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Mom said we needed a vacation.
I was eating my usual breakfast of fruit and yogurt when she sprang that on me. My mother, the always-composed Nora Palmer, actually looked a little stressed. She kept rifling through her papers, which were strewn all over the kitchen counter. It didn’t look like she would be getting to work on time. My mom was the owner of a major catering company called Golden Plates Catering Co. This month was so busy I was sure the extra work would drive my her crazy. She had to leave in fifteen minutes and her papers were all over the counter, she still had on her slippers and sweat pants with her suit jacket, and her teeth and hair weren’t brushed. She kept running her hand angrily through her messy brown hair. At first I thought I heard her wrong. But then she said, “Work’s stressing me out and you’re home by yourself all the time. We need to get away for a while.”
I looked at my mom doubtfully. She’d never been much of a spontaneous planner. I am one of the few unplanned things that happened. She always said I was the best but I know why. It was because all the other unplanned things that happened to her were bad. My dad leaving was without a doubt the worst.
My parents met in college. My father, Charles Greene, was a spontaneous man with a big smile and an even bigger sense of humor. My mom was a meticulous planner with a timid personality. How they fell in love and got married, I have no idea. They planned and had my older sister Cecelia a year after they were married. That’s all my mom wanted. They were married about twelve years when my dad left. Two months later my mom found out she was three months pregnant with me. She never told my dad. He doesn’t even have an idea that I exist.
My mom finally had everything together. All her papers were in her briefcase, somewhat organized, and she had gotten her hair and teeth brushed. As she was leaving she pecked me on the cheek and said, “Don’t worry Sage. I’ll take care of everything and we’ll be out of here in no time. I love you.”
“I love you too Mom.” I said. My mom grabbed her briefcase and keys. Just as she was walking out of the kitchen I noticed she still had on her sweatpants and slippers. I called out to her. “Mom?”
She poked her head back in. I rolled my eyes at her and smiled. “You’re still wearing your pajamas.”
My mom looked down and a blush crept onto her cheeks. She put her briefcase down and grabbed her business suit pants from the laundry basket. As she ducked into the downstairs bathroom, she said, “Thank you, Sage.”
I was done with breakfast and upstairs before she came out.
I’ve decorated my room seven times in my whole life. The last time was last year and I decided it would be my last time redoing it. The walls were painted in town shades: the top half a pale green, the bottom a deep woodsy green. I had my bed with its olive colored bedspread and matching pillows. My bed, desk, and chest of drawers were matching oak pieces. On my drawers were my stereo and some framed pictures. Most of the pictures were of my mom, Cecelia, and me over the years. Then there was pone of me and my best friend, Dorothea, and next to that was the picture of me and my boyfriend Max at last year’s Valentine’s dance. And then there was the picture of my dad. Cecelia gave it to me when I was seven. My mom wasn’t happy with her but Cecelia thought I should at least have an idea of what my father looked like. I liked to look at it a lot.
On my desk were a bunch of notebooks filled with songs. My greatest passion was to play the guitar but no body knew except Cecelia. My mom didn’t even know. I bought my guitar when I was twelve and kept it hidden on the top shelf of my closet. I didn’t want anyone to know. Next to the notebooks were my laptop and a lamp. There was a grayish-green rug on my hardwood and then my white closet doors. Then there was two other doors: the one to my bathroom and the other to the hall. That was it for my room.
I stepped out of the shower and the steam was so thick I couldn’t see though it. I loved taking hot showers even though it dried out my skin. I blindly made my way to the sink and the mirror hanging above it. I wiped away the fog and looked at myself. My skin was clear due to a very thorough face wash. My hair was the same shade as my mom’s and Cecelia’s: mahogany brown with natural red highlights. Both Cecelia and I had our father’s deep blue eyes with a touch of gold around the pupils. My mom always told us that she was happy we had inherited our father’s eyes, that they were part of the reason she fell for him so hard. But sometimes I would see her looking at Cecelia and me with a hint of sadness in her brown eyes. I knew my mother had never gotten over our father leaving.I got dressed in jeans and a tank top, then went back to the bathroom to look for the nail polish remover. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Then I remembered Cecelia had borrowed it on her last visit. She was married to her college sweetheart and lived twenty minutes away. Even though she lived so close, she liked to spend the night whenever she visited. I searched the tops of her drawers and her desk. When I couldn’t find it I sank onto the swivel chair next to Cecelia’s desk and spun around a few times. As I spun my eye landed on Cecelia’s bedside table. I walked over to it and found the missing bottle of nail polish remover. As I reached for it I accidentally knocked over a bottle of nail polish. Thankfully it was closed and as I reached underneath the bed to get it my hand touched a piece of paper. I pulled it out and was about to put it on her table when the word “honey” caught my eye. I knew for a fact that Cecelia’s husband Rob, never wrote letters. I also knew that Rob adored Cecelia. And if Cecelia was having an affair it would break his heart. I knew I shouldn’t have but I felt it was my duty to find out who Cecelia’s secret lover was. The letter said:
I cant tell you how much your letters mean to me. I know its too risky to talk on the phone so I guess this will have to be the only way to communicate. I know your mother doesn’t want me around you or your sister but I miss you. I’ve never even met Brighton but I miss her too. What’s she like? I’m sure she’s just as beautiful as you.
Have you told you fiance about me? I really hope it doesn’t bother him too much. I know I could never go to your wedding but I wish I was the one walking you down the aisle. I hope you can send pictures. I would like one of you and Brighton together.
It should be easier to talk when you’re married. You’ll have more freedom. But you are a grown woman, Cecelia. You really should tell your mother about me. She cant keep me away from you now because you have to make your own decisions. I understand about Brighton but I hope you can at least tell her that I love her. If not, I will have to take matters into my hands. Please write soon, honey. I love you.
My breathing changed to hyperventilating. Cecelia wasn’t having an affairs, she was writing to our father. How could she have kept this from me. I sank onto the bed and tried to get my breathing back to normal. I could deal with this rationally. But why was I forced to find out? Why didn’t my mom want us to meet our father?