“‘My WHOLE world is about to FALL APART!!! And on my BIRTHDAY!’ Grace screamed, got up from the table, stormed down the hallway and into her bedroom.”
Grace Cook and her sisters, Sadie and Ellie Cook had been best friends since the day that Grace had been born. They didn’t really fight. Even though Ellie was ten years older than Grace and Sadie was five years older, the trio acted in unison. But all of that was about to change on October 1st, 2010.
Grace left for school at 6:30 to catch the bus. She ran across the street with her long red pigtails whipping in the wind. She got on the bus and her friend Alyssa called out from the backseat: “Gracie, Happy Birthday!!! You’re finally ten!!”
“Thanks! And you know that you only turned ten, 21 days, 3 hours and 2 minutes ago, Alyssa.” Grace slid into the seat next to Alyssa, next to the window.
“That’s still 21 days, 3 hours, and 2 minutes ago!” Alyssa bragged.
Grace sat the rest of the bus ride listening to Alyssa talk excitedly about the six-person sleepover Grace managed to talk her mom into doing. Grace sat very quietly and stiller than a trash can when no one is in the room. She looked out the window and wished that Ellie and Sadie were here. Her favorite part of her birthday was going to be the secret feast that she was going to have with Ellie and Sadie at midnight. They had done this when Sadie turned ten. Grace couldn’t remember what they had done when Ellie had turned ten because she had just been born two months ago. The sleepover wasn’t it. It hadn’t been hard to get. She had just asked for The Feast. Ellie, Sadie, and Grace would be breaking a couple of rules. a) They weren’t supposed to be up at 12:00 b) No food was allowed in Grace’s room and c) There was no c.
“Grace!!! We’re at school!” Alyssa shouted, shaking Grace’s arm.
They got off the bus and Alyssa skipped off to find their friends, Ela and Chloë Ledger, her strawberry blond hair bouncing back off her shoulders each time she took a skip. Grace ran after her, flying like the wind. She had been told that she was as graceful as wind when she ran. She flew to the school steps and sat down. She was feeling really lonely and wished that she could go to middle school with Sadie. Even if she still had few friends, at least she would be with her loving and kind older sister.
“I hope that the birthday girl doesn’t plan on sitting on the steps for the whole day,” a voice said over Grace. Grace looked up into the smiling face of Chloë Ledger, “Mind if I sit with you?” Grace shook her head. Chloë sat down and looked straight into Grace’s purplish-blue eyes and Grace stared right back into Chloë’s sea-blue eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Chloë asked.
“Oh, nothing.” Grace sighed and dropped her gaze from Chloë. “Where’s Ela?”
Ela was Grace’s best friend from first grade. That was when she had also became good friends with Matilda. Even though Chloë was Ela’s twin, she had only became good friends with her in 3rd grade, same with Alyssa.
“Ela’s inside. It’s almost 8:15. We should get inside as well.”
Chloë stood up. Grace got up too and as they walked in their school doors, Chloë took Grace’s hand.
“lt will be okay,” Chloë whispered into her ear.
They ran to the door and were sitting down at their wooden desks when the morning bell rang and their teacher, Ms. Kate walked in with a clip clack of her gold high heel shoes. She walked to the front of the room, sat down at her polished white desk, and turned to face the class.
“Good morning, ladies,” Ms. Kate said, and started the longgggest school day of school in Grace’s life.
Seven hours later (only it felt like seven hundred hours to Grace) Grace walked out of Elm Elementary and searched for their car that was going to pick Grace up.
“Over here, Gracie!!”
Grace whirled around and saw her sister Ellie standing by their Green Subaru.
“Ellie!!” Grace shouted, and ran into Ellie’s arms. Ellie laughed and ran a hand over Grace’s red pigtails. Grace looked up into Ellie’s warm brown eyes, and the loneliness melted away inside of her.
“How are you, Ellie?” Grace asked.
“How am I? How is the Birthday girl?” Ellie asked.
“Hop, in the car, kiddo.” Grace got in the car and buckled herself into the seat. Ellie put the key in the keyhole, pressed the pedal, and the sisters set of home.
At 7:30 in Grace’s apartment, Grace and her Family were eating 3-Cheese Mac-and-Cheese (Grace’s all-time favorite meal) and were having a nice conversation when Grace’s Mom, Sara, asked the question that would change Grace’s life forever.
“Did you get a letter yet, Ellie?” Sara asked Ellie. Grace looked at Ellie for an answer.
“What letter? Tell me, Ellie!” Grace demanded, looking Ellie straight in the eye. Ellie wouldn’t meet Grace’s eyes.
“Um, well, Gracie, I have to go to college and, well, I applied to Harvard, and umm, err, I got accepted there,” Ellie mumbled, looking down at the marble table. Grace stared at her sister in horror.
“You got accepted at Harvard!” Sara and Grace’s Father, Leo exclaimed, “That’s great news, Ellie!”
“No it ISN’T!!” Grace screamed, “How will I SURVIVE without my older sister???!!”
“I think you’ll manage,” Leo said. Leo didn’t understand Grace’s friendship with her oldest sister.
“Well, I just got an email from Boston School of Arts,” Sara said, “And they want to take you in. It would mean that you would move to Boston with Ellie.”
“Oh, Yes!” Grace cried out, “Thank you-”
Grace stopped and saw that Sara had been looking at Sadie. The email had been about Sadie not Grace. Sadie looked at her sister. She really wanted to take the spot but she knew that Grace would never be able to handle it. She would fall apart. She felt like she should be there for Grace. But on the other hand, not everything could revolve around her little sister. And being an artist was Sadie’s dream.
“I don’t know,” Sadie said.
“Come on, Sadie,” Ellie pleaded, “We would have so much fun! Boston wouldn’t be the same without you.”
“Maybe…” Sadie shrugged.
“My WHOLE world is about to FALL APART!!! And on my BIRTHDAY!” Grace screamed, got up from the table, stormed down the hallway and into her bedroom.
She got onto her warm bed and began to cry. Grace lay down on her back and looked up at her ceiling which was black had all of the constellations painted on it in gold. The rest of walls were royal blue. Grace got out her pillowcase (where she hid her diary), pulled out her diary, turned to a page, pulled out her favorite flow pen (red), and begin to write.
My world may be about to end.
The next thing Grace knew, she was being shaken awake.
“Gracie Bear, get up!” Leo started to tickle Grace and her eyes flew open.
“Dad!” Grace groaned.
“Kiddo, you got to run! The bus comes in 20 minutes!” Leo said, pushing Grace around. Grace jumped up, very awake, and ran down to breakfast. 20 minutes later, Grace was once again running to meet the bus. She got on and thanked the bus driver for waiting for her (again).
“No problem, kid,” the bus driver said.
“Grace! Over here!” Alyssa shouted from the middle of the bus. Grace made her way towards her.
“Slept in?” Alyssa ask, “For the first time in forever?”
Grace grinned and said, “Yep. For the first time in forever.” Grace sat down next to Alyssa and said “Ready for school?”
“Ready to Fly.” Alyssa and Grace shared a secret smile.
They were doing their secret pumper-upper. Grace looked away from Alyssa, out the window. She then remembered what she had been thinking the morning before. The secret Feast! They had never done it last night. Grace felt hurt. They had done something for Sadie but not for her? Of course, Grace had noticed how close Ellie and Sadie were. They shared a room. They most likely had billions of whispered talks after they turned out the light and Grace could never know what they were about. They had forgotten. That was it. It was the most that they had ever hurt Grace. She felt like crying. Soon they might be living in Boston together for 4 years. Grace knew that Sadie wanted to take the spot at Boston School of Art. What if their friendship fell apart? Grace thought it might. Sadie and Ellie had been distant for a while. Suddenly, the bus jerked to to a stop in front of Grace’s school. Grace got off and found herself head to head with Chloë Ledger.
“Chloë,” Grace said, looking into Chloë’s trusting eyes, “I’m about to be an only child. My world is about to end.”
One month later Grace and her family were at Elm Tree Airport, so they could tell Ellie and Sadie (who had decided to take the spot) goodbye before they flew to Boston for 4 years. They had rented a little house near Harvard and was also close to the Boston School of Arts. Grace was heartbroken but she tried to put on a brave face as she hugged Ellie and Sadie goodbye. She was going to miss them more than they could imagine.
“Plane 3444 Boarding now. Please report to gate 5 if you are on plane 3444,” said a woman’s voice over the speakers. She sounded bored like she couldn’t believe that all she had to do was say the number of the planes and their gates all day.
“That’s our plane, Sadie,” Ellie said. “It’s showtime.” Sadie and Ellie gave everyone one more big last hug and took off running towards gate 5. Grace kept her eyes on them until they were out of sight.
“Gracie Bear,” Leo said, “We need to go back home.” Leo gently stirred Grace back to the car and drove home. When Grace got home her mom said:
“Grace, would you like me to make you some cookies?” Grace knew that cookies wouldn’t help the space left by Ellie and Sadie but cookies are never something that you want to miss on.
“Sure,” Grace said sadly. She ate the cookies wishing that she had been eating them with Ellie and Sadie at the Feast they had promised but had never happened
The next day at school, Grace felt even more lost than before. The gap left by her sisters was bigger than before. She spotted her friend Ela standing by the biggest elm tree in the schoolyard. She walked up to her, planning on telling her how she was feeling and hoping that Ela could help her.
“Hey Ela,” Grace said.
“Grace!” Ela cried and threw her arms around her.
Grace pushed Ela’s arms away and said, “I have a problem.”
“What is it?” Ela asked. “You know you can always tell me everything.”
“Well, it’s about my sisters,” Grace muttered looking down.
“Oh no! Not about them again! You know you’re supposed to fight with them sometimes in your life, Grace. You’re like the perfect family on a reality show!” Ela practically shouted.
Grace looked hurt and walked away. She thought that she could tell Ela anything, but that was obviously not the case. She knew that her friends thought that she and her family were perfect because they didn’t fight. Obviously, they didn’t know that Ellie and Sadie had completely ditched her.
“Hey girl,” Matilda said, walking up to Grace. Grace jumped in surprise. She hadn’t seen Matilda lurking right nearby.
“I hate to tell you this, but it’s true. You are like the perfect family on a reality show, Grace,” Matilda said sadly.
Grace shouted, “Oh no, not you too! I am not the perfect family! You don’t know the half of it! Ellie and Sadie just completely ditched me! They left for Boston for the next four years to have tons of fun without me!” Matilda looked doubtful. “It’s true!” Grace screamed and stomped away.
She stomped off to the school steps where she had sat just one month and a day ago. She couldn’t believe that one month ago she was worried about missing Sadie and Ellie for an entire day. Now she was worried about missing them for four entire years!
Just then, the bell rang. Grace ignored it, though. She put her head in her hands and started to cry into them. Her sisters had only been gone for a full day, and already she was missing them like they’d been gone for five years.
The school door opened and Ms. Kate came clickity-clacking out. “Grace,” she said. “Where have you been?”
Grace fiddled with her hands and nervously looked up at her teacher. “Okay, I’m coming inside, I’m coming inside.”
Grace had many days like that. She got through a month of school with her grades keeping up and keeping herself together. But one day, Grace completely fell apart. Her grades started to go down. First Bs, than Cs, then Ds. She couldn’t take her report cards home. She threw them out in the trash. She cried herself to sleep every night. And worst of all, her parents barely paid any attention to her. They didn’t do anything to make it better or worse. One day before school, Grace completely fell apart. She sat down with her back against a tree. She put her head in her hands. She felt someone slide down next to her. She looked beside her. It was Chloë.
“Grace,” she said sternly. “I know nothing’s okay right now.”
“Well, I miss my sisters,” Grace sighed.
“I know,” Chloë said gently. Grace looked up in surprise. Whenever she tried to talk to someone, they shouted at her, screamed, or said she wasn’t even trying to get through it. But Chloë’s behavior was different.
“What if I become your replacement sister?” Chloë asked. “It might help you get through your situation.”
Grace brightened immediately. “You would do that for me?”
“Of course I would!” Chloë said, smiling as bright as the moon.
From then on, Chloë and Grace became best friends. They had sleepovers every weekend. Chloë stuck with Grace whatever Grace was going though and Grace did the same for Chloë. The two acted like sisters. Grace’s world was put together again. Chloë helped Grace get though missing her sister and little by little Grace got used to Ellie and Sadie not being at her house. Chloë saved Grace from falling apart. She stitched Grace’s world back together. Chloë was Grace’s Saving Grace.
4 years later
“See you later!” Grace called over to Chloë.
“The sleepover still on?’ Chloë asked.
“You bet!” Grace said, looking over her shoulder as she got on her bus, M 91910. She sat down on a seat and pulled out her copy of the Iliad. She had just started to love poetry when she turned 14. Her mother had given her Homer’s poems and she loved them.
She thought back to four years ago when Ellie and Sadie had first left. She had been a wreck. She couldn’t handle not having them around. Now? It was better. She still saw them over summer break and spring break but their relationship was strained. They also seemed to be giggling to each other or they seemed to know something about Grace that she didn’t know. They texted their friends in Boston a lot. They stilled played with Grace but she knew that they were growing up and didn’t really want to play anymore. But they still had fun. They would talk and have fun hanging out with Grace. Once they left; it was always hard for Grace. But then she would get over it. All because of Chloë. They were still best friends today. Grace was still friends with Ela and Matilda but she thought they were shallow and silly. Alyssa had moved to India to help her mom and aunts out with their grandpa, who was king of India.
She even now had a little sister, Maddy Cook! Maddy had brown hair and brown eyes. She was the light of Grace’s past 2 years. Grace made a friendship with Maddy, just like her one with Ellie and Sadie.
Grace realized that it was her stop and got of the bus. Two people were waiting there for her. One was taller and the one next to her was smaller. They both had fire red hair and kind, warm brown eyes. They looked familiar.
“Hey, Gracie,” one said.
“Ellie!” Grace exclaimed and flew into her arms.