Amelia looked at her reflection in the mirror as she pulled her hair into a plait that fell over her shoulder.
She had never liked having her hair cut, protesting at the slightest trim despite her Mother's constant requests.
Her long, red tinted locks were by far her favorite feature.
As she examined her face in the mirror, she acknowledged how very ordinary she was - or at least, felt - once more.
Her nose wasn't too big or too small, her ears were well formed with small blue studs that Geema had told her clashed perfectly with her red hair,
and her face was oval and framed well with her braid.
Her eyes were a deep blue, the same as her Father's, and her skin was light. Her cheeks rosy with the chill in the air, her lips not too plump but always formed into a light smile.
She was pretty, she admitted, but nothing special.
She was the embodiment of an ordinary girl, pretty enough to get by but not enough to turn heads the way her friends did.
As she looped the band around the end of her braid a final time, she turned away from the mirror and stepped out to the top of the stairs. Her parents were awake now, bustling in the kitchen.
She heard with increasing volume as she descended the stairs yet more familiar sounds - the crinkling of her Father's paper as he flicked through the morning news,
the sizzling of pancakes on the stove, the low hum of the radio and of her Mother singing along.
She jumped the last few steps, landing with a light thud on the floor, before walking through to the kitchen.
"Ah! There you are" her Mother spoke "it's almost 8am, I was wondering where you'd got to!"
"Good morning darling" her Father said as Amelia dropped into the seat beside him and kissed him on the cheek "up with the bells again?"
Amelia nodded as she pulled apart a fresh pancake, drizzling syrup over it and popping a little too much into her mouth.
Her Mother berated her, telling her to "eat like a lady!", but as she turned back to the stove, her Father stuffed just as much into his own mouth, laughing quietly as he turned to his daughter.
Amelia began every morning smiling, enjoying breakfast with her parents before heading into town with her best friend Mary.
Amelia was freshly 18 - she'd been out of school for two years now.
She had taken on occasional babysitting for some local families to earn some extra money, but was fortunate that her parents did not pressure her to get a job or to move out.
She wanted to travel, one day, but kept that dream a secret until such a time as she could fulfill it.
Each Wednesday morning, Amelia accompanied Mary to her part-time job at a cafe in town, where she'd sit and read a book and talk to Mary whenever there were no customers to be served.
Mary had worked at the cafe since she was 15, and enjoyed her job. She was great with people, and always picked up on small talk until it was a full-blown conversation.
Many mornings, she'd watch as young men rushed as fast as possible from the cafe at just a few minutes to 9, walking with such speed they looked rather comical,
because they'd been entranced in conversation and made almost late for work in the offices.
It was Mary's special power; entrancing men.
She had shoulder-length blonde hair that often had tied in a high ponytail, swaying mesmerisingly as she worked the various coffee machines behind the counter.
Her skin was perfectly golden, her eyes a grassy green, and a figure like the hourglass Amelia's mother used to time her cakes in the oven.
Amelia had never been jealous of her friend, even though she was beautiful.
They had been friends since infant-hood, and jealousy was never something either of them felt.
What could the most gorgeous young woman in town be jealous of Amelia for, anyway, she thought as she finished her last bite of pancake.
At that moment, as though it was scripted, Mary knocked excitedly on the door.
"Good morning Mary! Pancakes, dear?" Amelia's mother spoke in that warm, maternal voice that suited her so perfectly
"Oh, thank you Mrs. Frost! I'd love some!"
Mary often ate with Amelia's family.
She had four older brothers, and though Swanson's family were by no means poor, it was always difficult to make enough food to satisfy four muscular, sport-loving boys.
Plates emptied fast in the Swanson family home, and Amelia's table held just the perfect amount of food for a family of four,
a habit her Mother had picked up years ago when she would invite Mary eat with them.
Mary sat down and ate her pancakes with haste, thanking Amelia's mother and then giving Amelia a knowing look that said "I have news".
The girls stood up, Amelia kissed her parents goodbye, picked up her bag, heavy, laden with books, and left the house.
Town was no more than a 10 minute walk, down a slight hill, meaning the walk was easy and enjoyable.
The sun was shining bright now, casting shadows on the ground and illuminating the fallen leaves that scattered the ground and crunched underfoot as they walked.
For a minute or more they walked in silence, before Amelia spoke.
"You had that look on your face this morning. What is it?"
"You know what look! The look you always give me before you burst out with some kind of exciting news. So spill it!"
"I have no idea what you're talking about..." Mary teased through a grin
"Mary Elizabeth Swanson. Speak up"
"I think Jacob is going to propose"
Both girls stopped dead in their tracks. They turned to each other, a smile growing wider over Mary's face as she saw her drop-jawed best friend staring in disbelief.
"How do you know?" Amelia said after a moment
"Well, I don't. But we HAVE been dating for two years now and he's always talking about our future, getting our own place and having kids"
"But why do you think he's going to do it now?"
"Because he got a promotion! And he always said, once he got a promotion, he wanted to buy that little cottage at the end of the lane, fix it up, and make it a home.
And yesterday he was acting really odd, sneaking off and not telling me where he'd been."
"I bet he was buying a ring" Amelia said, unable to help herself
"Oh I'm so happy for you, Mare!"
"Well I'm not engaged yet, just late for work, let's get a move on!"
And with that, with nothing else to say, both girls hurried the rest of the way down the hill and into town, bustling with morning charm.
They walked into Lucille's 10 minutes later to the smell of fresh coffee and pastries.