The sun is shining through the window of our playroom. In a way that makes it look magical. The dust particles floating in the beams of light I imagine as fairy dust. I spin around in the light hoping to absorb some of the magic. I feel younger and happy.
“There. That looks right. What do you think? Earth to Savannah!” Said Kelsey.
I stopped spinning and felt a little dizzy. I stumbled over to our art table giggling. Kelsey laughed too. I almost fell off the chair as I sat down which made me laugh harder.
“Are you okay now?” Asked Kelsey.
“Blump,” I said and laughed harder.
Kelsey laughed. “You are the weirdest sister ever.”
When I got myself under control I looked at Kelsey’s picture. “Wow Kels! Is that..?”
“Yes. I figured out what was wrong and fixed it. Now it looks just like her.”
“It does. I never would have figured that out,” I said.
“Sure you would. You just have to take your time and study the details,” said Kelsey.
“I’ll never be as good as you,” I said sadly.
“Not if you go around talking like that. You can do whatever you want in life Savannah. If you want to be a great artist, you can be. You have to work at it though,” said Kelsey.
“Really truly,” said Kelsey.
“Can you show me how to make paper beads now? I want to make a necklace for me and Mom and you,” I said.
“What about Dad?”
I laughed. “You’re funny Kelsey.”
“Maybe we can make him a paper tie,” suggested Kelsey.
“Yeah, and paper underwear!” I said and laughed.
The walls moved apart and we walked into the park. We stood on the middle of the arched stone bridge over the pond. Leaning over the wall we tried to see the fish we knew were swimming around in there. A couple of ducks appeared from under the bridge quacking. We quacked back at them.
I stood up and looked at Kelsey. “I have to go,” she said.
“No! Kelsey stay!”
She hugged me and told me everything was okay. Tears were streaming down my face. She started to slowly move away from me as if she were on one of those moving sidewalks and my feet felt glued in place. I reached out for her but she was just beyond the tips of my fingers now. “Kelsey!” I yelled. She just smiled slightly and waved.
I sat up. I was in the dark and tears were streaming down my face. My eyes found the glowing green numbers on my alarm clock. It was 4:48 AM. I reached blindly for the tissues that I knew were on my night table. I grabbed a few and wiped the tears from my face. I curled up on my side still clutching the wadded tissues in my hand. I fell back to sleep.
Sunday morning I woke up around ten. Sunlight slipping in through the cracks in my blinds. I remembered my dream about Kelsey and felt a twinge of sadness. I decided I better get up. As I stood up something caught my attention. Draped over my desk chair was Kelsey’s navy blue dress with the sparkles.
“Oh my God!” I went over and touched it. It was real and it was Kelsey’s. The one I have been wanting to borrow. Was Kelsey really here last night? It had to have been a dream. “No, oh Kelsey. This was really nice but Mom will freak out if she knew I borrowed this. She will think I went into your room and took it. I have to put it back. I’m sorry Kels.”
There was a knock at my door. Oh man. The door opened and I held the dress behind me. Dad peeked in.
“Good you’re up,” he said. He stepped into my room.
I swallowed hard. Would he know it was Kelsey’s dress? Even if he didn’t and I ask Mom for a dress for the art fair Thursday, he might say, “What about that blue sparkly one you were holding on Sunday?” I couldn’t let him see it.
He was looking around my room. “Even though your room looks lived in right now it looks so much better. I’m proud of you for all the positive changes you’ve been making,”
“Thank you,” I said. “Is breakfast ready?”
“I believe it is almost ready. I just wanted to talk with you about something,” he said. He was looking my way but not at me. “Oh good, I see you found it.”
“Found what?” I asked.
“The dress, behind you there,” he said.
“How did you see this?” I asked. I brought it in front of me.
“I saw the reflection in the mirror. Will it fit?”
I held it up in front of me. “I’m pretty sure it will,” I said slowly.
“It looks beautiful,” said Dad.
“You know this was Kelsey’s, right?”
“Yes. I’m sure she would be happy to let you have it.” Dad said. He had a thoughtful smile on his face.
“I’m confused. How did you know this dress was here and won’t Mom freak out?”
“No, Mom won’t freak out. I talked with her about it first. She said I could give it to you,” said Dad.
“Dad, how did you know I wanted this dress? I’m freaking out here. I thought Kelsey gave it to me last night.”
“What? How could you think that?” Said Dad.
“I know it’s crazy but I feel like she’s with me sometimes. I talk to her. I had a dream about her last night. Then I woke up and found the dress. I’ve told her a few times that I wish I could borrow it.”
“Savannah,” Dad said. He sat on my bed and motioned for me to sit next to him. I sat down still holding the dress. “I understand and I don’t think you’re crazy. The fact is that I talk to her too.”
“You do?”
“Yes. I know you go into her room and talk with her,” said Dad.
“Oh no! Does Mom know?” I asked feeling complete panic.
“No, she doesn’t know. It’s our little secret. In fact I have a secret too. I often go into Kelsey’s room when I can’t sleep late at night. I find it comforting. I feel a bit closer to her. About a few weeks after we first lost Kelsey, I woke up during the night. I was going to go downstairs but I heard crying in her room. I peeked in and saw you curled up on her bed. You were talking to her. Telling her how much we all missed her,” Dad explained. He got a little choked up. I put my hand on his arm. “I quietly closed her door and left you alone to say what you needed too. That gave me the idea to talk about my feelings when I would spend some time in there on sleepless nights. It really helped. Then one night a couple weeks ago I was in there when I heard your door open. It sounded like you were heading to Kelsey’s room. So I hid in the closet. I know how silly it sounds to have your Dad hiding so you won’t catch him in a room he shouldn’t be in. I didn’t want you to feel caught sneaking in there and be afraid to go in. I think it is very therapeutic for both of us. The part I regret, is hearing what you talked about. It wasn’t for me to hear. It broke my heart that you wanted to borrow her dress for your art show. Since you both love art and it would be like having her there with you. But you felt you couldn’t ask. So I pretended to accidentally come across a picture of Kelsey in that dress. I showed it to your Mom. Then I happened to mention how pretty you would look in that dress and how perfect it would be for your art fair. Luckily your Mom agreed.”
“Dad, I love you!” I said. I gave him a big hug. We both had tears in our eyes. As I let go I apologized for the tear stains I left on his shirt. He didn’t mind at all.
“Do you think Kelsey hears us? I mean, she sometimes leaves things for me to find. Like that flower.” I pointed to my mirror. “Plus sometimes I hear noises in her room at night. One time I know it wasn’t you because I heard you come out of your room to check on it and me.”
“So, you were awake you little faker,” Dad said. He smiled at me. “It was windy that night and a branch was hitting the window in Kelsey’s room. That’s why I trimmed it the next day. Whether or not she hears us, I don’t really know sweetie. I must admit I sometimes look at things in her room, pick them up and don’t always remember to put them back in the right place.”
“Oh. Well that’s okay. I choose to believe she hears me though,” I said. “You really should put things back where they belong. I’m always very careful about that. I don’t want you getting me in trouble for your carelessness. I also wipe my finger prints off the doorknob. You should consider doing the same.”
“I don’t know whether I should be very afraid or proud,” Dad said.
“Be proud and take notes,” I said.
Dad laughed. “Let’s go have some breakfast.”
I brought my painting in to school the morning of the art fair. I had it carefully wrapped so no one could see it. I wanted it to be a surprise. Zoey came in just when I was about to leave.
She had a long rectangular canvas. She painted it all black. Then there were the most beautiful gold and white flowers in an ornate vase.
“Wow Zoey! This is gorgeous,” I said.
“Thank you. Can I see yours?” Zoey asked.
“I’m keeping it a surprise. Even from my family,” I said. “But I will let you be the first to see it.”
I unraveled the dark material around it and let her see.
“Oh Savannah, it’s beautiful,” Zoey said. “Are those water lilies?”
“Thank you. Yes my sister loved them.” I covered it up quickly before anyone else came in. I told her more about my painting and how my sister helped me make it perfect in a dream.
“Whoa, that has to be Sawyers,” said Zoey. We looked at the tag and it was. He made this awesome diorama of a different world. He obviously painted the whole thing and all the figurines. It was very impressive.
“Ben! Let us see what you did,” I said as Ben walked in with a big poster board.
Zoey came right over to see it too. Ben asked, “Are you two ready to be blown away?”
“Yup,” said Zoey.
Ben turned it around. It was an incredible scene of a super hero flying in between two buildings. You could see all the little cars and people on the street below. The perspective was perfect.
“That is so awesome Ben!” I said.
“I’m very impressed,” said Zoey.
“Thank you!” Ben said. He had a big smile on his face. A few other students came in with their art pieces.
We all looked around a bit. There were all kinds of paintings, water color, spray paint, acrylic, and oil. There were sketches, painted pottery, paper mache, and all kinds of cool art pieces to look at. Someone even entered a stain glass window. There are more talented artists at our school than I would have guessed.
A teacher came in and scooted everyone out. I was so excited for tonight. I couldn’t wait for my parents to see my painting.
I walked into the kitchen in Kelsey’s dress. My Dad noticed me first.
“You look beautiful sweetie,” Dad said,
“Oh my, look at you,” My Mom said. “You were right Darling she does look beautiful in this dress,”
My Mom hugged me.
“Now let’s hurry,” I said. “I have to be there early to greet everyone.”
“Wait, one second here,” Dad said opening the fridge,
“Dad you can eat after,” I said.
“Well I wasn’t going to eat this,” Dad said.
He opened up a clear container to show me a beautiful white rose wrist corsage. He took it out and looked at me. “May I see your hand, please?”
“For me?”
Dad slipped it onto my wrist. “It’s beautiful, thank you,” I said.
“You’re welcome. Now come on let’s get you to the art fair.” Dad said.
Dad walked me into the gym. It looked so nice. There was art everywhere, streamers hanging from the ceiling, and a long table offering baked goods and drinks to the side. My Mom had volunteered to help with refreshments.
Braeden walked over to me. He was dressed really nice surprisingly, and he didn’t have his hat on for once.
“Wow you look hot,” he said.
My eyes went wide and I nodded my head towards my Dad next to me.
“Oh, I mean cool. You look cool. Yeah, I’m hot. That is to say the room is hot. It’s hot in here right?” Braeden stammered.
I tried not to laugh. “Braeden, this is my Dad Mr. Hoffman. Dad this is my friend Braeden, who likes to put his foot in his mouth.”
My Dad extended his right hand to Braeden. “It’s nice to meet you Braeden.”
Braeden shook Dad’s hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you too sir.”
Dad leaned closer to me and said,”He’s got a nice firm grip. Well I will let you two get ready to greet and I will go check out the refreshments.”
“So, can I see your art display?” I asked.
“Yeah, sure,” Braeden said. He led me over to the far wall where all the eighth grade entries were.
He pointed to a painting of a skate boarder sliding down a railing over stairs. It reminded me a little bit of the Leroy Neiman paintings. It was really good.
He confessed he had already looked at mine and thought it was amazing. That made me feel really good.
We walked over to Mrs. Dunley who was handing Tyler and Zoey a stack of programs to hand out.
“Zoey, I love your skirt,” I said.
“Thank you. That dress is so pretty on you,” she said.
“Braeden and Savannah, here are some programs for each of you. I want you each to stand by one of the doors outside the gym so you can hand a program to everyone that enters.” Said Mrs. Dunley.
As we walked over to the doors Sawyer and Ben passed us to get some programs.
We were all ready when students and families started coming in. It was pretty exciting.

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