13-year-old Stephanie Nunes was going to the mall with her best friend, Alexandria Cooper. Her nickname is Lexi by Stephanie. She resides in Maine with her parents, Jimmy and Miranda, and her two older brothers, 15-year-old Mark and her twin, Stephan, who is two minutes older than her. Stephanie and Lexi are very close. They love spending time together. The girls have been best friends since preschool. They trust each other with secrets. They vowed the only thing they can tell secrets if they're in danger to a trusted adult.
Lexi's the oldest of four children. Her siblings are Alex, Jr., Alicia, and Tricia, who are twins. Their parents got divorced last year and Stephanie stood by Lexi's side through her tough time. Her dad still lives nearby and the kids visit him every day after school until their mom gets out of work before supper. They sleep there on weekends.
When her parents got divorced, she became depressed. She told Stephanie that she had plans to kill herself and don't want to be stopped. But Stephanie knew that secret wasn't safe, so she told Mrs. Cooper right away. Lexi felt much better knowing she had a good friend to care for.
Lexi noticed a big change with her father: He doesn't trust Lexi for no reason. She's happy when she doesn't sleep there during the week. He also leaves her out when he gives her siblings all the attention. Lexi doesn't think about it during school to keep her grades up. she would like to speak up and might ask her mom for help.
Mark was born on January 18, 1980 and just had a birthday. The twins were born on June 14, 1982 and would be 14 this year. All three kids are very close. The twins are best friends.
"Where should we go for lunch today?" asked Lexi.
"What about the food court?" asked Stephanie.
At the mall, the girls had lunch in the food court. They decided to have Papa Gino's. They shared a small pizza.
"I wonder what movie we would see," said Stephanie.
"How about Annie: A Royal Adventure? It just came out last week and it has been on top for the second week. It sounds like a great movie," said Lexi. "Ashley Johnson is very good. This is the sequel to 1982's Annie."
"Wow," said Stephanie.
"Yeah," said Lexi.
"I can't wait for it," said Stephanie.
"Me either," said Lexi.
"Have you told your mom about your father yet?" asked Stephanie who knew about what was going on.
"No because I'm afraid to make things worse. I don't know what I did to lose Dad's trust. It's not fair to me he doesn't pay attention to me, only to my siblings. At this rate, I don't think I want to visit him any longer. I rather go with you after school," said Lexi.
"I don't blame you for that," said Stephanie.
"I have a better relationship with my mother than Dad," said Lexi.
"I believe that," said Stephanie. "He used to treat you fairly before the divorce. I remembered he's been like that to you right after that. Have any of your siblings notice or say anything about it?"
"Yes, but they didn't do anything about it because they were worried to make things worse," replied Lexi.
"I still think they should speak up. It's not right at all," said Stephanie.
"I know," agreed Lexi. "I'm glad I still don't think of it during school to get good grades."
"Good," commented Stephanie.
"If I want to try to tell Dad on how I feel tomorrow after school, will you be there with me?" asked Lexi.
"Sure. I'll let my mom know tonight," said Stephanie.
"Thanks," said Lexi.
"And, your mom can bring me home when she picks you and your siblings after she gets out of work," said Stephanie.
"Sounds like a good idea to me," said Lexi. "I'm glad I had an abortion during this rough time."
"I know," agreed Stephanie.
Lexi has a great boyfriend, Luke. She was pregnant not long ago. She had a tough time making up her mind while she had issues with her father. She didn't want to raise a child. She also didn't want to do adoption in case her father gets upset with her about being pregnant and he could ban her from having a boyfriend for a long time. The only way she would've done that if she doesn't visit her father at all until after the baby is born and with adoptive couple. After a lot of thinking, Lexi felt it was better off to have an abortion to avoid all that. She didn't regret it and felt better. Lexi felt she was much young to be a mother.
Mrs. Cooper supported Lexi's decision to abort her unborn child for that reason. Mrs. Cooper agreed not to tell her ex. Lexi asked Stephanie, who supported her, to keep that decision between them, too- she didn't want anyone to know, especially her father. Stephanie didn't blame Lexi for that and promised not to say anything. She doesn't tell her family to keep her friend's trust. The only other person who knew about it was Luke because they talked about it together and knew why she made that choice. He also promised not to tell Mr. Cooper either.
After lunch, they went to see that movie. They both liked it. They talked about how good it was after the movie ended.
"That was good," said Stephanie.
"I know. I'm glad those men got caught towards the end," said Lexi.
"Especially the woman," said Stephanie.
"Exactly," said Lexi.
They went to a few stores. Stephanie came home just before dinner. She noticed her mom looked happy about something.
"What's going on? You look excited," said Stephanie.
"Yes. I'll wait until everyone's at the table to tell you all something," said Miranda, who's a RN at Kittery Nursing Center. "Dinner's ready anyway.
"Oh, okay," said Stephanie as she went to tell her brothers it was time for dinner.
When everyone sat at the table, Miranda said, "I have some news today. I got a job offer at a new nursing home that is opening this summer."
"Good for you," said Jimmy.
"Where?" asked Mark.
"It's in Vermont. I already took it," said Miranda.
Stephanie was stunned to hear it. "Are we going have to move there?"
"Yes. My boss selected me because I work hard enough," said her mom.
"I'm glad for you, dear," said Jimmy.
"Me, too, Mom," said Stephen.
"And, you just made this decision without us?" asked Stephanie who was getting upset.
"It's not until July," said Miranda.
"But Kittery is my home," said Stephanie.
"So, we'll be going there after you kids finish school for the summer," said Miranda.
"I don't care. I'm still not leaving. Excuse me, I'm losing my appetite," said Stephanie getting up to leave the table to her room.
"It would give us more time to put the house up for sale," said Jimmy.
"I think I'd do it next month," said Miranda.
"Good idea," agreed her husband.
"And, start house hunting in Randolph where the new nursing home is," said Miranda. "I'll do that while our house is on the market. Like I said, I plan to leave right after school ends for the summer so I can get settled in before I start my new job on July 1st."
"Okay," said Jimmy.
After dinner, Stephanie kept herself busy helping her brothers in the kitchen.
"I still can't believe we're moving," said Stephanie. "My whole life and Lexi here". "
"You can still see and stay in touch with her," said Mark. "Like me and Shawn."
Shawn was Mark's close friend since grade school. His family moved away to Florida for a better weather. They remain in touch.
"I haven't heard from him in a while," said Mark.
"Maybe he's been busy," said Stephen.
"That's what I'm thinking, too," said Mark.
"One on top of that, I had just met Alan last month and became close friends," said Stephanie.
"Um, wasn't he the one who was immature?" asked Stephen.
"It wasn't his fault though. You were absent back then," said Stephanie.
Stephen had a cold for a few days before Christmas Vacation. The twins share the same room. When one gets sick, the other one stays in Mark's room until they get better.
"Oh, yeah. I remember when he said hi to me at school," said Mark.
"I thought Dad was the one who forbid you from seeing him," said Stephen.
"But Mom didn't," said Mark.
"And, she was glad I cared about him," Stephanie pointed out.
Alan had a tough life. His father was abusive and his mom escaped from him taking Alan and his sister two weeks after Thanksgiving. He suffered depressed and acted immature. Not knowing what to do, Stephanie talked to her mom who gave her an advice on how to help him out. It paid off when she went to him and spoke to him because she and Lexi were concerned about him. It turned out he was just angry about what happened. She told him it's okay to feel that way and helped him realize it wasn't his fault. After that, he felt much better, which is how they became close ever since. But her dad still didn't want to see Alan. Her mom didn't know about that part.
After they finished cleaning up, they changed up and joined their parents to watch a movie.
"Oh, yeah, by the way, Lexi and I are going to hang out at her father's tomorrow after school," said Stephanie. "She's going to try to talk him on how she felt."
"Okay," said Miranda.
After that, they got ready for bed. The kids are in bed by 9:30 pm on school nights, but they're allowed to go to bed a bit later at 10:00 or 10:30 pm on weekends and school nights.
The twins go to Kittery Middle School for 7th grade and Mark is a 9th grader at Kittery High School.
The next day, at school, Stephanie met at Lexi's when they walk to school.
"I had news last night," said Stephanie. "Mom had a job offer at a new nursing home opening this summer."
"Wow," said Lexi.
"The only thing is that it's in Vermont," said Stephanie.
"What does that mean?" asked Lexi.
"We'll be moving there right after school ends for the summer," said Stephanie.
"Really?" asked Lexi. "I'd go crazy without you."
"Yes," said Stephanie. "Mark said we can still stay in touch."
"Good," said Lexi.
"I still don't want to leave Maine. I have plans to come back for college after high school. I don't know what career I would like to do yet," said Stephanie.
"I want to stay here for college. I want to be a teacher since I like kids. I'm good at watching my younger siblings. I would like to take a baby-sitting class to watch more kids. Mom said I can use that money for college or anything I want to save up for like a car," said Lexi.
At school, Stephanie said, "I already told Mom I'll be with you after school."
"Okay, good," said Lexi.
At school, Stephanie and Alan were ready to exchange their phone numbers, so that's what they did.
Later, after school, she went to the locker and went outside to meet Lexi.
"I love to walk, but Dad doesn't let me do that on my own," said Lexi.
"I remember. Did he think you'd take off with a stranger?" asked Stephanie.
"Probably, but I would never do that. He knows I'm not stupid. He and Mom taught me and my siblings that when we were younger. Plus, you and I always walk together anyway," said Lexi. "Mom trusts me when I walk alone or with you."
"Wow. He should know you're almost 14," said Stephanie.
"I know," said Lexi.
Lexi's birthday is March 17th. She's three months older than Stephanie.
When they arrived at Mr. Cooper's, the girls decided to do homework before talking to him.
"I'm nervous about this," said Lexi.
"You'll make out fine," said Stephanie.
"I'm glad I can count you, Steph," said Lexi.
"You know I would do the same thing when I need you," said Stephanie.
"Exactly," said Lexi.
After they completed their homework, they talked about what to say to Mr. Cooper.
"Are you ready now?" asked Stephanie.
"I think so," replied Lexi.
"Do you still need me or do you want to speak with him privately?" asked Stephanie.
"I rather have you with me by my side in case he gets worse," answered Lexi.
"Okay, let's go then," said Stephanie.
They came down as Lexi said, "Dad, may I talk to you about something?"
"Certainly. Let's go in the living room," said Mr. Cooper as they went there to sit on the couch. "What's up?"
He listened quietly while Lexi had a long talk with him on how she was feeling and added, "Even the others saw that. It's not right that you leave me out. Mom lets me walk on my own or with Steph. Why did you think I'd go with strangers? I would never do that since you both taught me and the rest that at an early age. It seems that you don't seem to trust for some reason. I've been trying to tell you, but you wouldn't listen. I'm almost 14. I miss that relationship we used to have."
Mr. Cooper realized his daughter was right and said, "I had no idea on how it bothered you. Now, I know when you came to me. I'm sorry about this. Do you forgive me? I promise it won't happen ever again."
Lexi smiled as she hugged him. She felt much better after talking to him. She's also lucky she had a good friend by her side. Stephanie was happy she gave Lexi advice on how to handle her father.
Later, Mrs. Cooper came to pick up the kids and left to bring Stephanie home before dinner. Lexi told her mom about telling her dad on how unhappy she was.
"Good. I'm surprised you never told me when your siblings told me what they have noticed," said Mrs. Cooper.
"I wanted to try to do it on my own first. I was nervous, but Steph helped me how to tell him. I asked her to be with me," explained her daughter.
"That's okay. I understand," said Mrs. Cooper.