CHAPTER ONE

A heavy rain splatters onto the car's windows, pelting it with water droplets as we drive along the highway, the windshield wipers moving at top speed. I'm sitting in the passenger seat, staring glumly out the window while my younger siblings sit in the backseat, keeping themselves entertained somehow.

"I'm telling you, guys," Mom says, tapping her hands on the wheel in time with the wipers, "This move is going to be awesome. Best thing we've ever done as a family."

I roll my eyes and try my hardest to tune her out and focus on the drops rolling down the window. I pretend they're racing each other, trying to see who can get to the bottom first. Anything to keep my mind off of what we're really doing.

"I know we'll all miss New York," she continues, and I flinch at her words. Miss New York? That's an understatement. "But I think this is the best thing for us to do under the circumstances."

I flinch again. Those circumstances being the fact that Mom's husband - now ex-husband - recently divorced her. I can't blame her for wanting to get away, but leaving New York? Of all the things I'd expected Mom to come up with, leaving her hometown wasn't one of them.

"I'm kind of excited," my fifteen-year-old sister Carolyn pipes up from behind me. She's blonde, same as Mom, with the same cornflower blue eyes that are so innocent and yet so mischievous at the same time. We couldn't be more different physically; Carrie being blonde and I being brunette. Todd, my twelve-year-old brother, and I look more like our father (a curse, if you ask me), whereas Carrie is Mom's twin.

Mom glances in the rear-view mirror, smiling broadly. "That's the spirit, Carrie!"

I twist around in my seat and raise an eyebrow at my sister, looking at her dubiously. She raises her eyebrows at me in return, lifting her chin saucily. I cross my eyes at her and turn back to face the front.

"What about you, Todd?"

Silence answers my mother's question. We all look at Todd, who's sitting beside Carrie with his super-thick, incredibly heavy headphones that Dad bought him last Christmas covering his ears, bobbing his head to whatever crazy music he's playing on his iPod at the moment. Carrie taps his shoulder. When he doesn't give a response, she jabs his ribs with her elbow. While Todd yelps in pain and Mom gives Carrie a scolding look, I nod approvingly. The squirt had it coming from one of us, anyway.

"What?" he groans, reluctantly removing his headphones and glaring at Carrie. "I was right in the middle of-"

"Whatever. Mom asked you a question," Carrie interrupts him. I'm thankful she did. The last thing I need at the moment is to hear the gory details of Todd's "games".

"What?" Todd asks, scowling at Carrie one more time before turning to Mom, an annoyed expression on his face. For him, that's at least trying to be more respectful. We've all tried to be less rude to Mom, especially since the divorce. She's been through a lot; she doesn't need her kids being pains on top of everything else.

While Mom repeats her question, I twist around to face Carrie again. "You're really excited?" I ask quietly, so the other two won't hear us.

"Kind of," she replies, equally quiet. She twirls a strand of hair around her finger. "Are you?"

"Please," I snort. "How can I be excited about this? One of my friends said that the nearest shopping mall in that place is like, almost an hour away from where we'll be living!"

"Horrors!" Carrie says mockingly. I roll my eyes at her. She doesn't crave shopping like I do. My Aeropostale-filled closet can testify to that.

"Yes, horrors," I tell her, as Todd replaces his headphones and Mom turns up the radio, tuning it in to her favorite station. "I won't be able to shop at all."

"Yes, you will," she says. "You have your license."

"True." I chew my lip thoughtfully. "Doesn't mean Mom will let me take the car whenever I want, though."

"Poor muffin," she retorts. I stick out my tongue at her and turn back to the window, noticing that the rain has actually almost slowed to a stop.

We drive past a sign that reads, WELCOME TO MAINE! in large, happy letters. I stare at it until it fades from view, taking with it any hope of this all being a dream.