I’m brought back to reality when I hear someone knocking softly. I quickly wipe a few stray tears from my face and step out into the hallway. Mom’s standing in the doorway, watching me intently. “Are you alright dear? You were starting to look upset.”
“Sorry, Mom, I’m fine,” I reply. I reach up and fix my glasses, hoping that I won’t end up crying again. I already did today.
“What is it? What happened? Do you need help getting something?” Mom asks, walking closer to me so I don’t have to strain my voice. The door opens wider as Dad steps out, looking concerned. He walks over to me and places his hands lightly on my shoulders.
I shake my head and smile nervously. “Nah, I’m good. I was just wondering where my blanket is.”
“Here,” Dad replies, taking it from my grasp. “I figured you left it downstairs somewhere and decided to bring it up for you.” He turns and heads back towards the living room.
I nod my head and watch him go until he disappears.
"You looked troubled, so I thought you might like it."
My heart skips a beat, and I force myself to relax. "Oh, thank you, Dad," I say. "You didn't have to get it for me."
“Don’t mention it,” he responds, shrugging as he grabs onto his wife’s arm.
With a small sigh, I make my way over to the staircase. I start slowly climbing down the wooden ladder. I’m nervous about having to confront Mom about what happened yesterday. It’s hard enough telling my dad about everything. I guess I’m just worried that my dad won’t understand how I feel or what I want to do. I’ve never been the type of kid to ask for anything. And Mom’s always been the type to put other people first.
When I reach the bottom, I turn around and take another look at the familiar house I’ve grown so accustomed to. Everything looks so different from when I was little. The white walls aren’t covered in pictures anymore, the paintings are long forgotten in their original frames, and the furniture that once occupied the middle of our old house no longer holds any special place in my mind. All of my memories of this house are now gone, replaced by memories of the life we had here a few years ago, and the new memories of what is going to become of it.
My gaze slowly starts moving over to the big window in the room and I spot a figure sitting alone on the porch swing. As I make my way over toward the swing, I notice that it’s a girl sitting in it, staring straight ahead with her arms resting lazily on the seat of the swing, swinging slightly. I can’t see much of her face because her hood has fallen partially over her head, hiding most of her features, but judging by the height she’s sitting at, she should easily be the same height as me.
She suddenly swings back and forth, her legs swinging back and forth wildly as she continues to play with the chains of the swing. For some reason, my heart sinks when I realize that she can’t possibly be the person from last night. Because who could be sitting on my father's lap? Unless she came early...
The moment I realize that my suspicions may be true, a wave of guilt crashes over me and fills me with the urge to rush out of the room and hide in my closet forever, even though I don’t understand why I’d feel guilty. She was just my neighbour after all, and I’ve spent quite a lot of my childhood in her house. So why am I feeling this way?
Maybe it’s because she’s leaving for good this time...
I force myself to ignore the feelings that threaten to overwhelm me because there’s no point in wallowing in regret over something that’s already done. It would do no good whatsoever to dwell on these thoughts.
To be continued...