Silence fell after Mrs. Harper left the room. I soon grew uncomfortable, and my eyes wandered away from the scene at hand. I noticed the incredible detail surrounding the entrance where Mr. Harper had emerged. The doorway was wide, and could be closed by pulling in two enormous wood-framed panels of glass. The doorway was lined with embellished wood that eventually transitioned into the rosy color of the walls. The curvy embossing reminded me of the RNA patterns that I’d been studying on the drive up. Then my eyes landed on Grace Harper.
“I’m guessing she’s your daughter,” I said, gesturing to the girl who had appeared in the doorway. “She certainly has the same tall-and-skinny gene.”
As she squeezed past the girl, Mrs. Harper’s laugh echoed around the room. “Yes, this is Grace.” She turned and motioned the girl forward. “Come introduce yourself.”
Grace’s slender frame was dominated by a pair of baggy overalls that hid most of a brightly tie-dyed t-shirt. My knowledge of pop culture was lacking, but I suspected that the fist-pumping logo on the t-shirt represented a superhero. As Grace bounced across the room toward us, her shoulder-length hair seemed to defy the laws of gravity as it flew up into the air.
The next thing I registered was that I was being hugged. I tried not to squirm. “Hi!” Grace exclaimed after she pulled back. “You must be Cassidy.”
“Yes,” I replied slowly.
“Well, I’m Grace,” she said, placing her hand on her heart.
Grace giggled, and it sounded like the higher-pitched twin of her mother’s laugh. At that moment, Hrs. Harper succeeded in getting my mother to sit down at the table, and Mr. Harper, who I hadn’t noticed leaving, came back into the room with even more plates of food.
I realized then that this family was actually really nice. They were all well-meaning, pleasant people, and I guessed that they were just trying to be polite. But as I sat down across from my mother and caught her gaze, I saw that she felt as uncomfortable as I did. For now I still had her companionship, but she would soon leave, and I would have no one but the Harpers. No one but the overwhelmingly tall, skinny, giggly, big-house Harpers. And though they were nice, they weren’t Mom, and I wasn’t sure they understood me.
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