My dad is a tall man, with emerald green eyes, a square jawline, and a smile that seems to always make any situation seem better.
I’ve inherited some of that. His emerald green eyes and the height.
Now you might be wondering about my mom. Well, I am, till this date, still wondering about that, too. She died right before I was born in a car crash.
“You were lucky to be alive,” Dad says. “Or else, I don’t know what would have become of me,” Dad says that my blonde hair and wide eyes come from my mom. He never really talks about her, though. I don’t blame him. It must be hard for him, even up till now. That’s why I try not to bring up the topic too much.
“Bye, Kelly!” Dad called from the kitchen counter.
“Bye, Dad!” I called back, and the minute I stepped outside, I knew that eleventh grade would be tougher than a ninth or tenth grade ever will be. Prom would happen, the nerve-racking SATs, etc! Most of all, eleventh grade would change me.
I stepped onto the bus and put on my earbuds. Despite putting the music on to the highest volume, I could still hear the boys screaming in the back.
“Hey! Turn it down!” the bus driver yelled, but there was no change.
“Shut up!” a voice called from the back. Everybody turned their heads to see what all the commotion was about. When we saw who said it, everyone started laughing. I couldn’t help but smile. That girl was Ava Max, the shortest kid in our school.
Her face turned pale as she put on her earbuds and continued reading.
A few minutes later, the bus pulled up in front of the school.
Home of the Raiders! The titles screamed.
I stepped into my first class: homeroom. Ok, well technically, it wasn’t really a class, just somewhere you would get your schedules and all, but whatever.
As I got my schedule, I started checking it over. First-class was math.
I stepped out of the homeroom and into Math.
“Take your seats, everyone!” Mrs. Mattos, our math teacher, said. She was very charming. She had wide eyes and blonde hair, just like me. Some wrinkles on her face indicated that she was old, but she was exceptionally old.
Before beginning, she glanced over at everyone, her eyes lingering on me for a moment, and started attending.
“All right, do we have Emma Taylor?” A girl whose long blonde hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail raised her hand. It looked like Mrs. Mattos was going to say the next name when her face turned sort of confused.
“Um, Kelly Brown?” I raised my hand and she continued with the attendance.
We were given an assignment on angles to work on for the rest of the period, I gave the paper in, and she gave me a C-. I guess they didn’t grade by effort anymore like they did in middle school.
“Do you, um, have a free period by any chance?” Mrs. Mattos shifted in her chair, just as I was about to head out the door. Was she nervous?
“Yeah, right now. Why?”
“Well, I—I needed some... help. I needed some help in grading papers. Would you like to help me?" I looked around as if asking for help. Right now? I was planning to study! But her large blue eyes made me think otherwise. I plastered on a huge smile on my face and said, "Of course!"
“So,” Dad said that night. “How was your second day of being a Junior?”
“Oh, it was nice,” I said. “Mrs. Mattos, my Math teacher, isn't as bad as Ms. Marsh.” I rolled my eyes as Dad laughed. "She was horrible! She barely taught us anything! Thank God eighth grade wasn't the longest school year!" Dad laughed even more and I lightly punched his shoulder.
That night, as I was cleaning the attic, I found a picture of a woman. Her long blonde hair flowed behind her back and her deep, sea-blue eyes reminded me of a quote by William Shakespeare: The eyes are the window to your soul. She reminded me of Mrs. Mattos, too, both with the same mammoth eyes and long, stringy hair. I grabbed the picture and hung it above my bed. It looked nice there.
At Math class the next day, before heading out to English, Mrs. Mattos asked, “So Kelly, do you want to help me grade some papers after school today?”
“I can't,” I said. "I promised to help Dad clean the house tonight."
“Oh. Well, that's okay! I'll see you tomorrow in class!” I smiled.
It wasn’t until I saw dinner laid out in front of me for dinner after helping dad clean the house did I realize how hungry I was!
“What’s with the feast?” I asked dad as I served myself a big plate of spaghetti.
“Why not?” Dad asked.
I shrugged. “Guess I’m not used to big feasts.”
“Well, you better get used to it,” he teased. Dad served himself a plate of Caesar salad and asked, “So, about this teacher of yours... what does she look like?”
“Well, she's really, really, really pretty!” I said, laughing.
“Yeah," Dad muttered, smiling slightly and shaking his head.
“So, um, how are your parents?” Mrs. Mattos asked the next day as I helped her grade some papers. I figured it would look good on college applications, and talking to her wasn't so bad.
“Well I have a dad,” I said. “My mom died before I was born.”
“Well, I’m very sorry to hear that.” I shrugged.
“It’s okay. My dad tries his best to make up for her, and I accept and appreciate that.”
“Oh,” she said. Then: “So what are some of your favorite hobbies?”
“Playing the violin. I mean, that used to be it, except…”
“Oh, my god! That’s so weird! My mom played the violin, too! I don’t have a particular interest in playing, and boy am I bad! But, I mean, it’s the only thing I have left of her, so I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.” Mattos nodded.
“Mrs. Mattos! It’s time for the Robotics club!” a student said, coming inside.
“Oh! Of course, I completely forgot!” Mrs. Mattos turned to me, biting her lip. “See you at parent-teacher conferences tomorrow?” I nodded.
“Bye!” I said, heading home.
“Let’s go inside,” I said when we arrived at Math the next day for conferences.
Once we entered, Mrs. Mattos smiled. But when she saw dad, she instantly turned pale. I looked at dad. He looked even paler! What was going on?
“Kelly, sweetie, why don’t you wait outside. I’ll speak to your father and then you can come back, alright? Just give us a couple of minutes.” Mrs. Mattos said. I shrugged and stepped out. I don’t know what happened inside that classroom, but when dad came outside, he looked sick.
“Dad?” I said. “Everything all right?”
“Let’s—let’s go home,” Dad stammered.
That night, as we were eating dinner, dad said, “Kelly, we’re going to move.” I almost spit out my food. Move? Why?
“Wait, what? But dad, I have school here! And why? This is so unfair! I just started eleventh—” Dad held up his hand.
“Kelly, we’re moving as soon as possible. I don’t want to talk anymore about the topic.” I tried to convince him that there was no point in moving, but he had that look on his face that meant that he was firm with his decision. I couldn’t finish the rest of my dinner. I didn’t have an appetite. I was excused for the night. I went into my room and plopped on my bed.
This was so unfair!
The next day at lunch, I was chewing on a bite of my sandwich, looking at a point directly above Mrs. Mattos's shoulder when she asked, “Sweetie, are you feeling okay?”
I shook my head. “We’re moving in a week.” Mrs. Mattos seemed to shrink a little bit. Then I asked the question that had kept me awake last night.
“What exactly happened at conferences yesterday?” I asked.
“Listen, Kelly, there’s something that you don’t know about. Something that I need you to know.”
“Well, what is it?” I asked.
“Well, I have to go...” I said, but neither of us made a motion of leaving. Finally, I headed out the door into History. I couldn’t stop thinking about what Mrs. Mattos had said, though. Was there something that she needed to tell me? What was it?
I headed into Math the next day, with high hopes and expecting answers. But she was absent, and there was a substitute.
The same thing happened for four more days. Where was she? Was I really going to leave without even saying goodbye?
Fortunately, Mrs. Mattos came into class a couple of days later, and I was helping her grade some papers after school when I stopped and asked once again, “What happened at parent-teacher conferences?”
She sighed and looked down. Then she looked up at me with teary eyes.
“I know it’s very unbelievable, and I’d understand if you’d hate me. But Kelly, your mother never died. She’s alive, and in fact, I know who she is.”
Her response left me in for a big shock.
"Kelly... I am your mother."