It’s been a while since the fire. I stared out at the evergreen trees from my only window in my cabin. The leaves were fluttering down to the ground, and I thought back to the horrible day that I ran into the mansion and retrieved all the important things, including the keys to this cabin – which was were me and Brad would spend the holidays to relax.
Brad… I sniffled, gulping down the lump in my throat. He was coming back on the fastest possible flight that would come to London and his plane crashed. Not letting any tears slip, I snatched up my phone and dialed Mother’s phone number.
A few rings later, she picked up. “Hello, my love.”
“How’s my girl doing?” she asked sympathetically in her American accent.
“Terrible. But Mother? I have a question.” I muttered half-heartedly, glancing behind me at Julia who was on her belly, grinning toothlessly at the butterfly that had somehow ended up inside our cabin. I felt a pang in my heart.
“What is it, honey?” I could hear some rustling on the other end.
“Mother, will you take care of Julia?” I croaked.
“Wh–what?” she stammered, and I heard the rustling stop all of a sudden. “Why?”
Gulping down my sadness and grief, I explained, “I can’t do it anymore. Ever since the fire, Mother, I’ve lost everything. My home, Brad, my life…” sobbing, I continued. Mother stayed silent. “Julia needs a better bringing up. I can’t live with her in this cabin in the middle of the woods. Her father was a businessman, and I’m working at McDonald’s, for goodness’s sake! I want Jules to have a better life. I don’t want her to live like this. Please, Mother, please take her in.”
Julia was staring at me. Her green eyes looked darker. Heart banging, I forced a smile.
“Are you sure about this?” Mother asked. I nodded and choked out a yes.
My mum said she’d think about it. We did a bit of small talk and soon, I hung up. Tossing my phone on the chair across the cabin, I hugged my knees to my chest and rocked myself sideways and broke into tears. Julia, getting scared by the sudden noise, wailed.
“My baby…” I picked her up and bobbed up and down, soothing her, making her laugh. “I wish I could see you laughing like this the next time I see you, my love.” I tilted my head and kissed my daughter.
A week later…
“Mother!” I called out form the crowd of people at the airport, waiting for their own friends and relatives. “Over here!” I waved my arm, manically and she finally spotted me.
Shuffling towards me, my mother beamed up at me. “Annie!” she pulled me into a tight hug, Julia squished in between us. She was officially five months old. “How’s my daughter?”
“Okay.” I said, pulling away. “Let’s get to the cabin before anyone else bumps into us.”
“Sounds good!” Mother exclaimed, smiling, her green eyes twinkling. I don’t know how I didn’t get her eyes. And Brad did. And Julia did. Stuff like this is confusing.
Once we were out, I hopped into a bus with Mother and walked to the very back. The bus started moving as we settled into our seats. “I have to tell you something.” she said suddenly.
I looked at her, urging her to continue.
“I may have looked up everything about the fire.” she said, her face going pink. “I know you’d rather not know who did it, but that’s the stuff I do, love.”
“What?” I was genuinely curious.
“It was Brittney. Your friend Brittney.” Mother said.
I narrowed my eyes, “She would never. I was at her house the whole time.”
“Maryssa worked for her as a… you know… as a spy-ish type of person.” Mother said, fiddling with her hands. “Maryssa wasn’t seen at all at the scene, that’s what the police said. Chef was found burnt in his bed, and…” she trailed off, wincing at the thought of what else had happened.
“I know. Everything burnt down. The house was ashes, wasn’t it?” I mumbled. Mother nodded sadly beside me, squeezing my hand. I stifled a sob and buried my head in Mother’s shoulder, Julia playing with my hair, and laughing.
- - -
“Bye, Jules.” I whispered. “I’ll miss you more than ever. And one day, I promise I’ll come down to your side of the world and see you. I’ll be dead to you, but you’ll see me. I promise. And we’ll be together after that.”
Julia was giggling uncontrollably in her grandmother’s arms. Mother had booked a ticket and now, it was already time for them to leave. I will always remember this day. And I will see my angel again in the future. A lump formed in my throat, and I started crying. Julia, sensing the tension, quieted down. Her outstretched arm reached my nose and she pinched it. “My little scientist. Always playing with things you find interesting.” Smiling, I wiped my tears and looked up at Mother, who was looking down at me.
“You’re making a very tough decision, Anthea.” she pointed out for the fiftieth time.
“I want whatever is best for her.” I declared again.
Mother looked around, a dreary look in her eyes. “You’re sure about this?” she asked.
“Mother, you’ll make me take her back if you don’t go now! And you have to get to your gate, as well.” I forced a smile.
“Well, if you say so…” she said, looking straight into my eyes, searching for the truth. I broke contact before she could say anything. “Call me whenever you need anything. Stay safe. Don’t let anyone hurt you. Call the police if you see any sort of suspicious attempt of someone setting fire. Don’t forget Julia.”
I laughed at all the rules she had suddenly spat out all of a sudden. “And you have to promise to follow my angel’s schedule.”
“You got it, partner.” Mother said, grinning.
I helped her take her suitcase to the entrance of the gate and looked down at Julia whose whole fist had somehow ended up in her mouth.
“I love you.” Mother said solemnly, hugging me.
“Love you too,” I said into her shoulder. I pulled away and Mother was already walking towards the gate.
I whispered to myself, “See you in thirteen years.”
And I left.
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