Author's Note: Thanks for the reviews, guys! I felt inspired, so here's the first chapter
Chapter One: So Far Away
"Now we've all grown up
Gone on and moved away
Nothing I can do about it
Nothing I can say
To bring us back to where we were when life was not this hard
Looking back it all just seems so far
So far away…"
When are you coming home from Washington D.C.? Fred and I miss you!
And Fred, too.
Mercy Girardi stuffed the tiny, unusually short letter into a purple envelope from her stationary set, sealing it with a sticker. Once she'd examined the package thoroughly with her light brown eyes and adjusted her glasses, she sprinted downstairs from her bedroom to the kitchen, where her mother sat at the table.
"Mom, d'you have a stamp?" Mercy questioned rapidly, resting her hands on the counter.
An eyebrow rose on Helen's face. "What's the big hurry?"
"I have to send this letter! And if I don't send it soon, the mailman's gonna be here and I won't be able to send it until tomorrow! And I can't wait for another twenty-four hours! It's important." the eight-and-five-sixths-year-old rambled.
"Don't worry, I've got one in my purse," Helen smiled at her daughter, who gave a melodramatic sigh of relief. Handing over the stamp sheet, Mercy quickly decided on the one monumenting the Midwestern states and stuck it on.
"Thanks, Mommy!" Mercy shouted, grabbing her oversized backpack and draping it from her petite shoulder, scampering for the front door, but not making to it.
"What?" she shot back, backing up a few steps to achieve eye contact with her mother.
"Breakfast?" Helen suggested.
"I'm not hungry." Mercy chastised.
"You're going to school," her mother replied. "You need your brain food."
"But I'm not hungry. And I need to put this in the mail box, then go to the bus stop, 'cause Kal's gonna show me conclusive evidence," she paused, smiling at her use of 'conclusive evidence'. Her daddy was always saying that when he was talking about cop stuff. "…That the tooth fairy doesn't exist!" said Mercy, as if this was the most important news in the entire world. "Please." She added for a convincing effect, knowing the significance of the magical p-word.
Helen sighed, falling prey to Mercy's point. "Fine." Her daughter gave, in return, a genuine, suspiciously photogenic, smirk. She fled in a flash, only to return a few seconds later.
"Mom, where's Fred? And do you have that tape in the VCR to recordmy soaps?"
"Of course." Helen answered the second inquiry, then proceeded to point to the living room. He's on the couch. Right where you left him." Rule number one with Mercy; never refer to Fred, Mercy's first present, a knitted winter hat, as an 'it'. Fred may have been an inanimate object to the rest of the world, but to Helen's youngest offspring, he was the object of her affections.
Hardly any moments had passed when Mercy returned, grasping Fred with her miniature grip, even small for a girl who was turning nine in three months. "Pigtails?" Mercy requested, beaming.
"I thought you were in a hurry."
"I changed my mind," she replied lightly, sitting on one of the kitchen stools.
"That's alright with me." Helen smiled, then disappeared for a few seconds, returning with two hair bands and a brush. Working expertly on her daughter's long, deep espresso colored mane, she formed two spouts of hair and fitted Fred onto her head. There were two little holes Mercy had severed in the frayed knit with scissors made exclusively for her pigtails.
"Thanks," Mercy added in a rush, finally deciding on leaving, her newly fashioned pigtails floating through the air as she sprinted.
"… And I found all of my baby teeth under my parents' bed!" Kalvin finished as he and his best friend, Mercy, trotted upon a section of broken, crooked pavement at the street corner that served as a bus stop.
"Why would our parents do that?" Mercy asked after a while. "I mean, they could just ask for our teeth if they wanted them so bad."
"I don't know," the boy confessed, running a hand through his messy, murky reddish hair as he paced. "It's a conspiracy!"
Kalvin Chapman, like Mercy, was a cop's kid. That was, in fact, how they became the best of friends, since their fathers both worked among Arcadia's finest. He also was a law enforcer in the making, his obsession with crimes almost surpassing his best friend's obsession with soap operas and romance.
"Maybe they use our teeth for something. Like necklaces." Mercy suggested as they walked home from their bus stop, both genuinely happy that they had no more school until September, since today was their last day of second grade.
"Why would they make tooth necklaces?" Kal asked incredulously.
"I dunno," she shrugged. "I guess they look pretty, like this one necklace my mom has that Joan stole once before I was even born and mom got real mad…" Mercy trailed off, seeing the lack of interest from her comrade. "Joan and Adam are supposed to be comin' home for the summer…"
"Cool. You'll have the whole clan."
Joan, Mercy's elder and only sister, was away, finishing a few extra years of college somewhere in Virginia. And Adam, her former boyfriend and Mercy's idol, was in Washington D.C., attempting to make a living. It just wasn't right, though. They were apart, perfect for each other, too. They used to be together, but why weren't they now? It wasn't fair. Mercy wanted Joan and Adam together forever. They were like Ryan and Marissa, on an old show she'd grown fond of called The O.C.; they should never be apart! Her older brother, Luke, and his girlfriend, Grace had been together since before Mercy was even born, and they still were!
"Yeah…" Mercy replied distantly, thinking of this.
"Woo hoo. Merc?" Kalvin waved his hand in front of her face.
She shook her head for a bit, then looked at Kalvin.
"We're going to have the best summer ever, right?"
"Well, I have a perfect plan…"