Rating/Warning(s)/Note(s): T, Shadows
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Prompt: Skill


The heavy envelope lay on the table in front of me, still full of papers, flyers and a catalogue, except for one page. The cover letter was shaking in my hands, or rather my hands were shaking it as I read it over for what seemed to be the hundredth time.

Dear Miss Swan,

I am writing to you once again in the hope that you will apply to our university to continue your education. Dartmouth has many amenities, from premiere colleges to the beauty of the White Mountains, we will be able to meet any and all of your expectations. Attendance at our university will open up many avenues of research for you, including the opportunity to attend a study abroad semester at Oxford. We have high expectations of our students, and feel that you are an ideal match.

I can only imagine your surprise in us contacting you. It is true that your high school grades, while very good, are not the highest. We are also aware that your ACT score is not usually sufficient for admission. However, every year we look for students we feel would shine in our environment, students who have gone beyond the average in a non-traditional way, students who posses a skill that sets them apart, and you fit that requirement.

We are aware, also, of your financial situation, and ask that you please take a moment to review the financial aid information enclosed with this letter. A few scholarships are available, for which you are immenently qualified, that will more than cover the cost of tuition, books and fees. Please submit your application for them along with your application to our university. Our financial aid department will process it for you.

Again, please consider applying here. There are many in the administration who have taken an interest in furthering your education.

Sincerely,

Dr. Kim
University President

This was the third time I'd received a letter from Dartmouth asking me to apply. The first time I'd thought it a practical joke. People with my GPA and test scores aren't accepted into prestigious, ivy-league schools, much less invited to apply. It had gone into the trash. The second packet arrived a week later with a letter stating that this wasn't a joke (how had they known I thought that?) and to please not throw it away without considering it (and how had they known what I'd done with the first one?). It also went into the trash. It's now a week later and I'm holding the third letter, thinking that maybe, just maybe, it was real. Naturally, that would be when Charlie walked in from work.

The heavy pounding of his boots in the entryway as he tried to stomp off the ever-present mud was easily heard under his call, "I don't see dinner. Should I order pizza?"

"Sorry," I called back, dropping the letter on the table and hopping up to pull the potatoes from the oven and put the marinated steak under the broiler, "I was reading and lost track of time." The sound of him hanging his gun belt on a peg in the kitchen was followed by the sound of him pulling out a chair and sitting down with a huff. "Long day?"

"Boring day," he said with a laugh. "Mark and I are tied in rummy again." Papers were shuffled as the first sound of sizzling could be heard from the oven. "What's this?"

I let out a sigh. "I'm not sure. Either a sick joke or the president of Dartmouth is high." Not wanting to look at my father I kept busy tossing a salad. Charlie wouldn't eat much of it, but a few pleading glances would guilt him into some greens. He wasn't getting any younger.

"This looks serious to me, Bells," he said. More papers shuffled, drawing my attention. I'd never emptied any of the packets before. "Pacific Northwest Trust? I didn't know there was a scholarship for Dartmouth students from the Pacific Northwest." He let out a low whistle. "This is impressive, hon. You wouldn't have to work at all if you got this. It covers everything."

Mimicking an ostrich I buried my head in the oven, turning the steaks. "Just seems fishy to me," I mumbled.

"Well, it smells like steak," Charlie said with a snort of laughter, making me chuckle as well. "It couldn't hurt to apply."

"And be the laughing stock of the admissions office?" It was easier to dish up the plates and carry them to the table. There was the benefit that Charlie usually ate whatever I served him and this way I could guilt him into even more vegetables. This time an additional benefit was that I didn't have to look at my father.

"What do you care what they think? If it's a joke, let them laugh, you'll never know. However, you are due to graduate in just five months and need to get your applications in…"

"But…"

He lifted his hand, cutting off my interruption. "No buts. I know you plan to go to Peninsula Community College, but only because we're broke." He picked up the scholarship information and waved it at me. "If this is for real, you can go to the school of your dreams, free of charge. It'll only cost you a couple hours of filling out paperwork instead of watching the game with me." The twinkle in his eye let me know that he was well aware that I wouldn't miss watching the game.

Since my homework was done, and my social life was nonexistent, I shrugged. Why not? What could it hurt? "Fine, but then you have to do the dishes," I said, hoping to bargain with him. Charlie hated doing dishes.

"It's a deal," he said, his shoulders shaking with quiet laughter at my astonishment. "What? I really want you to apply."

"Fine, but then you have to help me with my essay."

"Fine," he said, reaching for a pad of paper. "All about Isabella Marie Swan…" That evening the conversation was different than any other we'd ever had as we discussed my life and what to write in an essay about me.

I felt a bit weird as I attached postage and walked the thick envelope out to the mailbox, almost like I was being watched. Later, just as I was falling asleep I could have sworn I heard the sound of the rusty mailbox door lowering, mixed with a lilting, soprano giggle, and saw a shadow, in the form of a man, move along my wall.


I was a total failure at NaNoWriMo, mostly because I didn't prepare well enough. I'll get back to the story eventually, but right now it doesn't read right. In the meantime, you all get to read witfits again! I know you're all excited, LOL!