There it was in the mail–another college acceptance letter. Katie held the envelope, her hands shaking as her mind predicted the dreaded “no”. Her mother put her hand on Katie’s shoulder.

“Come on, Hun,” she said. “I’m sure you made it. Let’s see what it says.”

“O-o-okay,” Katie stuttered.

She had always been the nervous girl who was ignored by jocks and verbally abuse by cheerleaders. She was the girl who would much rather spend her time writing romantic poetry than try to make new friends. She had a great relationship with her mom–the kind where they would try new restaurants and watch movies together almost every day. They were best friends.

Who cares? she thought. I can’t go away to school. I can’t leave my mother.

“You know what?” She turned to her mom. “Does it really matter if I get in? It’d be better just to go to community college. You know…so I can keep you company. And I mean, when you think about it, it’s cheaper. I can work part-time to make a little money to save up. Maybe I’ll–”

“Katie, honey,” her mom interruptEd. “I know you don’t want that. I know you want to go off and explore your creativity somewhere new.”

Uh…No, I don’t.

“No, I don’t,” Katie said.

Her mother sighed.

“Honey, I know the real reason. You’re scared of change. But Katie, this will be a fresh start for you–a chance to experience dorm life, meet people who really click with you.

“No matter where you go, I’ll be right here. We can talk to each other on the phone every night. But be free, darling! Be free from this town, from former classmates!”

She has a point, Katie thought. But her hands still shook.

“I don’t know…” she said.

“At least open the envelope.”

Katie nodded. It took all the energy she had to open the envelope and pull the letter out.

“You read it.”

She closed her eyes and looked away, shoving the letter in her mom’s face.

“No. You can do this. Just see what it says.”

Katie nodded slowly and took a deep breath, turning her head back to the letter. She unfolded the piece of paper.

Right there at the top was a big, bold Accepted.

“Baby, I’m so proud of you! You made it!” her mom cried.

“And it’s for Columbia College! Only half an hour away!” Katie smiled and hugged her mom.

“So…you can go there and come home whenever you want. But Baby, you can be free from here!”

“And you’ll be okay here alone?”

“Yes, I’ll be fine. I’ll be right here.”

Katie nodded, musing over the thought of exploring somewhere new and being able to write about it.

“Okay, I’ll go.”

“Yes. You’re gonna do great!”

Maybe this won’t be so bad.