Everyone was having such a good day, and I knew I was going to be the reason to ruin it.
My mom had called me at least twice to discuss this evening's dinner. Asking me about food options, and different table settings. My dad, even though he was working, was regularly texting me on arrival times and traffic patterns.
If it was any other day, another other circumstance, I would have been excited to. Happily answering their texts and calls with equal joy. Yet, every new ding sent a wave of dread over me. They knew nothing of my true visit, though I didn't doubt they were speculating.
It all started when I met Caleb, a new boy at my work, who had asked me on a date. That was four years ago, we were both young, and hopelessly in love. He had swirled me around, buying flowers and candies, asking to the movies and parties. It seemed to most of our friends, and both our families, we would be married within the year.
I had believed them, drowning in his affection, his hopeless romance. We had something out of a fairytale, a perfect picture relationship. Then, it became a horror story overnight.
My closest friend, Zoey, had sent me a text last night. Detailing her insight of our relationship, and none of it was good. She had described my worst nightmare, sending me her worst. Pictures of him with other girls, some taken just recently, his arms around their shoulders, his bouquets in their hands.
Not only was he cheating on me, but almost everyone knew. Zoey was just to have the guts to tell me. Apparently, it started with one of our co-workers accidentally reading a message that had beeped from his phone. Which had been thrown to a full out investigation in our friend group. It all came out true, he was cheating on me.
I cried, screamed. This was my perfect romance, this was my happy life. He had ruined it, with his poisonous smile and frangrat cologne. It made me feel sick, the idea, the photos. I had stayed up all night, packing for my parents house, and screaming at the walls.
Once the day started to bring me mercy, and the sun rose above the horizon, I began my road trip home. Taking very little with me, besides the absolute necessities and the Christmas presents.
My phone rang through the car, making me jump from being lost in my thoughts. Struggling to keep the car straight, and reach the phone at the same time. It rang once more before I answered it.
“Hey Mom, what’s up?” I struggled to make sure my voice didn’t crack. There was slight shuffling on the other side, like she was situating herself in a chair.
“Hi darling, so I just wanted to know your ETA?” she asked, her voice in a sickly sweet tone. I looked over my phone, making sure I got the exact right time.
“Probably around four, hopefully in time for dinner,” I responded, taking in a deep breath, I had to tell them about Caleb. “Hey mom, I have something to tell you about Caleb.”
“Oh honey, wait till you get here, it’ll be better when you're here.” I swear I could have heard her giggle at the end.
“Uh alright, well see you soon,” I managed, ending the call after she had bid well.
Maybe she already knew, it seemed unlike her to not want to know right away. My mother, Jane, always called for life updates or new drama. Like I was willingly withholding information by living so far away.
Perhaps we were all on the same page, and she just wanted to comfort me in person.
Every Time I got a text, or my phone buzzed on the dashboard, a little piece of my self control left me. My dad had non-stop questioning me since six that morning, requesting for updates or delays. Yet, nothing had changed. I had left early enough to miss most of the morning traffic in the city, and was gliding through the back roads.
He seemed to be insistent to make sure everything was going perfect, no matter how much it annoyed me. Texting me, once every other half hour. That was the first moment I realized something was going on.
My father, Alex, was a man of few words. Planning his life in the books, or hiding behind the computer screen of his work. When I was younger , he was a little weird or out of place among the other dads. As I matured, I realized how scary the world can be, and sometimes you just need a good book .
So, when he was contacting me routinely, something else was going on. An alternative motive, like a surprise party or gift. Short term of it was, he knew something that I did not, something he was very excited about. Which didn’t narrow it down much, but it did limit out a party.
At the eighth ding, I lost it. Snatching the phone from the dash and sending him a text.
‘Can we call?’ I messaged, watching as the gray bubbles popped up.
‘Sure, I’m at lunch.’ he responded, just before I hit the call button. After a moment, my fathers voice rang over the bluetooth.
“Hey, Molly! What’s up?” He asked, I could hear the hesitance in his voice. He definitely was keeping something from me.
“Is something going on?” I interrogated him.
“Why would you say that?” He questioned, sounding concerned.
“Cause you never text me, like never, but now you’re almost non stop. So what’s going on?” I concluded, finishing with a small huff. There was silence on the other end, like he was trying to understand my argument.
“I just feel like we haven’t seen you in a while, and I’m just excited to spend the holidays with you,” he persuaded, sounding like he was repeating something off. Silence and tension filled between us, we both knew he was lying, and yet neither wanted to admit it.
“Alright, but I got to tell you something about Caleb,” I breathed, letting it all spit out at once, not allowing for a moment of hesitance.
“Just tell me when you get here honey, I got to head back to work. Love you, see you soon!” He rushed, ending with the sound of the dial tone ringing back to me.
Again, something was wrong, and definitely I was not being updated on the story.
Pulling up to the house was bittersweet. On one hand, I couldn’t wait to see my family, and on the other I had to tell them about Caleb.
The first realization they didn’t know about the situation was my brother. He texted me asking if Caleb was bringing his skateboard, when I responded Caleb wasn’t coming, I was met with a flurry of texts from my parents. They were concerned if something had happened, and I really didn’t have the heart to tell them over text. I had lied, telling them something had come up with his own family.
When they heard that, it was met with a mix of realization and apologies on their outburst. Though it made me even more nervous for the coming days, where I would have to eventually explain why we weren't calling as regularly.
I breathed deeply, mustering up all my courage to just simply open the door handle. Biting the bullet, I pulled the handle, letting the door swing open on its own. The December wind sent a chill through me, leaving me to strangle putting my sweatshirt on.
I managed enough to get to the door, staring it down like it dared to merely exist. I placed my hand on the handle, just before it flung open, revealing my mother.
“Oh Molly dear, you're home. Come on sweetheart. Dinner is set, we were just waiting for you,” she rushed, already guiding me to the dining room. My father and brother were already seated, Tucker greeted me with an annoyed scowl, and dad was jumping out of his seat.
“Molly, honey, how are you?” he greeted, wrapping me in a hug before I could even put my bags down.
“Fine, you guys didn’t have to wait for me,” I replied, trying to get to my seat.
“Oh of course we did darling, you think we would miss this,” my mother gushed, trailing over to her own seat.
Once the pleasantries were out of the way, we made sure I had a proper drink.
We all sat down for dinner, and I realized we definitely weren't on the same page.
The room was dead silent, yet every glance up felt heated. From the slight smirks of my mother, to the light coughs of my father. A conversation was brewing, and I had a feeling none of us were on the same page, there were two very different stories.
They had a certain sparkle in their eye, and I noticed a smile pass between them. Like they had their own little secret, something they were dying to tell. A silent conversation of glances and head tilts. I tried muserting up some courage, breaking the silence, and getting on the same page. It didn’t seem I had too, cause Tucker did it for me.
“So when's the wedding?” he asked simply, lifting another monstrous spoonful of spaghetti to his mouth. I felt myself hang there for a moment, staring at him. Was this what this was all about, a wedding, maybe for one of my cousins or a friend? Yet, my parents snapped toward him, reprimanding for his outburst.
“What do you mean?” I questioned, noticing how both my parents glared at him. Then they looked at each other, another silent conversation passing between them. They dared to look sheepish at me, before my dad decided to speak up.
“Well, a few weeks ago Caleb called,” he said, watching my face. “He asked if he could propose to you.”
This can not be happening. Caleb had called my family, and asked for their permission. Caleb, the same guy from those photos and texts, the whole reason for my turmoil for the past twenty-four hours.
My family was not on the same page, they were splitting with grins, a grim opposite from my horrified face. My mom was the first to realize something was wrong, reaching for my hand across the table.
“Did he ask you?” she asked softly, rubbing her fingers against my knuckles. There was a heavy silence over the table, the whole demeanor of the dinner had changed. My family had assumed this was going to be the highlight of the holidays, and I was about to ruin them.
“I found Caleb cheating on me this morning,” I blurted, the room shifted. I felt almost relieved to finally tell them, set them straight, and get everyone on the same page. Then something snapped.
My mother looked aghast, mouth hung open and her eyes blown wide. She began to stutter a resort, jumping up from her seat.
“Molly Quinn, you can't just accuse someone of that!” Jane bellowed, her voice almost enough to knock the paintings of the walls.
“Now Jane, maybe there's some explanation,” my dad comforted, looking at me with a hopeful expression. Switching his gaze between his wife and I, trying to keep the room calm.
“No Alex, she's just being dramatic again, you know how she is!” my mother argued, getting into her husband's face. A part of me was shocked at the quick change, trying to focus on both of them at the same time.
“Mom, I swear I'm not! I have evidence, and multiple of my friends have told me!” I insisted, trying to get my point across. It was like my worst nightmare, it felt like the entire world was against me. Alex was rubbing his temples, trying to agree with both of our arguments.
“Alright, alright. Lets just calm down,” he begged, his voice dripping with annoyance. My mother rolled her eyes, not ready for this to be over.
“No, he was planning on marrying her not even a month ago. Something must have happened, and she's either being dramatic, or too stubborn!” she yelled, just before a ding echoed through the dining room. I picked it from my pocket, numb to the silence and stares surrounding me.
It was from Caleb. It was about a paragraph, apologizing, begging for my return. The final sentence, his last final word. ‘I understand if you want to break up. I won't lie about the photos, or texts. Just please know that’s not me, but I understand if you need a break. I feel like we’ve lost each other the past few weeks, and maybe a little bit of our relationship went too.’
I broke, thumping back to my chair, dropping my head in my hands. My eyes burned, sobs ricocheted through my chest, I felt so alone. I sat there as the clock clicked heavily, addressing the slow passing of time. There weren’t anymore clacking of forks, or chewing. Dinner had been picked up, after the monstrous fight.
The room had been a mere shell of what it had been just an hour ago. The final grenade being the text from Caleb, I could almost still hear the ding shrilling through the kitchen.
“I thought I was going to love him forever,” I squeaked from my chair. It had broken something, my mother had gotten up trailing to my side. Kneeling just to my side, her hands resting on my knee.
“New forever starts everyday. Everyday a new forever begins. Don’t let this one person ruin your life, maybe just the day. But not your life sweetheart.” She whispered, after ushering my brother and father out of the room. It was just us, lost in our own little moment.
Some people say they’ll love you forever, and yet forever to them only lasts a few years.
I assumed it was forever, my family believed it was forever. Yet, here we were, slightly more broke then we were last year. Thick Silence filling the living room, small sniffles were the only thing able to pass.
This day had seemed to last forever, my ruined day. The one I knew from the moment I read over those messages, was going to ruin everything. I felt hopeless, lost, more than a little confused.
Forever might have been a few years for some, yet it wasn’t for me. Now forever is over, and I’m stuck in the past, waiting for the clock to restart. Maybe tomorrow, I won’t ruin it and my mother will be right.
“Everyday a new forever begins.”