Stella’s first semester of Med School went by much faster than she had expected it would. It was also much harder than expected. Stella never realized how many bones there are in the human body until her professor made her memorize them all. (There are 26 bones in the foot alone).
For the first time in Stella’s life school was not coming easy for her, but she was not about to give up on her dream either. She has wanted to be a pediatrician for as long as she could remember. She would do anything to achieve her dream, even if that means that Stella has to spend all of her nights and weekends at the library studying.
“Have a good night Bethany,” Stella called out to the librarian as she was leaving from yet another long day of studying.
“You too Stella,” Bethany replied back, “and good luck on your test next week.”
Stella stepped out into the dark, cold autumn night. It was later in the evening than she had realized. Of course it is easy to lose track of time when your nose is in a book. Stella didn’t want to have to wait for a taxi, so she decided to walk home. She could take a shortcut through the park and be home in no time.
The wind blew cold shivers up Stella’s neck as she walked. She picked up her pace, regretting not having a jacket with her. For a Saturday night the park was pretty empty, except for some teens who just came out of the movie theater. She watched them run along the sidewalk when out of the corner of her eye she spotted a familiar face.
“Brandon,” she called over to the man sitting on the park bench all alone,“ is that you?”
Brandon’s face turned red with embarrassment when he saw who was calling his name. As Stella approached the bench she noticed how much he has changed since the last time she saw him.
How long has it been? It couldn’t have been that long, but Brandon looked like he had aged 20 years. Brandon was unshaven and his blonde hair was an oily tangled mess. He was wearing old clothes and torn up shoes. What happened to the sparkle in his baby blue eyes? And what happened to the designer clothes, and his sports car? The last time Stella saw Brandon was the day that he woke her from her curse. Brandon had left Stella at her house with her aunts. Then he disappeared. She waited for him to call, but the call never came. Finally she convinced herself that he had moved on, and that she should try to do the same.
“What are you doing here?” Stella took a seat on the bench next to Brandon. “Do you live here in the park?”
Stella put the puzzle pieces together.
“I only stay here some nights”, Brandon confessed, “sometimes the firemen let me stay at the station, but tonight they are on an emergency call.”
“Well,” Stella sheepishly smiled, “you aren’t sleeping here either. You can stay with me.”
As they walked back to Stella’s house they filled each other in on everything that has happened since they saw each other last. Stella told Brandon all about starting med school, moving into her own place, and about meeting her parents.
Brandon’s tale was not as pleasant. Anastasis has vanished without a trace, but the authorities were able to find Maleficent and Ivy. For their crimes they were locked away in a mental institution for the criminally insane. Stella already knew the part about Maleficent and Ivy, but she didn’t know what had happened after that.
All that the Crowe’s owned was in Maleficent’s name so when she got locked away, Brandon lost everything. The house, the car, and all the money; it was all gone. Everything but the clothes on Brandon’s back were taken away. He was left homeless and sleeping on a park bench or, on the rare occasion, at the fire station. The police officers in town knew him as the son of the crazy witch. They all took pity on him and didn’t hassle him about sleeping in the park. But they didn’t want to do anything to help him either.
“What happened to the dragon?” Stella asked as they walked up her front steps.
“Teddy was mine, so no one bothered trying to take him away along with everything else,” Brandon explained, “but I knew that I couldn’t keep him either. So I sold him to a wizard in Dragon Valley. I was able to get at least a few hot meals from the money.”
“I have an extra bedroom down the hall, but it is currently empty. So you will have to sleep on the couch.” Stella explained as she took off her shoes. “help yourself to the left over pizza, while I get you some clean towels and a few blankets.”
Brandon felt almost like his old self again after the hot meal and an even hotter shower.
He emerged from the bathroom to find that Stella had changed into her pajamas and was reading a textbook titled, “Respiratory Diseases in Infants.”
“Cheery subject,” Brandon joked.
Stella put the book down, not looking amused. “You must by exhausted; I’ll let you get some sleep.”
She turned the light off in the living room leaving Brandon sitting alone in the dark. He was in a warm place, sleeping on a comfy sofa. But he still felt all alone.