I'm arriving at home (Mom's house) in Ashland after being away at school all semester. I'm on the front porch, and it's sunny & warm outside. I see Mark down in his yard. I am excited to see him, so I run down the porch stairs. But the last stair is a high ledge, still a great distance from the ground. I jump down, falling almost in slow motion, my flowered dress ballooning up like a parachute. I finally land on the grass, falling gently to my butt. Mark helps me up, and we hug hello. Then I'm sitting on the stairs with Mom. A long green hedge lines the right side of the stairway. Mark pokes his head through the leaves to tell us something. His face is tear-stained and looks very upset. "Eric died," he tells us. I don't quite know who that is, but I'm still empathetic. I pretend to know who Eric is.
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