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Once she was in the safety of her room, she sat on her bed ignoring the squeak and she put the phone to her ear "Hi" She said warmly.

"Kate!" Sam said happily "I miss you so much! Have you convinced your parents to bring you home yet?"

Mary-Kate shook her sadly, even though Sam couldn't see it "They're totally stuck on the idea 'Escape your old life', 'start anew', 'forget the past'" she mimicked her parents and made a disgusted face "I can't just forget everything and I hate it here!" She sulked.

"That bad?" Sam asked sympathetically.


"Well, I have some good news for you. I have enough for the bus ticket. I can come visit you! That is... if your parents will let me"

"Sam that's great! My parents will let you. I'll make them" Mary-Kate said with a stubborn smile.


The dog barked viciously, baring it's fangs. Mary-Kate lept back and tripped on a hole in the ground. She landed in a puddle with a splash. "Ugh!" She said climbing up out of it and swiping at her pants desperately, trying to stop the cold muddy water from seeping through to her skin, "I HATE THIS PLACE!"

Ashley and Mary-Kate had gone for a small walk around the neighborhood, to get to know the place and people a little better. It wasn't improving Mary-Kate's view of the place any.

"Come on" Ashley said gently "It's not that bad. It's just a depressing day. When it stops rainging you'll love the place. I'm sure of it" She bit her lip, looking very unsure of her statement.

"Whatever!" Mary-Kate said angrily. She continued to swipe at her jeans, trying to get some of the water off, but it was useless. The cold, brown water seeped through her blue jeans causing her to shiver "Lets just go back to the house so I can change"

The walked back to the house and Ashley reached in her pocket to get the key out. Her hand came back empty "Uh-oh" She said her face paling.

"You didn't!" Mary-Kate shook her head angrily and kicked at the rotten wood surrounding the door.

"Sorry" Ashley said apologetically.

Mary-Kate sat down on the stoop and buried her head in her hands "When are Mum and Dad getting back?" She asked.

Ashley glanced at her watch "About 3 hours"

Their parents had gone into town for their first day at their new jobs. The girls would start school the next week. So in the meantime they were home alone. Only, since they were locked out they were now 'outside alone' on a very cold rainy day.

Mary-Kate groaned.


The old lady watched from her window as the two teen girls walked towards the house. The shorter one looked like she'd had a run in with a puddle. Her jeans were a much darker color then normal thanks to the water and she was shivering with cold. The old lady felt a rush of sympathy. She felt it even more when she saw the two walk to the door go to unlock it, then discovering they'd lost the key, sit on the stoop dejectedly.

She wanted to help. But that would mean venturing from her solitude. Something she didn't want to do and hadn't done for quite some time. She couldn't remember the last time she'd talked to another human. It must have been months ago when the guy delivered her yearly supply of firewood.

She shivered. It was an extra cold day. She'd light her fire but all the wood was down the hill in the shed. Her athritis was especially bad today and she didn't feel well enough to go get it.

She glanced out the window again, saw the two girls and had an idea.


Mary-Kate saw the door of the house on the hill open, and sat up straighter, feeling curious. "Hey Look!" She said nudging Ashley and pointing.

Ashley glanced up "So what? Some old lady!"

Mary-Kate watched her sadly "Look at her. She can hardly walk." The old lady was slowly limping down her drive and coming in their direction "Come on lets see if we can help her" Mary-Kate said jumping up.

"Nooooooooo" Ashley whined. "Lets just stay here!"

Mary-Kate took her hand and pulled her off the stoop "Come on!"

Chapter 3