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  • Writer's pictureSusan Stoderl

A Peek into Mission 1: All in a Day's Work

Chapter 1 A New Beginning

Nana’s memorial service (arranged by Sophia MacGregor, Life Celebration Planner Extraordinaire) was over. Sophia noticed that even sorrow didn’t stop her editorializing in “parentheticals,” her silent qualifiers of spoken words. She sat in apartment 4B with her best friend, Pedro Gonzalez. Everything was so familiar until she thought of Nana’s absence. In a rare moment of panic, Sophia came close to sobbing.

“What if the school finds out I live here alone and calls New York City Child Protective Services?”

“Mr. O’D won’t let ’em, or me either. They’ll never find out about either of us,” said Pedro.

Sophia’s grandmother had chosen Sean O’Donoghue, her best friend, to care for Sophia when she passed. Sean had known Sophia ever since she came to be raised by her grandmother as a baby. Sophia now lived alone in apartment 4B and Mr. O’D in apartment 4A. Pedro lived in the next building, where he was alone for most of the week. His parents worked as live-in staff members for a wealthy family on Long Island. Monday morning through Friday evening, Mr. Gonzalez tended the grounds and did general handiwork, while Mrs. Gonzalez cooked and cleaned. Their only time with their son was from late Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, when they returned to work on Long Island.

Sophia and Pedro were outsiders at the fashionable James Samuel Calder Academy on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Each formed their own small minority. Pedro was a scholarship student and Hispanic. Sophia was outspokenly individual and feminist, whereas her classmates were devotees of Teen Vogue and the New York Times society pages. The fashionistas thought Sophia’s unruly, curly red hair and high-top red sneakers with striped laces a scandal. Sophia and Pedro’s popularity was further damaged because at their age—almost eleven—they were both at the top of their eighth-grade Honors Class.

Mr. O’Donoghue, Sophia’s guardian, let himself in the door and took a seat on the sofa next to Sophia. He knew today had been difficult for the girl, though she tried not to show it. Mr. O’D encircled her shoulders with his arm and tried to pull her closer. At first, Sophia squirmed out of the hug, but then she relented. (I’m much too old to cuddle, but it’ll make Mr. O’D feel better.)

(To Be Continued ...)

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