Chapter 1: Welcome to Lucky Palms

Chapter 1: Welcome to Lucky Palms

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See that girl being laughed at? That’s me, Chelsea DoGooder. About a year ago I had everything, friends, family, a devoted boyfriend who I was completely in love with; I thought I was one of the lucky ones…

But then out of nowhere, my life took a sharp downturn. People who I thought were my friends started spreading hateful lies about me. They made going to school an ongoing battle, turning everyone against me. I thought the least my boyfriend, Kyle could have done was stand up for me, but he didn’t want to go against his friends.

Just when I thought things couldn’t have gone worse, death knocked on my family’s door. It took my little sister, Sheila. She was only eighteen months old.

I was so gullible to think that happiness could last forever, just as long as you remained positive. Thinking positive didn’t save my sister, it sure didn’t save the loyalty of my friends or my relationship. I must have done something terrible to deserve all of this, if not that, then life is truly unfair.

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All storms must end soon. After the rain cleared, my dad decided it was time for us to leave. He wanted to explore the world, see things that was far beyond out little town in Aurora Skies. I didn’t even tell my boyfriend goodbye, I just packed my bags and left. We traveled all over, Egypt, China, France, and Italy. The latter we spent a lot of time in, even staying with a family that lived in a town called Monte Vista. While there, my dad got a call from Keith Reid, an old friend of his that lived in Lucky Palms. The science facility he co-owned needed another botanist, and wondered if my dad was up for the job. Dad said yes of course, and now here we are in this great, big desert.

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“Home sweet home,” Dad said, smiling proudly up at our new house. To him, this was like starting all over again. He was happy to leave the past behind, if it meant that his family would be happy again. “So, what do you guys think?”

“It’s modern, I like it.” I said, my eyes poring over every detail; it’s clean, uncomplicated angles and pale stone walls; slices of sunlight alighted the many windows making them glimmer like diamonds.

I had forgotten how great it felt to own a real house, not one with wheels on it. Most of the time we were hitting the road in rented trailers; sometimes we would run into Dad’s old college buddies, and we’d stay a couple days with them before heading off again.

Mom looked like she was ready to combust from happiness, as her eyes took in our small yet lavish, suburban neighborhood. “I love it—I love it—I love it!” she said, planting a loud kiss on Dad’s cheek. “No more dirty motels and creepy hitchhikers.”

“Hey, not all the hitchhikers we met on the road were creepy,” Dad said, playfully looking affronted. “That one guy, Lenny, with the banjo was pretty nice.

“Please don’t remind me,” Mom rolled her eyes. “The next time you plan a trip like that, I’m calling in a therapist.”

Everything went tensely quiet.

“Theresa! Remember what we talked about.” Dad hissed, his eyes nervously flitting over to me.

“Oh, Chelsea. I’m so sorry. That was really poor word choice.”

“No, it’s fine. I’m not going to freak out just because you used the word “therapist”. A lot of people have them at some point, so what’s the big deal?” I said, trying to tamp down my anger.  They were always tiptoeing around me, as if at any moment I was going to fall apart. I know they are scared I might go through another episode, but their constant fear just makes things worse.

“There’s no big deal.” Mom said, shaking her head hastily, “Right, Dwayne?”

“No big deal at all.”

“Great, now if you don’t mind I’m going to unpack my things.” I said, trudging up the stairs with my suitcases.

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I was lounging around in my new bed, when a knock sounded at my door.

“Sunflower,” I heard Mom timidly call out, “may I come in?”

“Yeah, sure, why not.”

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Mom opened the door; she paused, looking around my room “It’s so bleak in here. How come you haven’t put up any of your paintings yet?”

“Is this what you came to talk me about?” I asked, raising a brow at her. I could tell by way she folded her arms that she was a lot more anxious then she let on.

“No,” Mom said, stepping farther into the room. “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry I haven’t been paying you any attention lately. Things have been so busy with all the traveling we’ve been doing. But I’m here now, and you can talk to me about anything.”

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“Is this what you came to talk me about?” I asked, raising a brow at her. I could tell by way she folded her arms that she was a lot more anxious then she let on.

“No,” Mom said, stepping farther into the room. “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry I haven’t been paying you any attention lately. Things have been so busy with all the traveling we’ve been doing. But I’m here now, and you can talk to me about anything.”

“Anything, huh? What if I wanted to talk about Sheila?” I asked bitterly; sitting up on the bed, I wrapped my arms around my knees, slightly rocking myself, to distract the anger that wanted to lash out.

The name of my dead sister made her hesitate, but only for a second; I suspect that she had prepared herself for this question. Normally she was tight lipped about the subject; she had thrown away all the photographs, and gave away all of Sheila’s clothes and furniture, it was like she was literally trying to wipe away every reminder of her. “If that’s what you need, then I will try.”

I gazed up at her in surprise, why was it that she was ready to start talking, and I wasn’t? Oh right, how could I have forgotten; it wasn’t mom that had a hand in Sheila’s death.  It was me, I’m the reason Sheila’s not here with us today.

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My parents had told me that she died from SIDS, but if that’s true why do I have these memories? I haven’t told them in fear that they would hate me. Maybe my mind’s just playing tricks on me, and I’m not a killer after all.

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Chelsea, you were a little quiet there for a minute. Is it the flashbacks again?” I heard my mom’s voice behind me; I don’t know how long she had been sitting there, watching me. Maybe she thought I was having another breakdown.

“If I say yes, will you promise not to freak out?”

“No, but we are going to have to start looking for another therapist while were here. We can’t have you blanking out like this.”

I sighed, getting up from the bed. “You see, this is why I can never tell you anything. You are always making things more complicated than it has to be.”

“Okay, fine, no therapist. At least tell me what you were seeing this time, so I can get an idea how bad it was.” She stared pleadingly at me, I wanted to confess right then, but my lips couldn’t form the right words.

“Was it the usual ones about your friends?”

“Yes,” I told her, looking away so that she wouldn’t see the truth in my eyes. “I wouldn’t call them my friends anymore. Not after what they did to me.”

“We should have filed charges,” Mom whispered, shaking her head bitterly. “I can’t understand why they did that to you. They used to come to our house all the time, I was friends with their parents!”

“There’s no point in analyzing it; they did what they did, and got away with it.” I said, getting up from my bed.

“Chelsea–”

“I need some fresh air.” Snatching my ipod off my dresser, I headed out the room before she could say anything else.

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After my talk with mom, I took my bike out to check out our new neighborhood. Pedaling up the steep roads, I perused the large signs overhead to see if there were any fresh produce stores nearby. I’ve been such a negative Nancy towards my parents lately, and thought getting a head start on the groceries would be a nice way to make it up to them.

Finally I found the Al Fresco Street Market.

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I bought my food supply from a vendor called Mr. Barnheart’s Fresh Eats. Mr. Barnheart was the kind of man that made you feel like family the moment you walked up to him. His granddaughter, Shy, was nice too, but very introverted.

After they finished bagging my items, I turned to leave, when suddenly I found myself colliding head first into a hard chest.

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Waves of humiliation crashed over me as the apples inside my bag toppled over onto the ground. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said, laughing nervously. “I can be such a klutz sometimes.”

“It happens to the best of us,” The boy said, bending down to help me retrieve the apples. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around before. Are you from Aurora Skies by any chance?”

“Yeah, just moved here today. How’d you know?”

“Well for starters, your accent was a dead giveaway.” He grinned, showing off a perfect row of pearly white teeth.

“I have an accent?” I asked laughing. “I never even noticed.”

He shrugged, “I probably have one too. So what’s your name anyway?”

“Chelsea DoGooder.”

“DoGooder…I like it. My name’s Kenley Wiseman, you’ll probably here that name a lot around here, but don’t believe the rumors.”

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Before I could ask what he meant, a scowling blonde appeared behind us. “Do you two mind hurrying it up, I have somewhere to be.”

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Actually, I was on line next.” Winking at me, Kenley stepped over to the counter. “Hmm, what should I buy? Apples or cucumbers? Decisions, decisions…”

I covered my mouth so the woman wouldn’t hear me guffawing like a crazy person.

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Somehow Kenley and I ended up walking around aimlessly around the market. The sun started to go down, and I knew I would have to leave soon, but I wanted to spend more time with this mysterious stranger.

“Have you decided on which school you would like to go to?” Kenley asked, he seemed to really enjoy asking me a lot of questions.

“I’m still deciding,” I said, struggling to keep up with his long strides.  “But my mom found this place on the internet called Brittlebush Academy. Ever heard of it?”

He laughed, shaking his head, “Trust me, you do not want to go there.”

“Why’s that?”

“I went there once and I was miserable the whole time. Plus, with a name like DoGooder, those kids over at Brittlebush would have eaten you alive.”

“So where do you supposed I go, oh wise one?” I asked, raising a brow at him.

You should ask your mom to send you to Balfour Academy, that’s where I go. It’s the only place I can’t get expelled from.” He said, smirking mischievously at the last part. I wonder what he meant by that.

“Thanks for the advice, but there’s no way I’ll be qualified to join either of those schools with my poor excuse for a transcript. I’ll probably just end up at some public school.”

“If I were you, I’d apply to Balfour anyway. Why not give fate a chance, it might just surprise you?” Suddenly, he stopped dead in his tracks. I followed his gaze to see what the fuss was about, and saw a group of teenagers staring at us.

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Hey Wiseman, where’d you go man? We’ve been looking all over for you.” A tall boy with dreads, called out. He was accompanied by two girls that looked like they should be on the cover of Vogue magazine.

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“Those your friends?” I asked, glancing over at Kenley. He looked very irritated for some reason.

“Yeah, we were supposed to go to a party later. You should come.”

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“Oh, I don’t know…” I said, trying not to sound as unsure as I felt. What if something went wrong, and he decided I wasn’t worth the effort anymore?

“Well, just in case you change your mind, here’s the address,” Grabbing my hand, he messily scrawled the address onto my palm.

“Kenley, come on!” The dark-haired girl whined, narrowing her eyes at us.

“Catch you later,” Kenley said, winking at me, before striding over to where his friends stood.

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“So…what do you think?” I asked my parents, twirling around and doing a little pose.

“You’re blocking the TV.” Dad said, waving me off.

“You look beautiful dear,’ Mom said, “but you know how I feel about make-up.”

“I know, but this nice boy I met at the street market invited me to a party, and I really want to impress him.”

Dad spluttered, finally snapping his gaze away from his favorite show, Animal Planet. “Party? Boys?”

“I said ‘boy’ dad.” I sighed, rolling my eyes.

“Either way you’re not going.”

“Mom?” I whined.

“I’m sorry, but I’m agreeing with your father on this.”

“But I used to go to parties all the time.”

“I know, but I think you need some time before you start going out again.”

I looked at the two of them, recognizing the frantic look on their faces. They were right, it was too soon. Since the recent tragedies in Aurora Skies, they have been caging me in like some kind of animal. I guess they feel like they’re being good parents by doing this. But hopefully, someday, I can get them to ease up on the overprotectiveness.

“Now I want you to head back to your room and wash that make-up off your face.” Mom said, trying to make her voice as stern as possible.

“Fine,” I grumbled, too tired to argue back.

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I let the water run down my checks, inhaling in its sweet scent.

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Maybe it was for the best that I didn’t go to the party.

I hardly knew that boy anyway.

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I don’t need any more disasters in my life.

Where I am right now is safe.

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Except for when I close my eyes, that’s when the real danger comes.

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