Kassie turned the pages of the book in front of her slowly, watching as she became younger and younger in each photograph. Each picture showed her family happier than they had been in a very long time. The custom-made photo album and matching journal had been gifts from her father for her thirteenth birthday. The photo album was a large leather bound book with gold stitching around the edges. Her father had her name printed on the cover of the book in a beautiful silver scrolling text: Kassidy Anne Ryan. The journal looked exactly the same just slightly smaller.
Kassie turned to look at the clock. It was three in the morning, and she had to be up in a few hours to go to school. She was exhausted from arguing with her mom and then from crying most of the night. No matter what she did, she couldn't get her mind to slow down enough to let her sleep. She picked up the journal and turned to what she had written a few hours ago. She had always been able to get through a situation like this before by putting her thoughts and feelings on paper, but for some reason, it hadn't been helping lately. In fact, it was making it worse. As the tears continued to flow, she scanned through the journal. She tried to write out what her father would have said to help her if he was around. Since his death, much of what she had written was what she wanted her life to be like with him still in it.
Setting the journal aside, she wiped her eyes and turned back to the photo album. Most of the time the pictures helped, but not on this night. Turning to the front of the album, she stopped on the first picture her father put in for her. It was their first photo together, her father holding her on the day she was born. Underneath, in his familiar handwriting he had written, "To My Little KAR-Bear - Love Always, Daddy!" Her fingers lightly traced the letters of her father's nickname for her. She missed him so much, especially now, when she wasn't getting along with her mom. Curling up on her bed, she closed her eyes and finally drifted slowly to sleep. She could at least dream things could be different.
His arms tightened around her as she leaned into his protective embrace, burying her face against his chest. She sighed deeply, knowing that she was completely safe. His long dark hair brushed against the side of her face as he leaned forward to rest his cheek on the top of her head. As he whispered to her that he loved her, she felt all of the pain, hurt, and loneliness of the past few years finally beginning to fade. She was finally where she knew she belonged, with him. She leaned back to look at him and laughed as he smiled that ridiculously handsome smile. She faintly became aware of music playing in the background. Reluctantly, she turned away from him to locate where it was. As she listened she realized where she recognized it from; it was one of the annoying songs that Sydney had programmed into her phone as her ringtone. Her phone...
Kassie woke, startled out of a fitful sleep, to that annoying song playing on her cell phone. Cursing at herself for forgetting to turn the ringer down, she answered it. "Do you have any idea how much I hate that song you insist I use as your ringtone?"
Sydney laughed. "You love it and you know it. Are you still sleeping?"
Kassie couldn't understand why Syd was calling so late at night just to ask her such a stupid question. Why wouldn't she be sleeping? It was the middle of the night. "What do you mean still? I just fell asleep. Can whatever it is you want to talk about wait till morning? I need to try to get some sleep."
"Uh, Kass, it is morning."
"WHAT?! It can't be morning?!"
"I had a feeling I needed to call you and remind you to pick up me and Zoë this morning."
"What time is it?" Scrambling to get free from her sheets, she looked at her alarm clock. "Crap, it's a quarter to seven. I must not have heard my alarm go