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Chapter Twenty

Brooke stayed up all of Sunday night. She couldn’t sleep on the bus. She watched her social network sites like a hawk, just in case Nick posted something bad. Once they got back to the studio that morning, Brooke went straight to her mother’s car. She went home and slept all day long. Still, nothing had been posted. Brooke drove herself crazy waiting for something to be posted or somebody to say something. Monday night, around seven, Abby came to the Hyland house.

Knock, knock, knock! Abby waited patiently outside the house. Randy came and opened the door, inviting Abby in. Josh and Paige laid on the floor of the living room floor, playing Guess Who. Paige said hello to Abby and Josh sat up and turned around.

“Mom, is Chloe coming?” He asked.

“No,” Kelly laughed. “Abby asked if we could talk, so I asked her to come over for dinner. You’ll see Chloe tomorrow at school,” Kelly laughed. “Paige, go get Brooke.”

Paige jumped up and walked over to the flight of stairs. Brooke was awake in her room. She was laying on her bed, staring out the window, waiting for the rain to fall. She could feel it coming, but mostly because she spent the whole day either sleeping or crying. Brooke’s mascara was smeared all of her face. Her hair was still in the nasty bun. She wore his ALDC sweat suit. She held onto a wallet sized picture of her and Nick. Brooke looked from the picture to the window as she heard her door squeal open.

“Brooke,” Paige said quietly, knowing how upset Brooke had been. Brooke hadn’t been that upset since her blowout with Brandon on the bus coming home from a competition.

Brooke rolled over, sniffing. Brooke was able to say, “Yeah?”

“Miss Abby is here for dinner. Mom invited her.” Paige said, sitting on the corner of the bed.

Brooke rolled back over and looked at Nick’s picture. Brooke sniffed again, “Okay. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

“Alright.” Paige said. She stood up and shoved her hands in her pockets. “And Brooke…” Brooke turned and looked at Paige. “I’m really sorry. About you and Nick, I mean.” Paige walked to the door. Before she shut the door behind her, she turned back around. Paige said, “I really liked Nick.”

Brooke rolled over and looked at his picture, “I really did too.”

Paige hesitated before she said, “Well, don’t be too long.”

Paige walked out of Brooke’s room but just far enough down the hall so she could hear if Brooke was going to cry again. And she did. Brooke cried as she got out of her bed. She sniffed back a few tears as she made her way to her mirror. She grabbed a face cloth out of a package she had of them. She cleaned the messy make up off of her pale cheeks. She brushed her hair out and put it in a nice pony tail. She changed into a white tank top and a pair of yoga pants with a pink, cheetah print, fold down band. She walked around her room, searching for her pink ‘Love Pink’ sweat shirt from Victoria’s Secret Pink selection. She shrugged and settled for her pink ALDC sweat shirt that had her name stoned in on the back. Brooke pulled her hair down again and put it up in a messy bun.

Brooke walked out of her room and down the stairs, making sure every single one of her steps couldn’t be heard. She had to impress Ms. Abby. About half way down the stairs, she gave up. She slumped forward and stomped her feet on the ground.

“Hello Brooke.” Abby said from her seat at the table.

“Hi,” Brooke faked a smile.

The family took their places around the table. They said a prayer and then began to eat. Randy made small talk with Abby. Paige and Josh whispered back and forth. Kelly stayed quiet, and Brooke just pushed her food around her plate. Brooke picked at her peas and mashed potatoes. She took bites of her steak, but didn’t eat much of it.

“Paige…Josh, will you two wash dishes tonight?” Kelly asked.

“That’s not fair!” Josh whined. “It’s Brooke’s week to do the dishes!”

Randy gave Josh a look. Brooke slammed her hand on the table and looked at him, “Please!”

“Fine,” Josh sighed, turning around and walking into the kitchen.

Once the water started running, Abby looked from Kelly to Brooke and back to Kelly and Randy. She folded her hands and set her arms on the table. Brooke hid her phone in her lap, underneath the table. She scrolled through her old messages with Nick. Kelly held her hand out for Brooke’s phone. She gladly locked it and then put it in her mother’s hand.

“So,” Abby said. “In the Olympics, starting at a really young age, kids go away and sleep at a training facility. They sleep there and they study there, but more importantly, they train there. I’ve been watching Brooke the last few weeks, and everything is coming together for her.” Abby motioned towards Brooke. “I really want her to come and stay with me and focus on dance. In order to keep dancing on the team she is, she will have to keep her grades up. There’s a home schooling facility just down the road, I could get her started there, and I think she would excel in it. And, Kelly, there will be no time for boys. You will see her at dance, you just won’t see her at night.”

Kelly looked at Randy, and Brooke stared at Abby.  Brooke slowly smiled. She looked at her mom and her dad. Paige eavesdropped on the conversation. No, Brooke can’t go live with Ms. Abby! She thought.

“Paige!” Josh threw a towel at her. “If I have to wash, you have to drive.”

“I’m the baby, Josh! I don’t have to do anything!” Paige shouts in a whisper, squatting by the door. “Now, shush, I’m trying to listen!”

Abby went on, “Now, I don’t expect you to come to your decision right now, but –“

“We’re okay with it if Brooke wants to do it.” Randy said. To Abby, it looked like Randy and Kelly communicated through their thoughts. “But, we do have a few questions.”

“Shoot,” Abby nodded.

“No,” Paige whispered. Josh threw another towel at her. Paige shot her brother a look and pressed her ear up against the door.

“So,” Kelly started, “Have any other kids from the studio done this?”

“Gianna did,” Abby nodded. “And a few of the kids, or…young adults… that have been on Broadway, were. They loved it, they thrived in it. She’ll be wonderful.”

“Home school,” Randy shook his head. “How does that work?”

“Well, this place, she only has to go two days a week. It’s mostly online. She’ll be assigned tests and she can take them whenever. It’s a completely free program and she won’t have any uniforms. She could go in her dancewear if she absolutely had to. And trust me, I’ve had students who had to go in their dancewear because of how hard they’ve been training.” Abby nodded.

Brooke smirked, she didn’t really want to dance all the time. She just wanted to get out of her house and out of her school. She didn’t want to see Brandon and she didn’t want to see any of her non-dance friends. She looked between both her parents. They continued to ask questions and figure everything out, but by eight o’clock, Brooke was up in her room, packing her stuff up.

Kelly cried and Randy was telling Paige and Josh what was about to happen. Brooke danced around her room, listening to One Direction’s ‘Live While We’re Young’. Abby made room in her car for Brooke’s bag. Kelly walked to the door way of Brooke’s room.

“I remember when you were a little baby,” Kelly wiped the tears away from her blue eyes. “And you would coo. And you would moan but you would never cry. You were such a good baby.”

“Better than Josh?” Brooke smiled.

“Oh gosh,” Kelly laughed. “And then before I knew it you were five years old and going off to kindergarten. And then sixth grade and you were in middle school. And then you won nationals. And just a few weeks ago you entered high school. I’m so proud of you, Brookie.”

“Mom,” Brooke said. “I’m not even going that far away. I’m a fifteen minute car ride away. You can text me or call me anytime. You’ll see me every day.”

“It’s just not the same,” Kelly shook her head. Brooke’s eyes started filling with tears. “I love you.”

“I know.” Brooke’s eyes pinched together as tears fell down her cheeks. Kelly hugged her daughter. “I love you too.”

About half an hour later, the Hyland’s were waving goodbye to Abby and Brooke. Kelly still in tears, Josh staying strong, and Randy holding Paige, who was bawling like the baby she claims to be. Abby smiled and pulled out of the driveway.

“Paige was pretty upset.” Abby said as they got started down the road.

“Yep.” Brooke said. “I hate to leave her there.”

“Once it clicks for her, she’ll be here too.” Abby said. “It always does.”

Brooke kept her gaze out the window. She watched the rain drops fall out of the sky and plop on the window. “I hope.” 

Submitted: October 03, 2012

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