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5 Years Ago
“Mandi, do you want bacon?” Mom asked, pushing her brownish-blond hair over her shoulder.
“Yes, please,” I replied from my seat at the kitchen table. My eyes moved over what used to be her slender frame, before she got pregnant eight months ago. She is in excellent shape, and I can only hope to have a figure like that when I reach her age and have had three kids and expecting one.00
Her brown eyes met mine, “You better hurry up if we’re going to head out to go shopping.”
“Mom, I have plans with Sam and Rachel. Later tonight I'm going out with Nick.”
“Okay! Tell me what you want and I’ll get it for you. Oh, and Mandi, remember that you have to do the dishes tonight and vacuum the house,” She said reminding me of my usual chores.
“I won’t forget about my chores and I’m going to the mall with everyone no need for you to go,” Then, seeing the sad, upset look on her face, I quickly added, “but we could have a girls night out one night, just the two of us.”
Then her face got all happy. I was happy to see that look on her face. Since my dad left I hadn’t seen it very often.
“Mom! I need money!” Briana said in her normal, rudely manner.
“Don’t call me sweetie!” she said, as she looked up just to get the money then quickly averted her blue eyes away from my mom.
I watched my older sister storm out from the room and rolled my eyes. I don't know how my mother ever puts up with her. Bri and I aren't the best of friends. I love her and all, but there are days I can't put up with her rudeness and impatience. We were complete opposites, our only resemblance being the sandy color of our hair.
“Mom? I'm going out with Jake tonight.” Heather said, as she appeared from the basement, where she had been working out. She is always complaining that she needed more time to work out. Even though she works out for like two hours every day, which is why probably why she's a double zero with a belt fully tightened.
It wasn’t unusual for Heather to go out with Jake, her boyfriend. She was twenty-two now and has given me advice about boys, since we are really close. She is hoping he proposes one of these days. Not that she tells me, I just know it.
“Okay, have fun!” Mom said, pushed the plate of bacon towards me. I took three pieces.
“Oh, guys I'm gonna have to work tonight. I might not be home until later.” Mom added.
I nodded as I grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl on the counter.
My mom, Sherri, is the owner of Laugh’s, a big indoor facility for kids to be kids. It does very well. This is the job she uses to provide for the family. She misses my dad a ton even though she tries to hide it. I am not easily fooled.
Suddenly my phone buzzed. I looked down and saw a text from Nick.
‘Hey, John and my mom are going out tonight so if you want you can just come over here. Love you, Nick.’
Nick is my boyfriend. He is like a best friend to me and he helps me through the good and bad times.
‘Ok, sounds good. Love you too,’ I texted him back as I walked up to my room, I heard the television blaring from the wall; where it hung. Beside it sat all my posters and pictures of my friends. I sat down on my fuzzy blue comforter and turned on my computer.
It is a huge, old, stone house and has lots of land in the back and front. There’s one passage from my room into another secret room. When I found it, it smelled like mold after spending hours cleaning it is now clean. I use it as my lounge.
As I logged onto Facebook, Selena and Amber, my two dogs, came into my room and jumped onto my bed. We also have Nemo, a rabbit and Taylor my orange tabby cat, who acted more as a dog than a cat. We also have two Yorkshire terriers, Milo and Sandy, two Maltese, Vanessa and Abby, a brown tabby, Eliza, and another orange tabby, Carra.
“Mandi, dear. You father sent each of you girls a check do you want me to cash yours?” my mom said, as she walked by my room carrying a laundry basket, doing Bri’s chore for her. Ever since the divorce she has been afraid to yell at us, in fear of losing us, so she does our chores if we forget to do them
“Yes, please, and mom? You should really contact dad before the baby’s born,” I said, as I pet Amber’s golden fur.
“Amanda, we will not have this conversation again,” she said, as she walked away. I knew she was mad when she used my full name.
My dad is in L.A to film his new show. He got his show signed two months after he left. I missed him for the first month or two, and then I realized that it was his decision to leave; I had nothing to do with it, and no one else did either. Sometimes when I'm home alone, I watch his TV show reruns and talk to him like he is actually there and listening to me. I know it sounds stupid, but it helps me. He didn’t know that my mom was pregnant when he left and she hasn’t told him yet because, as my mom thinks, it would make her seem like she was begging for him to come back. I personally think it’s stupid not to tell him, especially since it’s not fair for my unborn sibling not to have a father figure. Whether or not he comes back to my mom I just want my sibling to have a father.
When I got to the mall, Rachel, Samantha and I went to the shoe store to pick out our graduation day shoes, since we already had our outfits picked out.
“We’re gonna be like twenty minutes,” I told the guys. We left them at the food court, which was right beside the shoe store, figuring they would eat while we shopped. Everyone would be happy.
“I love these. They would look super good on you,” I said to Rachel, as I held up a pair of clear-ish white high heels.
“How much longer?” Luke, Rachel’s boyfriend, asked, as he walked in to the store with a small soda and pretzel. He never stopped eating, but always remains thin. I joke around with him that the more he eats he just gets taller, since he’s six one. He can be obnoxious or the sweetest person, it depends on the day.
“Give us ten minutes,” I told him.
“Ten?” He replied shocked.
“Just go eat!” I teased him.
“Fine! I am dying to try the Chinese places new chicken.” He said, as he left the store and headed to Panda Express. Rachel rolled her eyes. Luke and her have been going out for two years now and they are past that awkward stage where you pretend to be perfect in the relationship.
As I turned back to Rachel, I saw her trying on the shoes I had showed her. Every time I look at her it makes me want to look like her. She’s the average American blond hair and blue eyes. I have known her for seventeen years-my entire life- since we are neighbors.
“Are you sure?” Rachel asked, me with a questioning look on her face.
“Yeah! Since your outfit and these blend but not exactly.” I said, considering her dress was red these would look real nice with the dress.
“If you say so,” She said, as she picked them up and walked toward the register and pulled out her Visa card.
“And Sam?” I called to her.
“Yeah?” Samantha replied, as her green eyes met mine I saw she was over at the sneaker section. She was more a tomboy, although I had convinced her to wear a dress to graduation, I did have to pay her and promise to buy her a new skateboard but it was worth it. She wasn’t always this way though. I have known her since I was seven, when she moved here, and when she was little she loved dressing up. Now, not so much. Although on her and Ross’ first date she did wear a skirt, after arguing with me about it.
“These would look great on you.” I said, as I pointed to a pair of white heels that laced up like sneakers.
“Sweet, I'm buying them,” She said, happy that I picked a pair without a big heal and that had laces.
“Now let’s check-out and leave before the guys freak.” Rachel suggested, as she headed back from the register.
“Just let me buy these,” Samantha said, as she headed over to the register and swiped her card and showed I.D.
After we checked-out, we went out and met the guys.
“Hey,” we all greeted them. Luke and Ross took the bags from Rachel and Samantha’s, since they had their bags from the shoe store. I had found a pair but I needed money, and I had left a coupon I had at home. Although my mom does have money, I don’t like people thinking I get by just by using my mom’s money so I clip coupons-to which my mom is very grateful.
“Hey.” Nick greeted me, and then kissed me on the cheek.
“What took so long?” Ross teased as he pushed his brown hair out of his blue eyes.
We are all like best friends. We don’t judge each other and it's cool; we can be ourselves around each other and not feel self-conscious or nervous. It is nice to be friends with a guy and get their point of view on things sometimes.
“We’re girls in a store with credit cards! What do you expect?” I said.
“Good point, I can't believe we are shopping for graduation already.”
“Me either but I’m so glad it is almost summer. I couldn’t take being in school anymore,” Luke said as his brown eyes met mine as he shook his brown hair out of his eyes.
“Me too.” I said, as Nick put his arm around my shoulders.
We all went to San Diego Prep. A private school near San Diego Zoo. All of our families except Nicks were wealthier, even his isn’t that poor they just aren’t as wealthy. Nick got into this school by scholarship, which I think is cool that he didn’t just get in by paying. Ever since his dad died when he was ten and his mom remarried to a guy named John, before we started dating, his family lost a lot of money. Since his dad was the big money maker. He doesn’t talk about his dad a lot but I know he missed him terribly.
“Now who wants to go get a pretzel and then go see a movie?” Ross asked as we walked toward the movie theater. Ross is a very soft-spoken guy at some times, but not at others. At five nine he can be the most annoying person or the quietest guy-which is why I broke up with him when we dated in seventh grade.
“Me,” I said.
“Me too,” Ross agreed.
“Majority wins then.” Rachel said.
Then we started walking to the pretzel stand with Nick’s arm still around my neck.
As we were leaving the theaters, after seeing Friday the 13th for the third time since it's been released into movie theaters, my phone vibrated.
‘Mandi you need to come home immediately. I will explain later.
“Nick?” I said, jerking my neck so fast his arm flew off my shoulders.
“Yeah,” He replied moving his arm so it didn’t fling and hit Rach.
“I have to go home, Heather’s orders.”
“Oh, ok do you need a ride?” He said as he gave me a quick kiss on the lips.
“No, I have my car. Thanks though, see you later.”
“Okay I’m looking forward to it.”
“I’ll text you if plans change.” I told him, “Bye everybody!”
“Bye Mandi,” They all called.
Then I left the mall and got in my Mercedes and headed home.
Brianna met me at the door when I got home. This kinda scared me, Brianna rarely greeted me at the door.
“Mandi, Mom’s gone into labor.” Brianna said, pacing back and forth. This is the first time in a while I have seen her actually show emotion.
“But she isn’t due for another month.” I said with the disbelief obvious in my voice, as my heart started beating super fast. My mom in labor a month early
“I know, Heather took her to the hospital I was waiting for you so we could head to the hospital together.”
When we got there, Brianna and I waited for a couple of hours, since Heather went in with mom to support her while give birth. The five hours in the waiting room were excruciating. It was five hours of thoughts of my dad calling me the baby going through my head as well as worrying about my mom and my sibling. It was weird and sad to see other dads coming out to tell their kids about their siblings knowing Heather would be the one to tell me about my sibling.
Five hours later, Heather came out to join us.
“How is Mom?” I asked.
“She is fine. She had extensive bleeding, so they are helping her now. They just want to be sure because of her age. Anya is getting checked out right now just to make sure she doesn’t need to be put in the ICU.”
“Oh, well it’s good they are both ok.” I replied, worrying about my mom.
“It’s a girl. Mom named her Anya. She weighs six pounds four ounce, considering she was born premature she is doing just fine.” Heather said, grinning broadly.
“Cool! I was hoping for a sister. I want to be able to brush her hair when she grows up just like you used to brush mine when I was little.” I said, as I looked over at Bri who was texting showing no emotion, what a shock.
“I remember that! You would always beg me to brush your hair, and you would be mad once I stopped.” Heather said, grinning.
“Smith family?” a young nurse called out.
“Here,” Heather said as she stood up.
“Sherri is back in her room. She would like to see you.” the nurse said.
“Hey.” Mom said sounding a little tired but trying to hide it. It wasn’t until I got closer I could see that she had Anya in her arms.
“Anya is so cute.” I said as I saw my little sister for the first time. She had bright blue eyes just like me and had my mom’s sandy hair.
Suddenly a young, well looking doctor entered.
“I need to talk to Sherri, alone.” He said.
Heather, Brianna, and I left the room. It seemed like ages being out in the hall. My legs were shaking as I paced and paced. I could only think the worst. Was she gonna be okay? I had already lost a dad I couldn’t lose my mom. Finally, the doctor left and we re-entered.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“It’s nothing too serious dears.” Mom said, seeing the look of concern on my face.
“Heather told you about the bleeding so I’ll need to stay in the hospital for a week or so.”
“I'm just so glad you’re ok, and I will drive by tomorrow morning to check on you both.” I said.
“I know. I am just so glad I have such helpful children,” She said, as she rocked Anya to sleep in her arms.
“Girls, no parties! There should be enough food in the fridge to last you until I get home.” she then informed me, whispering so she wouldn’t wake up Anya.
“Mom, we won’t have a party. If you at anytime need me call me ok?” I said.
“Thank you so much.”
“No problem.” I said.
“I have to go make a short call,” I said, leaving the room to call Nick.
“Hello?” he answered right as I left the room.
“Oh, hey it’s me. Guess what?”
“My mom had her baby, but they want to keep her for a week longer. I'm going to stay here for a little longer. Sorry to delay the date, but I thought maybe you could come over later; we could have dinner at my house, so I don't have to eat crappy hospital food.”
“Sure, I wouldn’t let you eat the hospital food. What’s the baby’s name?”
“I didn’t think you would, and her name is Anya.”
“No problem, call me when you want me to come over.”
“Thanks. I look forward to it.”
“See you later then.”
“Sounds good, see you then.
Suddenly a new nurse came in and told us to leave since our mom needed some sleep.
As we left the room I asked Bri, “So what are you doing tonight since Heather is going out, and you and I will have the house to ourselves.”
“None of your business squirt! All I know is I am not staying home alone with you! Why do you even care about me so much?” Bri said without even looking up from her phone, texting as usual.
“I don’t know. I guess because I love you so much.” I said
Then I called Nick, I told him I was heading home now. So he could come over whenever.
“Hey.” He answered. You could hear the TV in the background. He was probably playing Call of Duty or NFL 10 on his XBOX 360.
“Hey I am leaving the hospital now so if you want to come over, anytime is ok.”
“I will be over in like ten minutes.”
“See ya then,” I said as I hung up.
As I pulled into our driveway I saw Nick’s car.
“Hey.” I greeted him.
“Hey,” he said kissing me on the cheek.
“I ordered pizza before I left the hospital, I hope you don’t mind eating pizza?”
“Sounds good to me, when will it be here?” he asked.
The doorbell rang.
“I will go get it.” I told him.
“One large pizza, seventeen eighty.” The pizza delivery guy said.
“Here you go, keep the change.” I said as I pulled out two ten dollar bills from my pocket.
“Have a good night.”
“You too.” I said as I took the pizza.
“Now,” I said as I put the pizza on the center table near the couches.
“Cheese?” Nick asked.
“Same as always.”
We were on the couch watching TV with his arm sitting on my shoulder, while we were eating pizza. When I moved my glance from the TV to Nick it looked like he was thinking about something.
“What are you thinking about?” I asked.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
“I feel the same way.”
“You are my life and I will always love you,” he said as he gave me a kiss on my lips.
“What's that for?” I asked, concerned.
“What do you mean?” he said as he put his hand on mine entwining them.
“Why are you suddenly all lovey-dovey? You are not normally like this.” I said as I moved my hand away from his.
“My mom’s company asked her to move, to Pennsylvania. Mandi, I'm leaving in a month.”
“You’re moving?” I said in disbelief.
“Its nothing, we can call and Skype and text and-”
“What about school? The scholarship? You can't leave! What about me? What about us? I love you.” I said as I moved away from him on the couch.
“I want to stay but I can't barge in on someone family and ask to live with them. Ross’ family is falling apart without another kid in the house and Luke’s mom and I don’t get along,” he said as he moved closer to me and entwined our fingers, I didn’t object this time.
“What about me? We have a spare room, and I love you I can't lose you like I lost my dad,” I said.
“I love you too and you won’t ever lose me but I doubt your mom will let me move in.” he said as he put his arm around my shoulders.
“Nick, my mom loves you. She just wants me to be happy. You’re spending the night right? We can go ask her tomorrow. The worst she can do is say no. I just can't lose you like I lost my dad, Nick. Losing him I got over because I had you if I lose you too, I don’t know what I will do,” I said as I leaned my head on his shoulders.
Suddenly the doors were thrown open and Heather walked in with a HUGE smile plastered across her face.
“Guess what?” she said as she came and sat down on the couch oblivious to the fact that Nick and I were having a conversation.
“What?” I asked, wiping the tears from my cheek.
“Jake proposed, we are getting married! AH!” she said as she continued smiling.
“That’s great, we are happy for you, aren’t we Mandi?” Nick said as he nudged me.
“Ok, what’s going on? Did I miss something? Mandi you are crying, on a day you shouldn’t be. You have a new sister and brother-in-law! Fill me in,” she said as she looked from me to Nick then back to me.
“Nicks moving, in a month, but I told him I think mom would let him stay here, right?”
“Yeah, why wouldn’t she I mean Nick you’re part of the family and if not you guys can still call. Tomorrow you can come with me to tell her I engaged that way she’ll be in a good mood, well I’ll leave you two love birds alone,” Heather said, as she got up and headed downstairs, probably to work out.
“Actually, Mandi, I have to go. I wish I could stay but my mom wants me home. Oh, text me what time you are gonna go to the mall to ask your mom I’ll go with you. Love you, I’ll let myself out,” he said, as he walked over to the door and let himself out. Leaving me to think about everything that has happened.
‘Screw this,’ I thought, ‘I'm going to ask her now.’
So I headed outside and got in my car and headed to the hospital, it was only five o’clock, still light out.
When I got to the hospital I headed to her room and let myself in.
“Hey, mom,” I said as I shut the door behind me. She was in her bed holding Anya.
“Oh, Mandi, why are you here? I thought you were coming by tomorrow? What’s up?” she asked, looking a little concerned.
“Mom, Nick is moving in a month but I thought we have an extra room at the house so I thought that maybe he could come stay with us, right?” I asked her trying to avoid eye contact.
“Mandi, I um I, I,” she said as her eyes slowly rolled to the back of her head and I ran to her and immediately grabbed Anya and pressed the nurse button.
I put Anya in her crib, and went to my mom and started screaming at her to wake up.
When the doctors came in they told me to take Anya and leave the room. This scared me, I knew she was having a seizure, I just hoped she was okay.
Finally after what seemed like hours the doctor came out, “Miss Smith?”
“Yes, how is she?” I asked, as I got up from my seat.
“I'm, sorry. She didn’t make it, she's gone,” He said, as I started to cry. I had to sit down again my legs felt weak. She couldn’t really be gone, she was only in her forties.
“Is there someone I can contact? Your father?” The doctor then asked.
“He’s out of the picture, its just me and my older sisters, I will contact them,” I said, as I pulled out my phone and dialed Heathers number.
“Mandi? Where are you?” she said, sounding a little mad that I wasn’t at home.
“I'm at the hospital, I came to ask mom if Nick could move in and she had a seizure. Heather, she's gone. Mom’s dead.” I said, as I started to cry to which woke Anya up and she started to cry too.
“What? I'm coming,” she said, as she hung up.
All I could think about was how it was my fault and poor Anya. If I hadn’t have come to ask her she wouldn’t have had the seizure, and poor Anya wouldn’t have to grow up without a mom or a dad. Anya. Who would take care of her? I was too young and I don’t know if they would let Heather. I couldn’t lose her too.
When Heather arrived I filled her in. She started to cry. I didn’t. I had already cried so much, I didn’t know if I could cry more. I was still thinking about what would happen to Anya, so I went to find a nurse to ask her.
“Excuse me?” I said, as a nurse walked by.
“Yes, can I help you?”
“My mom just had a seizure and died, but earlier today she had a baby. What will happen to my sister?”
“Well, there needs to be a legal adult in her care, is the father in the picture?”
“No, not at all, but my sister is twenty-two. Does she need to be the legal guardian in writing though?”
“No, since she was born right before your mom died,”
“Thank you,” I said, as I walked back to Heather and Anya.
The funeral was a week later. We tried to contact my dad but it was too hard, so we just gave up. It was sad especially knowing that Anya wouldn’t have a mom or a dad in her life just her sisters. Three days after the burial of my mom, we read her will. She gave everything to Heather, Briana, and I. Heather and I decided we would keep the house and live in it to raise Anya, the two of us as well as Jake. Until I was nineteen then I would take over taking care of her myself. Nick ended up moving in with us. Then we both decided to go to the community college. Since I had to be close to Anya and since that was all his mom could afford. When I turned nineteen Heather and Jake let me know that they would stick around with Anya until I ended college then she would be all mine. I was looking forward to it. I graduated at the top of my class, followed by Nick.
“Anya! Nick! Breakfast!” I called outside. Nick was teaching Anya how to put spiral on a football when she threw it. Ever since Heather and Jake moved to Los Angeles and Briana moved to Pennsylvania, Nick and I are like Anya’s parents. Its weird when we go out to dinner people think that Nick and I are teen parents.
“Anya, we are going to the mall later to get you new shoes,” I said, as she greeted me with a hug. We then did our secret handshake we made had up on one rainy day.
“Sure, I can't believe you are starting kindergarten soon, it seems like just yesterday I was taking you home from the hospital,” I said, remembering that awful day my mom had the seizure.
“When are you gonna tell me the full story of what happened to mom and dad? I'm old enough now, you promised,” she said, as she sat down at the kitchen table and grabbed some of the bacon.
“You really want to know?” I asked, I knew she would need to know sometime but I didn’t think it would be this soon.
“Mandi, do you want me to leave?” Nick asked.
“No, you are part of the family and you have been ever since my mom died and my dad left. Anya, that’s what happened, our dad left before you were born and mom had a seizure the day you were born and she died,” I said, as my voice cracked. It was still hard to talk about my parents.
“Well, when is dad coming back?” Anya asked.
“Anya, I don’t think he is,” Nick said, as he squeezed my hand. He knew what it was like to lose a parent, but not two.
“Oh, why?” she said, as she took a bite of her bacon.
“I don’t know, I just don’t know. So, Nick, do you wanna head to the park today and take the dogs?”
“Sure, when do you wanna go? I just have to look into some stuff for work, but after that I'm good,” he said, as he too reached for some bacon. He was a homicide detective for San Diego Police Department. He was promoted to homicide detective after a year of being a police officer. I'm glad he’s now a detective, I didn’t like him being out on the streets in danger.
“Sounds good,” he said, as he threw a piece of bacon down on the floor to feed the dogs.
“Mandi, are Heather, Jake, and Bri coming back home for my birthday?” Anya asked, with her mouth full of bacon.
“Anya, don’t talk with your mouth full and I doubt Bri is coming but I'm sure Heather and Jake are, why don’t you call them?” I said, as I handed her my cell, with Heathers number on the screen.
“I think she was too young to tell her about my parents,” I said to Nick once we left the room.
“She had the right to know though, you did the right thing,” he said, as he gave me a hug, “Do you still think about that day, like you used to?”
“Not as much, but I still think about the fact that she might not have had the seizure had I not gone to talk to her about you, you know?”
“Mandi, the seizure would have happened anyway, whether or not you went to talk to her,”
“I know, I still wonder though. I miss being young and stupid, like she would have really let you move in. We both were forced to grow up fast because of Anya, not that I regret it for a single moment. Well, you weren’t forced to grow up, you chose to.”
“I chose to?” he said, questioning my word phrasing.
“You could have left me and said you were gonna go live with your mom but you stayed with me,”
“I stayed because I love you; in fact I love you more now. I know that what we have is real now, since we have been living together for five years and taking care of Anya together. When we were in high school it was different that it is now. Now we are more like a real couple and in love. In fact, I think its sweet when people think we were teen parents, because people really think she looks like us.”
“Well she is my sister, she should look like me. I don’t like when people assume we are married though, we just live together we don’t have to be married or engaged,” I said, taking a sip of my coffee.
“So, you wouldn’t want to get married?” he asked, sounding a little hurt.
“I would, I just don’t like when people assume we are married, you know?” I said, putting my coffee mug down to give him a kiss on the cheek. “I would marry you without hesitation any day of the week,” I added.