Downgraded

Twelve-year-old Heather Anderson is the richest, most popular girl in the seventh grade. But when Heather's home is robbed one night, the Andersons are forced to leave their life of luxury and enter an entirely different world.

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7. Merry Christmas...

  Heather squirmed around on the marble floor continuously. Her parents lay beside her, sound asleep. She props herself on her hands and stares into the eerie darkness. No more cozy bed. No more flat screen. No more two-thousand dollar leather couch. The very thought brings tears. Not in a million years would she think she would be sleeping in an empty foyer, with no blanket. She hugs her knees. No blanket.

   Heather feels a gentle nudge on her shoulder. "Wake up, honey," her mother rubs her messy eyes. A twinkling light shines through the colorful, custom window pane and lands on Heather's closed eyelids. Her eyes snap open and she lifts herself on her elbows. "C'mon, Heather," her father buries his head in his hands. Heather wobbles as she stands. Her mother gives her a hug then pushes away. She lays her manicured hands on Heather's shoulder's and sighs, "We called the police...it will all be all right." It will all be all right. That's the first time she ever heard her mom say that. Everything was always all right. But not now. "Where will we stay now?" Heather asks quietly. Mrs. Anderson throws her husband a panicked look. "All our relatives are out of state right now for the holidays...and...," He looks to the ground, "We're going to have to stay at another person's home." Heather widened her eyes in disbelief, "Where?!"    Her father gestures for her to calm down. "We called your mother's friend from college, whom we haven't called in years," He looked at his wife, "And she's willing to lend a hand..."  Her mother smiled at Heather, "It's okay, honey...she has a daughter and son around your age," her smile was replaced by a sullen expression, "We are going to have to stay there until our furniture is found. Then everything will be back to normal."   Her father rubbed his hands together and smiled, "Well Merry Christmas!"  Heather glared at her father until his "joy" died down. "C'mon, Heather. It may not be like all the other Christmases we had in the past...but there's some presents for you under the...well...where the tree used to be," He grinned pathetically. Heather raises her hands like she surrenders and her mother claps, "C'mon!" Heather rolls her eyes when her mother grabs her wrist and pulls her into the empty living room. Heather's jaw drops. A pile of presents flooded the corner of the room. "But...we.." Heather stutters as she approaches the overflow. "We went out and bought some presents when you fainted last night," her father beams. "I fainted?" Heather asks with a huge smile on her face. "Yep!" her mother chimed. Heather jumps up and down and rips up a present.

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