I can’t be thankful enough, and I want to yell out loud as soon as I step outside the exam hall. I can finally breathe—breathe some fresh air. This year is the most exhausting year for me, and all I need is a long vacation—spread a blanket in the sand, drink a cocktail while reading good books.
I pick up my phone from my bag. I have five missed calls from my best friend, two from Dad, but sadly, still nothing from Mom. I feel sick in my stomach. Is she ignoring me? I ignore those messages in my inbox.
My parents are still out of the country celebrating their anniversary. Mom is always a Mom who worries too much. A few days ago, her call was a little bit odd.
“Hey, Mom. How’s the honeymoon? I mean, not that part, you know?” I beam even though she can’t see me.
“Oh, honey, I know, and I wish you were here. You’ll love this place, but we can take you here anytime. How’s college?”
I sigh. “I’m sure I’ll love it, Mom. And college is still college, and it’s almost finals. Where’s dad?”
“On the phone, honey. Got a call from Grace.” I knew Grace—she’s Dad’s PA.
“You must be too tan right now. Why don’t you send me some photos?” She can’t tag me. I don’t have a social media account. Pathetic, isn’t it?
“I will, honey. So tell me, are you dating anyone? I wanna meet that guy.” Date? Since when am I allowed to date? I furrow my brows.
“Mom, did you forget you said I’m still young to date? What happened to the focus first on your school, boys later?”
“Honey, that was three years ago.”
“Oh, yeah? But you didn’t tell me either that I’m already allowed to date.” Pathetic of an excuse because I know why I don’t date.
“You’re not sixteen anymore. You should at least date and try making new friends.” Mom’s enthusiastic voice fills my ear, and I close my eyes because I miss her.
“Mom, I have friends. I mean, I have a best friend, you know.” I feel suddenly alone.
I still remember when she told me how she and Dad met and how she knew Dad was her soulmate. They can’t just keep their hands off of each other even until now. When I said eww, they just laughed at me.
“See, honey. I’m not forcing you into a date. Just try to go out there. Your therapist suggested that you should make friends, right?” She always encouraged me, but she worried too much at the same time.
“Yeah, I know. Making friends and dating are two different things, though, Mom.”
“Mack, I know smarty-pants, but promise me, you’ll live your life to the fullest. Be happy, have friends, date someone, travel around the world, see new places, and appreciate things because life is too short to focus on just one thing, honey. Don’t let your past hold your future, promise me, Mackenzie?” Now, I want to cry. My lips start to quiver.
“Mom, why are we talking about this right now? Jeez, I’m not that old to miss the fun and date. Maybe one of these days, I’ll bump into Sam Caflin or Chris Hemsworth, and maybe, one of them will ask me for a coffee.” I roll my eyes.
“Don’t do that. I can see your eyes rolling, young woman. Try trusting someone. You’ll feel right when it is. Trust your instinct, honey.”
I take a huge breath. I try making excuses to drop this subject. “Okay, I promise, and Mom, it’s Abbygail. And trusting someone is not just buying sweets from the candy shop. Dad will definitely freak out about me going out on a date. Does he even know that you’re telling me this?”
“Why would I let Daddy know? You know it’s our secret,” she whispers.
I chuckle. “And you’re terrible at keeping secrets to Dad. I’ll let you know when I meet someone that's worth my time.”
“Good, now talk to daddy.”
I bite my lip. “Hey, pumpkin. How’s my girl?” Dad’s voice sounds restrained.
“Dad, how old am I? And I’m great, by the way.”
“You’re still my baby girl, sweetheart. Why?”
“I’ll tell you why. First, don’t call me a pumpkin. No one likes to date some pretty lately with a name pumpkin. Secondly, I’m already an adult to be your pumpkin, and lastly, I missed you, Dad,” I sing at the end.
“What do you mean “date”? Wait. Are you dating anyone, Mackenzie? Why didn’t you mention you met someone? We talk almost every day, and I don’t like that idea of you keeping something from me, young woman.” Oops... Sorry, Mom.
I grin. “Dad, I’m not dating anyone, but maybe soon. I’ll start dating since it’s the end of the school year, you know,” I say, giggling.
“And who told you you’re allowed to date? I didn’t remember permitting you, Mackenzie.” I can feel his eyes narrowing on me.
“Dad, I’m an adult. Meaning, I can go out on a date.”
“I know, but you’re still my baby, and the last time you went out, you know what happened. I’m sorry, sweetheart. I don’t mean to remind you,” Dad says regrettably.
“Don’t be, Dad. I know, but until when should I stay away from people? What if Drew will live out with his girlfriend, and I’ll be left alone.” I blow a huge breath.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I know how hard it is for you, and I know I’m just in my dad mode.” He sounds tired.
“Don’t worry, when I’ll go out with someone, I promise I’ll let you know. Tell mom I love her and give her a kiss for me.”
“Sure, sweetheart. Take care, and be a good girl. We’ll see you soon. I love you, Abby.”
“Love you both, Dad.”
My parents got married when they were still both in college. They both came from well-prominent families and rival companies, but it didn’t stop them from falling in love. Later on, both companies merged. It took five years for mom to get pregnant, and they almost lost hope. They planned for adoption, but before it happened, I was conceived.
I dial my Dad’s number, and he picks up almost instantly.
“Hey, Dad. Tell me you and Mom are already in my apartment, and we’re going to have lunch at our restaurant.”
He stays silent, but I can hear his breathing from the other line.
I’m already sitting in my car and turning on the ignition, but before I can drive, I stop.
The unexpected circumstance reminds us to expect the unexpected, and that life is inevitable. Expect even the worst one, but it never occurs to me how strong the impact is until it hits me.
I feel the world crashing on me, and I can feel my blood rushing through my body. I gasp, and my hand covers my mouth. I don’t even realize my phone falls from my now trembling hand. I feel boneless, speechless, and breathless. I feel like I’m ice in the middle Sahara Desert, melting rapidly, and my eyes are now blurry.
This is supposed to be a happy family get-together because, after a year in college, I can finally spend with my parents for months. Now it will never be the same again—everything has changed.
I finally sob, and my hands are tightly gripping the steering wheel as if it gives me strength. I wish I was with Dad when things like this happened. How did he manage to handle it by himself? Poor Dad. His soulmate is gone. He just lost my mom.