1. Soothed & Provoked

Pushing through the mahogany door, the antique but welcoming scent of wood and paper filled my lungs.

Joe's greeting followed no later than my entry, "Hey, Am!" He doesn't need to look to know it's me. "Pretty early for a holiday morning." His short bronze cropped hair always made him look younger than men in their forties.

"Just a good start for my spring break," I grinned at my old friend.

I have known Uncle Joe almost all my life, ever since Mum first brought me to this little bookstore. I was about seven and Joe has been very friendly all the time, as if we had known each other for years.

I walked along the aisles, scanning for something to read. The Raven.I picked it up, "Edgar Allan Poe, classy," Joe holding another pile of books, peeked over my shoulder.

I flipped through the pages and a card was stuck in the middle. A line was printed on it: All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. The handwriting looks…familiar. I gathered a few more novels and hid in a corner. I need to spend some peaceful hours.

When I was about to leave, I waved Joe goodbye. He gazed at me and paused. He opened his mouth but not a single syllable escaped, his eyes went wide for a second.

But his warm smile returned instantly and he muttered, "Come and look for me if you need help. I will see you very soon." "Thanks, Joe."

I sauntered as slowly as I could, heading towards the one place I least wanted to be. Home. I could forecast what is going to happen. As soon as I stepped inside, a call came from the kitchen, "Amber?"

"Yes, Mum. I'm home." I announced in my polite tone. I tried to dash upstairs but the sound of footsteps was already approaching.

I turned around and Mum was standing right next to the staircase, "Where have you been?" Her face twisted into a frown. I could sense the discontent embedded in her words.

"Just wandering round the neighbo-"

"You were at Joe's, weren't you?" Mum accused, cutting my line.

"Mum, it's the first day of my spring break, I-"

"You should be preparing your schoolwork instead of wasting your time dreaming the unrealistic. And have you decided which college you are applying next year? Do some serious research!" the fury was surfacing.

"Nothing interests me apart from writing," I muttered. Once again, we fell into the same argument.

"Your father and I have made it clear that you need to pursue further studies. There're still a lot of subjects for you to choose: Medicine, Law, Psychology. You will not make a living by writing." she repeated the same speech for the third time in the month.

"Writing is my ambition, my dream, my passion!" I could feel heat flooding on my face.

"This is for your own good," she insisted. I have had enough of her caring talk.

"No, it's not. It's for your own good! Just because Grandpa failed to become a writer and made a terrible life out of you doesn't mean writing is going to ruin my life." I knew mentioning Grandpa would ignite her rage but I was too irritated to care.

"You don't know a thing." she swore through her teeth. Her words were coloured by anger but there was something else, was it sadness? Maybe I just imagined that.

I escaped from the hurtful conversation and locked myself in my room. Curling on my bed, I stared at the framed photo on my bedside table. It was Grandma and me. Grandma was the best storyteller ever, she told me history, stories she invented and stories Grandpa invented. Grandpa passed away when she was only forty. But she never blamed him for being too stubborn to give up writing or leaving three children for her to take care of alone, not even when she died three years ago.

I had no idea why Mum hated me following Grandpa's path; I didn't understand her and apparently, vice versa.

Trying to avoid any awkward moment with Mum, I lingered for a while and searched for something to do in my room. The box of photo albums on top of my bookshelf caught my eyes. They were labelled by years: 2003, 1998, 1992, 1989 and the oldest of all, 1985. I picked the last one, it was the year when Grandpa died; Grandma was forty, Aunt Jane was thirteen, Uncle Charles was nine and Mum was fifteen.

I cleared the thick layer of dirt from the album and flipped it open; time had washed most photos yellowish. The first one was Aunt Jane holding a gold medal in her swim suit, Grandpa's handwriting printed: Jane came first in 200m swimming race (25th March, 1985). There were many more interesting photos: Grandpa working on his new story; Uncle Charles crying over his broken new toy car.

Giggling over the description, I moved on to the next page, I froze.

It was Mum's birthday; standing beside her was another girl, slightly older and taller than her. Their arms wrapped around each other, there were a lot of resemblances between them, what's more is that the girl looked like…me. The frantic rhythm in my chest grew louder when I tried to pronounce the description, "17 year-old Amber stayed with us for her gap-year, 15th of August, 1985."

Before I could understand a word, darkness engulfed me.

-Author's Note:

Thank you for reading. I know this doesn't belong to any original stories at all, it was just a short story I wrote, inspired by some fanfictions.

I hope you like it & reviews would be awesome.