The shot of the starter's gun hung in the air, but that was all I could hear. I took off from my spot in the third lane and left everything else behind me at the starting line. For the first time in a while I wasn't worried about finals, or what I thought was going to happen to me and my best friend Katie after graduation next week. I didn't worry about not getting accepted to my first choice school, or how I bombed the ACT's because I stayed up all night before studying and then fell asleep during the math portion.
All I could hear was the thump thump of my feet landing against the track, all I could see was those white lines guiding me. All I could fell was the blood rushing in my veins and the thud-thud of my heartbeat. I couldn't tell you where the other runners were, just that they weren't in front of me. And as I crossed the finish line, my little moment of solitude was gone, only to be replaced by cheers from the stands and all of my worries flooding back to me. It was going to be a long summer.
"Great Job, Black. You beat your own record by a half second." Coach Matthews said as she patted me on the back and handed me a bottle of water.
"Thanks" I managed to get out in between sips of the water and taking in deep breaths to try to regulate my breathing again.
I still had two more events to compete in so I made my way over to the benches and took a seat. I looked in the stands and saw my parents and Katie smiling and waving. Katie had made a big sign with my name on it and the number 1. I grinned and waved back.
I finished first in both of my events and led our team to win the championships. I got a trophy and a ribbon, along with many pats on the back and congratulations from my teammates, coach and family.
My parents had taken me out to dinner to celebrate not only winning the title, but graduating soon as well.
"Honey, we're so proud of you." My dad told me after we had finished ordering. "I was just talking to your Uncle Billy the other day and he said to let you know how much he missed you and that he was sorry he couldn't be here to see you graduate."
"That's alright. I mean it's hard enough for him to get around the rez, I didn't expect him to come all the way out here just to see me graduate. How is he anyway?" I asked.
I hadn't seen my uncle in almost 6 years. We lived in La Push until I was 12, but then my dad got a better job in Chicago, and we had to move. I was fine with it actually. My douche cousin and his douche friends treated me like crap. They always picked on me for whatever reason they felt like at the time. Usually my name, or my glasses, or the fact that I was a tomboy-but still a girl with cooties- and was trying to be cool and "act like them". So when my parents told me we were moving, I was relieved.
"He's not doing to great, baby. Jake ran away a couple of weeks ago, and he's in that house all by himself. He's got to order out all the time because he can't really get around to cook for himself, and I'm sure the place is a mess. Sue Clearwater brings him meals a few times a week but it's just not the same." Dad said. He was really close to his brother and I knew it bothered him that Jake had just ran off.
"I wish there was something we could do" I said as I took a bite of my burger. I didn't have to worry about training for a while, so I rewarded myself with a burger. I was tired of salads.
"Well, actually, there might be something you can do." My mom said from her seat across the booth.
"Me? What can I do?" I asked warily. My mom had that look in her eyes that meant she was planning something. And it usually wasn't a good something.
"Well, summer break is coming up soon. It might be good for you to get out and have some time off before you start college in the fall. Maybe you could drive up to La Push and keep an eye on your uncle. He needs someone to cook for him, it could be good practice for you." My mother was sneaky. Wiggling in my love of cooking, and the fact that I was going to culinary school next fall.
"Oh come on, I'm not going to La Push. No way."
"I think it's a great idea. Billy's really missed you and I know you missed him too. It will be a good experience for you to get out of town for a while. Katie is leaving for UCLA in a few weeks anyway. You would be bored here all summer without anyone to hang out with besides dear old mom and dad." My dad said, as if that settled things. To him and my mom, it did.
Before I could protest any further my dad had his cell phone out and was already calling Uncle Billy to tell him the "great news". I didn't really think that reminding them that I would be 18 in a month and could make my own decisions was really going to help at this point.
"Look, honey. I know you don't want to go, but I'll make a deal with you. Spend the summer in La Push, and your father and I will pay for culinary school." My mom said. I snapped my head up and gawked at her.
"But you said you guys didn't have the money."
"We wanted you to work your way through college like we had to. To teach you some responsibility. But you going to La Push and taking care of your Uncle is going to take a lot of responsibility, and if you can pull it off, then we'll keep our end of the bargain." Wow ok. What was three months when it meant no student loans to pay back for the rest of my life.
"Alright, deal." I said as I shook my mother's hand, and then burst into laughter at our seriousness. We were always goofing around together. Next to Katie, she was my best friend.
"Ok, Billy's thrilled that you're coming to visit. He said he would get Jake's room cleaned up for you so you won't have to sleep on the couch." My dad said as he put his phone back in his pocket. I forgot that Uncle Billy's house only had two bedrooms.
Just then the waitress came back with our check and we got up to leave.
"I'm spending the night at Katie's. I'll see you guys tomorrow." I said as I hugged them both goodbye.
"What do you mean you're leaving?" Katie cried once I got to her house and told her the news.
"My parents kind of tricked me into it. I mean I go there for the summer, and then my school is paid for. Who wouldn't go? And what difference does it make, you're leaving the day after graduation to get settled in California." I didn't want to fight about this. She was being unreasonable.
"But still. I didn't feel so bad knowing that if I screwed up I could come back home and still have my best friend. You're going to go up to La Push and make all new friends and forget all about me." She whined.
"Ok seriously, what are you smoking? First of all, I'm only going up there for three months, It's not like my whole entire life is going to change. And second, no one could ever replace you, so just get used to the fact that you're stuck with me until we're old and wrinkly." I said, laughing at the face that she was making at me.
"Come on, let's go watch a movie or something." She said as she hopped off her bed and led me into the living room. She put in Pretty Woman, of course. Every time we had a sleepover that was always put on at some point during the night.
After the movie, and eating about every kind of snack that she had in the house, we made our way back up to her room.
"Let me do your toenails." She said as she grabbed a bottle of pink nail polish and plopped herself on the bed next to me. She took off my socks before I had time to answer her and started working on my feet.
"You're so weird." I told her.
"Yeah, but you wouldn't have me any other way." She muttered, not looking up from the toe she was currently painting.
"so you think your car is going to make it all the way to Washington?" She asked as she dipped the brush into the bottle to get more paint.
"Yeah, I think she's got enough in her to make it there and back. I take care of my baby." My blue Taurus may not be much to look at, but my Dad and I made sure that we did all of the routine maintenance needed to keep it running like a champ.
"Well, I'm really going to miss you." She said, I think I saw her fighting back tears, but I wasn't sure. Leave it to Katie to start crying already.
"I'm gonna miss you too Kate."
"Lorraine Marie Black"
I stood up from my chair on the gym floor and made my way across the stage. Principle Higgins handed me my diploma and shook my hand. I flipped the tassel on my hat to the other side and smiled to myself. I did it!
The rest of the ceremony went by in a blur, and before I knew it we were all throwing our caps into the air and cheering. I looked around for my parents and saw them making their way through the crowd to me.
"Oh Rainey we're so proud of you!" My Mom said as she pulled me into a hug.
"Great Job, Baby."
"Thanks." I told them. Katie eventually wandered over and we posed for pictures while both of our parents snapped away.
"I'll be by later tonight." Katie told me as she was being pulled away by her parents. She was leaving for California in the morning, and we were saying our goodbyes tonight.
"Come on, sweetheart. Let's get you home." My dad said as he slung an arm over my shoulder and led me out of the gym.
Once we got home I started packing up for La Push. There was no reason for me to stay around here anymore, so I was leaving in a few days. I got my big suitcase out of the attic and started piling all of my clothes into it, making sure to pack the heavier things. If there was one thing I remembered about La Push it was that it rained ALL THE TIME. You needed good think clothes if you didn't want to get soaked to the bone every time you stepped out of your front door.
In my smaller bag I packed my personal things. A few pictures of my parents and Katie, my stuffed bear, Teddy. My favorite books and a few cd's for the car ride. And of course my toiletries and what little jewelry I owned.
I was going to miss it here. Unlike La Push, I actually liked it in Chicago. When we moved I became a new person. I traded in my glasses for contacts, and started to dress a little more girly, even though I was still a tomboy. I turned my love of running into something useful and ended up making Captain of the girls track team by my junior year.
I didn't have many friends besides Katie, but that was ok with me. I saw it more as quality over quantity. Katie was the first girl I met when I moved here, and she was the nicest person I knew. She didn't make fun of me because of my name, or the fact that I was afraid of snakes. She didn't laugh at the scabs on my knees or the fact that I preferred to climb trees instead of playing barbies. She told me that Jake and his friends were losers and that I needed to forget about everything they had ever said to me and move on. So that's what I did. Needless to say I was a little nervous about going back and possibly running into them.
I heard the doorbell ring and Katie's footsteps running up the stairs to my room. She pounded on the door and I opened it for her, about to ask why she didn't just let herself in when she practically fell into my room carrying a huge box.
"What is all that?" I asked as she put it on the floor and collapsed onto my bed.
"That, Is your going away present." She gasped in between breaths. She wasn't used to physical exercise. When I was training her idea of helping was following me in her car and yelling at me with a megaphone. Yeah, that didn't last long.
I went over to the box and opened it. The first thing I pulled out was a grocery bag full of our favorite snacks. I held it up to her with a questioning look.
"For the road." She stated.
The next thing out of the box was a set of those fuzzy dice people hang from their rearview mirrors.
"For the car." She told me and I tried not to laugh at the hideousness of them.
But the thing that shocked me the most was a baseball bat.
"And this is for...."
"For the assholes in La Push. I won't be there to kick their butts but at least I can arm you so that you can do it yourself." She said as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Sometimes I wondered about her.
"OK...Thanks." I said, putting the stuff back in the box. I went over to my desk and picked up the box that I wrapped earlier.
"Here" I said as i shoved the box into her lap.
"What's this?" She asked. As if she didn't know.
"That's YOUR going away present." She opened the box and pulled out its contents. It wasn't much, just some organizational stuff for her dorm room.
"Thanks, this is great!" She said. I knew she would never use it, but it couldn't help to try. Katie was a pack rat. I had been trying to get her to clean her room for the last six years. I'm still waiting for it to happen.
A car horn honked outside and Katie sighed.
"Well I guess this is it." She told me. We were both doing our best not to cry and we were both failing miserably.
"Yeah I guess. Let me know as soon as you leave and as soon as you get there ok?" I said as the tears started to fall and I pulled her into a hug.
"Same here. Don't let those boys scare you. They probably won't even remember it so don't worry about it. And if they do, you've got the bat." She said as she turned to head out of my room. I walked her out to the door and waved at her when she got in the car. I didn't know when the next time I would see her was, but I knew that whenever that time did come, things were going to be a lot different.
(A/N) I'm back! I'm really excited about this story and I hope that you all like it. I know it's not the sequel to WHO I AM like you all hoped for, but this story wouldn't leave me alone so I had to get it written first. Please review and let me know how you like it so far, or if you don't like it too.