Epilogue

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When the light returned, I was standing in my gramma’s garden. The scent of apples was like a shock the senses.

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It worked!

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Then a thought hit me. Gramma, she must be worried sick! I ran towards the house calling out to her. I only hoped she wasn’t too worried about me.  “Gramma?! Gramma are you here!”

“Chloe? Is that you dear?”

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“Good heavens! Where have you been child? And what happened to your hair!”

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I hadn’t thought about that. I must have looked so strange. I had to think fast. “I ran into an old friend and she…uh gave me make over.”

“I see. Well next time I would appreciate it if you would let me know when you are going to disappear over night. This old heart can’t take it.”

A night? I had only been gone for a day. I sighed a breath of relief.

“I sorry Gramma. Never again.”

“Good. Now I need to go to the market. Would you like to walk with me?

“There is nothing in this world I would like more.”

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When we got to the market, Gramma started to go inside. “You can come in if you want.” She smiled.

“I think I will stay out here in the fresh air.”

“Very well dear, I will only be a moment or two.”

“Ok.”

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The fresh air was amazing. I don’t think I had ever been so grateful of nature and all things in it. I watched as cars drove by, peoples went on their afternoon jogs, and everything in between. My experience had certainly given me a new appreciation for all I had. I actually had the urge to hug my stepfather.

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“Excuse me? Is this seat taken?”

That voice sounded awful familiar.

“Umm, no please.”

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I think my heart skipped a beat when he sat down next to me.

“I like your hair.”

“Oh. Uhhh thanks. I was trying something different.”

“Well, it looks great.”

I smiled.

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“My name is Jaden.”

“Chloe.”

“Oh now that is a beautiful name.”

“Thanks.”

*Ahem* “Miss Chloe, I hope I am not being too forceful here but…would it be alright if I walked you home? I mean if you are going home. Or when you do go home?”

“Hehehe. I would love that but I am here with my Gramma.”

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“Oh nonsense!”

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The sound of her voice startled me. “Gramma!”

“You don’t have to worry about me dear! I walk home from the market all the time by myself. I will be fine. Now you two run along and have fun!

“You sure?”

“Never been more sure in my life. Now go!”

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As we started to walk towards home, I couldn’t help but giggle. Maybe I would have a little of reminder of Sugar Valley after all, and who knows maybe there was a twin sister floating around somewhere too.

Chapter 7 – Finale

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Victoria Bitters. We all knew it had to be her. Broken soul, I never really thought about it that way, but her life must have been awfully hard for her to act the way she did. So as soon as we left the fortuneteller’s house. We knew what we had to do. Find Victoria Bitters.

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This was actually a slight problem, for even though she had a tendency to pop up all over the place, none of us actually knew where she lived. So the only place we had even a glimmer of finding her was at school. So Jordie, JujuBe and I stood outside the Strawberry Shortcake school to wait for her.

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Once the bell had rang, the children started to pile out and at first we did not see her. Maybe she had stayed home. This would have been extremely bad for us and for Chloe.

But then suddenly her smug little face appeared.

“There she is!” I snarled.

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Unfortunately the moment she saw us…

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she took off like a shot.

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“Don’t let her get away!” Jordie called out as he took off after her.

Jujube and I tried to cut her off from the other direction, but she was too fast for us! Before we knew it she was half way across the street heading straight for Rainbow Skittles Park, but there was a pink blur hot on her trail. She only made it a few steps into the park before Jordie had a firm grip on her shoulder.

“Hold it!” he growled.

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You could hear the anger in his voice as he spoke. “Alright. Where is she?”

Victoria looked absolutely horrified. “I don’t know who you are talking about.”

“Don’t play dumb Vic. Where is Chloe.”

“I…”

“Lie to me again and you can bet you will regret it.”

Whoa. He was so forceful. I couldn’t help but wonder if he would have been so incessant if it had been me who had been taken.

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Victoria’s head started to droop in defeat. Her voice came out no louder than a whisper. “My Father took her.”

“What?” Jordie questioned. “Speak louder.”

“My Father has her.” She replied again in a much louder decibel.

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“Take us to her. Now…”

“I can’t.”

“NOW!”

*Sigh* “He is going to kill me.”

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“Get up!”

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“Huh?” Everything was so dark it was hard to focus. Every time I fell asleep, I forgot where I was, so every time that I woke, it was like a cold hard splash of water to the face. Still trapped in the same dark and evil dungeon. I had pretty much cried every tear there was, but every time I opened my eyes, I could feel one start to fall.

“Get Up!”

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I tried to stand but I was so weak. One bowl of a soup a day was hardly a days worth of meals and my body was starting to feel the lack of nutrition. Finally I steadied myself enough to stand up completely straight. It was that horrible man again. I averted my eyes and then questioned. “Now what?”

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“Well my dear, I have grown tired of your lack of usefulness. I think it is time that I get rid of you.”

“You’re letting me go?”

“Hah! Don’t be silly. You have seen entirely too much here. It would be detrimental to me do that. No I must dispose of you some other way.”

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Fear stormed my body. “No! Please! I won’t tell anyone about this place. Please just let me go.”

“Aww that is sweet, but I know your type. The moment I let you go, you would be running to the police, and frankly I just can’t have that. Now come on!”

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“No!” I snapped and pulled my arm from him in a jerk.

“Look I have had about enough of you. I am the one in control here, the sooner you get that through your thick skull the better it will be for both of us.”

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Was this really how it was going to end? I felt my life flash before my eyes. My gramma. I really would never see her again, she would be so worried about me, and my stepfather…surely he would miss me too.

“LET HER GO!”

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That sounded just like…JORDIE! I couldn’t believe it. There was Jordie and Taffy and Jujube! I could feel a smile starting to grow across my face. “Is it really you?”

“Let her go Victor.”

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“How did you fin-” Before he had a chance to finish he searched through the crowd until his eyes settled on Victoria. “Oh I see. I knew it was only a matter of time.”

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In a true chickens fashion, he booked it down a small corridor trying to escape.

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We all turned to watch as the two police officers took off after him. “Hey where do you think you’re going?!”

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“I can’t believe you are really here. I didn’t think you would ever find me. I was so scared.”

“We haven’t stopped looking for you since you disappeared.”

“Thats right.”

“Yup.”

I was so so relieved, I could feel a huge weight lifting off of me, so light. So very light. Almost light headed.

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“I…”

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Uhhhhhhhhn…..

*Thump*

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“Oh sweet berry! What happened!?!”

“She fainted.”

“Come lets get her some fresh air.”

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I felt the cool air brush up against my skin and could instantly sense the life coming back into me. I looked up to see Jordie’s face, I was still in his arms.

“She’s waking up!”

“It wasn’t a dream.” I cried. ‘You are really here.”

“We’re here.”

“I think I am ok now.” I reassured everyone as I tried to get my bearings.”

“You sure?”

“I think so.”

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“You don’t know how happy I am to see you! I never should have left you that day.” Jordie smiled as he took my hands.”

Suddenly a squeak coming from the direction of Taffy could be heard.

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We all turned to look at her. The look on her face was heartbreaking. Realizing what was happening I quickly dropped Jordie’s hands.

“I…must….excuse me!” She whimpered.

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“Taffy!”

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“Geee whats wrong with her.”

Jujube’s whole body froze and then she whipped back around to get right in Jordie’s face.

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“You still don’t get it do you! My Berry Jordie, Taffy has only been in love with you for like ever!”

“What?”

“I don’t know how you could possibly miss that. She…you…ughh sometimes I swear you are so dense.”

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“Why didn’t she ever say anything.”

“I think you know Taffy well enough to know to the answer that, or you are too dim for that one also?”

“I…never knew. She was always your little friend.”

“Exactly. Even with the way you treated her half the time she still cared for you.”

“I am such a jerk…”

“Sometimes.” Jujube Hissed.

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Guilt and embarrassment was written all over his face. We tried our best to comfort him. “She never said anything. How was I to know. It wasn’t that obvious, was it?” I grabbed hold of his shoulders. “Well I knew what was going on.” I hesitantly divulged.

“Oh man…”

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“Why don’t you go talk to her.”

“You think I should.”

“Yes Dum-Dum.”

I shot Jujube a look. “I think you should yes.”

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“Hey Taff.”

“You don’t have to be here. I will be alright.”

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“I was hoping we could talk for a minute. Is that Ok?”

“Sure. I guess.”

“Ok.”

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“Soooo, why didn’t you ever tell me?”

“I’m your sisters best friend. What would you ever see in me. I can tell by the way you talk to me, that I will always be that little girl in your eyes. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, or change the way I feel about you.” *Sniff* “Oh great and now I am gonna cry, that isn’t gonna help my mature image…”

“I don’t see you as a little girl. In fact I see you as… beautiful.”

*Sniff* “Really? You think I’m beautiful?”

“Of course I do. I say stupid things sometimes, but I never meant to hurt you. Here, stand up with me a second.”

“Ok.”

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*Ahem* “Miss Taffy Melon, would you like to go on a date with me some time?”

“I would love that.”

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“I’m sorry.”

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“I really miss my home Be. I just wanna see my Gramma again.” I cried as waves of homesickness washed over me. I felt so guilty. All I had wished for was to get out of that dark place, and now that I was free all I wanted was to go home. I felt so ungrateful. The mix of emotions had me going in all directions.

“Its ok Chlo, we will find you a way home.”

“I might know a way.”

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In all my self pitty I had completely forgotten Victoria was still standing there with us. I wiped a tear from my face. “You do?” I croaked.

“Ya. My father has this time machine, but he could never get it to work, well I figured a way, but since he never takes the time to listen to me… He thinks its just a piece a junk. Guess that is what he gets for ignoring me.”

“You would help me get home?”

“I…can try. Its the least I can do, I suppose.”

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“So this is it. You sure you wanna try this? It could work, but there is chance it might not either.”

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After what I had been through in the last few weeks, I was ready to try anything.

“I’m sure.”

“Very well.”

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“I guess this is goodbye.” I felt a twinge of sadness hit me with the words. Jujube tried to smile. “Well we knew this day would come right! This is what we wanted.”

“Ya.” I grinned. “It is.”

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“I’ll never forget you.”

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“Take care.”

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“You better take good care of her.”

“I will.”

“Good. Thanks for not giving up on me.”

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Once I had said my goodbyes, I turned to Victoria and gave her a nod. She then punched a few keys on the control pad until the doors of the odd machine opened. I took a deep breath. “Wish me luck.” I teased.

“Goodbye Chloe!”

“Good luck!”

I  carefully stepped inside and as the doors closed behind me everything went black.