Author's Note: I don't own the BSC, or anything associated with it. The series, however, live on in my head. These stories are the result.
This story takes place a year after Father Figments¸ and during the very beginning of The Way Things Were.
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The simple fact was that Dawn Schafer had no idea what she wanted. That's what her father had shouted at her, just minutes before, when she announced that she wanted to return to Connecticut and live with her mother, stepfather, and stepsister there.
And maybe he was right. Maybe she didn't know what she wanted. But people are complicated, bursting with cause and contradiction, and no one person can be reduced to a smattering of words.
Okay, so he was basically right. She didn't know what she wanted, not in the long run, anyway. Right now, all she wanted was to get out, to be free and unfettered of the happenings of the last few days. But of course, to acknowledge that, she would have to actually acknowledge what had happened, which she definitely wasn't up to doing.
The beauty of divorced parent who lived on opposite sides of the country was that there was always somewhere else to go. No matter how many times you went back and forth, and no matter how frustrating you became, the other parent was always secretly hoping that you would come back to them. So no matter how bizarre your reason, or even if your reason was a pathetic lie, they ate it up, so consumed with the notion that their child was coming home, coming back to them, that they couldn't see anything else.
Dawn may haven taken advantage of that particular situation at times over the past few years. But she was also a victim of it, as well. It was impossible to live two lives, and because of that, she continually lost many of the connections that she had made on both coasts. She tried to keep in contact with everyone, of course, but after a few letters back and forth and an initial long distance phone call the friendship faded away, left dormant until it was forcibly rekindled by Dawn's return, either for a visit or for good, even though for good never really meant forever.
She hadn't even kept in contact with Mary Anne, her best friend on the east coast and stepsister. They had really only lived together for a short period of time in the eight grade, and then she spent the next year with her Dad in California. They had barely talked in the last year, and had smiled politely and made small talk through Dawn's entire Christmas visit. Dawn didn't even know if Mary Anne liked high school, or if she wished she could have remained in eighth grade forever. Their phone conversations had decreased in frequency while at the same time increasing in their strain. And that was just with Mary Anne- Dawn couldn't even tell you what was going on with any of her other friends. When she tried to get the girls of the Babysitter's Club together for a sleepover during her last visit, every single one of them had an excuse as to why they couldn't make it. Dawn had been hurt initially, but eventually understood: that was a part of her life that was now over.
Except, of course, that she was now going back to Stoneybrook. Even though her dad had dismissed the option entirely, she knew that if she talked to her mom, and maybe even enlisted the help of Mary Anne, her parents would eventually cave. Her mom missed her daughter, and her dad ultimately knew that giving in would be easier than putting up with a sullen teenager. That was another thing about divorced parents: for every time that one parent welcomed you into their arms and their home, there was another one willing to let you go.
Even with knowing this, and the fact that moving across the country was never easy, and being scared that she had no friends to welcome her back, Dawn knew that Stoneybrook was where she had to be. For some reason things were simpler there- in the eighth grade, her friends in Connecticut had organized baby parades and celebrated their accomplishments with pizza toasts; while in California she and her friends had been thrust into high school, and attended unchaperoned parties that the cops broke up. The difference between her two worlds was almost something tangible, and she had to escape Palo City before what had happened tore her up inside. Before she was forced to own up to what she had done, and experience the repercussions of her actions. Starting over, again, in Stoneybrook would be hard, but it wouldn't be as hard as continuing her life in Palo City.
Dawn knew what she had to do. She would first call her mom, and make up a parent approved reason for moving back to Stoneybrook. She could probably win her mom's sympathy by saying that she wasn't getting along with Carol. Then she would call Mary Anne, and get her working on her mom and Richard together. Even though she and Mary Anne weren't in anyway close anymore, Dawn knew that she could count on her to do this. Mary Anne was dependable to a fault.
Dawn picked up the phone and started dialing. If she played her cards right, she would be back on the east coast in less than a week: she would use the upcoming school year as her excuse to expedite the process. She didn't know what to expect in Stoneybrook, but she knew that it couldn't be any worse than what she would be leaving behind.