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I grab the tissue box yet again. If I’m being perfectly honest, this rota is getting a tad bit tedious now. This is now the 4th time mum has given a shot at a meaningful, enlightening speech that would aid me in my college life - and it merely ending in a torrent of tears. Of course, I couldn’t possibly show this on my front so I mask my face with a despondent look, casting my eyes to the floor. Honestly, I should get an Oscar for my flawless acting. 

“Thanks, honey”

“No problem mum”, yep, even the same words. 

I climb the steps, two at a time, and flop down on my bed. I contemplate on how different my life would be in only a couple of days. Moving away from home obviously had been hard for my mother to digest. I was catching a plane to Boston and going to Boston University. Receiving the acceptance letter had all felt like a dream, but now, things were starting to get real and that scares me. Change isn’t something I adapt to very well. My things had - for the most part - already been packed up. 

Sighing, I get up and flip through a book of all our family photos that I would be leaving behind. I feel moisture welling up in the corners of my eyes, and instead of blinking them away, I welcome them. Perhaps this is the sorrow leaving me, tears extracting all of the sorrow out of me if I let it do so.  The tears don’t stop and I won’t stop them. The image now has tears rolling down it. The picture I’ve been staring at was a beach day at Daytona. We were all holding ice-creams - mum, dad, Georgie, and grandma and I - a ring of frothy ice-cream circling my mouth. Dad. The sun was beating down on us all, the weather a reflection of our cheery mood. Georgie was only little then, propped up on mums hip, grinning wildly. I meander through this pleasant flashback, unkeen to bring my mind back to the present. Eventually, though, my mind does retrace its steps back to now. The dichotomy between my life back then versus now is immense. Most of all, I miss being care-free, galloping about without a care in the world. Now it’s all work, work, work. 

I hear footsteps and hurriedly wipe my face, making sure there are no streaks of tears left and shove the photograph book beneath my bed, with the intention of never getting it out again. My mother steps into my room and apologies - yet again - for earlier. I shake my head and say that it’s fine when really - it’s not. I don’t understand how absolutely everyone around me indulges in their sorrow at me leaving, but no one expects me to feel an ounce of melancholy. I haven’t been asked ‘How do you feel?” In what feels like an eternity. I’m expected to comfort those who openly express their sadness and lend them a shoulder to lean on. But where’s my shoulder? A voice in my head said. But I know I’m strong enough to keep it in myself. I can handle it. My mother has been gazing at me openly, with almost a child-like look, throughout the time these wild thoughts have been chasing around in my head. I feel a sudden revulsion at the sight of my mother seeing me obviously muddled, but refusing to offer help - or even some sympathy. 

I tell her I need some peace and she nods, closing the door behind her. I eye my phone. The thought solely flitters across my mind for a nanosecond. However, it doesn’t leave. Rapidly running through all the possible outcomes and finalizing that it couldn’t be that bad, I reach for my phone and go to contacts. Unblock. My fingers hesitate before my eyes, the possibility of events in the near future sending a shiver down my spine. I click on the telephone icon and bring the phone up to my ear. 

Now all that’s left is to wait. It rings a few times. With each ring, I brace myself, expecting a gruff voice to pick up. But none comes. I heave a sigh and put my phone back on my dresser. All in all, I’m relieved. Relieved that I don’t have to face one of my on-going fears, relieved he didn’t answer. I am just about to click block again when a blue screen lights up my phone. He’s calling. The red telephone icon has my mother written all over it, I should pick that one, pick it for her, it’s what she would want. My eyes then flicker to the green telephone icon. I see two parallel universes before me, each with a door of one of the telephone icons. I shut my eyes and will that God leads me to the correct one.

“Hello?” The gruff voice meets my ears, sending me down a spiral of the past. I shake my head quickly to emerge out of my reverie.

“Dad, I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking to call after all these years.”

“No, no, how are you son?”

The question is like rain after a drought to my soul. A grin creeps onto my face. “Not too bad, thank you for asking”

“That’s great son. I’ve actually been trying to reach for ages now, I’ve been meaning to ask you something quite important.

Uh-oh, here it comes. The grin slides off my face.

“Yes dad, go on.”

“Well sonny, I know you didn’t get into your dream school but I have quite the dream life ready for you. Here. With me.”

I falter, although expecting this, no amount of bracing could’ve prepared me well enough. 

“Look, son, I know it’s a lot to ask, but I promise you will never have to lift a finger or worry about financial matters - I’ve got you covered. It’s beautiful here in Hollywood, Janet will be elated to have you around, I’m positive.”

“Janet?”

This time it’s dad’s turn to falter. “Yes, my...new…partner. I’m sorry, I should’ve let you know earlier, but your mum... I wasn’t sure how to go about it.”

I place my palm on my forehead, just imagining what my mother would say about this matter is enough to halter me. “No dad, that’s okay, and if I’m being perfectly honest, the main reason I called was to see if I still had a place with you.”

“Of course you do son. Look, talk to your mother and I’ll book the plane journey, on me.”

“Dad, I’m coming. I’ll let mum know my decision, but there’s no going back.”

“Alright son, can’t wait for your confirmation call, talk soon.”

I end the call and am surprised with how light and airy I feel. Considering change isn’t one of my favourite things, this is quite baffling. Hollywood. A new life. Just one thing that’s left to do. I walk out of my room. I go down the steps. Down to the past. Down to my sniffling mother. 

August 07, 2020 22:20

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5 comments

Deborah Angevin
10:21 Aug 18, 2020

The opening with the crying mom... I found it very relatable and realistic. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, Zahra! P.S: would you mind checking my recent story out, "Gray Clouds"? Thank you :D

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Zahra Daya
16:59 Aug 22, 2020

Thank you so much! And I'd be happy to :)

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India Moon
05:41 Aug 13, 2020

Totally relate to this: "I don’t understand how absolutely everyone around me indulges in their sorrow at me leaving, but no one expects me to feel an ounce of melancholy. I haven’t been asked ‘How do you feel?” In what feels like an eternity. I’m expected to comfort those who openly express their sadness and lend them a shoulder to lean on. But where’s my shoulder?" Also loved the visualization parallel universes in the simple mundane task of choosing to pick up a phone call. Great emotional journey here! Well done.

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Zahra Daya
18:14 Aug 13, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm sorry you could relate to that part, if you need to talk and no one is around, I'm always happy to help. :)

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India Moon
05:12 Aug 14, 2020

So kind of you Zahra. Thank you! :)

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