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It Started With A Postcard

Living in the shadows was easy. Living in the shadow of my sister, well that was another story altogether. Everyone has something they’re good at, that one thing that sets them apart from everyone else and gives them a sense of pride in themselves. For my sister, that was everything she did. Sophia Scott had always been amazing. The epitome of grace and beauty, outgoing, social, athletic—the whole package in one petite, blonde bombshell.

Me? Well, I was invisible. The entire school knew my sister. All the boys wanted to date her, and all the girls wanted to be her. No one had a clue who I was. Half the school didn’t even know she had a sister, a twin sister at that. Aria Scott, yep, that’s me—not that anyone knew or cared much back then.

I didn’t mind, really. All I needed was a good book and a quiet afternoon to lose myself in the worlds found on the page. Living in those worlds, pretending to be the main character—the heroine, the popular girl, the sarcastic side-kick—it’s what got me through the day.

I went about my day one hour at a time, merely surviving high school. At least, I did until the day the first postcard came. One by one, they took me on an adventure of a lifetime, and when I was done, I was an entirely new person. That person was always inside of me, screaming to get out, but I’d ignored her for so long she almost disappeared completely.

The first card appeared in my mailbox on the day of our eighteenth birthday. Sophia even excelled at being born, beating me by four minutes. It was an unseasonably cold day in November, but I chose to walk home from school anyway, much to my sister’s dismay. She was sure I’d freeze to death, and I was sure she was overreacting, though my fingers might have sided with her.

I enjoyed walking, especially in the fall. The trees were in peak color-change, and the air was crisp and clean. I could smell the rain coming, but I knew I’d make it home before it fell. My home was a two-story Cape Cod, but there was no white picket fence, no dog, and no mother.

Mom passed away when Sophia and I were born, but according to my father, she was an incredible woman. Robert Scott did his best to play the part of both parents, and most days he did a good job, but there were always times we wished our mother was there with us, holding our hands and helping us through the tough adolescent times. Still, we couldn’t ask for a better man to be our father. He never missed a single event in our lives though I had very few to speak of. Sophia was always the outgoing one, and I tended to watch life pass from the sidelines. I couldn’t tell you why that was. Perhaps I felt safer there? If I didn’t try, I couldn’t fail. Sophia tried and always succeeded, and deep down I knew I could never compete with her.

I walked down my street, good old Mulberry Street, and stopped in front of our home to retrieve the day’s mail. Once inside, the rain poured down, giving an air of loneliness to the day—just how I liked it. I wasn’t a depressed person, I just preferred things quiet, gloomy and cold. Something was comforting about a cold fall or winter day, snuggling up in my bay window with a cozy blanket, drinking hot cocoa and reading my newest book.

I flipped through the mail, not expecting anything for me, but flipping all the same. Sophia received two early acceptance letters for colleges she probably forgot she applied to, and our father received another stack of bills. There was a pretty postcard at the bottom of the pile. The front was covered with foliage in bright colors of red, yellow, and orange. I turned the card over to see if it was Sophia’s or my father’s, but I was shocked to see my own name scribbled at the top.

Dearest Aria,

I hope this card finds you happy on your birthday, but in my heart, I know you won’t be celebrating. A surprise will be delivered soon after you arrive home. Don’t worry, I’m not stalking you. Of course, that’s probably something a stalker would say. Sorry, this is going all wrong. Ignore me. I’m stupid. Have a happy birthday!

Your friend, X

I dropped the card, and it floated across the counter, landing beside the unopened mail. It sat there, innocuous yet wielding so much potential to destroy me. I liked my quiet, unobtrusive life—for the most part. If you fly under the radar, people don’t notice when you screw up or make a fool of yourself. I had no desire to spend my time wondering and worrying who was behind the mysterious postcard.

I didn’t have time to debate my feelings for long. The doorbell rang and frightened me so much I nearly jumped from my skin right there in the kitchen. I imagined a skinless me walking to the door to greet whoever was interrupting my panic attack. Gross. Behind the door was a rotund delivery man. He was dressed in khaki pants and a baby pink shirt with a cupcake logo over his heart.

“Good afternoon. I’m looking for Miss Aria Scott. Is that you?” he asked, his jovial voice calming my nerves a bit.

“Y-yes. That’s me,” I stuttered, offering my hand palm up to receive the small box he was pushing toward me.

“Enjoy, and happy birthday!” With that, he lumbered back to his delivery van and drove off while I stood dumbstruck with the front door wide open.

Dad and Sophia would be home any minute, so I grabbed the card and ran to my bedroom, slamming the door behind me. I sat on my bed and opened the small box to find a chocolate cupcake with green frosting, my favorite color. I hesitated, wondering how stupid I would have to be to eat a cupcake delivered by a stranger. Five minutes after receiving a postcard from another stranger telling me a surprise was coming, no less. Very stupid. But I did it anyway, and it was divine.

I turned the card over in my hand to observe the writing. I didn’t recognize the block-like writing. To be fair, I didn’t pay much attention to things like that, so even if someone I knew wrote it, I’d probably never recognize it, anyway. There was no return address, in fact, there wasn’t even postage.

A sickening feeling rose in my stomach, along with the realization that whoever left the card, did so by hand. I knew I’d have to tell my father; it was the only reasonable thing to do, but some small part of me—an insane and illogical part—wanted to keep the secret to myself. A birthday wish and a cupcake were thoughtful gifts, yet not knowing the sender’s identity made me uncomfortable. Is it possible to feel both elated and sickened at the same time?

By the time my father arrived home, I had convinced myself it was a one-time gesture, so there was no need to worry my father about such nonsense. The thing is, it wasn’t a one-time gesture. I received dozens of postcards from the mysterious X in the months that followed, and when I finally found out the identity of the writer, I saw myself in a whole new light. I saw myself the way X did, and as it turned out, the way others did, too.

Looking back, I can honestly say those postcards are the reason my senior year was the most epic senior year any teenager could ask for. They are the reason I have a fantastic group of friends I know I can count on through thick and thin. They are the reason my family is stronger than ever, and the bond with my twin is truly everlasting. They are the reason I value life, and why I treasure every breath I take. And I know, without a doubt, I am destined for a life filled with wonder and love.

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Title and Info

THE POSTCARD THE SECRET AUTHOR SERIES, BOOK TWO © 2019 Melissa Padgett (M. J. Padgett) All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication...

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I’d like to say I called my best friend and discussed the postcard until we both fell asleep on the phone, but I didn’t. Primarily,...


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