" Abby get down here!" Amy called up the stairs. "Anna's mom will be here in less than ten minutes to get you for school!"
Abby quickly rushed down the stairs pigtails bouncing up and down with each stair. "I'm coming!" She replied making her final leap off the staircase.
"Careful!" Amy said handing her a piece of toast while cradling Kevin in her other arm.
"Always." Abby replied through her toast. "Why does school start so early?" She asked after swallowing the bite.
"Because you're a first grader now." Amy explained. "They go to school all day long instead of just in the afternoon, which is why you'll need this." She said handing her a red tin lunchbox.
"A box?" Abby asked, confused.
"With lunch inside it." Amy explained.
"So… a lunchbox?" Abby asked with a smirk.
"Precisely." Amy said smiling. "Now… where's your backpack?"
Abby swallowed the last of her toast. "Upstairs." She replied heading for the stairs again.
"Hurry up!" Amy called after her looking out the window for any signs of Abby's ride.
Moments later Abby came sliding down the banister with her backpack in tow. "I'm here, I'm here!" she replied jumping down.
"Hey you've gotta be careful." Amy scolded handing her the metal lunchbox. "We don't need any more injuries coming from you." She said carefully fingering the scar above her eye.
"It's not like I tried to break the window… It just sorta… happened…" Abby said sheepishly.
"Abby…" Amy started to admonish but she was interrupted by a horn outside. She sighed, "There's your ride dear, have a good day." Amy said handing her a jacket as she ran out the door.
"Hi Anna!" Abby greeted as she crawled into the back of Anna's family's van. "Amy gave me a lunchbox this morning… with a lunch in it… get it? Lunchbox!"
"My mommy gave me money for lunch. I have a whole 75 cents so I can get lunch and a milk!" Anna said equally excited.
Aiden couldn't help but crack up from his seat in the middle of the van. "You do know that you eat lunch at school every day right?"
Abby and Anna looked at each other in excitement. "You're gonna get 75 cents everyday for the whole year?" Abby asked excitedly.
Aiden, still amused by his sister and her best friend replied, "Yes… yes she will."
Abby looked at back and forth from Anna to Aiden before she finally spoke to them. "You'll have one hundred and thirty-five dollars each at the end of this year!"
This took Aiden by surprise. He had never bothered, in his past six years of school to think about lunch money as actual money. It had always been 75 cents, everyday, for lunch. But now that he knew just how much money it was he was intrigued.
"One hundred thirty-five… Wow… that's not a big picture I really wanted to see." Anna's mom said from the front seat. "Maybe you'll start bringing your lunches like Abby…"
"NO!" Aiden yelled.
"Aiden! No yelling in the car!" His mother scolded. "Right now I'm much too busy to be spending time making five lunches every morning so you've got nothing to worry about Aiden."
"I wish I had four brothers…" Abby sighed.
"No you don't!" Anna complained. "The only nice one is Charlie and he's starting college so I never see him anymore!"
"Hurtful!" Aiden protested throwing a napkin from the floor at his sister.
"MOMMY!" Anna screamed. "AIDEN THREW GARBAGE AT ME!"
"Aiden!" Their mother scolded. "Apologize!"
"I'm sorry you're so ugly the garbage I threw at you made you look better." Aiden said with a smirk.
"MOMMY!" Anna said tears shining at the edges of her eyes.
"AIDEN RONALD ROSS!" Their mom reprimanded. "You are grounded for the next month!"
Aiden sulked back into his seat before muttering. "Why'd you have to go and have another kid anyway…"
"WELL! It's not like you wanted another kid!" Aiden shouted back.
"You didn't want me?" Anna asked, panicking.
"YOU DIDN'T! YOU EVEN SAID YOU DIDN'T NEED ANOTHER KID!" Aiden shouted.
Abby slid awkwardly further back into her seat watching the family argue.
"AIDEN RONALD ROSS THAT'S TWO MONTHS!"
"IM NOT LYING! YOU TELL ME NOT TO LIE! SO I WONT!"
Anna was now bawling in the backseat while Abby tried to hug her best friend.
"AIDEN THREE MONTHS!"
"That's not fair!" Aiden began to whine. "I've got… Stuff!"
"Not for the next three months you don't! And if you don't apologize it'll be longer!"
It was then that the van pulled up to the elementary school. "Aiden you will come directly home after school and you will go straight to your room." His mom said climbing out of the car.
Aiden angrily climbed out of the car scooping up his backpack in the process. "Fine." He said before rushing toward a group of friends he had seen in front of the school.
Anna's mom turned to her. "Anna baby…" She started before Anna rushed into her arms. "Shhh baby. It's okay."
Abby carefully climbed past her friend and out of the car. "I'm going to go to class now…" She said before running alone into the school.
Abby looked around for some sort of a sign that would lead her to the first grade wing, but the further she went the more confused she became. She continued to walk through the halls which were swimming with bodies until suddenly, the bell rang and the hallway cleared as the students clamored into their respective classrooms, leaving Abby standing alone in the hallway.
Abby stood frozen for a moment before deciding to venture into the closest classroom. She carefully twisted the knob on the door and waited silently for the click of the knob indicated it could be pulled open. She silently pulled the door open about five inches to allow herself to slip through the door and slowly let it shut behind her.
"Can I help you?" The tall male teacher at the front of the classroom questioned Abby who was trembling just inside the door.
"Uh… I'm sort of lost." Abby said awkwardly noticing the class of sixth graders before her.
"Abby?" Aiden asked from the back of the classroom.
"Aiden!" Abby said rushing to the back and scrambling onto his desk.
"A friend of yours Aiden?" The teacher asked patiently.
" Uhm… This is Abby." He said.
"And what is she doing here?" The teacher tried again.
Aiden looked at her curiously for a moment before responding to his teacher. "I don't actually know… She's my little sister's friend…"
The teacher rounded the classroom until he reached Aiden's desk. He leaned down until he was Abby's height, "Where are you supposed to be Abby?"
"I'm in first grade." Abby said confidently.
"Do you know what teacher you have?"
"Uh… I think…" Abby tried, unable to remember.
"She has Ms. Orton with my sister." Aiden spoke up, willing for this to just end. "I can take her down there if you'd like." He offered.
"Thank you Mr. Evans, and please hurry back."
"Come on Abby." Aiden said lifting her gently off his desk. Aiden carried her until they had cleared the classroom door and then he set her down so she could walk on her own. "Why are you in the sixth grade wing Abby?"
"Well… It's kind of hard to see what's going on when there's a bunch of kids that are two or three feet taller than you surrounding you." Abby said with a giggle.
"Didn't my mom bring you and Anna in?" Aiden asked as they walked past the fifth grade wing.
"She didn't bring me in, I don't know about Anna…"
"You mean you just came in here by yourself?" Aiden asked shaking his head.
"Aiden, I'm five years old! I can go into school by myself!" Abby protested, stomping her foot to the ground.
"Abby if you could have come in here by yourself," he said pointing to her classroom, "You wouldn't have shown up in my class."
Abby stuck her tongue out at him before reaching for the doorknob.
"Abby…" Aiden warned, pressing his hand against the door, sealing it to the frame. "You can't just wander in and out of class, you're a first grader…"
"I know that Aiden." Abby said pushing him out of her way. "Now can I go to class now or do you have some other unnecessary information you think I don't know?"
Aiden raised an eyebrow before opening the door.
"All right class!" Ms. Orton said as she clapped her hands in the front of the room. "Now I'd like you to share your pictures with your table members." She instructed, not noticing the recent additions to her classroom.
Aiden cleared his throat. "Uh… Ms. Orton?"
"Oh hello!" Ms. Orton said, rushing over to them. "Who's this?" She asked kneeling down in front of Abby.
"I'm Abigail Sciuto, I'm five and a half and I'm starting first grade today." Abby said proudly.
"Well… Abigail, where have you been?" Ms. Orton asked her nicely.
"I went to the sixth grade wing." Abby said matter-of-factly.
"She showed up in my class Ms. Orton. She's my sister's friend, so I offered to bring her back." Aiden said heroically.
"You're not that special." Anna said from her seat across the room.
"Anna!" Ms. Orton scolded.
"No, Ms. Orton. It's okay. Aiden was a jerk in the car so it's Anna's turn now." Abby explained.
Ms. Orton gave Abby an appraising look. "All right then… Thanks for bringing her here Aiden. You can go back to class now."
"I'll see you after School Anna, Abby." Aiden said before exiting the classroom.
"All right then Abigail let's see if we can't get you some supplies…"
"We'll see you tomorrow Abby!" Anna's mom called out the window as Abby ran up the drive to her house.
"Amy!" Abby called as she slammed the front door shut. "Amy I'm home!" Abby continued as she headed toward the kitchen. "Am…" Abby started until she saw her mom sitting in the kitchen. Hi mommy!
Oh hello darling. Her mom signed back.
Where's Amy? Abby asked, pulling a bowl from the cupboard.
Amy decided to take Kevin out to the Music Studio for awhile.
Oh…Well can I go?
Her mom shook her head. Abby, we've discussed this. You're not allowed to go into the city by yourself anymore. Not without Charlie…
Abby dropped the box of cereal she had retrieved from the cupboard.
Abby… I'm sorry, I forgot how much…
Abby ran out of the kitchen and raced up the stairs to her room. She easily made the leap from her doorframe to her bed where she quietly began to cry.
Several minutes later Abby sat up and reached for a brown leather book. She carefully opened the cover and traced her finger along the edge of the first page. She looked at the smiling faces of the young man and the little girl in the picture as she brushed her fingers along the now worn edges.
After focusing on the picture she constantly looked at she scanned the rest of the page as she had done every day since he left. But it wasn't until she reached the inner left corner she saw something she never noticed before.
Remember that even though I had to leave, it doesn't mean I won't miss you. If you ever need me, call the Bar's old phone number.
Abby couldn't believe what she had read. Months had passed of wishing for a way to contact him, and suddenly it was there? It was too good to be true.
Abby grabbed the book and raced down the hall until she reached the phone. She quickly pulled the phone of the hook and dialed the number she knew by heart. It was only a few moments before she heard the ringing back in her ear.
"Hello?" A voice on the other end answered.
"Charlie?" Abby asked excitedly, tears coming to her eyes.
Author's Note: DAAH! I'm so so SO sorry about the delay in the update. I kept getting writers block, and I rewrote this chapter and I couldn't really get the outcome I wanted… I still didn't get as good as If this were my ideal world, but this is what I've got (and since It's a set-up chapter for a plotline… I'm not too worried about it.) Please check out my other two stories: "What Can We Do?" and "And It All Goes Black". I'm writing them at a much faster pace than this story. REVIEW!