*** Sorry this is late guys! I know its short, but I had to bring in a good old comedic opening sequence. I wanted to lighten it up a bit. I promise the next chapter will be longer. I didn't have much time due to the fact that I just celebrated my 15th birthday. Yeah I know, young-ling over here. Also, I've been so into reading the final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy titled, Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collin's! Incredible series ladies and gents! If your ever in the reading splurge kind of mood, these books have got you covered.

Thanks for sticking with me guys. I have so many more chapters to bring you! I hope you follow me in my creative writing process/journey.

As always, reviews are what keep me going.

Thanks!

-Carolyn


I'd spent almost a full week with the Partridges, and still no sign of reality. I missed home, my friends, and most of all, my wild but affectionate mother. It's odd, being surrounded by a big family, largely due to the fact that I'm an only child. You have to share things, watch out for one another, and manage to stay sane throughout the process. It's hard business I tell you. Hard business…

Other then the clothes, which were immensely unattractive to me, the kids were my next biggest problem. Each one had their own personality and I just couldn't get accustomed to them all at once.

Chris and Tracy were inseparable. It's like they come as a package deal or something. They never clean up their messes, they hate taking bathes, and when Shirley makes dinner, they refuse to eat any kind of vegetable with the exception of cauliflower. Don't even ask me how I knew that.

As much as I hated to admit it, the Partridge's were growing on me.

Next comes Danny…don't even get me started on him. He's a forty year old man stuck in the body of a chubby, sausage-fingered ten year old. The Stock Market is his main concern in life and does that boy love to eat. He's definitely not afraid to blurt out his no-good opinions. Take yesterday for example:

"What kind of a name is Ray?" He choked out incoherently, shoving a granola bar down his throat. I'd wanted to take a relaxing nap on the couch and just be alone for a while, it being such a stressful week and all, but Danny had thoughtfully decided to join me.

Since my voice seemed to have made a run for it, I just shrugged my shoulders.

Danny finished off the granola bar in a minimal of two bites and used the back of his hand to wipe the leftover bits of fly-away-food from his mouth. "I have a friend named Ray, but he's a boy. So obviously," He sighed, picking up a Money Management magazine and resting his feet on the coffee table, "Ray is supposed to be a BOY'S name… just thought I'd inform you."

I would have strangled him if that where possible... and legal, but Danny could be pleasant sometimes, but very rarely.

Laurie was sort of a no-nonsense girl, but reserved at the same time. In today's world she would have definitely been a politician, no doubt about it. She would have loved the twenty-first century.

And then there was Keith.

Keith, Keith, Keith. I could say his name thousands of times over, and it still wouldn't make much sense. He really aggravated me and practically ignored me every time we were in the same room, which wasn't often. I wanted to space myself from him. How self-obsessed could one guy get? In the little time I'd known him, all he spoke of was girls, except he never referred to them as girls. They were women.

On top of that, I was confused. Dreaming is a complicated experience. You know, they lie when they say that if you pinch yourself during a dream, you wake up. Total falsehood. I would know…I tried it.


"So," Danny laughed, squishing in next to me on the sofa. He put an arm around my shoulder and grinned, but I didn't push him away like usual. The night air was drifting in from a nearby window, making me feel almost at ease. "How ya feeling kiddo?"

I held up my hand and slanted it from side to side indicating a fifty-fifty motion.

His annoying grin held solid and I almost felt bad that I usually found him irritating. "Well that's good" He patted my shoulder somewhat nervously.

There was a long pause, very awkward to say the least, but Danny spoke up eventually. "Sooooo," His leg twitched with uneasiness. "How would you like to go to the Park with me tomorrow?"

I closed my eyes briefly, trying to think of the nicest expression my face could form to turn him down.

He become aware of my un-eagerness immediately and re-thought his words. "Not like a DATE, or anything, strictly business of course."

Everything was always considered business with Danny. I wasn't even sure there was a difference. The poor kid just kept shifting his eyes back and forth to his hand, to the carpet, and then back to my face. I was starting to get dizzy, so I looked away.

"Common!" He pleaded. My stomach turned with the feeling of unnecessary guilt. "You'll have such a great time! I can even take you to the Taco Stand after!"

"Whoa, the Taco Stand," A voice cut in from behind; recognizably Keith's. "Getting pretty serious here Danny."

My face flushed a bright red, something that I've always hated since childhood. It always seemed to give away my inner emotions. Danny didn't seem embarrassed, but he looked about ready to use that right hook he'd been bragging about. I hoped to God I was just imagining things.

"Buzz off, Keith." Danny scowled, mumbling under his breath. "Go make yourself useful and write us a song that will top the charts and succeed all else." And in a smaller voice he whispered, "If that's possible with such small brain capacity."

Keith shook his head and flashed a heartbreaking smile. "Can't, I'm taking Sandy out tonight." He reached down and patted Danny on the head, purposely messing up the red mess of hair that never seemed to be combed down. "Dinner and a movie," Keith winked at me, "Every girls dream."

My heart fluttered... and then I felt really stupid for actually feeling something. Keith was a playboy, the "Hugh Hefner" of my generation. You had to be dumb, or at least blinded by beauty, to fall for him. And luckily, I was neither.

"Stop being all charming. Girls don't fall for that kind of stuff." Danny stood up, causing me to sink lower into the sofa cushions. He walked over to the front door and jammed it open, mockingly holding his arm out, motioning Keith that it was time to get lost.

Keith looked to me, and then back to his brother. "Alright, alright," He held his hands up in defeat. "I'm leaving. Try not to miss me too much."

"As if that's possible," Muttered Danny.


The next morning, a stealthy looking breakfast was spread out across the dining room table. My stomach growled. I helped myself to almost everything, and wolfed it down in less then a minute. My appetite had begun to reappear, which was a healthy sign. It also meant I wasn't dying, in shock, or hallucinating. Although I still wasn't quite sure about the hallucination part, everything was beginning to seem more real.

Shirley took note of my empty plate, and offered me seconds. I shook my head kindly. I could have eaten five more plates of that stuff, but I knew it would make me sick. My stomach was very weak, always had been. If I over stuffed, the food would be impossible to keep down.

"Don't be so courteous." She laughed, pushing another plate of eggs in my direction. "At least someone enjoys my cooking. You and Reuben are my biggest fans." I found that very hard to believe, but I was too caught up in hunger to even care. Maybe just one more plate...


After breakfast, I gave in and took Danny to the park. The fresh air felt refreshing against my cheeks. I'd felt so suffocated the past week, that being outside was actually a rather freeing experience. In my head I secretly thanked Danny.

"How bout the swings?" He suggested, grabbing my hand and pulling me towards them, giving me no time to answer. It didn't really matter though. I was up for anything that popped into his little head. My how my mood was changing.

After we'd exhausted the swings, he led me over to the pond. The only problem was that the surrounding are reeked of bird waste, and you had to watch your step. I watched the geese swim round and round in circles, not a care in the world. My mind was elsewhere, and I was barely aware of Danny until he started tugging on my sweater.

"Ray? Earth to Ray?"Can we go someplace else?" His voice sounded far off.

It took me a second to tune into what he was saying. I gave him a questioning look. I wasn't ready to leave yet.

"Please?" He begged, fidgeting with the buttons on his shirt. "I, uh, want to go, uh... go on the swing again! That's it! I want to go on the swings again."

Danny's sudden change in behavior gave me the sense that something was up. He wasn't very good at hiding things.

I put my hands on my hips and Danny groaned. "Keith has no class."

It took me a minute to realize what was going on until I turned around saw what Danny was moping about. Keith was hand in hand with a platform-heeled blond girl, and she was giggling and smiling like he'd just proposed marriage. She was actually twirling her hair while talking, something I'd only seen in movies and read in books. I tried to push away the disappointment that was spreading across my features. It was soon replaced with frustration.

From a few hundred yards away, we watched Keith wave and start making his way towards us, Blondie in tow.

"Yuck," Danny complained. "Can we get out of here? Sharon might have nice legs, but she's a fruitcake."

I couldn't help the small smirk that danced across my lips. So the blond was a dimwit? Well that wasn't hard to figure out. I hadn't even heard the girl talk yet and it was bluntly obvious. And even though I was not exactly looking forward to this confrontation, it was too late to make a run for it.

My stomach was doing cartwheels inside of me and I was getting a bit queasy. I shook it off. Nerves were the least of my problems.

Keith and his lady friend had approached us, interrupting me and Danny's wordless argument. "Hello Danny," He grinned. "Sharon, you know Danny, my younger brother."

"Of course," She squealed, pinching Danny's cheeks and cooing at him. "Well aren't you just the cutest thing!"

It took all the force I could muster not to burst out laughing. But then I remembered I couldn't laugh. It would come out as silence. That sobered me up a bit.

Danny rolled his eyes and backed away from her like she had contracted some infectious disease that was fatal and dreadfully contagious. I didn't blame the kid. I wasn't feeling too well myself. My stomach pains were getting worse.

"And this," Keith nodded in my direction. "This is Ray." Blondie gave me a once over and smiled, and I knew deep inside she was happy at the lack of competition. "She's living with us now as a guest. She sort of just… found us." I sensed a double meaning behind his words, which bothered me.

"It's nice to meet you Ray." Sharon stuck her hand out and I shook it, but not because I wanted to. It was the polite thing to do. "You go to San Pueblo, right? I've never seen you around before?" Her voice was so high pitched it was sickening.

"Sure she does," Danny snorted.

"Uhh," Keith jumped in. "Rae just moved her from…Albuquerque! Yes, Albuquerque, and it's not something we really like to talk about it. She's also very shy around strangers, so maybe we should get going."

I frowned. Albuquerque? I wanted to scream, "I'm from Philadelphia buddy! You know, the City of Brotherly Love, Joan Jett's birthplace, home to the best cheese steaks on the planet!" But of course, my speech impediment got in the way, as did my stomach, which at this point was burning. I had the urge to run, but held firm.

"Well," Sharon smiled a fake two-faced beam. "It was nice seeing you again Danny." She bent her head down and planted a kiss right smack dab in the middle of his forehead. I had the sudden urge to vomit… literally.

She reached over to shake my hand again, but I was long gone by then. I had nowhere to run.

I got sick all over her platform-heels.

I'm not proud of this.