Friday, October 2, 2015

I was Going to Write You a Long E-mail

An Excerpt from The 25th Hour (Book One in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):

Mrs. Cooper sighed. “Your father’s been laid off. There’s no money coming in. We’ll have to live off our savings until we can find jobs. Your brother will be moving back home when the semester ends, unless he can find a way to pay his tuition.”

Brooke was distressed at the idea of her brother returning home. She had been relieved to watch him go off to college for what she had thought would be four years. “But where will he sleep?”

“We’ll all have to make sacrifices. You’ll have to give him back your bedroom. We’ll turn your father’s office back into a bedroom for you.”

Brooke grimaced. “That tiny room?” Her brother’s departure for college had freed up his bedroom, which was much larger than Brooke’s. The notion of being downsized did not appeal to her. “If he doesn’t go back to the university, does that mean I’ll have to live in the small room for the next five years until I start college?”

“Honey, we might not even have the house in five years. If we can’t make the payments, we’ll lose it. As for college, well, we’ve only started to fund your college account. Now that we’re not going to be able to contribute to it, unless you can earn a scholarship between now and then, I’m afraid college won’t be an option.”

Brooke’s jaw dropped. “But Mom! Everyone goes to college.”

Mrs. Cooper turned away. “We can keep you in school, through high school, I hope. But you’ll have to get a job when you turn fifteen and help contribute to the household.”

“You  mean the four years I planned to be at the state university will be spent working a fast food job to help keep a roof over our heads?”

“We’re all making sacrifices. Your brother is postponing his education and your father is applying for jobs out of state.”

“Dad’s leaving town?”

“He needs to go where the jobs are. Serenity Valley is a small community and, if the Carlyle plant isn’t hiring, there’s not likely to be many jobs available for men your father’s age.”

“This is messed up,” Brooke cried. “I need some air.” She ran out the front door and kept running until she found herself at Craig’s house. Her boyfriend was 14, an eighth grader, and she needed an older perspective and a warm hug. Her prince would be there, even if her mother’s had abandoned her, and he would find a way to make everything all right again.

She rang the bell and waited.

The door cracked open. “Brooke. What are you doing here?”

“I need to talk to you, Craig.”

He glanced behind him inside the house. “Now’s not a good time. You should have phoned me before coming over.”

“It’s important, Craig. So much has happened—”

“Craig? Who’s at the door? Come back in; I miss you.” A redheaded girl peered over his shoulder.

Brooke recognized her. It was Theresa Brewster, an eighth grader from Serenity Valley Junior High.

Theresa frowned. “What’s SHE doing here? You told me you dumped her.”

Craig squirmed. “Yeah, I haven’t had a chance to tell her.” He turned to Brooke. “I didn’t want to tell you like this. I was going to write you a long e-mail.”

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Time is running out… fortunately, Mackenzie Mortimer has a few more minutes than anyone else!

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