Chapter One

With tragedy, comes a renewed sense of hope

I ran until I couldn't run anymore, my vision was so blurry I could barely see -- my eyes were puffy and red I'd been crying the whole way here… I tried to block it out and pretend it wasn't true it couldn't be true. My mom couldn't be gone – she was all I had left, all I have left.

Using the back sleeve of my purple striped hoodie, I wiped my eyes and placed my backpack down as I curled up on the bench in front of me. My two suitcases were strewn about in the soggy, damp grass. Closing my eyes, tears began streaming down my rosy cheeks once more. This time I was crying harder than I ever have, it finally dawned on me that my mom was really gone and was never coming back. Although my mom and I were never all that close I still loved her a lot, and it broke my heart to know that she died and I didn't even get to say goodbye.

The rain was starting to clear, but that didn't make a difference because I was already soaking wet. Out in the distance – I couldn't really tell where but I saw a faint blurry figure coming towards me.

A skinny, small bodied girl with pigtails and braces clad in iCarly pajamas and a pink raincoat knelt down beside me and spoke. "Are you lost?" she asked her green eyes full of worry.

I sniffled and looked at her through squinted eyes for a moment, before rubbing my foggy glasses and returned them to my face. "Uh no, I… I was just" I stammered, and quickly got up scratching the back of my head nervously.

The girl giggled to herself quietly, brushing off her raincoat she stood up. "I'm sorry if I scared you" she said, a small smile forming at the corner of her lips.

"You--" I began to say, the girl eyed me knowingly. "Okay you did scare me. I shouldn't be here I didn't know anyone lived near here. Sorry for waking you up" I said in an apologetic tone.

"Its fine, I thought I heard someone out here so I just wanted to be sure. You looked like you were crying before; do you want to talk about it?" the girl asked moving a little closer towards me.

"No, no I should get going. And wouldn't it be just a tad strange I mean we just met" I said, quirking an eyebrow at the girl.

"I don't think so, I'm a great listener, and if you ever want to talk I'll be here." the girl said defensively. "I'm Sofia Mason" she said extending a hand to me.

I took her hand and we exchanged a hand shake. "I'm Kelsi Alexander. Nhm, I don't think I'm ready to talk about it yet. But I wouldn't mind getting to know you" Somewhere inside me I felt something, I couldn't really explain it. But I had a definite feeling that over time I would start to heal, I was beginning to have a renewed sense of hope. I smiled, I was so happy things are starting to look up.

* * *

"I would love to know you too" Sofia smiled happily. "Um, why don't you come inside? I would feel bad if I knew you'd be out here all night"

"Are you sure it won't be a problem? I don't want to cause any trouble" I said looking up at her sadly, slinging my backpack over my shoulder.

"Oh don't worry, my mom loves having company over. I'm sure she won't mind, plus I love sleepovers. C'mon you need to change into some dry clothes" Sofia happily grabbed my hand and led the way towards her house, dragging one of my suitcases as I dragged the other.

"Has anyone ever told you, you can be very motherly sometimes?" I asked, smirking.

Sofia turned around halfway to face me, "I get that all the time, I see it as a compliment. Thank you"

Sofia quietly pushed against the wooden door; once I was inside she closed the door behind me. "Please take off your shoes, my mom is a total neat freak and obsesses if there's even the smallest bit of dirt on the floor" She leaned up the two suitcases in the corner.

I nodded silently as I knelt down and unlaced my ragged purple Converse. "Wow, I can see that" I said, taking note of how spotless their living room-entire house was. "Your house is gorgeous"

Sofia walked towards the stairs and held on to the banister. "Why thank you if I do say so myself. My room is upstairs, did you want something to drink?" she laughed, and pointed to the kitchen.

I continued to look around the tasteful living room—which was filled with bright yellows and fluffy white pillows. "Huh? Yeah sure I'll take a drink. What do you have?" I turned around, and took a seat on the ottoman by the stairway.

Sofia skipped down the hallway and danced her way over to the fridge, opening it she leaned inward holding onto the freezer door's handle, "We have orange juice, lemonade, Sprite, apple juice, and Coca Cola" she whispered.

"I'll have the lemonade" I called back quietly.

"Okay" she said, taking the pitcher of lemonade out of the fridge and placing it on the counter. Rinsing two glasses and filling each with three ice cubes and carefully poured the lemonade into each glass. With a shaky hand she accidentally spilled some of the lemonade on the floor. "Oh shoot"

"Is everything okay?" I asked worriedly.

"Everything's fine" Sofia said, kneeling down as she finished wiping up the spilt lemonade with a paper towel. She cleaned off the rest of the counter and hurried back toward the hallway.

After about five minutes, Sofia waltzed back into the room and handed me the glass.

"Thanks" I said with a smile, taking the glass and sipping the lemonade gingerly. "Mhm, this is good"

We finished our drinks and Sofia once again went into the kitchen and quickly dumped the ice cubes in the sink and washed out the glasses and returned them to the dish rack.

Sofia came back into the living room, "Let's go upstairs" she yawned, rubbing her eyes.

I nodded and followed her up to her room. Sofia quietly placed the suitcases by her dresser. "We have to be quiet" Sofia said in a hushed tone.

"Where's the bathroom?" I asked whispering, fumbling through my now open suitcase that was on the floor.

"Down the hall to the left" Sofia said pointing in that direction.

Pulling out a light green camisole and blue plaid flannel pajama pants I scurried to my desired destination. "Thank you" I said sweetly, as I departed from the room.

"You're welcome" she said back quietly with a laugh as she down at the edge of her bed and looked out her bedroom window.

I quietly closed the bathroom door and changed into my clothes. Once finished I bent over the sink and washed my face with some warm water. As I patted it dry with a towel, I gazed upon my ethereal face. I couldn't even recognize myself anymore. I felt so alone. I shook my head trying my hardest not to think about my life and everything's that happened in the last few weeks, last few days.

I sighed and walked down the long hallway, but soon stopped when I heard a familiar voice. I lightly pressed my head against the door, to hear what she was saying.

"If I could do it all over again, I would. I just really wanted to tell you--" the girl said quietly in her sleep. Just before the girl finished her last words, she began sniffling fighting the urge to cry as tears welled up in her eyes.

I pulled myself away, running towards Sofia's room. My breathing was very shallow and it felt like the walls were closing in all around me. I closed the door, looking around her room blankly I sat down on the floor, my heart was beating out of my chest and all I wanted to do was cry and never stop. At the time I thought having a good cry, was what I needed. But what I needed was a friend.

Sofia ran her fingers through her wet, tangled black curls that cascaded down to her back turning off her bathroom light she plopped down onto her bed; leaning over the edge she tapped me on the shoulder, "Hey what's wrong, you've been moody all night. Are you sure there isn't anything I can do?"

"No, you being here is enough. So thanks" I smiled.

"Hey one last thing, come on up here there's plenty of room" Sofia grabbed my shoulder and gave me a supportive nudge.

I eagerly obliged. "So why don't you tell me something about yourself?" I asked curiously.

"Well I'm an honor student, and I'm a sophomore at Everson G. Benjamin High. Ooh and I love dogs; my mom said she'll let me get one. I was thinking about adopting a Corgi. They're so cute." Sofia squealed happily just thinking about her potential puppy made her so giddy.

"Seriously that's great. But I'm kind of surprised you seem a little young to be a sophomore in high school. Did you skip a grade?"

"Yeah I did, how'd you know?" she asked me.

"Lucky guess, and because of all your stellar academic achievements like your soccer trophies, 1st honors certificates and all your other awards"

"Hehe, that obvious, well yeah I skipped the 6th grade" Sofia said. "Now tell me something about you"

"Hmm, nothing much to tell really I'm an only child I love watching romantic comedies and I'm not that athletic" I stated.

"Oh," was all she could say. She looked down for a moment then held her ankle.

I cleared my throat, and looked out the window. We both stayed quiet for a minute until Sofia spoke, "What's your favorite movie?" she asked, trying to break the unsteady silence between us.

"It's a cross between the movies What happens in Vegas and…" I paused and thought about whether or not I should say my second movie choice.

"And the other one?" Sofia asked her green eyes now wide with curiosity.

"Um, Out at the Wedding" I managed to say.

"That's great I've seen Out at the Wedding, but I'll be sure to check out the other one" Sofia said.

"Really, what's your favorite scene?" I asked.

She giggled, "The scene where Risa, Jeanie, and Alex are at Alex's house after Jeanie hit Risa with the baseball"

"Yeah that scene was so funny." I laughed. "I also loved it when Alex and Dana's parents came by and Alex's lies started to unravel" I said going into a coughing fit from laughing so hard.

"Are you okay?" Sofia laughed, her cheeks bright red.

"Yeah" I said biting my lips. Taking a deep breath, I exhaled.

Sofia smiled. "What are your favorite shows?"

"I have so many; I think I spend about eighty-five percent of my time watching TV when I'm not in school of course. I think my top 10 would have to be: Gossip Girl, 90210, Degrassi, Wizards of Waverly Place, Victorious, Make it or break it, 10 things I hate about you, iCarly, Good Luck Charlie and my all time favorite show -- South of Nowhere" I said happily.

"That is so weird, we like all the same shows. It's a shame we haven't met before." Sofia mused. "Favorite foods?"

"Definitely fried chicken, pizza, french fries, and chocolate cake" I said, my cheeks burning in embarrassment.

"I love chocolate cake too. Up top" Sofia held her hand up, and we high-fived.

Suddenly, a light flickered on in the hallway.

"Quick act like you're sleeping, don't say anything" Sofia instructed, clapping her hands together once to turn off her room light.

I followed her instructions; once the light in the hallway was turned off we faced each other again and started laughing.

We exchanged a friendly 'Good Night' and went to sleep.