I hesitated to put my journal into the suitcase. It was the last item I needed to pack, which meant that once I put it in the bag, I would be ready to go.
I closed my eyes and sighed. With all the girls running around the house, laughing, playing games, fighting, and just being a family, it was the closet thing to a home.
And I loved it.
Stalling even more, I sat down on the edge of my bed and opened my journal. I’d had it for a year, but hadn’t started writing in it until I came here. Although I had still practiced my singing all the time, preparing for my show in New York, I’d found time to do something like writing. My life here hadn’t been very busy.
Finally, I slipped sunglasses in my hair and finished packing my stuff, knowing that if I didn’t hurry up, I’d miss my flight.
I heard footsteps, and then Tracy came into the room, with two of the dogs, Chocolate Chip and Rembrandt, at her heels. She was the first person I had seen all morning. When I woke up, I had found the others beds strangely empty.
“Hey, Sis!” she called. “Need some help?”
“Sis” was her pet name for me, and my pet name for her. She was my best friend, other than Sylvie in Paris and Maddy and Ella in Texas.
“Yeah,” I said as she came over to my bed. I grabbed two suitcases, and Tracy picked up the box with my violin stuff inside.
I followed Tracy and the dogs out of the dollhouse, up a human-sized flight of stairs, and down a hallway to a huge door that led out of Loren’s house.
In front of the door, all the other girls stood in formation.
“Surprise!” they yelled.
I was so startled that I dropped my suitcases.
Tracy joined the group next to Caroline. “We — well, actually, Isabelle and Savannah, but we all thought it was a great idea, so we helped — wanted to get you something to remember us by.”
The girls started humming and swinging their arms, side stepping until I could see Savannah and Isabelle, a gift bag at their feet.
I walked through the middle of my friends, stopping in front of Izzy and Ana.
“I-I don’t know what to say,” I breathed.
” ‘Thank you’ works fine,” Tracy piped up.
“OK, thank you!”
Isabelle handed me the gift bag.
I plopped down on the floor to open it, and the other girls sat, too.
Purple tissue paper went flying as I rifled through the bag, searching for the presents. When I pulled them out, I discovered a pen and five colorful hair elastics.
“Thank you!” I exclaimed. “I love them.”
The limo in the driveway started honking, so I unwillingly started the good byes.
I wrapped Tracy up in a hug and whispered into her ear, “Don’t worry, Sis. This isn’t the last time I see you.”
After I’d hugged everyone, I left the house. My driver had taken my luggage already, so I didn’t have to carry anything.
Isabelle ran outside and caught me on the porch. Hand on my arm, tears in her hazel eyes, she asked, “Is this really good bye?”
I wrapped my arms around and replied softly, “No, Isabelle. I’ll come back. I promise.”