WHEN I step out of my bedroom door, mother and father are waiting for me in the hallway.
The clothes I’m wearing feel uncomfortable. They’re grown-up clothes: rough-textured and of practical cut. Made to last for a long time.
“I go my own way,” I say softly. The words that every child utters at age ten – the words my brother will say after me today – don’t sound as if I’m sure of them. But I am, because I know this is right. I clear my throat and speak up. “I stand on my own two feet. No one takes care of me but me.”
Father nods solemnly. Mother looks pale and is staring down at her hands. Why won’t she look at me? Is this her way of saying she wants nothing more to do with me? I haven’t even moved out yet. Dull disappointment grows in my stomach like a heavy brick.
The door next to mine swings open, and Colin steps over the threshold. My twin brother. He’s wearing brown pants and a simple shirt. Slung across his shoulder is a bag containing a few possessions he doesn’t want to leave behind. Almost all of our things will be destroyed after our departure, our rooms cleared, so we won’t ever be tempted to return. Not that I would want to. I’m done here.
Colin coughs. “I go my own way,” he says with a quiver in his voice. His eyes search our mother’s. “I stand on my own two feet.” A tear rolls down his cheek. He’s having a hard time with this. Oh well – he’s the youngest, after all. There’s a half hour between us.
“No one takes care of you but you,” father finishes the speech, when Colin can’t go on.
When I pass my mother, she suddenly puts a hand on my shoulder. “Leia,” she says, pulling a simple bead necklace from her dress pocket. It has a painted and glazed walnut for a pendant. “For you.”
My heart skips a beat. That’s the necklace my mother got from her mother when she moved out. And now she’s giving it to me.
“Thanks,” I whisper. Just for a moment, I imagine her giving me so much more than this. I feel this can’t be the end, but just then my father pushes open the front door for us. I walk out after my brother, into the early daylight, away from my mother.
Colin is waiting for me and grabs my hand. “You coming?” he mumbles.
We walk down the path without looking back. We’re going to the manor, where we will live until we get married and have children ourselves.
The front door slams shut. A new life has begun.
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