Never Forgotten (Never Forgotten Series)

BOOK: Never Forgotten (Never Forgotten Series)
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By: Kelly Risser

 

 

Clean Teen Publishing

THIS book is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the authors' imagination or are used factiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

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.  Purchase only authorized editions.

 

Never Forgotten

Copyright ©2014 Kelly Risser

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-940534-86-2

Cover Design by: Marya Heiman

Typography by: Courtney Nuckels

Editing by: Cynthia Shepp

 

 

 

For more information about our content disclosure, please utilize the QR code above with your

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www.cleanteenpublishing.com
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10 years earlier

 

M
eara, where are you?

I started to fall asleep when I heard Daddy’s voice. At least, he told me he was my daddy. I’d never met him.

“Daddy?” I called in the dark. My throat felt funny, like when Mommy made me gargle with salt water when I had a cold. I held back a sneeze; a strange smell tickled my nose.

Meara, honey. I’m looking for you. Where are you?

He sounded far away. Why was Daddy sad? My stomach tightened, and my eyes welled with tears. “Where are you, Daddy?”

Silence. The pain vanished, quick as it came. He was gone. I jumped out of bed and ran to my mom’s room.

“Daddy’s so sad!”

I flung myself onto her bed and crawled up until I could wrap my arms around her. Burying my face in her neck, I breathed in the gardenia perfume she always wore. “He wants to see us, Mommy, but he can’t find us,” I mumbled against her skin.

My mom sat up, wrapping her arm around me. She whispered in my ear and stroked my hair. “It’s okay, Meara. You just had a bad dream.”

“I wasn’t asleep.” I raised my head and dared her to challenge me. She didn’t say anything, but she looked funny. Was Mommy scared? My lip quivered. “Mommy, why isn’t Daddy with us?”

“Oh, pumpkin.” Mom sighed and leaned back against the headboard, her arm tight around me. “It’s complicated. I love your father, and he loves us, but it just didn’t work out. He can’t be with us.”

“Why not?” I searched her face, but she wouldn’t meet my eyes.

“You won’t understand, sweetie. I’ll tell you when you’re older.”

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy;

for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves;

we must die to one life before we can enter another.

- Anatole France

 

Present Day

 

"Meara, come visit the ranch. I’m sure Uncle Jake won’t mind.”

It was the second to last day of my junior year. I sat on the low, brick wall in front of Cedarburg High with my best friend, Kim. We were waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up. I didn’t care for Mark. I kept my opinion to myself, so I wouldn’t hurt Kim’s feelings.

Kim would be working at her uncle’s farm in Minnesota this summer. I was staying here. We wouldn’t see much of each other, unless I visited her.

“I don’t know, Kim,” I said. “I’m scheduled to work most of the summer at the shop.” My mom’s friend owned a sewing and fabric store in downtown Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Mom and I both worked there. Rebecca and Mom taught classes, made quilts, and ran the store. I maintained the website and worked the cash register.

“You could get away for a week or two,” Kim persisted. “Just ask your mom, Meara. You’ll never know unless you ask.”

“All right, I’ll ask!” I laughed at her scolding tone. I said it to appease her, but the idea was interesting. Why couldn’t Mom and Rebecca run the shop for a week or two without me? They did it during the school year.

“I’m heading home.” I stood up and walked down the sidewalk. Mark pulled up to the curb in his crappy, old truck. There was no point exchanging words with him, so I avoided eye contact.

“Don’t forget to ask!” Kim yelled after me.

I turned back and grinned. “Why do you think I’m leaving now?”

My smile slipped when I noticed Mark eyeing a group of freshmen girls. He exchanged meaningful looks with a tall blond. I wouldn’t doubt if they hooked up at a party or something. Kim trusted him too much. When was she going to wake up and see him for the jerk he was?

***

“Mom? Hey, Mom, I’m home!” I yelled into the house as I always did, tossing my backpack on the bench in the front hall. When she didn’t respond, I figured she wasn’t home yet. Sometimes she stayed late to help Rebecca restock or change the window display. Heading to the kitchen to get a snack, I found Mom standing at the sink.

“What’s for dinner?” I asked and kissed her cheek. Not waiting for an answer, I took a carrot off the cutting board and opened the refrigerator. I was so preoccupied in my search for something tastier than a carrot, that it took me a few minutes to realize she hadn’t responded. I turned and looked at her. “Mom?”

She didn’t respond. She washed the same dish over and over, staring out the window. What was going on? My mom was many things, but a daydreamer wasn’t one of them. I walked over, placed my arm around her waist, and gave her a small squeeze.

“Meara!” She jumped and squealed. “You startled me. I didn’t even hear you come in.”

“Are you okay?” I asked. Her eyes were shadowed and sunken with dark circles. Mom never looked this exhausted. She was the most optimistic, dynamic person I knew. She exuded so much energy that she tired me out.

“Fine.” She wouldn’t meet my eyes. “Why do you ask?”

“Because I’ve been talking to you, and you didn’t answer.”

“Oh, sorry,” she said. “I didn’t hear you.”

“Or notice when I kissed your cheek,” I added.

She looked startled. “I guess I was lost in my own thoughts.”

I touched her arm. “What’s going on, Mom? You’re not acting like yourself.”

She smiled at me. My mom had a great smile, but this one worried rather than comforted me. It was fleeting, and it never reached her eyes. She touched my hair and motioned to a chair. “Honey, why don’t you sit down? I need to talk to you about something.”

Uh-oh. Whatever this was, it wasn’t good. Mom sat first and waited until I was seated. She took my hands in hers, holding them tightly. It was painful. I resisted the urge to cry out or pull my hands away. She seemed to need the contact. We sat in silence while she clenched my hands, then she sighed and closed her eyes. Tears escaped in a trail down her cheeks.

“I saw Dr. Maxwell today.” Her voice was so quiet that it took me a moment to understand what she said.

“Dr. Maxwell?” I was confused. Dr. Maxwell was my mom’s oncologist; he treated her breast cancer five years ago. “Why didn’t you tell me you had an appointment today?”

She sighed and touched my cheek, “I didn’t want to scare you. I actually went in for some tests about a month ago, and he asked me to come back.”

I couldn’t believe that she kept this from me. “You’re okay, right?”

When she tried to smile, her lips just quivered. She shook her head and began to cry in earnest. Big, wet tears slid down her pale cheeks. “Meara, he said the cancer is back. Only this time, he found it in my intestines, liver, and kidneys. This new growth is aggressive. ‘Stage 4,’ Dr. Maxwell called it.”

I blinked back my own tears. While my mother, who was so strong, sobbed next to me, I thought about the first time she had cancer. I was in sixth grade, and the severity of her situation hadn’t sunk into my twelve-year-old brain. Mom had been so strong, first going through a lumpectomy and then enduring months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She lost her hair and got so thin. I remember feeling each individual rib in her back when I hugged her. It was agonizing to watch the person I loved most in the world wither away in front of me. Thankfully, the treatments took effect, and she slowly got better. The doctor gave her a clean bill of health a year after her original diagnosis.

“You can fight it, right?” I asked.

“Dr. Maxwell recommends slowing the growth with chemotherapy and radiation.” Mom composed herself a bit, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. I followed her movements, and my eyes tracked the long, black streak her mascara left on her hand. After I handed her a napkin, she dabbed at her eyes and added, “He says surgery is not an option. It’s too far spread.”

“What does that mean?” I was angry now. Why would the doctor advise her not to operate?

Mom took a deep breath, and I sensed how much it pained her to say these next words. “If they open me up, I might never heal. My prognosis is six months to two years, perhaps a little longer with intense treatment.”

It wasn’t what I expected to hear. The horror of it made me jump from my chair and bolt into her arms with gut-wrenching sobs. “Oh, Mom. I don’t want to lose you.”

“Oh, baby, and I don’t want to leave you.” Mom held me tight, and we clung to each other and cried. Her body shook as she sobbed. I held her as tight as I could. I hoped to give her comfort and take my own in return. When we couldn’t cry anymore, we simply sat together, each of us lost in our own miserable thoughts. After a while, Mom straightened up and pulled away. She wiped her face with another napkin.

“We’ll make the most of our time together, okay?” Mom touched my cheek. “And, I’ll do everything I can to fight this.”

“Okay.” Grabbing a napkin, I wiped my nose.

Mom patted my knee and stood up. “I’m turning in for the night.”

I glanced at the clock. “It’s not even six, Mom.”

“I know,” she said. “But I’m exhausted.”

She looked at the vegetables on the cutting board and smiled apologetically at me. “I didn’t get too far with the dinner preparations. If you are hungry, there are leftovers in the fridge or lunchmeat.”

“I’ll be okay, Mom,” I said. “Thanks.” I stood and kissed her on the cheek. “I love you.”

“Love you too.”

Once she left for her room, I put the vegetables away. I took out a container of leftover chicken salad and a Diet Coke, going in the living room to flop down on my favorite recliner. Aiming the remote control at the TV, I mindlessly grazed through the channels. I couldn’t remember what was on that night. I barely noticed what I ate. I was seventeen years old, and my mom was all I had. What was I going to do?

***

I smelled the smokiness of bacon before my eyes even opened. Most weekday mornings were all about cereal and yogurt. We reserved hot breakfast for the weekend. Mom must have woken up early. I dressed fast and went downstairs.

I yawned as I came into the kitchen. “You’re cooking?”

Mom smiled. Although her eyes were puffy, she seemed better. “I figured that I owed you one after bailing on dinner last night.” She set a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon on the table. “Do you want some orange juice?”

“I can get it,” I told her. “Go ahead and fix your own plate.”

“All right. Pour me a glass, too, please.”

We sat and ate in silence, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. When we finished, Mom gave me a considering look. “I think it’s time to introduce you to your grandparents.”

“My grandparents?” I repeated. “Mom, I don’t understand. You haven’t talked to them in years.”

“I thought about it last night,” she continued. “Your grandparents are the only other family you have, Meara. When…” I gave her a look, and she corrected herself. “If I go, I don’t want you to be alone.”

“But don’t they live in Canada?”

“Yes.”

She looked at me expectantly, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. Finally, I asked, “Are they coming here?”

“No,” Mom said. “We’re moving to Peggy’s Cove.”

“For the summer?” I’d never get to the ranch with Kim, and Peggy’s Cove sounded boring. It was a fishing village in Nova Scotia. Super small and probably full of smelly, old people. I couldn’t think of a worse place to spend my vacation.

Mom shook her head. “For good.”

For good? My heart sank. “We can’t move. All my friends are here! It’s my senior year. I can’t start over at a new school.”

“Meara.” Mom’s voice took on that no-nonsense tone. “We’re moving.”

“But, Mom…” I whined, hating myself even as I did.

“No buts, Meara. I’m not giving you a choice. In two weeks, we’ll be in Peggy’s Cove.” Her eyes filled with sympathy, but her voice remained firm.

“This is so unfair!” I was about to say more when I looked at my mom’s pale face. Oh god. Unfair was the fact that she was dying. “Oh, Mom. I’m so sorry.”

“I understand, Meara.” Mom’s voice softened. “I know this is hard for you. I wish there was another option.”

Standing, I put my plate in the sink. I had to get out of here before I said something I’d regret. How could she move us to Canada and not even ask me first?

“I’ve got to leave for school,” I said.

“Do you want a ride?” Mom asked.

“No thanks.” I tried to keep my voice light. “I’d rather walk.”

Slinging my backpack on my shoulder, I headed out the door. I barely noticed the walk to school. I was moving to Canada, where I knew no one. What kind of people were my grandparents? Would I like them? Would they like me?

My life was about to do a complete one-eighty, and I felt helplessly unprepared.

***

“Did you ask her?” Kim bounced up next to my locker before first period. When I stared blankly at her, she added in an exasperated tone, “About coming to my uncle’s place?”

Instead of answering, I burst into tears. Kim’s arm went around my shoulder. “Oh my God, Meara. What is it?”

“It’s my mom,” I sobbed. “Her cancer’s back.”

“How awful!” Kim hugged me.

“It’s terminal.” I closed my eyes as I said it.

“What?”

“She’s dying, Kim.” I bit my lip to hold back more tears. “She’s dying.” My voice shook as I repeated the words, bitter on my tongue.

Although Kim was a good five inches shorter than I was, she wrapped her arm around my shoulder. “I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do?”

“That’s not all,” I whispered. Maybe if I said it quiet enough…it wouldn’t happen. “We’re moving.”

“Where?” Kim looked bewildered. “When?”

“In a couple of weeks, I think,” I said. “Mom wants us to move to Canada, so I can get to know my grandparents.”

“You’re moving to Canada for the summer?”

I met her eyes and felt miserable. “Not just for the summer, Kim. We’re not coming back.”

“What? No! What about our big plans for senior year?” Kim waved her hands in the air, and her curls bounced. The tears rolled down my face. I didn’t know what to say. Kim slapped her hand over her mouth. “I’m such an ass! As if I should be worried about me with all you’re dealing with. What can I do?”

BOOK: Never Forgotten (Never Forgotten Series)
11.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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