Those Who Showed Me the Way

Submitted for Contest #74 in response to: Write a story in the form of a top-ten list.... view prompt

Dec 30, 2020

Inspirational Fiction Friendship

๐“๐ž๐ง


My best friend, Emilia, taught me to always stay true to myself.


I met her on the first day of first grade, in the bustling highlighter-yellow hallway outside our classroom. Our backpack hooks were adjacent to each other, each with a laminated frog sticker above it displaying our names.


The rest of my classmates stood in a circle around her, giggling and staring at her without attempting to make their teasing discrete. After a few moments of confusion, I realized they were laughing at the pair of wire cat ears she wore on her head. By this age, it was agreed upon that wearing childish hats was ridiculous. And, in addition, it was mainly agreed upon that dogs were superior to cats.


I expected to find her hurt by their judgments. I expected her to take the ears off and shove them into the bottom of her kitten-shaped backpack, never to be seen again. Instead, she kept her head held high, unfazed by their teasing. I admired that their opinions meant nothing to her.


The next day I wore a matching pair of ears to school, the smile I shared with her was worth it.



๐๐ข๐ง๐ž


Old Mr. Terrell, who always played his saxophone on the corner of the street, taught me about the power of music.ย 


Every time I walked past him on my way from school to the library, I would pause on the sidewalk to listen to his music for a little while. Every time I stopped, I told myself I would only stay for one song, but I ended up standing mesmerized in the scorching sun for much longer than I would have expected.ย 


His music drew me in, pulling a string tied around my heart. When I absorbed the notes flowing out of the instrument, I felt what he felt. Every time an upbeat tune skipped out of the bell of his saxophone, my whole body felt a little lighter. I felt the desire to dance to the music until the streets were dark and the moon was high in the sky.


And when he played the blues, I felt my eyes well up and it became hard to swallow. I felt the pain of a thousand different people who had suffered through a thousand different lifetimes.ย 


When I first heard him play, I remember being amazed that only one song could make me feel that much. To this day, Iโ€™ll never forget the way music can tell a story that changes oneโ€™s life.



๐„๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ


Terry, Emiliaโ€™s little brother, taught me that even the smallest actions make a big difference.


One fall day, when the three of us were walking home from school, he saved lives. The night before the sky had dumped its sorrows upon us, making the ground the consistency of soggy bread. Slimy, pink worms were wiggling their way across the sidewalk every few feet.ย 


Each time we came across one, he would carry it across the concrete and set it in the grass on the other side. He never once flinched, even as they squirmed and flipped inside his cupped hands.ย 


I remember asking him why he took the time to save each one. I reminded him that there were thousands of other streets just like this one, with thousands of other worms that wouldnโ€™t be saved. I told him no matter how hard he tried, he would never be able to save enough to make a difference in the big picture.


What he told me in reply was simple, but Iโ€™ll remember the words for the rest of my life.ย 

โ€œIt did make a difference,โ€ he told me, โ€œIt made all the difference in the world to each of those worms.โ€


Since then, I have picked up every tiny bug I ever found on the sidewalk and taken it safely to the other side.



๐’๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ง


Ms. Lucinda, my english language arts teacher, taught me that words can change the world.


When I was in sixth grade, reading was by far my favorite subject. The entire day I looked forward to her class, where we would curl up in gigantic bean bag chairs while she read us tales of majestic worlds so different from our own.


I was always a restless student, the kind that believed subjects werenโ€™t worth learning if they wouldnโ€™t help me get a job later on in life. I never saw the point of history, it seemed useless to learn about things that had already happened. My goal in science was to memorize the answers and ace the test, not to learn the topic. It seemed pointless as well, unless you were planning on being some sort of biologist.


Ms. Lucinda made me see the point in everything she taught us. She made me crave learning. She made me believe that words won out over weapons.


In her class, I learned that my voice was the most powerful thing in the world.



๐’๐ข๐ฑ


Mr. Lofton, who owns the candy store down the street from my house, taught me that generosity pays off.


After my mother lost her job, money was tight around the house. Everything was the bare commodities; simple clothes and simple food. It had been months since I was treated to the luxury of candy.


When I passed by his shop after school, the smell of freshly baked cookies was wafting out onto the street. I peered in the frosty window, clearing a spot in the fog with my fingers so I could see inside. Rows and rows of all kinds of candy were on every shelf and table in the room.


I pushed open the shop door, setting off the bell hanging from the top. I decided I would only look around, I didnโ€™t have enough money to spare to be able to buy anything. But by the third time I spotted something so delicious looking, the disappointment started sinking in.


Mr. Lofton, a tall, bearded man that wore colorful tophats wherever he went, made his way over to me from the front counter. He set one humongous hand on my shoulder, taking in the way I stared at the candy wishfully.ย 


โ€œIโ€™ll tell you what,โ€ he said, his voice deep and gentle, โ€œYou pick one thing from here to take home.โ€


โ€œIโ€™m sorry sir, Iโ€™m just looking,โ€ I told him, dipping my head down to study the floorboard intently.


โ€œJust this one time,โ€ he replied, โ€œYou donโ€™t have to pay, I have plenty.โ€


โ€œWhy?โ€ I asked. I probably should have accepted the gesture and thanked him, but my curiosity overcame me. I didnโ€™t understand why a complete stranger would offer me sweets when I had nothing to give him in return.


โ€œItโ€™s a small price to pay to see you happy,โ€ he said simply.


To this day, Iโ€™ll always appreciate the small act of kindness he showed me.ย 


Nothing ever tasted sweeter.



๐…๐ข๐ฏ๐ž


My Irish Terrier puppy, Apollo, taught me to be reliable.


Whenever I had a bad day, whenever nothing seemed to go my way, I knew that I could come home and bury my face deep in his wiry fur. He always listened when I talked to him, perking his ears up and staring intently at me with his large eyes.


After I had a long day, and was utterly exhausted, he sat in my lap and licked my face. I laughed as he barked, his breath smelling like peanut butter. I drew strength from him.


I could always count on him to be there for me.



๐…๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ


Caroline, from my track team, taught me that the things I was most afraid of were the things most worth doing.


We both loved sprinting as fast as possible, our feet scrambling to keep up with the wind in our hair. We loved running because it brought out the adventurous parts of us. When we ran, we forgot about the past and the future, letting us focus only on the present.


Caroline wasnโ€™t only daring when she ran, though, she lived her life just as boldly. Every new day, she made it her goal to try one thing she had never done before. She packed one day with more new experiences than some people have in a whole lifetime.


When I was with her, I truly lived through every moment.



๐“๐ก๐ซ๐ž๐ž


Lea, my three year old cousin, taught me to believe in the impossible.


When summer days started getting a little cooler, and fall started to creep up on us, my family went camping in the mountains. We set up our tents in a small clearing where we could see miles in every direction.ย 


The first night of the trip, Lea and I decided to lay out our sleeping bags in a pile of soft leaves. That night, we decided to sleep under the stars, with the full moon shining down on us.


The sky was a rich, dark blue, completely empty of clouds. As we lay on our backs, staring up at it, a streaking flash of light darted between the stationary stars. A shooting star.


Lea grabbed my hand in her small ones and shut her eyes tight. โ€œMake a wish,โ€ she whispered.


I remember laughing and squeezing her hand as the beam shot in front of us, casting light across the tops of the trees.


โ€œDo you make a wish every time you see a shooting star?โ€ I asked her.ย 


โ€œOf course,โ€ she told me, โ€œIt might come true. My wishes have come true before.โ€


โ€œWhat did you wish for?โ€ I asked her.


โ€œI canโ€™t tell you,โ€ she said as if it was obvious, โ€œSaying it out loud ruins the magic.โ€


I closed my eyes after that and made my own silent but hopeful wish.


Since that day, I always ate the corner of my pie last, looked at the clock at 11:11, and picked up lost pennies.


But, most importantly, I made a wish for every shooting star I spotted.



๐“๐ฐ๐จ


My beloved aunt, Molly, taught me to be unfailingly kind.


She didnโ€™t have a carefree life, none of my family did, but she was always a beam of light in the darkness. Whenever I needed to talk to someone about something, she was there to listen. She was always ready to drop everything and run to my side, to be there for me.


She was selfless, she thought about everyoneโ€™s needs first and foremost before even considering her own. She was loyal, ready to support her friends and family on each of their own individual journeys.


But what I most admired about her was the way she never let the shadows of her life change her. When the world pushed her down, when nothing seemed to go her way, she learned from her mistakes. She only let the struggles make her wiser.


She knew how it felt to be completely and utterly alone, and because of that, she was a friend to everyone.


And because of all that she had been through, all the tears she had shed, she always smiled the brightest.



๐Ž๐ง๐ž


Lastly Adella, the girl next door, taught me to carry invincible joy wherever I went.


Every time the sky opened up and buckets of water poured down upon us, I watched her from my bedroom window. She would go outside in only a t-shirt and shorts, and she would dance in the rain.


Her bare feet would slap against the puddles on the stone, creating a raw, beautiful rhythm. She would beam up at the sky, never letting the clouds bring down her spirit. The rain would run down her slippery skin in thick streams, right into her smiling mouth. Her hair would flow out behind her, like a mermaid.


I loved the beauty she showed from within. I wanted to be like her, completely in control of my life.


I admired her because she was free.


***


Each of these people made me the person I am today. They taught me priceless lessons I will carry with me until the day I die.


Their stories taught me to never lose hope.


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276 comments

Maya Emerson
00:03 Dec 30, 2020

Thanks so much for reading! I'm not really sure if this story is good, so please give me honest feedback. :)

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This story is just awesome Maya! I love it so much! You did a great job writing this story! I cannot wait to read more of your stories next year! :)

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Maya Emerson
19:28 Dec 30, 2020

Thanks so much, Haripriya! I'm looking forward to reading your stories as well! Happy early New Year! :)

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01:51 Jan 03, 2021

I just.... I LOVE IT MAYA !!!!!!!! So tender and wholesomely true! Each of those people had something very important to teach/give you and it made you a better person (I'm saying you, because I don't know if it is a true story or not...) IMMA BINGE READ YOUR STORIES NOW BYEEEEEEEEEE (plus Isaac told me to upvote you so yah)

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Maya Emerson
01:55 Jan 03, 2021

Thanks so much! It's not a true story even though it might have seemed that way. :) I'll upvote you! Btw, congrats on being on the leaderboard!!!

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01:56 Jan 03, 2021

Awww thanks!!! Imma upvote you more nowwwww... IT was so heartfelt and sincere i thought it may be true...

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Maya Emerson
02:04 Jan 03, 2021

Thanks!!! I upvoted you! I'm not sure how much, though. :)))

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Nikki Hertzler
05:54 Jan 08, 2021

I like the lessons you learned. Well-written too.

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Maya Emerson
13:39 Jan 08, 2021

Thank you! :)

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Maya Emerson
17:02 Jan 07, 2021

Aww, I put you in my bio, too! :DDDDD

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hahaha I have a surprise for u later on today.....hehehe

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Maya Emerson
17:06 Jan 07, 2021

So suspenseful!!! :DDD

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Maya Emerson
17:09 Jan 07, 2021

Are you upvoting me? Because I'm getting a lot of points...

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21:21 Jan 06, 2021

"His music drew me in, pulling a string tied around my heart." Seems like all these peopel did. Love the story.

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Maya Emerson
21:31 Jan 06, 2021

Thank you so much, Stephanie! :)

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00:24 Jan 06, 2021

YOU'RE IN MY NEW STORY UWU

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Maya Emerson
00:26 Jan 06, 2021

Oh my gosh, thank you so much Luke!!! You're so nice! :DDD

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00:27 Jan 06, 2021

Check it out hon hon hon hon hon

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Maya Emerson
00:28 Jan 06, 2021

I did! You're so sweet!!! Thanks so much!!! :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDD I really love reading you're stories, too!!!

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00:30 Jan 06, 2021

Awwww thanks!!

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Maya Emerson
00:31 Jan 06, 2021

Thank YOU so much!!!

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Megan Sutherland
04:48 Jan 03, 2021

*clap clap clap clap clap* Can you hand me another tissue? *sniff* thanks Hello, Maya! You've read and liked countless of my stories, so I decided to come return the favor. And I am SO SO SO happy I did, because this was amazing and I just absolutely loved it. Is it from your POV? Meaning, is this a true story about your life? *lemme go grab another tissue quick* Anyway, this was amazing. 1000000/10. Great job!! -meg

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Maya Emerson
05:00 Jan 03, 2021

I'm so glad you liked it! It's so encouraging to see such a kind and supportive community here on Reedsy! Your comment means a lot to me! :DDD And, to answer your question, it's not from my point of view (although a lot of people thought it was :)

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Megan Sutherland
05:30 Jan 03, 2021

Coooooool. Also, I forgot to mention, but I saw in your bio that you've read Red Queen? That is literally one of my favorite books!!!!

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Maya Emerson
05:48 Jan 03, 2021

It is??? OMG I love it so much! It's so exciting when I find people that like the same books! Do you have a favorite character?

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Megan Sutherland
05:48 Jan 03, 2021

Not even a competition. Even though he betrayed them, Maven is AWESOME.

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Maya Emerson
05:51 Jan 03, 2021

I totally agree! He is such a fascinating character!

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Zenny Melody
03:56 Jan 03, 2021

Dang, this was absolutely amazing and well crafted. Some virtues I forgot of or pushed aside Iโ€™ve been reminded of through this story. I can also tell that you must be a beautiful person on the inside and out. People like you make this world worth living in. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me, and anonymous stranger on the internet, thank you for being yourself.

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Maya Emerson
03:58 Jan 03, 2021

Aww, thank you so much! That's so sweet of you, it made my day! You too, you're such a kind friend here on Reedsy! :)

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I honestly don't know how to explain how I feel about this, Maya. It... touched my heart in a way that's hard to explain. Whether or not you came up with this, or if it is based on your life, it doesn't matter. (Even though I do want to know.) What matters is that you were able to bring out such beautiful emotions and put them on a screen. The way you wrote everything made it so much more than just another short story on Reedsy. And that's the truth. Your (hopefully) friend, Brooke D. <3

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Maya Emerson
20:34 Jan 02, 2021

Aww, thanks so much, Brooke! It wasn't based on my life, the characters were fictional. That means so much to me! Let's totally be friends on Reedsy!!! :)

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You're welcome so much! Really?!?! Wow! You had me thinking it was based on your own life because of how beautiful it was. Yay!!!!!!!! :DDDDDDDDDDD

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Maya Emerson
20:37 Jan 02, 2021

Thanks! My life isn't that interesting :) haha

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My pleasure! Haha, I'm sure it is! :D

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Maya Emerson
20:39 Jan 02, 2021

:D

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Lillian Brooks
20:52 Dec 31, 2020

Hey, Maya. This is such an emotionally touching story and I really appreciated the subtle beauty of it. It's such a wonderful piece of work, thank you for allowing me to read it.

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Maya Emerson
20:53 Dec 31, 2020

Aww, thank you so much! :D

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Lillian Brooks
20:49 Dec 31, 2020

Hahahaha. Hello, Maya! I just released a story and you liked it immediately so thank you!

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Maya Emerson
20:51 Dec 31, 2020

Oh- haha. You're welcome! Thanks for liking mine, and Happy New Years Eve! :)

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Lillian Brooks
20:55 Dec 31, 2020

Happy New Years Eve!

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Maya Emerson
21:01 Dec 31, 2020

:D

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This story is so well-written and true to the heart... That might not make much sense, but hey! You wrote something so good I followed you!

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Maya Emerson
19:28 Dec 30, 2020

Aww, thank you so much! I upvoted you, since you're new to the site. :)

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Maya Emerson
19:30 Dec 30, 2020

You don't have to, thanks though! We have the same Zodiac sign. :)

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Nora K
01:28 Dec 30, 2020

Hey there, Maya!! I thought to stop by to check out your latest stories! This story is so beautifully written, creative, inspirational and imaginative! Your descriptions of love, hope, kindness, compassion and friendship is incredibly remarkable! Your marvelously unique and heartfelt characters are instantly adored by the reader, captivating us and keeping us endlessly intrigued and excited! Fantastic job, I was touched and inspired by this incredible story of yours!! Thank you so much for sharing! Happy Writing and Happy Holidays!! :) ~No...

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Maya Emerson
01:55 Dec 30, 2020

Thank you so much, Nora! I'm really glad you liked it! Happy holidays to you, too! :D

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Nora K
15:05 Dec 30, 2020

No problem! :)

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Arwen Dove
08:00 Feb 04, 2021

Love it!

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Maya Emerson
13:41 Feb 04, 2021

Thank you!

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Cassandra Durnin
19:31 Feb 01, 2021

๐Ÿฆ”

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Maya Emerson
19:56 Feb 01, 2021

Thx! :)

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B. W.
21:06 Jan 07, 2021

new thread again?

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Maya Emerson
21:07 Jan 07, 2021

Sure! What do you want to talk about? I'll look at "Otherwordly Repairs" soon. I'm finishing up social studies work right now. :)

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B. W.
21:09 Jan 07, 2021

Do ya have any suggestions to help calm down from stress and stuff?

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Maya Emerson
21:13 Jan 07, 2021

Or play with your pet if you have one. :)

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Maya Emerson
21:12 Jan 07, 2021

I'm sorry if you're feeling stressed. I like to listen to music, maybe take a walk outside, take a break from anything that might be overwhelming you, go somewhere peaceful.

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B. W.
21:20 Jan 07, 2021

I kinda have Anxiety from whats been going on lately with Covid and stuff

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Maya Emerson
21:21 Jan 07, 2021

Yeah, covid sucks. Is there a specific part of everything that's going on that's worrying you?

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Mira Caplan
17:01 Jan 07, 2021

Which names are cooler of these sets: Seridian or Lutheria? Veradis or Lirelian?

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Maya Emerson
17:05 Jan 07, 2021

I'm not sure, they're all really good!!! Maybe Lutheria and Lirelian. They sound good together. Is this for your TDR?

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Mira Caplan
17:10 Jan 07, 2021

....They're names Luke made up vs names I made up for our different stories.

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Mira Caplan
17:10 Jan 07, 2021

....They're names Luke made up vs names I made up for our different stories.

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Mira Caplan
17:12 Jan 07, 2021

We're having a name-off, and I'm trying to get people's opinions. Luke's names are Lutheria and Lirelian, while mine are the other two.

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Mira Caplan
17:12 Jan 07, 2021

We're having a name-off, and I'm trying to get people's opinions. Luke's names are Lutheria and Lirelian, while mine are the other two.

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Maya Emerson
17:13 Jan 07, 2021

I love them both! :D

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I finished my part of the story. Let me know when you finish yours. :)

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Maya Emerson
23:26 Jan 05, 2021

Congrats!!! I'll work on mine a lot tomorrow probably and I'll tell you when I finish. :)

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Hehe, thanks! Alright, sounds good! I'm so excited. :)

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Maya Emerson
23:32 Jan 05, 2021

Me too!!!

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Maya Emerson
19:18 Jan 06, 2021

I was wondering, would you rather post your part now. That could be helpful because I could read through it and see basically how you describe the twins and the setting. I feel like if I saw the basic idea of the events then I could make sure the stories somewhat fit together and there aren't any parts where we have contrasting details. It's totally fine if you want to post it later, though.

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Oh, that's a good idea! I'll post it ASAHP! (as soon as humanly possible)

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Maya Emerson
20:30 Jan 06, 2021

Okay, coolio!!! I'll read it then post my part. :DDD

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B. W.
01:08 Jan 03, 2021

ya wanna hear a joke or something?

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Maya Emerson
01:10 Jan 03, 2021

Sure!

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B. W.
01:11 Jan 03, 2021

Knock Knock

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Maya Emerson
01:13 Jan 03, 2021

Who's there?

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B. W.
01:16 Jan 03, 2021

Robin

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Maya Emerson
01:17 Jan 03, 2021

Robin who?

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