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The death of a family member is tragic for everyone and no one can replace the love of a mother. Faith’s father tried to—many times. No one could replace his Scarlet, but he still tried and failed every time. No one could laugh like her, cook his favorite meal just right, or love his daughter like Scarlet. He was desperately searching for someone to replace her, but he really should have been looking for someone new to love.
Faith, now seventeen, thought that true love was impossible. Her dad was on his fifth wife and still hadn’t found what he was looking for. It was a pointless cycle of disappointments and heartache. She just didn’t see the point in trying. The only thing she could say she truly loved was a stuffed animal and a cross necklace that her mother had given her before she died, but she lost those a long time ago, along with the hope that there was something worth loving in this world.
Her father liked to move after every wife, because he hated feeling resentment when he saw his ex-wives around town, knowing that he wasted those months with the wrong person left a bad taste in his mouth. So once again, she was in a new town, new school, and had a new mommy that she thought would be gone in five months. She reluctantly got ready for school, which she hated because once she got close to someone she was off to a new school because her father couldn’t own up to his mistakes.
When she arrived, there was a car in the parking spot she was assigned to. “This is going to be an annoying six months,” she thought as she got out the car to yell at the jerk who had taken what was hers. “Hey idiot, this is my spot!”
The driver opened the car door and responded, “I’m sorry, you must be mistaken. I’ve had this spot for the past two years.” When the driver stepped out, Faith had lost all frustration for a second. The voice belonged to a tall, dark, and handsome figure. He owned a pair of eyes that were the color of the rain forest after a heavy storm and a smile that would give Brad Pitt a run for his money.
The shock of the seemingly perfect guy had her dumbfounded. “Um, I…I…” The boy smiled at her stutter and she snapped back into focus. “I’m new here and this is the spot the lady in the office assigned me.”
She handed the guy the sheet of paper and he nodded as he spoke, “That’s actually the spot in front of my car. I got that confused the first time too.”
Her cheeks grew red and she shyly said, “Oh, thanks.”
He chuckled at her, thinking her behavior was cute. “No problem. I’m Zane by the way.” He extended his hand as an offering of friendship.
But that’s what she feared; it starts with a handshake, friendship, a relationship, and then one day when the “magic” of romance wore off, they would wake up and see that they couldn't stand each other. There would be nothing to keep them together, because she did not believe in love. She hoped for once, that things would be different. “Well, Zane, my name is Faith.” She smiled and shook his hand and her cheeks returned to their normal color. They parted ways and she parked her car in its proper space.
The next day, they spoke outside of their cars like the day before. They discovered they shared the same lunch hour and she joined him at his table. In time, they became great friends. But as this cliché often happens in high school, they developed feelings for each other. At first, it seemed like nothing at all. They just enjoyed each other’s company a bit more and they were happier. But as time went on, they wanted more. Her feelings were conflicting with her views on life. “Will you go out with me?” She winced as Zane spoke those words outside of her car door one afternoon.
“I...need time to think about this.” She could see the disappointment on his face, but she thought she couldn’t give him what he wanted.
When she went home that day, there was an unexpected gift nestling with her pillows. It was her old friend. When she spotted him, a memory of the day her mother gave it to her came.
The color was drained from Scarlet’s face and the surface her cranium was shinny and smooth from the chemotherapy. Her movements were slow and cautious. Her muscles ached, but she pushed through it to smile sweetly at her daughter. She leaned over the side of her hospital bed and grabbed a pink bag with blue balloons. She groaned as she lifted it from the floor. Faith came to her side and took the bag from her. “Don’t strain yourself. I got it.” Faith flashed a quick smile to her and looked inside.
“I know how much you love penguins.” She smiled and took the necklace that was around her neck and placed it around Faith’s. “I want you to have this. Keep it safe while I’m gone.” Shortly after that, Faith and her father left the hospital. She wanted to stay, but her mother needed her rest. The next time she saw her mother was at the graveyard just before they closed her coffin and lowered her into the ground.
The memory caused a sudden reaction to happen. Tears tried to crawl out of her eyes and sprint down her face, but she caught them before they fell. She hadn’t thought about that day in years. It seemed like it was in another lifetime. It was almost as if it happened to someone else, but the pain was hers all the same.
The penguin didn’t look exactly how she remembered. Its colors were faded, an eye was missing, and its flippers were tattered and torn. He was beaten and broken over the years, but even so, he still had a faint smile, just as her mother did. It seemed to be a miracle that he was there. It was as if somehow the only thing she loved was there saying, “It’s okay to love something else.”
“I found it in a box of your mother’s things.” Her father was standing in her doorway. He smiled weakly, recalling those last few days when she was ready to lose her life. “Some things are worth loving, Faith.” He had Faith’s necklace in hand, passing each bead through his fist with his thumb. “Do you know why we named you Faith?”
She shook her head and turned to face him.
“It’s because we wanted you to always believe in something. You know I’m not very religious, but I at least believe in love. I may have trouble finding it, but if you can find it I think my troubles will be worth it.”
Faith smiled at her father and he put the necklace around her neck. “Thank you, and for once, you’re right.” They both laughed at her remark knowing that it was true. She then thought about Zane. Maybe it wasn’t so bad to give it a chance. “Um, Dad, I have to make a call.” He nodded and left her room. She started second guessing herself when she reached his name while going through her contacts. She took a deep breath and dialed.
“Hello?” Zane picked up right away which made her unsure of what she was about to do.
“Hey, it’s me.” Some things are worth loving. “We need to talk.”