Note: I was going to post this earlier but for some reason the computer wouldn't let me. Sorry...
Sophie Cohen flipped through one of the many Cohen family photo albums. She liked looking at the pictures; they made her feel calm and happy. The album she was flipping through now consisted of pictures that had been taken back when her family lived in Newport Beach. Of course, she hadn't been born yet when they were taken, but whenever she flipped through it she tried to imagine what her life would have been like had she grown up there instead of Berkeley.
She stopped at the picture of Marissa and Ryan at Cotillion. She knew who Marissa was, knew that whole history, because she'd been told the stories. Since she turned thirteen, her parents and brothers figured that she was definitely old enough to hear the rest of the Cohen family history. She'd been told some of the history before, but her parents had left out the unpleasant parts that they didn't think she was old enough to hear. But as soon as Sophie entered adolescence, she started pestering her family about what it was really like to live a glamorous, wealthy, party-filled life in a mansion(mainly because a part of her envied people who lived like that, and she couldn't believe that her family had just left it all behind).
So they'd told her. They filled her in on the illegitimate love-children and the death and alcoholism, and about a man named Jimmy who they used to know, and his daughter Marissa. And they told her about how Ryan came to be part of the family.
Sophie had noticed that there were no pictures of Ryan as a little kid, and she'd questioned Mom about it before. It had been explained that Ryan only came to live with them when he was sixteen, but that was it. Now Sophie knew why. They hadn't wanted to tell her why Ryan came to live with them-- that he got kicked out for stealing a car, that his mom, Dawn, had been alcoholic (like Mom, except a lot worse), that his father had been in jail, that Dawn had dated a string of mean boyfriends. Those were sordid details that they were sure that a 7-year-old was too young to know.
Still, her parents had made it clear that Ryan was Sophie's brother and their son.
"What was Ryan's name before he came to live with you?"
"It was still Ryan. Ryan Atwood," replied Mom.
"Atwood?" Sophie crinkled her nose and tried to think of her brother as Ryan Atwood. It was hard to do, because she had never heard him called anything except Ryan Cohen. "Then, why'd he change his name to Cohen?"
Dad answered this time. "Dawn came to visit us one Chrismukkah--"
"Ooh, what happened that year?" Sophie was used to hearing about Chrismukkahs filled with drama. To her disappointment, Dad shrugged.
"Nothing, really. Everything went well, and the next morning Ryan simply asked to legally become a Cohen."
"We'd been waiting for that for years," added Mom, while checking the time and glancing out the window at the slowly darkening December sky.
"Yeah, that's a lot!" Dad seemed surprised that she didn't understand the magnitude of Ryan's request.
Sophie rolled her eyes and flipped her long blonde hair over her shoulder.
"They're late," noted Mom, peering through the window again.
"They're always late," Sophie pointed out. Just as she said this, a black Lexus pulled up into the driveway. It parked then produced Seth and Summer and their kids, Lauren and Joshua.
After a few rounds of hugs and kisses, the men and little kids went inside, leaving Kirsten, Summer, and Sophie out on the porch. Sophie stared at Summer; she'd always been fascinated by the older girl, mostly because of her environmental work and the fact that she led protests against big companies that were cruel to animals.
Another car pulled up next to the curb and parked. Ryan and Taylor got out. "Sorry we're late," said Ryan while he hugged Kirsten then Sophie. Taylor and Summer were talking in low, excited tones about something, and Sophie, who was standing right near them, caught the word "pregnant." She smiled and started for the door.
"Ryan'n'Taylor are here!" she called into the house.
"What are ya waiting for? Come in!" Dad called back.
Summer, Taylor, and Mom went inside, talking animatedly and leaving Sophie outside with Ryan.
"Are you coming or not?" whined Sophie.
Ryan smiled at his sister's impatience, then smirked and reached over to ruffle her hair.
"Hey!" She ducked and pretended to be mad while she fixed her hair. She ruined her own façade by giggling. Ryan grinned.
"Hey, Chino, let's go!" Summer poked her head out from behind the screen door.
"Yeah, come on, Soph." Ryan took Sophie's hand and pulled her to the house. "Let's go celebrate Chrismukkah."