The smell from the candles filled her room, the constant flames casting a perpetual soft glow around the pastel colored room. She always kept these candles lit, one candle for each thing she loved about her boyfriend, one candle for each thing she liked about her family. One candle for each of the things she liked about each of her friends. They were sectioned off with tape, a different color encasing the candles that represented each person, the candles matching the tape around them in color. There were maybe five or six sections on the large altar.

It was a dumb habit, started when she'd had only one true friend back in second grade. Her parents had agreed reluctantly, and only because she learned how to use the fire extinguisher she agreed to keep in her room. It made her feel safe, and it reminded her each and every time she entered her room that there were people who loved her and that she loved in return. It was stupid, sure, but she couldn't bring herself to stop now.

Kathleen entered her room, feeling like her heart was breaking. Zach had lied to her, had hurt her deeply. This was so much different than the stupid little lies. This was big, and it hurt. She sat on her bed and studied the section of candles that represented her boyfriend, the only guy she had ever liked. They were blue, a beautiful, rich royal blue like Zach's eyes. Pulling her long hair back so it wouldn't catch fire, she moved from her bed and knelt by the alter. Carefully, so as not to put any others, Kathy blew out the candle in Zach's section that represented the trait truthful, because that trait could no longer be attributed to Zach. A single tear slipped down her face as a thin trail of smoke floated from the recently extinguished candle. She left it there as she left her room; she'll remove it later and rearrange the display into the perfect shape again.

It's not the first time she'd had to blow a candle out she reflects on her way down the stairs, but this one candle out of the thirty she'd had to blow out in the last eight years hurt the most. She wiped the tear away as she reached the bottom step; her mom would know she'd been crying otherwise. She found her mother in the kitchen, experimenting again.

"I'm going to go for a walk. Okay, Mom?"

"That's fine, sweetheart. Be careful, and don't get caught in the rain. It's going to start soon. Oh. Jeremy's going to come for dinner."

"I'll be home before Jer gets here," Kathy promised. The though of seeing her brother made her feel a little better. She decided, though, that she would tell Jer about Zach only if she had to blow out another two candles. Otherwise, Zach would be at a disadvantage, and Jeremy would get so upset for one candle. He knew how important those candles were to his little sister.