Authors: Gabriela Cabezut
The Imperfect Series, Book 1
By Gabriela Cabezut
Copyright © 2016 by Gabriela Cabezut.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: May 2016
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
I love you and I miss you.
Table of Contents
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The sky was painted a crystal blue. The warm rays of the sun danced through the shadows of the thick green and yellow foliage from the trees above us. The car hummed as my eyes filled with tears. My chest tightened as I fought the incessant urge to cry.
I hated crying. I always did.
Now, it seemed like it was the only thing I did.
My father was dead silent as he drove the car. His eyes were glued to the road in front and no words came out of his mouth. The air was too thick. Filled with sorrow and guilt.
It all came down to me.
I had been too weak. Too cowardly.
There was no excuse for my behavior. None.
I just didn’t know how to deal with everything. I never did.
My father’s hands tightly gripped the steering wheel as he drove us back home. It was the first time I’d left the mental institution since I’d arrived a little over two months ago. I’d been diagnosed with clinical depression and had gone through group and individual therapies. According to my doctor, I was improving and he recommended that I go back home. I wasn’t entirely sure, though.
However, I was always second-guessing my every move.
. Bravery was one of the traits I’d constantly admired in Mom. She was completely up front when she had a problem, never afraid to speak her mind.
But she’s gone now.
Swallowing hard, I closed my eyes. A trembling breath left my lips as my chest tightened. I would never hear her voice again. Or her full laugh. She wouldn’t make me jump whenever she sneezed loudly.
My heart tightened, and a feeling of sorrow washed over me. I missed her. So much.
The worst part was that I had taken her for granted.
She was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer almost three years ago—multiple myeloma. It affects the white blood cells, meaning your immune system pretty much shuts down. Then, it moves to the bone marrow and makes your bones as fragile as a glass vase. Her disease was pretty advanced when the doctors found out about it. Nonetheless, she lived longer than expected.
When she was first diagnosed, she hit a low point and in the span of a few months, she lost the ability to walk. Her whole body was weak from the chemotherapy. Then, after a blood transfusion, she started to recover. In less than a year, she was able to walk again and have a rather normal life. There was always the shadow of the disease, though. She couldn’t drive anymore, and Dad had to hire a nurse to help her on a daily basis.
After she was diagnosed, in between chemotherapies, visits to the doctor, and blood transfusions, my life changed radically. Her pain became mine. It was raw and unbearable.
I didn’t know how to handle it.
I tried, though. I didn’t want my parents to see me heartbroken. I had to be strong. They had enough on their hands. But it was so hard.
Especially since Mom and I had sort of a complicated relationship to begin with. The only thing we had in common was our dark, wavy hair and fair complexion. We didn’t even have the same eye color. Mine were blue, like my father’s, and hers where dark chocolate.
My personality was the complete opposite of hers. I was the artsy, shy girl that took after Dad; Mom was outspoken, bubbly, and overfriendly, traits I would always feel were nosy and judgmental. I knew she always wanted the best for me, but she kept pushing me to excel at everything,
to be more like her.
Still, she was my mom. I loved her even though I didn’t understand her most of the time. However, my heart shattered with hers as she went through the different treatments. It hurt me so much to see her like that, to know there was nothing I could do. No way I could ease her worry, her agony.
Masking my pain was the worst. Especially to my best friend Anne. She wouldn’t stop asking questions, and talking about it made me feel worse. I couldn’t handle it. I stopped hanging out with her.
Instead, I befriended people who didn’t know me so I could pretend to be someone different. They were the kind of friends that aren’t really your friends but everyone still wants to have them around anyway. The kind of friends who don’t really care enough to ask you about your life, your home, your family. They act like they own the world. They have fun and they don’t really care about anything else.
School became my safe haven. I could pretend like everything was okay. Like there was no ache consuming my heart, that I hadn’t cried myself to sleep; and that my heart didn’t break as Mom had to endure another painful treatment again. For a few hours of the day, the pain would stop. Soon, it got to the point where I forgot who I really was.
Mom was absolutely furious when she found out I wasn’t answering Anne’s calls. I ignored all of them, knowing she was getting bullied at school, but I couldn’t help her. How could I? I was too caught up in dealing with my mom’s illness to do anything about it.
Still, Mom insisted I call my friends again, especially Anne. We fought about it.
I knew Mom meant well, but I couldn’t open up to anyone. It was much easier to hang out with Marissa and her clique. They never asked questions. They just wanted to have fun.
With time, Mom got through that initial harsh stage of treatment, and her cancer went into partial remission. She had to be tested from time to time, but she didn’t have to go through any more treatment sessions. That was the moment where things escalated between us.
She was still angry at the choices I’d made and wouldn’t hesitate to let me know. I was still scared that she’d get sick again and found it easier to be mad at her than to be sad for her. I’d built a fragile case around me to protect myself from breaking apart. But fear and pain were smoldering inside of me, and I couldn’t let them out.
I was so wrong…
Eight months ago, the cancer returned in full force, and chemotherapy and blood transfusions weren’t enough this time. She had to try a new treatment, and even though the doctor advised her to take it at the hospital, she wouldn’t have it. She despised hospitals. Plus, she was stubborn as hell. Even the doctor couldn’t argue with her.
A tear rolled down my cheek as memories of the day she passed away flashed through my mind. Her condition had worsened, and deep down I knew she wasn’t going to live much longer. Her hair was scarce, and her once-chubby face was now reduced to a mass of fragile bones. She was pale. Too pale. And she needed blood transfusions more and more. That was when the doctor proposed the new treatment. He warned us it could be too hard on her, but it was our only hope.
Two days after she started the treatment, Dad woke me up at dawn. I knew at once that something was really wrong. He was crying as he held the phone next to his ear while talking to someone on the other end. He sounded desperate as he gestured for me to go to Mom.
Completely shocked at everything that was going on, I jumped out of bed and ran to their room. Mom’s eyes were open and I could see her chest moving, but when I talked to her and grabbed her hand, it felt lightweight. There was no force, no life in it.
The paramedics showed up and they pushed me to the side as they tried to help Mom out. I remember their voices as they talked to each other while taking out their equipment and started to compress my Mom’s chest to revive her. But all I could see were her eyes.
They looked empty.
The paramedics called her death in and started to put their equipment away. I wanted to tell them she couldn’t be. That they needed to keep going. But my voice got caught in my throat and I couldn’t make a sound.
My chest felt so tight it hurt. Everything was blurry as Dad’s warm hand encased mine. His blue eyes were red and blotchy and so deeply sad when he asked me to say good-bye to her. His steps echoed down the hall as he walked away, but I couldn’t move. My eyes were trained on her body and my feet felt heavy.
All the pain and sadness I had been keeping at bay came crashing back on me. My heart ached in a way that’s hard to describe. I felt this deep, raw emptiness inside. With a tight chest, I walked around the bed to kneel in front of her face.
She looked so peaceful.
My breathing was ragged as I tried to find my voice to tell her something. There were so many things I wanted to tell her. That I should have said before.
All I could think was that I was so deeply sorry. That I loved her and that this couldn’t be it. That she couldn’t be gone. “I’m so sorry, Mom.” My voice broke on each word. The large lump in my chest tightened as I whispered, crying, “God, I’m so sorry.”
Tears blurred my vision as I grabbed her hand. It wasn’t warm anymore. She was gone. And I didn’t know that to do with myself.
Guilt and sorrow washed over me once again as they had on that day. I was ashamed of myself. I despised my life and who I had become because I had made the worst decisions ever.
My heart throbbed as I remembered the need to make it stop. I felt empty and broken. Like a complete failure. Like I was never good enough for her. The ache was too deep, so deep it made me do something cowardly.
I had the scars on my wrists to prove it.
Remorse filled me, for trying to hurt myself and because I’d hurt Dad too. He had lost his wife and I had increased his sorrow by trying to end my life. Mom’s best friend had found me that awful night. Marie was like an aunt to me, and she was my father’s lifeline when Mom passed away.
When I left the hospital, Dad sent me to a psychiatric institution for troubled teens like myself. It pained him to do so. The sorrow engraved in his eyes as he left me in the mental institution were etched in my heart. He didn’t know how to deal with my depression because he was grieving too.
Nevertheless, he came to see me every weekend. His visits were awkward and too silent on both our parts, but Dr. Simmons, my psychiatrist, explained that we both needed time to grieve and forgive. But Dad never gave up on me in spite of everything.
I spent that summer in group and individual therapy. Dr. Simmons was positive that if I came back home, I would heal faster. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it.
I had lived a completely shallow life for the last two years. I had no real friends. No one cared for me because I didn’t let anyone get close. Shame and guilt were still etched in my heart, and I felt like I had failed everyone around me.
My father was the only reason I’d agreed to come back home. I couldn’t fail him again. I had to struggle to keep going, even if I didn’t feel like fighting anymore. I owed it to him.
To Mom too.
Therapy was a must at this stage. I had to go twice a week to see one of Dr. Simmons’s colleagues. He wanted me to go back to my old life, and since school was about to start, it gave me an opportunity to reintegrate back to my old life. He didn’t want me to miss one day of school. To be honest, I dreaded going back. My stomach churned as my thoughts drifted to school. I didn’t want to be the person I had pretended to be, but I couldn’t go back to being the girl I was three years ago. Too many things had changed.
Nobody knew where I had been. When someone asked about my whereabouts, Dad would just say I had spent the summer with his sister down in Colorado. I had never asked him about it, but I think he felt ashamed of what I’d done.
I know I was.
Familiar houses filled my line of vision as the car approached our street. My chest tightened as an overwhelming sadness washed over me. My right hand absentmindedly touched my left wrist, and my fingers traced the now-too-familiar healed wound. It was a habit I had picked up over the last few weeks. Whenever I was nervous, I traced my scars. They were a constant reminder of the pain etched in my heart. It felt different, as if Mom had literally taken a part of my heart with her.
Our house came into view and my stomach churned. My hands tightened in fists as I felt the last traces of breakfast squirm inside me. Breathing seemed like a task in itself, but I tried to calm myself—for my father’s benefit more than my own.
What’s the house going to be like? Does it still have her smell? Does it feel different?
“We’re here…” he said, sounding as unsure as I felt.
My eyes turned to him. Over the last few months he had aged considerably. His blue eyes looked dull now. Small wrinkles adorned them, and his short, dirty-blond hair had now traces of gray. A pang of guilt settled in the pit of my stomach. He just couldn’t get a break. He had lost his wife and nearly lost his daughter too. All in the span of a month.
My hand kept tracing the scars as I looked down. “I’m sorry, Dad.” I swallowed hard. “For everything.” My voice cracked on the last word as tears blurred my vision.
I didn’t need to look at him to know he was as tense as me. He gripped the wheel tighter, turning his knuckles white. He stayed quiet for a moment, looking ahead of us.
After what felt like forever, he cleared his throat and his blue eyes turned to me. “I’m trying to understand everything, Cassie. I’m not there yet, but you are my daughter and I love you.” His eyes brimmed with tears as pain flashed through them. “And your Mom loves you too.” He turned back to the windshield, gazing into the distance. “We both want the best for you.”