narrated by: Caitlyn
We moved in with my Dad three years ago, he sort of bribed me by getting an apartment that allowed dogs. Mom’s had a strict no pet policy, and as I had just turned eleven and only wanted a dog more than anything else in the world, it wasn’t hard for me to jump ship.
Aidan followed, we don’t do everything together as perhaps twins of the same sex might, but we couldn’t imagine not living together. Mom didn’t put up a fight, and Bazooka, my dog ended up becoming one of my best friends, and constants. Mom started canceling our visitations that by Christmas of that year, we had stopped hearing from her.
Dad is the same as always, he isn’t playing computer games as much anymore, and traded that habit in for an Xbox. I’m not much of a gamer, but Aidan will throw back a few games with him. Being the only girl leaves me with some great powers, I can just complain about ‘girl things’ and pretty much get whatever I want.
There is no steretype that I do all the cleaning ether, Aidan helps keep our room clean just as much as I do, and even helps with dishes. Which we can’t say about Dad.
Aidan is sort of put out that me and Lewis started dating. They are best friends, and I guess that I have sort of wormed myself in the middle of it. It’s hard to not fall hard for your boyfriend though, and even if I say that I’ll give them more time together, I never really remember in the moment.
He definitely lets me know that he wants more attention though, usually interrupting me and Lewis from kissing, to give me a noogie.
I get that he doesn’t like to be the odd man out, but when he humiliates me in front of my boyfriend, I can’t begin to control my temper. Lewis usually stands there awkwardly, he might be pleased that we fight over his attention or completely mortified, I can never tell.
Dad is still working third shift at the gas station, so it’s literally just us teens. Dad doesn’t know that Lewis comes over, but we aren’t necessarily keeping it as a secret. I don’t think he’d care, he likes Lewis, and he is Aidan’s friend after all.
We might kiss a little, and talk but that’s about it.
Besides Aidan is constantly there, and he wouldn’t allow any boy to be left alone with me. We usually watch horror movies, which we allow Aidan to pick just to appease him. Me and Lewis are hoping he gets a girlfriend sometime soon, so he can be occupied more. We never tell Lewis’ step-Mom that my Dad isn’t home, because she’s all wound up that we might do it.
We both forget about it most of the time, and are just each other’s best friends. I barely know Cara, and the only situations I’ve really been around her in, are the ones that she is just Rachael’s Mom, never like a sister to me. She had got kicked out of my parent’s house before we were born, really it was me and Aidan that had her kicked out. If Rachael knows any of this, we’ve never talked about it.
We were just playing in the snow, like old days before me and Lewis hooked up, and Rachael tried to hide her hurt over it.
When my older brother, Luca calls my cell. Ever since he moved out on his own, he calls me regularly, so it wasn’t anything surprising to see his name on my caller id. But what he had to share was.
He had called just to see how I felt about it all, but I hadn’t a clue what he was even talking about. I could tell he regretted calling me at all at this point, but I pressed him and he relented to tell me.
He told me that he had gone to Hazel’s Diner with Nadia, and found Dad hugging a mystery woman.
He approached them, and found out that her name was Cynthia Collins, and that Dad was dating her.
Nadia even met her, and thought that she was nice, Luca had added as if that would make this news better to handle.
He didn’t have much more information to offer, other than that they did not sit together, but he and Nadia both thought that they looked to be having a nice time together.
Apparently after only one meeting Luca is on team Cynthia. I felt like someone had taken my feet right out from under me, and that one of those frags in Dad’s game had gone off, causing my ears to buzz.
I left my friends outside to ask Dad if it was all true. He couldn’t wipe the stupid smirk off his face, like he was a toddler caught sneaking cookies, and thought he was the cutest thing in the world.
Of course Luca hadn’t been lying, Dad had said, and he went on about how great Cynthia was, super nice, and loves kids, as if reading off a dating application. They are both beyond excited for her to meet us, he said, like we are some sort of novelty. I wanted to hit my Dad more than I’d ever wanted to be violent to anybody, but instead in the middle of screaming I started crying like an out of control hormonal girl.
Running to my room, I heard Rachael come in to the apartment, and follow up right behind me. I know I have her allegiance, because Dad isn’t her grandpa, he’s just her ex-step-grandpa, and he barely acts like a Dad let alone a Grandpa. So I can tell her that he’s a huge jerk, and she’ll agree with me just like that.
After listening to my story, she jumped into trying to cheer me up, told me stories about how great her Step-Dad Charlie is, and how he’s just like her real Dad these days. I didn’t want to be hateful, and remind her that her real Dad is dead, and she’s known Charlie since she was a toddler, so of course he feels like a freaking Dad to her. I don’t need a replacement Mom, I have a horrible one already, why add another one to the mix?
It felt foolish to admit to myself, let alone out loud, but I had always thought that my parents would get back together. That they would realize they were meant to be, and that this apartment living was temporary. I didn’t tell this to Rachael, we were in eighth grade for pity sake, way too old for stupid childhood delusions.
After feigning a smile, I lied that I was tired, and she went home. It was dark out by then, and I went downstairs to find Dad and Aidan had settled down to eat delivery pizza, vegging out in front of the television. Maybe I was planning to grab a plate and try to be peaceful, but when Dad made a smart remark about if I’d ‘turned my frown upside down‘ I just stormed past them, and right out of the building.
Most of my walk was at a high speed, part of me was afraid that Dad would come after me, and the other half hoped that he would. But if he had, it wasn’t until I was too far away to hear him.
My feet led by my heart, and landed me right on my Mom’s doorstep, my old home. My stomach clutched, I hadn’t been there in years, how could someone live just blocks away, but be a total stranger. I almost chickened out of knocking, but forced myself to finish the journey that I had started. If I could change the future, I had to take the opportunity; I had to try.
When she answered the door, I almost cried. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed her. She looked shell-shocked; she did not look like she might cry at seeing her daughter for the first time in three years.
I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind, “You’re running out of time, Dad is dating someone new.”
Perhaps I thought she’d put her coat on over her pajamas, and we’d run back to my place together to stop this disaster. Instead she just asked me to step inside. I didn’t know that stepping into my old home could feel that awkward. All of these memories of Luca and Colin as teens, and fighting with each other, Meme always making out with Luca on the sofa, and me, just wanting that elusive dog. It felt like a stranger had moved into the place, and all of my memories weren’t here anymore, but in a far off memory that tethered itself to no place.
She just stared at me like a fish, and I just stared at her, my heart breaking because I could see that she wasn’t doing anything I wanted. I was also mortified beyond belief, and angry that my own mother could make me feel this embarrassed and out of place. I went from longing for her affection, to hating her, to wanting to disappear, and so I kept on staring at her.
She beckoned me into the living room, I noticed that the computer was gone, she hadn’t let Dad take it when he moved out, but it wasn’t in here anymore. Perhaps she had turned my old bedroom into an office. I was too busy noticing all the subtle changes, the new sofa and the new direction of the room, the patio without all the dining space that it had once needed. Shouldn’t it have made her sad to need less chairs in her life now? Did she still spend time with Rachael and Cara? I had never thought to ask Rachael that before. Perhaps she was the best, most attentive Grandma in the world, and the best mother to Cara.
Then I noticed him, in his pajamas, sitting on the sofa with the television paused as he waited patiently for my Mom to return to their relaxing evening.
“Vince, this is Caitlyn; Caitlyn this is Vince.” She spoke awkwardly, perhaps never having told him she had five children, two of which were only fourteen years old.
I couldn’t say a word, any manners I had been haphazardly taught as a toddler were vanished, and all I could do was run, run far away from her and Vince. The name felt like poison in my head, clearly she didn’t miss us, let alone Dad. And I started crying as I thought about Dad all this time, never dating anyone, let alone having a woman move in with us, and sit in her pajamas on our sofa.
In what world did my Dad become the responsible adult? He still provided for me and Aidan, and she did nothing but pretend we never were born.
I couldn’t go home, all I could think of was facing Dad and his grinning face over Cynthia, the woman who was stealing his heart. And I couldn’t begin to stomach it. So I went to Nadia’s house. He hadn’t technically moved in with her, but was in the process with Lorelei getting married in the fall.
Nadia immediately high tailed it to the phone to call my Dad, and say that I was safe. I felt a warm satisfaction cover over me as I realized that he had missed me, and cared that I had run off. Then I felt horribly guilty that I had likely scared him and Aidan. I hadn’t even thought to bring my cell phone, it was still sitting on the floor where me and Rachael had talked.
Luca is always there for me, he just knows what to say to make me feel less hopeless. He admitted that he was surprised about finding Dad on a date, and he was hurt over Mom divorcing Dad just as I was. He even thought they might get back together in time too, and that made me feel less naive.
Nadia made us cocoa to warm me up, and then Luca started talking about how me and Aidan would be leaving Dad in just four years, and it was good for him to date. He asked if I wanted Dad to be alone when we left for college, and of course I don’t want that. I just wanted him to be with Mom, that’s how it always was in my head.
I felt terrible when I heard Nadia let Dad in, and didn’t want to turn and face him. His crime was less than Mom’s that night, but it didn’t change that I was hurt and terrified of some woman replacing my Mom.
Nadia had offered for me to stay the night, but I already knew that I would go home. I’d have to be there to talk with Aidan about it all, though he probably didn’t care about Cynthia at all. Sometimes I wished that I could be so laid back about things like he is.
Dad wasn’t mad, which made me feel even worse. I apologized for running off, and he just chuckled. He assured me that he understood my need to burn off steam, and that I was no where near as hot-tempered as Colin, even I cracked a flicker of a smile on that one.
I wasn’t happy to go home, but felt like an intruder long enough. I could tell that Nadia wanted to put Kai to bed, and Luca was getting things ready for work the next morning. I was the one who asked to leave, and Dad seemed relieved, perhaps he thought I wouldn’t want to go home with him at all.
I talked with Aidan that night, and as I expected he thought it was good for Dad to have some company. He had thought about when we are gone to college and real life, and he didn’t like the idea of Dad living alone forever. I felt selfish for wanting him to stay single if he couldn’t be with Mom.
The next night I had to babysit my nephew, Logan, and he always cheers me up. I may be bias, but I think he’s the most adorable toddler ever. He loves when I babysit, and I’m by far his favorite relative, everyone says as much.
We just dance, and play the whole night, and he totally eats it up.
He made me realize that even without my Mom, I still had a great family, with a sweet boyfriend, and a lot of good things happening. It didn’t stop my heart from hurting over her choosing to not be in our lives, but holding Logan made it hurt a little less.
The night was even better when Erin and Colin came back home, they were back early that I hadn’t gotten Logan to sleep yet. Colin just picked up Logan’s favorite bedtime story and went to finish the bedtime routine.
I told Erin my feelings that Logan was the cutest toddler in the world, and she was tickled by my enthusiasm. I keep hoping that her and Colin will get married, because I think she’d make the best sister-in-law, I tell her that all the time too.
She leaned forward and told me that she had a secret to share, that no one else but her and Colin knew. I instantly thought they were getting married, but perhaps even better, she told me that they were pregnant with another baby.
She’s due in November, and it cannot get here soon enough. I hope she has a girl this time, but then a brother for Logan would be great. She was tickled by my excitement over the news, and told me to not tell anyone until they’d had the opportunity to tell Luca and Dad themselves, then I could tell all my friends the news that I was going to be an Aunt a second time over.
When I went home that night, my Mom wasn’t in my thoughts, instead I was caught up thinking of my new nephew or niece, and trying to think up names that I could suggest to Erin. Perhaps she would pick one of them, and then I could have helped name the baby.
Notes: So Erin and Colin are due with baby #2 in November. Which worked out perfectly with Lorelei getting married in October. It’ll be easier to handle the wedding with a very pregnant Erin over a newborn. I’m very excited about the timing of it all!
Ethan and Meredith had moved on in the old hood. I hadn’t realized that Ethan had until I loaded Dave’s townhouse lot for Ben’s fire, and he showed up and started smooching with the girl in the dress, just a random townie that lived next door to Dave.
I did not bring random townie with to the new hood, and then Cynthia and Ethan hit it off, she lived at the apartment for all of one day, when I realized they were onto something, and went to change her outfit. I forgot that it would clear her from the lot, and so someone new moved in, but he kept rolling Cynthia wants, so that’s how they ended up going on a date together.
I don’t know if they will get married or anything quite that serious, but she’s pretty adorable, and I think that Ethan has fallen harder over her than the other way around.
Thanks for reading!