Make a Choice

Written by Isa Bedigian

A week has passed. Charlie has taken a thirty-day job with a design company being one of their plant managers, & Claudia has returned from camp with the idea of private school sounding very exciting. Sarah has taken the job taking care of Daphne. Griffin took off back in the finale & no one has seen or heard from him since.

"Claudia!" Charlie shouted. "Would you answer the phone already?"
Claudia came into Daphne's room where Charlie was seated on the bed & handed him the cordless phone. "Take it, it might be for me. Tell them I'm not here."
Charlie rolled his eyes & answered the phone. "Hello? No, Claudia's not here. Yes, this is her guardian. Yes, we're well aware of the deadline. Thank you for calling." he hung up & stared @ her. "What, do you have ESP?"
"Caller ID, Sarah ordered it. She thought it would help us screen the calls." Claudia plopped into Julia's old flowered armchair. "What am I gonna do?"
"How about you tell the school to stuff it & stay here where I can keep an eye on you." Charlie suggested. "After last year, I'm not sure I trust you being on your own in a strange place."
"Charlie, I will not be on my own, there are like five hundred students in the school. Besides, strange is exciting! And you know you can trust me. Look how well I run the house while you're @ work."
"I've seen how you run the house. You play the violin & Sarah does everything."
"She likes it that way." Claudia said before running up to the attic to her own room to call Julia.
"Hello?" she answered on the fourth ring.
"Jule, were you busy?">
"Just studdying for a test tomorrow. What's goin' on?"
"I wanna go. To school. Back East."
"That's great! Does Charlie know?"
"I'm not sure I know."
"But you just said--"
"I haven't even told Jamie I applied."
Julia sat down on the bed. "Claudia,"
"I know what you're going to say. That that was an awful thing to do & it isn't fair to spring it on him just a few weeks before I might leave. I didn't say I was going."
"You said you want to go Claud. You said that right off."
"I don't want to leave him though."
"Claudia, do you think if Jamie got accepted to a boarding school in France that you would be the one thing that stopped him from going?"
"I don't know." Claudia got this wistful look in her eyes. "I mean, love's a really powerful thing."
"Claudia, you're fifteen."
"You thought you were in love with Justin when you were fifteen." She had her on that one. Julia remained silent. "Gotcha. So, I guess I gotta think about it. I--"
"Hang on Claudia, I have another call."
A minute later, Julia switched back. "Claudia?"
"That's one of my friends. She's downstairs & a bunch of us are going to a poetry reading & she wants me to go. I don't know too many people so I'm gonna go k?"
"Yeah, I'll call you later." Claudia said & hung up, feeling discouraged.
"Claudia!" Sarah shouted. "Jamie's here!"
She stood up & sighed. "Time to face the music."

"Whoa," Jamie said when Claudia finished telling him everything. "When do you leave?"
"I never said I was going." she said quickly. "I said I got accepted & that I might go & if I go, I have to move to the East coast. And I'd leave August 10th. If I left," she placed her hands on her knees & rubbed them, not knowing what else to do with them.
"Do you want to go?
" "I wouldn't have applied if I didn't want to go. Then again, when I applied, Julia was fighting with Griffin & I thought Charlie was dying & Bailey.....Tell me you want me to stay."
He swallowed hard. "I want you to stay. But not if you want to go."
She stood up. "No, no, don't do that. Just tell me the truth."
"I just did."
"Jamie!" she walked around in frustration. "I need to know how you feel. It doesn't matter how I feel or how I want you to feel. You have to be honest with me."
"Come'ere." She sat next to him & he took her hands in his. "I want you to stay. But if I'm the reason you don't go, you'll end up hating me."
"I could never hate you...."
"Claudia, now you be honest with me. Do you wanna go?"
She felt her throat close up & her eyes well up with tears, so she nodded. Jamie wrapped his arms around her. "Then you have to go."
"I can't leave you--"
"I'm not enough of a reason to make you stay. Besides, if we're meant to be together, we'll find a way."
Claudia managed to laugh through her tears. "You sound like Julia."
"Is that a good thing?"
"No," she laughed again. "But I still love you." she kissed his lips lightly. "I am going to miss you so much."
"Let's not waste our last two months together talking about that, okay?"
Claudia nodded again & sat there in his arms for the rest of the afternoon.

"You're gonna go?" Julia asked excitedly. It was now around midnight & as soon as Jamie left Claudia had phoned Julia to tell her her decision.
"Yeah, I'm gonna go. I want to go. I mean, I love Jamie, but.....well, look @ what couples can go through & stay together!"
"That's true Claud..."
"Are you coming home for the fourth? I'm making a huge dinner, & Charlie is going to barbeque, oh & I didn't tell you! Guess who Charlie hired to take care of Daphne!!"
"No, I wish. Sarah!"
"Sarah?" Julia wondered why Sarah hadn't mentioned it when they'd talked the day before.
"Yes, Sarah! He said she's perfect!"
"Well, I'm glad. @ least he hired someone we know we can trust."
"Yeah, me too. I'd better go Jule, my eyes are drooping & I still have to check my email."
Julia laughed. "'Night Claud. Kiss Owen for me."
They hung up & Claudia hurried downstairs to sign on. When she opened her mailbox, she had an E-kiss from Jamie. She saved it to one of her floppy disks, then started to cry.

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