. They ate, barely tasting the stuff, and fell to talking again. James discussed writing songs and Shelle discussed writing stories. It was a very interesting conversation and a couple other people got involved with it. But the others dropped out when the "special feature" movie came on.

"Are you going to watch?" James asked Shelle.

"I don't know. I guess so."

So they watched the movie, which happened to be Jim Carrey's Liar, Liar. Everyone laughed and laughed and some people fell asleep as soon as it finished. Like James. Shelle fell asleep again, too, and they both managed to stay asleep. When they woke up, it was an hour to landing time and they picked up their things and used the small toilet if they had to.

Mints went back into Shelle's mouth and she gripped to James's hand tightly and the seat as they landed. They switched planes to one going to San Diego and were quickly there. They got on a bus going to Fallbrook, which was close enough to Shelle's house; about ten to fifteen miles away judging from where they'd been dropped off, but they could walk. They ended up ordering a cab and got their things over to Shelle's friend's house, who promised to look after them for a little while. James paid the fare and they walked the rest of the way, about two miles, Shelle showing James her town, barely noticing her crutches. The coats they'd been wearing were now slung over their shoulders and passers-by stared at them, thinking they had a James Mac look-alike on their hands. A few smarter fans caught on and James good-naturedly gave a few autographs as they walked. They approached Shelle's house and the coats went back on because the sun went behind the clouds. Was this a sign?

Her family was all in the living room, awaiting her arrival. When she whistled to let them know that she was home, two little kids bounced on her and hung onto her legs and her parents hugged her. James stood in the background, awkward.

The Stanleys finally realized that their daughter had brought home someone and gave him their attention. Mr. Stanley studied James, disbelieving.

"Where have you been, Shelle," he said to her quietly. "Who is this man, why don't you look like you've been at camp, why do you have crutches and where did you get that coat?"

"I went to England, Daddy." There. She had thrown the bomb at last and stepped back to see the explosion.


"I had all my money saved up and I got some tickets. I-I wanted to go. This is James Mac. I'm sure you know him. James, my dad." She introduced everyone. They were all awed as they shook his hand.

"Oh, God," Mr. Stanley moaned. "Lindy-you-I didn't disapprove, I swear it--"

"It's all right, sir," James replied softly.

"Daddy," Shell whispered in his ear, "Lindy wasn't mad at you. I know this sounds stupid, but she sent me to James. I'm sorry I lied to you, but he needed me. And also, she kept a picture of you and her in a frame-now it's on the mantel-Daddy!"

Mr. Stanley had his face in his hands and nodded.

"I'm so sorry," he apologized. "Why don't we all be seated and Shelle can tell me what's going on?"

They all sat at the dining room table except for the two little kids who ran outside to play.

Shelle began her narrative. She told it like it was the Account, except that she told both sides. She explained the crutches and the coat and James backed her up on these two. She did not go into details, but still told the full truth.

Her parents dismissed her English trip, which surprised Shelle. Her father talked to James and finally caught up on the things he'd missed since Lindy's marriage. The two men praised her up and down between them, trying very hard not to cry. They managed to keep all but a few tears from flowing. And now that everything had been sorted out, Shelle felt truly at peace. She relaxed in a chair as the grown-ups all talked. When they finished (and hit it off very well), Shelle and James went outdoors onto the small porch area and sat on a nice white wooden bench.

© Lissa Michelle Supler

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