Claire grabbed the largest suitcase from the trunk of her mother’s car; her mother pulled out the smaller one. “Can you handle that?” Louise Thompson looked around the parking area as if a bellhop would appear. The lot was empty of life. She closed the trunk and smashed the button on her key fob twice to make sure the Lincoln was indeed locked.
Claire’s face beamed with excitement. Her grin was wide, her eyes taking in the panorama of campus, of grounds, of ivy covered walls that her imagination made up for the lack of. This was the Keene, New Hampshire University Campus—a host of buildings placed here and there in an asundry of directions—a chaotic bloom of academic pursuit. A warm breeze kissed her cheeks, and above it all, a horizon of cloudless, blue sky. A week late because of her father’s medical emergency, the school kindly allowed her to begin her freshman year. She would have no problem making up the week, the Dean had told them. After all, she was attending on an academic scholarship having skipped her senior high school year altogether. Advanced Placement exams in her junior year, and high scores in CLEP exams taken last spring had won her the scholarship and early attendance. Claire wouldn’t turn seventeen until October.

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