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SOPHIA Vabueretti opened her eyes to a stormy morning. It was giving her goose bumps and she quickly fumbled around, reaching for her blanket. It might have fallen from her bed during her sleep. She wondered if she was already awake or still trapped in a dream as the broken oak tree branches at their backyard fell angrily onto the rooftop of their renovated Hispanic house.
In a blast, it raged on and on as if the sounds could break every corner, and it truly frightened her.
She peeped through her windows. Outside, the streets were empty of people, and not even the truck of Mr. Salvador that was often parked along the wide street in front of them was around. She sighed for a moment, absorbed by the singing wind and rushing splash of heavy rain upon the windows, when she heard the careful knock of her mother.
"Sophia, honey, it's past nine already. I know your classes are suspended but don't sleep that long," her mother pleaded in a soft voice.
Despite her languor precipitated by the cold weather, Sophia pushed herself to open the door. Rubbing her eyes, she was surprised when her mother handed her a sealed white envelope, a good sign that it wasn't opened yet.
"I was supposed to give it to you last night but you were in a hurry to meet Giovanni," Elizabeth shared, anticipating for her daughter's response: excitement, perhaps. But it turned out wrong when Sophia's head remained up in the clouds.
"Uh, aren't you going to open it already?" Elizabeth resurrected the mood, giving the impression that she already knew what was inside.
At last, Sophia showed some movements. "Um... maybe later, Mom," she smiled and quickly slid it behind her back, feeling much better if she'd open it in her mother's absence.
"All right." Elizabeth returned a wider smile. "Alex and Nadine are already downstairs. Don't skip breakfast, okay?" she concluded and then left.
Closing the door, Sophia shifted her full attention to the elegant envelope and saw that it was from the National Art Institute. A couple of months ago, she wrote and sent them a sample of her artwork, hoping that she would qualify for the institution's annual painting contest--a stepping stone for her, as she always thought of pursuing an art career. That painting contest was Orlando City's most prestigious one and it filled her dreams, that someday, she would be recognized for her passion.
Bit by bit, she opened the envelope, excited to know if she was qualified, but at some point, fearful of rejection. Then, she unfolded the white linen paper and started to read, bursting with hope.
"Oh, I can't believe it!" she nearly screamed. To leap for joy was an impulse. Then she hurried downstairs to tell everyone.