“Moooom!” Morgan yells from across the room with an enveloped piece of mail in her hands as she closes the front door. She sees the school bus drive away from her cul-de-sac just before she turns around and haphazardly drops her backpack on the couch.
Pepper doesn’t come out of the office or laundry room or down the stairs from her room.
“I’m home!” Morgan calls again. “Got the mail on the way in. Something from Woodvale Academy came today!”
Morgan tilts her head in confusion before grabbing an oats and honey granola bar from the tiny container on the kitchen island with her free hand… the red and gold envelope still held tight in her right hand. She unwraps the granola bar as she walks down the hallway.
Before she pushes open the office door with her left hand, she tilts her head back to readjust her glasses, and takes a bite of the bar. Mom’s not there.
Morgan continues to walk down the hallway just a bit and gently nudges the laundry room door open. Not there either.
She turns back around and takes the stairwell up to the second floor of their home before walking toward her mother’s bedroom, which was adjacent to her own.
Morgan takes another bite of her snack and pushes open the already cracked door. Bingo.
Her mother with the iconic tousled bright ginger hair was laying on her stomach, asleep as she hugged onto her throw pillow. A quiet and low snore came as Pepper breathed.
“Mom,” Morgan whispers.
She doesn’t stir.
“Mom,” Morgan repeats, just a little louder.
A oh-so-tiny stir.
“Mama,” the fourteen-year-old says in urgency at what one would call an ‘inside voice’.
Pepper’s eyes flutter open then and she glances at her ambitious teenager. “Hello, my lovely daughter,” Pepper greets Morgan just before a yawn escapes. “How was school, hm? It’s the last day, that means it had to be at least a little alright.” She sits up and pats next to her with her left hand.
“It was okay,” she says. Morgan goes around the bed and sits next to her mother in criss-cross. “How was your day off?”
“Refreshing,” Pepper recalls. Pepper’s day off was reserved for laundry day, a day to catch up on sleep, and mother-daughter movie night. “It’s nice not feeling like a chicken with my head cut off for once. Everyone who said being someone’s P.A. would be an easy job needs to walk a mile in my shoes.”
Morgan snickers before taking a careful bite out of the granola bar. “They might be right, but it may just be the crappy man you’re working for that makes it hard.”
“At least he pays me well and gives me a three day weekend,” Pepper shrugs. “Plus he's amazingly generous with my PTO.”
Pepper’s eyes spot the envelope. “What’s that, eh?”
“I got a packet from Woodvale…” she says quietly, lifting it up just barely for her mother to see.
“It’s sealed,” Pepper says. “Open it!”
“But what if I didn’t get in?” Morgan squeaks.
“It’s a packet.” Pepper raises a brow. “Packets almost always mean good news in regards to a school.”
“But they do that for everything! For the anonymity of it all,” she shrugs.
Pepper rolls her eyes and reaches for it. “I’ll open it for you then.”
Morgan’s eyes widened and quickly snatched it back from her mother. She stammers, “N-No, no I can open it. It’s fine!”
Pepper holds in a chortle and hums, “Mhm. Thought so.”
“Can you hold this?” Morgan asks as she holds out the half unwrapped granola. “For just a minute.”
Pepper takes the snack without another word and sits it on her nightstand.
Morgan carefully pulls the tab on the decorative bubble mailer.
She pulls the first item closest to her out of the envelope and immediately skims the page. She mumbles incoherent statements as she goes, speeding up her reading speed with each passing sentence. “—we are pleased to offer you, Morgan H. Potts, transferable admittance to Woodvale Academy’s secondary program as an incoming freshman!” She shrieks in excitement and hugs her mother close.
“I knew you could do it,” Pepper enthuses. “I’m so proud of you!”
“Stop it,” Morgan mumbles.
“What? I am!”
“I know, but still.” Morgan shrugs with a small smile as she sits back up. She pushes back up her glasses that had fallen down the bridge of her nose due to the hug.
“Continue reading,” Pepper says. “You applied for a scholarship, remember?”
Morgan continues to skim the page. “Hm… classes will be assigned before August begins as long as tuition has been covered—“ She skims the page just a bit more. “—roommate and dormitory assignment will be posted in my Woodvale Student Portal in early August if we complete the housing form before the end of June. If not it’ll be delayed a little bit.” She sighs. “Nothing about scholarships.”
Pepper hums before asking, “May I see the envelope?”
“Sure,” Morgan says as she hands her Mom the red and gold envelope.
She pulls out the new student brochure and sets it on the bed. It said ‘Welcome to the Woodvale Academy family!’ in gold lettering.
Morgan picks the brochure up and flips through it as her mother continues to look for more pieces of information. She taps her thumb against the corner of the cardstock-like paper repeatedly as she read about the student life.
“Goona,” Pepper says calmly, attempting to get her daughter’s attention. Morgan didn’t know how many attempts had been made before she snapped out of her reading.
Morgan’s eyes widened and she looks away from the brochure.
“You have been awarded a partial scholarship of fifty percent per semester,” Pepper reads out from another paper. “Which covers room and board… along with the meal plan and various facility fees.”
“How much will we have to put forward then?”
“A little over five thousand,” Pepper recalls, there’s no sense of concern in her voice.
Morgan blinks. “T-That's a lot.”
“I've got it covered, my sweet,” Pepper shakes her head. “Don’t you worry. That’s what the overpaying doofus boss of mine is for.”
“You know he keeps giving you raises and bonuses because he thinks you’re going to turn in your two weeks notice at any point, right?”
“Oh, I know,” Pepper laughs. “It’s funny watching him squirm, though.”
Morgan laughs too.
“So… Celebratory dinner and movie for you getting into Woodvale,” Pepper says, holding her daughter’s hands in hers. “What are you thinking? We’ve got leftovers from the place we got takeout from the other night… and then I have stuff to make pasta with alfredo and can heat up some mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.”