“I have a dead girl’s name.” -The Rules by Stacey Kade Walford High. The most prestigious school in the world. Where they offer a range of different electives, including Theater and Architectural Design, to Desktop Publishing and Marketing. Skills that can be introduced or improved for a student’s future career. Brooke is a 14 year old teenager that goes to Walford High. She is at an average height for her age with pale skin, black hair and hazel eyes. Only the best of the best are allowed to attend this community of education. But, Brooke doesn’t feel lucky at all. Why, you ask? Both of her parents are workaholics; they’re rarely home to eat dinner or to watch a movie with Brooke. Brooke always got jealous when her friends brought their homemade lunch to the cafeteria. Or when they got picked up after school by their parents. Brooke wanted that kind of attention being paid to her, she wanted to spend quality time with her parents too! The day went by as normal. Until History class, Brooke’s favorite. Ms. Hall, her teacher, assigns the class a new project to research about someone with the same name as yours. Brooke is curious, and maybe, a little bit interested. It sounded more like fun, it sounded different. “Now, class, we will begin brainstorming. Take out your computers and search around the internet. Write down three people you find and right after class, pick one of those three to use on your project.” Ms. Hall says. Brooke raises her hand. “Yes, Ms. Shaw?” “You never mentioned if the person we are going to research has to be dead or alive.” Brooke questions. “The person has to be dead. After all, it wouldn't be History class if the person wasn’t!” A few of Brooke’s classmates laughed, but, overall, the joke didn’t sound so funny. Brooke pulled out her computer. She typed in her log-in information and waited for Google to pop up. When it did, she searched one word: Brooke. A lot of websites went up. Brooke closed her eyes and clicked a random one. “There!” It was a community newsletter, featuring a pale-skinned, young girl, smiling at the camera. Hmm, Brooke thought, she looks very similar to me. Isn’t that a coincidence? Except the fact that she had brown eyes and bangs. My hair looks better braided, Brooke thought. It says here that Brooke Roberts was rewarded volunteer of the year. That’s nice, Brooke smiled. Brooke was too self-conscious to partake in any outside events, other than baking and roller-skating. Oh well, that's just me, Brooke thought. When it was time to go, Brooke put her computer in her backpack and walked out of class. The next day, in class, Brooke was excited to go back to researching about her doppelganger (lol). She didn’t know if the other Brooke was alive or not. But, probably not, Brooke thought, concerning the fact that the newsletter didn’t have any dates on it, last time she checked. That’s okay, Brooke thought. But, Brooke couldn’t deny her disappointment. The other Brooke looked friendly - Brooke could easily relate to her for no exact reason. Well, so much for researching. Now, Brooke wasn’t too sure about it. Again, the girl looked familiar, really familiar. As if… No! Brooke shook her head. It couldn’t be, that thought was just too absurd! “I have a dead girl’s name.” Brooke muttered under her breath. “That’s all it is.” As Brooke researched more about her, she realized how similar they both were, even though they did have different personalities. They both liked to roller skate, Brooke was pretty sure, based on a couple of photos on the newsletter website. Plus, they both had a thing for cats. Brooke could tell by all the kitty memes bombarding the social media page. “Oh!” There were dates. Right below the website pages. Funny how Brooke hadn’t noticed that before. Then, she saw the year. What? Brooke thought. Could it be? The other Brooke is alive! At first, Brooke was excited, she wanted to meet the other Brooke, which lived a couple of miles away. She did some more research (if you could call it that) and found an email address. I hope this is the right one, Brooke thought. Brooke wasn’t sure if Ms. Hall would allow her to continue the project regardless, but she did come all this way. Besides, Brooke pushed that thought away, she was going to meet the other Brooke! Nothing else mattered. Brooke smiled and sent an email. Hi Brooke, You might be wondering who I am and why I sent you this email. Well, my name is Brooke Shaw and I’m a freshman at Walford High. You might find that familiar? (at least the school name) I was researching about you for this project at school, this project means researching someone with the same name as you. When I chose you for my project, I found you really interesting. I wondered if we could meet up (chloe’s café at 83 nut drive?) You don’t have to though, we barely know each other. Don’t get the wrong idea, I promise I'm not a serial killer or something. I just feel like we have this connection, like I know you from somewhere. Is that weird? Sorry, if it is. Sincerely, Brooke Shaw Sent! Well, fingers crossed, Brooke thought. Because I definitely sounded like some creep online. Alas, Brooke did mean it, inside the email. No kidding, they had some sort of connection with each other. Could they be related? It seems reasonable, her parents never told her if she had any cousins. It could be the truth, but, her parents didn’t keep in contact with the rest of their family. Brooke sighed and went back to researching. “Class, by now, you should all be done with your research. Please start constructing your project. Whether that means, making a poster or creating a presentation.” Ms. Hall says, the next day. Brooke took out her art supplies and started drawing on a poster board she brought in. She made big loops around her writing and drew tiny stars in the empty spaces. Ms. Hall made it clear that they weren’t allowed to put any photos of the person unless given permission. Given the fact that the other Brooke was actually alive, Brooke thought it was important to tell Ms. Hall the beginning of class. Luckily, Brooke didn’t have to start from scratch again. Ms. Hall told her that it was alright and that it wasn’t Brooke’s fault for not knowing. “Next time, Brooke, you have to look for the small details. Got it?” “Of course, Ms. Hall. I’m sorry.” Brooke smiled as she closed her marker’s cap. The real question was, did the other Brooke see her email? Brooke opened up her computer and checked the email inbox. Then, she closed it shut. “On second thought,” Brooke muttered under her breath, “Maybe I’ll check my email when I get home. I have to start working on the poster board now, and, it’s likely the other Brooke, hasn’t even seen the email I sent her.” After school, Brooke took out her homework and her computer and started working. She flopped on her bed, after writing two essays and completing 6 pages of Algebra. It wasn’t much, she still had a lot to do. Plus, she had to toss out a bunch of stuff for spring cleaning later. “Let’s take a look.” Brooke grabbed her computer and powered it on. She sat up and clicked on email. There was a reply! Re: Hi Brooke Of course, we can meet up. We’re cousins! How about Tuesday? Also, don’t flatter me - 🤪 Thx, Brooke Roberts Brooke put her hands in the air. “Yes!” Then, Brooke read the email again. “She’s joking, isn’t she? I mean, how are we cousins?” But… It was a possibility, Brooke thought. “Why haven’t my parents told me that I have a cousin? It isn’t right!” Brooke shut her computer down. Her parents told her last night, when Brooke came downstairs, looking for answers. Brooke couldn’t forgive them entirely, for leaving her in the dark. It was nice though, to finally understand why. They were too busy to be with family anymore. That wasn’t a good excuse, neither the fact that they lived kind of far away. Brooke, honestly, didn’t know what to take from that. She was happy that her parents explained and herself finding the answers almost like fate. No, Brooke thought. I owe it to Ms. Hall for thinking up a strange, find-your-cousin-you-didn’t-know-existed project. And for that, Brooke was very grateful. It made sense on how the other Brooke would know about them being cousins, but Brooke was clueless. Brooke sent her a reply back saying that Tuesday would work and sorry for not knowing about the whole cousin situation sooner. Then, Brooke took her computer and shut it down. “Hi! You’re Brooke Shaw, right?” An energetic girl waved relentlessly while standing by the cashier at chloe’s café. “Yo-hoo, over here!” Brooke Roberts yelled again. Brooke walked as fast as her legs could manage, “I’m coming, I’m coming…” she muttered under her breath. “So, Brooke, right?” Brooke nodded, the nutty aroma of coffee slipping past her nose. Brooke was really tempted to order something, but not look rude in front of her cousin. “I’m glad we finally met,” Brooke Roberts grinned, “You see, I always knew I had a cousin. I just couldn’t - you know, find her???” “I have Ms. Hall to thank for that. This project is a lot…” Brooke said. “Ms. Hall, who?” “My History teacher.” “Oh, okay. Do you want to order something?” “Yeah, I do!” Brooke smiled, looking at the menu. “Go ahead, on the house.” “Wow, really?” “Yeah,” Brooke Roberts pointed her thumb at the cashier behind her, “That’s my big sis, she’ll do anything for me. Isn’t that right, Merina?” Merina rolled her eyes, “Whatever, don’t bother me.” Brooke Roberts giggled, “She doesn’t mean it, she’s actually the nice girl. Anywhoo, find a table for us. I recommend the ones by the window.” “Sure!” Brooke ordered and then, went to sit next to the windows. I wonder if Merina, her big sis, knows about me, knows that I’m related to both of them, Brooke thought. Did the other Brooke explain to Merina and her parents? To be real, Brooke didn’t want the answer for that. Brooke Roberts set down a cappuccino and a regular iced coffee down on the table. “I’m guessing, you have some questions.” Brooke suggested. The other Brooke grabbed her cappuccino and after sipping for a few seconds, answered, “Yep.” Brooke didn’t touch her drink yet. “It’s complicated. My parents, they’re really busy and well, I don’t know. I guess they don’t have time to see anyone in our family.” “That’s it?” The other Brooke didn’t look too happy. Brooke gulped. “I’m sorry, I really am. I didn’t want this, I… Well, I can’t blame them exactly. They did all they could to raise me. Besides, they make up who I am. I get that you’re probably angry and disappointed, but at least, we’re here. And we’re talking, so, we understand? I’m - what I’m saying is that I’m glad we met, as cousins.” Brooke Roberts didn’t say anything for a long time, she just sipped her drink and looked out the window. “You’re right, and that is well said...” Brooke Roberts put her drink down, “You don’t have to apologize for anything, Brooke. In fact, I don’t think anyone needs to! We’re cousins and whether we just found that out or we knew that fact for forever, we’re here. Drinking different types of coffee in a café, you’ve never been to, I’m guessing?” Brooke, suddenly embarrassed, said, “Um, yes, I’ve never been here before. It’s a nice place.” Brooke Roberts smiled, “Yeah, it is a nice place. And you know what?” She took her drink again, “I’m glad you’re here, regardless of everything and everyone.” Brooke nodded and took her drink too. “Me too.” After that, they toasted their drinks and talked about their hobbies the rest of the evening. When it was time to leave, both Brooke and Brooke exchanged phone numbers and promised to see each other again. It was like a start of a new friendship and, ahem, cousin-ship, they never had. Brooke was glad, she was happy. It seemed pure luck had brought them together, even though her parents took them apart. But, the other Brooke was right. There was no use blaming anyone, least of all yourself. All you had to do was start anew and make a change. Make things better than they were before. That’s all you need to focus on, Brooke thought. That’s all that matters. Walford High. The most prestigious school in the world. Where they offer a range of different electives fit to be improved or introduced to a student. Brooke is a 14 year old teenager that goes to Walford High. And we all know only the best of the best are allowed to attend this community of education. So, Brooke feels lucky everyday. She also feels grateful. For what, you ask? Her friends, her family, to anyone and everyone who supported her along the way. Now that is lucky!