Klaire Aramante was a very special girl. Growing up fatherless, raised by her (sometimes) single mother, Klaire had endured a lot in her eighteen odd years. She'd had to help her mother pay the bills. She helped take care of her little brother, Dimitri. Dimitri – who was affectionately called 'Tri – was technically her half brother, since her mother had married a Russian when she was seven. They divorced two years later, and 'Tri's father had walked away and never looked back.

Klaire was getting ready to go to college now, and she was worried about her mother and 'Tri. Rachel was sometimes careless, and there were times when it could be said that she was a bad mother, but she loved her kids more than some "good" parents that Klaire knew.

'Tri was only ten. Klaire promised him that she would call often and come back to visit whenever she could. 'Tri was surly and wouldn't answer her, afraid to lose his sister, the one constant he had.

"Now, Mom, remember, the phone bill is due in a few days."

Rachel nodded off-handedly. "I know; I'll get it, don't worry."

But Klaire had to worry. After all, if she didn't, who else would? That's how it had been in the past. If she didn't do it, then the things that needed to be done wouldn't get done.

Stanford was a long ways away, so if she wasn't there, she was afraid that nothing would get done or paid on time. Stanford was a lucky break combined with hard work and effort on Klaire's part. She always worked hard. It provided her with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: a full ride to an Ivy League school. Rachel was always proud of her daughter, but Klaire wanted to make something of herself.

"And remember, 'Tri has a parent-teacher conference next week that you have to go to. Okay?"

"I got it, Klaire." Rachel seemed dour for a moment, but then she brightened and said, "I'll miss you, Sweetheart."

"Miss you, too, Mom," she said as she gave her mother a hug. "I'll call soon, okay?"

Rachel nodded. Klaire turned her attention to her little brother. "'Tri," she started, "I know you're mad at me. I promise," she emphasized, "promise that I'll write or call or visit or whatever you want me to do. Okay?"

'Tri glared at her. "I don't want you to call," he said in a monotone. "I don't want you to write either. Don't come back," he said.

His words hurt Klaire, but she pretended not to care. "Okay," she said, in a whatever-you-say tone of voice, "I won't." She said goodbye and reminded her mother once more, "Don't forget about the phone bill, okay? And 'Tri's conference."

"I won't," Rachel said as her daughter got into her car. "We'll see you later, right?" After Klaire nodded, Rachel leaned in towards her daughter's open window. "'Tri didn't mean what he said. You know that, right? He's just hurt that you're leaving."

Klaire nodded, but she didn't say that it still hurt just the same. She turned the key in the ignition.

"Bye, Mom." Once her mother went back to her brother, she threw the car into reverse and backed out of the driveway.

With one last glance at her family in her rear-view mirror, she flew down the street, on to a new life.


Review, if you would be so kind. I promise, Sam will appear shortly.