A year ago today, on this very site, I read a fan fiction that changed my life.... sappy you say? It's not like that. I was reading through the stories in the Charmed category, looking for something to cure my boredom when my cursor hit Second Chances. The summary captured my attention and I went onto read one of the most well-written, emotion driven, purely "Charmed" stories I had ever written. After reading the three chapters that were there, I was hooked. I reviewed, like all good readers should. I didn't know that when I hit that submit button, that I made a friend...Megan, aka xxiicesweetiie, and I started talking after that first review as we bonded over our shared likeness of "Charmed", what I liked about the story and any idea I might have had for it. By Chapter seventeen and the story's close, I was worried that maybe I wouldn't talk to her much anymore. I was wrong, we bonded even closer. Talking and emailing, sharing snippets of the stories we strived to write. It was not long after that the story started playing out in my head to combine the two worlds of ours into one. Her world starring Prue and Andy's daughter - the independent, intelligent fifteen year old Pattie and my world starring the child of Phoebe and Coop, starting as a precocious eight year old, who is a variety of stories spans from birth to nineteen. She and I have had numerous conversations as our Charmed counterparts. And while her Charmed future is a little different than mine, she graciously accepts "Clara" into hers and I am honored she lets me use "Pattie". I don't think she knows how much I care for her, appreciate her friendship, and I am glad I was bored on Feb. 17th 2008. She is now a friend I can't imagine not having and I hope it goes the same for her. I guess I wrote this simply to say: I love ya girl. Happy first "Friend-aversay" and I hope its the first of many....
The boxes were all nearly packed, the closet emptied, the dresser drawers unloaded.
Clara sighed, sinking down onto her bed, pulling the nearly-full suitcase towards her, and once again began filling it with articles of clothing. There was the white, sleeveless blouse from her eighteen birthday party - the one she had spent days searching for, the sundress with the pastel yellow sweater to match she had worn to her Aunt Piper's restaurant opening and the brand new dark washed jeans she had worn to her cousin's band concert.
She got down to the last article of clothing, shoving it in the corner of the suitcase, and with a great deal of effort, she pulled the zipper closed.
"Who knew leaving home would hurt so much?" She whispered, looking around her room with a heavy heart. Today was the day most eighteen year olds dreamt of, the day they could leave their nagging parents and venture off the college of their choice. No more rules, no more chores - only the most freedom they had had in their lives. Now she sat here, all of her belongings in boxes, the weight of the impending trip to UCLA on her shoulders.
"Clara, you want us to take some of these downstairs for you?" Wyatt and Chris entered into their cousin's bedroom, trying to maneuver around the various suitcases.
"Sure, but they are heavy. Be careful." Clara warned. Chris smirked, setting his hand on the top of a large cardboard box.
"Who said was going to carry them?" He murmured and in an instant, he disappeared into a shimmer of bright blue light, along with the box.
"That is so cheating!" Clara yelled playfully, knowing he would still be able to hear for her.
"You know Chris…" Wyatt mumbled, rolling his eyes, "any chance to show off his powers."
"Yeah, seriously." Clara noted, standing from the bed and stretching her arms into the air. Wyatt chuckled.
"You are getting so old." Wyatt laughed, tossing one of Clara's stuffed animals into the air. Clara snatched it from him.
"Shut up, Wyatt…" Clara retorted.
"I know. It's hard to believe I won't see you everyday." She whispered, and in the next moment she was in his embrace.
"Ah, I can orb down whenever I need to, ok?"
"Oh, I was counting that as a relief - you drive me crazy!"
"Yeah, uh huh!" Wyatt pushed her away. "Old and sassy!"
"Don't let Pattie hear you say I'm old, she'll wonder what she is…" Clara replied, collapsing onto her bed again, leaning back into the pillows. Her expression changed back to sadness.
"Too late, she heard you…" Pattie entered, her arms loaded with books. "So in addition to Clara's comment, if she's old…I'm what?"
"Gotta go." Wyatt grinned, grabbing two of the packed suitcases and orbing out.
"Fast way to clear a room…" Pattie laughed, tossing the books onto the bed, turning to face her cousin.
"What on earth are you doing sitting down? Your mom and dad are going to be back any minute with the moving truck!" Pattie scolded, but she switched her tune when she saw the
"Clara, honey, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, nothing. I'm fine, just tried from working that's all." Clara tried to assure her, rubbing her brown eyes to hide the tears. Pattie chuckled compassionately before reaching up to push aside the stray curls concealing her cousin's face.
"Oh Clara, honey, you get worse at this whole lying concept as the years go by…" Pattie murmured, still giggling.
"Shut up!" Clara grumbled, wiping the smeared mascara from her face. "I'll be fine ok?"
"Alright, alright." Pattie threw her hands up in innocence before laughing. "Let's finish packing up ok?" Pattie stroked her back once before standing up again. She heaved a unsatisfied sigh as she watched Clara cross to her desk and start to load her laptop into its case. Pattie noticed a thick, purple folder laying on the desk top, Clara's name doodled all over the front.
"You need this?" Pattie asked, as she gathered a pile of random paper to recycle.
"Nah, it's just a bunch of old handwritten copies of my application essays. I'll get rid of them." Clara replied, waving her hand at the folder as it instantly flew across the room towards the pile of trash.
"Clara!" Pattie shrieked as loose leaf paper fell from the folder, littering the hard wood floor.
"Sorry, I thought it was tucked in…" Clara smiled sheepishly. Pattie rolled her eyes.
"Next time, walk it to the can please?!" Pattie suggested as she bent to retrieve the paper, but as she did, something caught her eye. She took a particular bunch of paper into her hands, sinking down against the side of the bed, and her face expressed pure curiosity.
"Pattie, could you hand me the tape?" Clara inquired. Pattie did not hear her, for she had immersed herself in the work. Clara reached to snatch it from her.
"Oh don't read that! It was a really bad rough draft!" Clara cried. Pattie pulled it into her chest.
"Don't touch it…" She warned. "I saw my name, I'm reading it!"
Clara covered her face as Pattie went on to read.
My personal hero is not a feminist activist, or a best-selling writer. She's not a foreign ambassador or even the world's first woman astronaut - she is even more wonderful, she's my cousin Pattie.
Growing up, there was no one else I admired quite like her. She is the person everyone wishes they could be, the person they want to be. She showed me how to be myself, never let me give up. She has dealt with me, for better or for worse, my whole life - she knows everything about me, the good and, sadly, the bad. She was the one who figured out all my secrets, knows when I am trying not to cry, and knows how annoying my laugh can be once you get me started. She never fails to let me know that no matter what, reaching for your dreams is the most important thing. She forced me to do my homework, and my chores - another mother sometimes. I drove her completely crazy. She was patient with me. She knows what matters the most.
I can't imagine my life without her. I don't think your hero has to be someone famous. I think your hero is to be someone who has changed you in innumerable ways and who can't imagine not being an influence in your life. My cousin is more than another role model - she is truly one of my best friends. She loves me for who I am and I admire her so much - for her strength, her talent, her kindness. If I could be like anyone it would be like her.
Pattie stopped reading as she felt her heart collapsing into her chest.
"You wrote this for your college essay?" She whispered.
"It's part of it…" Clara replied. "The actual essay was much longer…"
"You wrote your college essay about me?"
"Yep. Got me into school, didn't it?" Clara chuckled, getting down on the floor beside her cousin. Pattie didn't reply, only got to her feet and left the room.
"Ok, not the reaction I was expecting…" Clara rushed after her. "Pattie, are you ok?"
"I gotta get some boxes from downstairs…" Pattie retorted, heading for the front door. She stopped, grasping the doorframe, to wipe a tear from her cheek.
"Pattie? What's wrong?"
"I didn't know…that's what you thought of me…" Pattie replied, turning around.
"Then you are seriously blind, my dear…" an enchanting voice wafted from behind them.
"Grams!?" Clara cried. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to see my great-granddaughter off to college, of course!" Penny Halliwell was sitting on the window seat, her signature smirk playing at her lips, her arms crossed casually over her chest.
"Oh Grams!" Clara exclaimed, rushing over to her, hugging her tightly. "I am so happy to see you! Oh, sorry, didn't mean to crush you!"
"Darling, I'm dead." Grams muttered. "Not much you can do can crush me."
"Right." Clara noted as Grams turned to Pattie, embracing her eldest great-grandchild with loving arms.
"So what were we talking about?" Grams sighed. Pattie snorted.
"You were commenting on my vision…" Pattie replied. Grams stroked Pattie's chestnut brown hair.
"Clara, honey, could we have a minute?" Grams inquired, never taking her eyes off Pattie. Clara nodded, and without a word she returned to her room.
"What I was going to say was…you are seriously blind if you can't see how much that girl loves you, respects you, appreciates you…" Grams replied. "She knows you will always understand her. She looks up to you. I even remember a certain little eight year old girl who tried to bring her twenty-four-year-old cousin to Friendship Day."
"Grams, you really shouldn't eavesdrop." Pattie pointed out. Grams waved her hand mindlessly.
"I have nothing better to do…I watch you all grow up everyday. And that little girl is all grown up, and she looked up to someone she loves more than anything…" Grams said, "It's time to let her go."
"Grams…" Pattie started. Grams shushed her.
"Do you remember the locket I gave to you when you went to college? The one that belonged to your grandmother?"
"Sure. How could I not remember my great-grandmother coming back from the dead to give me a present?" Pattie remarked.
"Don't be a smartass…do you remember what I told you to with it?"
"You told me to pass it on to Clara at the right time…" Pattie replied.
"Well I think this is the right time…" Grams held out her hand, revealing a delicate silver locket, engraved with intricate roses.
"Grams, how did you get this? It was in my jewelry box!" Pattie exclaimed. Grams shrugged.
"I made a stop on my way here."
"I interfere. It's my job. And I think I should tell you…" Grams stopped herself mid-sentence. "Oh, Pattie, tell Clara goodbye for me, won't you?"
"Blessed be, my love."
"That was a helpful conversation…" Pattie commented, clutching the locket gingerly. She turned and walked back into Clara's bedroom. Clara was crumpled over the last box, taping it shut.
"Where's Grams?" Clara inquired, standing up.
"She had to go…"
"Oh, well, it's not like we never see her…strange as that sounds."
"Clara, can I talk to you for a second?" Pattie asked. Clara nodded as she cautiously sat down beside her cousin on the bed.
"I really loved your essay…" Pattie started.
"Really? You seemed upset…"
"Clara, sweetie, it's just hard to believe that I'm your hero."
"Pattie, you're not just my hero, you're one of my best friend. It wasn't hard to figure how to write that essay. I spoke from my heart. I guess I don't very often…I'm needy, and opinionated, and obnoxious, and I talk way too much, and I am annoying, and a whole host of other things…" Clara paused. "And that's what makes you such a great person. Besides, you haven't killed me yet for driving you completely insane. I love you so much….and I'm going to miss you so much." Clara finished, tears pouring silently down her face.
"Oh, Clara, honey." Pattie sighed, pulling her into a hug. "I'm going to miss you too...but you are going to do so great! You know that!"
"Yeah I know…I can't imagine not having you, Pattie." Clara dried her tears on the back of her hand.
"And I can't imagine not having you… but don't worry, we are going to be together…forever." Pattie replied. "I have something for you - Grams gave it to me the day I went to college and she told me that I should pass it along to you…" Pattie pulled the locket from her palm and in a swift movement, the locket heart was resting in the hallow at the base of Clara's neck.
"It's beautiful…" Clara gushed, opening it instantly. Written on the inside, on a small slip of paper were the words : "Potential is not your ability, it is how hard you want to work to achieve your dreams." On the other side was a picture of Patty with her daughters. Clara closed the locket, carefully touching it with her hand.
"It's very special. Take care of it."
"I will. Always." She embraced her cousin right as she heard a set of brakes screech outside by the curb.
"Your dad must be back with the truck…" Pattie replied, wiping the last tears from Clara's cheeks. "Let's get all the rest of this stuff downstairs and pack up any odds and ends, hmm?"
"Oh, I got everything packed up now." Clara chuckled. "And I think Wyatt and Chris can be ordered into doing all the moving."
"Right. Come on, you." Pattie took her cousin around the shoulder, and she kissed her forehead as they walked towards the front door.
"So that last box… you just threw every thing randomly in and taped it shut, huh?"
"Yep…" Clara beamed.
"That's my girl…"