No matter how dark he was, I saw a little angel in his devilish eyes.
My fear of the ocean was ephemeral as the love of it took place. I fell in love with the lacy waves that softly crashed as they danced closer to my feet, the sound of the water that echoed my heart and mixed with my heartbeat, creating a beautiful melody, and the breeze of air that took fronds of my hair and made them into lashes that beat my face and blew above my head. I loved everything the ocean was to give. I wished I could stay here forever.
"Ready?" My father called from behind me.
I insisted that I can't leave without having one last glance at the water. My father told me that I had a few minutes while he goes and checks-out of the hotel suite we were staying in. He told me he would join me when he was done, and he did.
I nodded at him a followed him to the car.
"Wait, before we go," he held my hand and reached for his pocket and got out a box. I smile,
"You got me a gift?" I clapped.
"Yes," He gave me a warm smile and handed me the box.
I opened the box. My eyes met a silver necklace with "Lia" on it. My smile got bigger.
"It's beautiful, dad." I put it on and played with it. I looked at him and he was still smiling.
"Common, let's go, we're late."
The drive was filled with the sound of silence. The silence was comforting. The calmness and stillness made it hard for me to keep my eyes open, but I didn't want to sleep. I wanted to stay awake. I never see my father and every time he plans a trip like this one, I refuse to waste any part of it, even the drive back home.
"Sleep, honey if you want to."
"No, I will stay with you," I blinked tight a couple of times, trying to force my body to stay awake. "I really enjoyed this trip, I'm kind of sad that it ended."
"We'll do more. We can come here again next time I take a vacation from work."
"Your work sucks, you can never take vacations."
He giggled, "I promise I will try to make the next vacation sooner than this time."
"We'll see." I sassed him. The silence filled the car again. I looked out of the window and let the trees roll by like a movie screen. The wind was hitting my face but I didn't want to close the window. I was too focused on nature to realize that my eyes were watering.
"What's wrong?" He concernedly asked.
"Something got in my eye," I whined as I wiped it. I hissed, "damn it."
"Do you have tissues? Try to wipe it."
"I don't. Do you?" I started looking with one eye open around the car to find anything to wipe my eye with. "Do you have it here?" I opened the glove box in front of me. I silently gasped. It was a picture of my dad with a woman. My heart dropped. Is that mom?
"Talia! Close that." He pushed it close. My brain was acting so slow that I didn't move for another minute, trying to comprehend what just happened. Was that really mom? Why did I never see that picture? Why didn't he want me to see that picture? We never talked about her. I knew talking about her made him sad and I hated seeing his widened eyes closed and the disappointment that fills his face when I mention her. But I knew nothing about her.
"Was...was that...mom?" It felt weird saying that. His silence made me sure it was her. That was mom. That was my mother I saw for the first time when I'm twenty-one. I never met her. I never knew what she looked like or what she acted like. Whenever I ask about her he changes the subject. I never knew if she was even dead. I grew up making myself believe that she died when she got me and he is scared to tell me that. "Dad, I'm old enough now to know what happened to her."
"Am I not enough for you," he jokingly asked.
"Dad," I sighed. The same sentence he says every time I mention her name.
"I don't get why you want to know, seriously. It's not important." He said, "she's just not...around. She never was." His calm voice became aggressive, and I didn't know why.
"Did she cheat on you?" I brutally asked, expecting him to be broken or angry. But he laughed.
"What are you saying, sweetie?" He hit the wheel, laughing some more.
"Then what happened, dad?"
He coughed. "Let's talk about this later. Now tell me, what are you planning on doing when we get back? I don't think I will be staying the night at home. I have to go check on the company."
"Dad," I paused, "I'm not dropping it. Not this time." I insisted on knowing. Before I didn't care much, I only asked when she crossed my mind, wondering where she went or what she did or if she died and why she died but he didn't answer. I would drop it and get taken back by whatever he said next. But her picture choked me. Why is her picture in his car? And why did he never show it to me?
"What do you want to know?" The way he asked this made me sure that whatever I will say next, he will not answer it seriously.
"What happened to mom? And why is her picture in your car and you never showed it to me? You told me you don't have pictures of her because she hates taking pictures."
"Then what is this?" I opened the glove box again and pointed at the picture. I stared at her some more. She was beautiful. I Liatly smiled. She looked kind of like me. She had wavy brown hair and blue eyes. Her smile was pretty.
"I...didn't know that was still here."
"Still?" I raised my eyebrows, "when did you think you didn't have it anymore?"
"I don't know, Talia. It probably got here when I took some papers here or something. I don't know."
"Why don't you want me to see her? And why are you never telling me about her?"
"Because it's best for you that way."
"Dad, I want to know."
"You don't need to." His voice became louder.
"I want to know."
"What do you want to know?"
"Why is mom not around?"
"Because she left."
The tension died and the loud voices were replaced by silence. But this time, it wasn't comforting.
"She left us, Lia." He paused, his eyes never leaving the road. "She chose to leave us when you were a little child. A baby. A three-month baby." He gulped and shook his head. "You were a baby that still needed her milk and I was left with you, not knowing what to do, not knowing how to raise a child. I panicked every time you cried because I didn't know what you wanted. I had to try everything to find out why you were."
I adjusted myself in my seat, staring at the road too.
"No matter how much I begged her to come back, no matter how many letters I sent her, her parents, her sisters. I got nothing. I even went to their house, knocked for hours, and waited and waited for someone to walk out just to help me with you. I stood there for hours in the cold with you, little girl, between my arms, helpless, not knowing what to do. Then I realized that all that time I came and stood there in front of an empty house. They moved. I even tried to find them but didn't know where to look except around their house."
My eyes watered and I didn't know what to say.
"I know you want to know about her and you want to know if your mom existed but she doesn't deserve to be your mom. Why would she be a parent to you when she left you? Why do you care to know her when she doesn't care to know you?" He paused. "When I gave up on finding her I was angry and that's when I promised myself that no one knows what happened, she's never going to see you again as long as I'm alive and breathing. No matter how much she begs me. No matter how much she looks for us, she's not going to see you again. So I took you and I moved, way further than she would ever go." He closed his eyes for a few seconds and gripped the wheel tighter. "It breaks me when you say "mom" because she doesn't deserve to be your mom. She doesn't deserve to be called mom."
We stayed silent for a couple of minutes, letting the road noises be our only background. I needed this time to let his words sink in. I kept wondering why did she choose to leave.
"Do you know if she's still alive?" I asked.
"She is." He harshly said, as if he wished she wasn't. "She left this picture to someone working at the company. She gave him money to give this picture to you."
"Do you know why she chose to leave?"
He took a moment to respond to my question and I wasn't blaming him. I stared at the sun that was setting on us and blinked a couple of times to stop the tears that kept threatening me to fall.
"Because we were broke." He finally said. "She said she can't keep living like this. She said she's going to go find herself, somewhere else...with someone else... who has money." He looked out the window.
"I'm so sorry dad." I placed my hand on his arm, not sure if I was apologizing for what she did to him or for asking and reopening his wound.
"At least now you know." His coldness made me close my mouth. But he was right. At least now I know so I can stop breaking him every time I ask about her and act like he was the one hiding her or what happened to her from me.
The rest of the ride was silent. When we parked in front of our house, I was the first one to get out of the car. I wanted to escape this silence. I wanted to escape this feeling that I caused him. It was dark and it was getting colder. I looked back at him. He was still in the car and not in the movement to get out.
"Aren't you coming?" I asked him.
"In a bit." He yelled back.
I nodded and walked to the front door. I got my key out, opened the door, and stepped in, walking straight to the kitchen to have a cup of water. It was so necessary to gulp down the news I just got. Why did she choose to leave us for money? I filled my cup with water and stood on the island as I sipped at it. But I suddenly heard yelling from outside. I frowned. Who is he yelling at?
On my way to the door, I heard a loud shot. I screamed. I dropped the cup of water that splashed everywhere and filled the ground with a million pieces of glass. I ran to the door and opened it. My soul left my body when I saw my father laying on the ground, motionless, breathless, unconscious. A lake of blood started to fill the ground around his chest. His hand formed around his chest but instead of helping it was only turning red. I was frozen. I slowly moved closer to him. My heart is beating loudly against my chest. My hands are shaking uncontrollably. My body was refusing to breathe. I got there.
"Find Ace, h-he will help...you." He took his last breath, "Ace, Lia." I looked down at him. A perfect hole was centered in the middle of his chest. His eyes stayed open but his heart stopped beating. His face slowly turned grey, lifeless.