Amy’s note: The night of Matthew’s goodbye party I had originally written in a little tiff they get into, reflecting their conflicting ideology and the emotional struggle each was dealing given that their relationship had already changed quite a bit since Allie had gone off to college, and it was about to change more as Matthew was now all but disappearing he went off to The Academie for the next several years. This scene resolves that and was also designed to show how well they get along and how Matt was looking forward to seeing Allie visiting him. This of course, contrasts sharply with his attitude toward her when she actually visits (another deleted scene), and how he treats her when she first enters The Academie.

When it grew close to the time for us to leave, dad went out to wait in the car with Andy, while mom finished getting ready and Matt and I waited for her in the foyer. I was surprised to see the small bag he had sitting at his feet.

“Where is the rest of your stuff?

“What stuff?” He looked as confused as I was, but recognition dawned on him a moment later. “Oh, no. This is it. The Academie provides the clothing—all the way down to the underwear. You know, it’s that whole dress code mentality—if you don’t have to worry about what you wear and if everyone wears the same thing, it decreases peer pressure and allows you to focus better on your education.”

There was a pause during which I clenched my jaw to keep from spouting off. I’d determined not to say anything else negative to Matt about The Academie today. I smiled stiffly.

“I don’t really care,” he added. “As long as the clothes are comfortable, I’ll be happy. So the only stuff I had to pack was my personal things.”

“Well, I guess that does make it easier. I bet you’ll be dying to go out shopping for some new stuff to wear by the time you graduate though.”

“Yeah. I suppose so.”

“Hey…I’m sorry about the things I said last night. I’m sure you’re going to do great.” I was determined to leave today on a good note. We’d always gotten along well and I was determined to do what I could to see that continue.

“It’s fine.”

“I’m sorry too about being away. I guess I didn’t really think about how it would affect you.”

He stared at the floor.

“I was thinking of transferring to Bradwin—not that it matters anymore.”

He laughed. “Yeah, that figures.”

I tried my best to keep my eyes dry as I talked to him, but I’d grown soppy as I’d gotten older, and it was difficult to keep the tears away.

“It’s going to be fine,” he reassured me. “You’re going to come visit, right?”

“Yeah,” I squeaked out in the usual tone my voice made when stressed by tears. “Does this mean I’m allowed to visit?”

“Oh, I’m sure they gotta let you visit. So it’ll be like always.”

“When should I come?”

“Hmmm…” his face made that side-ways curl where one side goes up while his eyes do the same, and I knew he was really thinking it over. “It’ll probably take a while to get adjusted, and I know it’s hard for you to get home, so how about on your winter break?”

I nodded. “Yeah, that sounds good. Do you think you’ll be able to come home at all? Should I try to get mom and dad to get a ham and make cheesy potatoes for Christmas?”

“I don’t know. I mean, yeah, I would love that. I don’t know yet how it will work and if I’ll be able to come home or not, so I guess we’ll have to see.”

“Okay. Well, if nothing else, I’ll come there.” I pictured a little room divided by a thick piece of glass with chairs and phones on each side so that we could talk. “I wonder where we’d get to visit? Do you think they’d let me take you out to lunch or anything?”

“No idea. Maybe we’ll find out at the orientation today.”

“Yeah. I hope so. I don’t know why I didn’t think of all of this earlier. Well, I mean, some of it I’ve thought of and asked some people at school, but it all seems to be hearsay. I don’t know what to believe.”

Just then my mom came down the stairs. “What’s hearsay?” she asked, interjecting herself into the conversation. It was a habit I’ve noticed myself picking up on and wondering if anyone outside of our family thought it was rude.

“Just about everything about The Academie. We’re hoping to get some answers today,” I said.

“We better, because I have lots of questions.”

“We better get moving so we aren’t late,” Matthew said, opening the door.

I slipped on my shoes and followed him out, with my mother close behind, locking the door as we departed.

In the car, my mother grilled Matthew on the contents of his bag: “Do you have your deodorant?”

“Yes,” Matthew replied, slightly irritated.

“Shaver?”

“Yes. Mom, I have everything. We don’t even need that much, since they provide us with basically everything.”

“Hey, what happens if he runs out of something, like deodorant?” I couldn’t help but ask. The Academie had restricted so much, I couldn’t imagine them taking students on a weekly shopping trip or allowing parents to stop by once a week to drop off supplies.

“We don’t know yet. We’re hoping they’ll tell us that today too,” my mother answered.