My dad had died ten years ago when I was seven. My mom had re-married since and now I had step brother and a step sister.
But they’re still young.
Too young to understand why I feel so angry and betrayed by my mother.
She wanted to completely forget my father and tried to force me to do the same. But I couldn’t. He was my father and I had loved him.
I was angry at first at him for leaving us.
For leaving me.
But then when my mom had forced us out of our home and into a completely new life where my father’s name was never to be mentioned, where no photographs or memories of him were around the house, I started to hate her.
I started going to visit his grave alone when I was old enough to go out on my own. I had to wait until I was fourteen to visit his final resting place.
I hated that she sometimes looked at me with pity, like it was a bad thing to see my father in me.
He had been dark haired and tall, about 6’3 and with a built frame. He had worked in construction and always tried to stay fit. He hadn’t worn a beard or mustache, he was always clean shaven. He had had green eyes. Not dark or any other average color of green. They had been yellow green and I remember perfectly well how his eyes looked because I have those same eyes. He always liked to wear worn blue jeans and a white t-shirt when he was around the house. Always barefoot. I remember how much he enjoyed feeling the earth under his feet. He said it reminded him of his childhood.
I’m only seventeen and I haven’t yet reached my father’s towering height, I’m only five-eleven at the moment.
I shift in my seat.
I hated everything about my life.
I wanted out and I was waiting till I turned eighteen next year to move out and be free to remember my father.
I guess I was also looking forward to Thursday.
My art teacher got permission to take us to Europe. We were going to visit the art museums of London, France and Italy. I was looking forward to visiting Rome. My mother had
promised to think about it and I was really hoping she would let up and let me go.
The bell rings signaling that class is over.
“Please remember to bring in both permission slips tomorrow. One copy has to be turned in to the principal’s office on Wednesday and the other will be for me. I need them both
or you won’t be able to go.” Mr. Pricely reminds us.
I don’t have seventh period so I ride my bike home.
My mother is in the kitchen washing dishes.
Her husband won’t be home until after six o’clock.
“Have you signed the permission slips?”
“Honey, I didn’t hear you come in.”
She dries her hands and looks at me.
“I’m not sure that I feel comfortable having you so far away.”
“Mom. There will be four teachers with us.”
“I know but I worry.”
“I want to go.”
“I need to discuss this with your father.”
“My father’s dead. I don’t think his input matters.”
“I really wish you would give Dave a chance. He really likes you. He’s seen you grow up and you know he considers you one of his own.”
“He already has his own.”
She sighs and looks away.
“I really want to go.”
“I don’t know.”
“At least give me this.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let me do something that I like.”
“No okay? Art is the only thing that matters to me in this whole god forsaken place.”
“What’s going on?” Dave asks entering the kitchen.
“Honey, I didn’t know you were coming home early?”
“We have safety training this week so we get off early. What’s going on?”
“Mathew want’s to go to Europe with his art class.”
“When is it?”
“They leave Thursday night and come back in two weeks.” Mom explains.
I stand there staring at the floor trying to control my anger.
“Do you think I should let him go?” Mom asks him.
I bite my tongue.
“He’s a responsible kid. But then again, it is Europe.”
I bite harder on my tongue to stop myself from saying something that would definitely keep me from going to Europe.
“Okay Matty.” Mom says.
“Thank you.” I say.
I go upstairs and rejoice in private.
Later on I go downstairs for a drink.
Mom was alone and she was sitting at the table talking with someone on the phone.
I can hear the TV is on in the living room which is probably where Dave is.
I stop at the doorway when I hear her mention my name.
“He really want’s to go and I said he could.”
“Because you know I need your signature thanks to your brother.”
“I’m sure the school will provide him with sleeping accommodations.”
“We will be giving him the money he need, all Mathew needs from you is your signature.”
She hangs up and sits there staring at the permission slips.
I walk in cautiously.
“Oh, Matty. I didn’t see you there.” She smiles.
“Who was on the phone?” I ask casually as I walk over to the fridge.
“Oh. It was my friend Joyce. You remember Joyce don’t you?”
“Well. I’m going to go take a quick shower before starting diner.” She kisses my cheek and goes up stairs.
I go upstairs, grab my phone and redial the number.
It rings twice before someone answers.
“Dr. Ulric’s office. This is Mandy, how can I help you?”
“Yes, hi. I would like to make an appointment please.”
“Have you been here before?”
“Okay. What’s your name?”
“I need your last name too hon.”
“Mathew Pierce.” I lie.
“I have an opening for tomorrow at nine.”
“Okay Mathew. Make sure to bring an ID and your insurance card.”
“Have a good afternoon.”
“Oh, wait. Where are you located?”
“On the corner of Yosemite and J Street.”
I hang up and then consider calling back to cancel the appointment. What the hell had I been thinking?
Later that night I hear the doorbell ring.
The kids were already asleep and I had been drifting off.
I get up and creep down the back stairs that lead into the kitchen.
I hear my mother taking to someone in the living room.
“Thera, you remember Dave.”
“Of course.” The woman answers.
“How are you?” Dave asks.
“Just fine thank you.”
“Let’s go into the kitchen.” Mom says.
I hide behind the wall.
I hear chairs sliding on the floor.
“Here are the permission slips.” Mom says.
I hear the scratch of pen on paper.
“How are you going to explain my signature?” The woman asks.
“I’m sure he won’t look at it.”
“Maybe it’s time for you to tell him.”
“I deserve to know my nephew.”
“He doesn’t need you.” Mom answers angrily.
“Obviously he does.”
Her tone reminded me so much of dad.
“Look. Maybe one day I will tell him but not right now.”
“What you’re doing to him isn’t right. You know that.”
“It’s better this way.”
“He’s not like you.”
“He is my bothers son, Jennifer.”
“Maybe you should leave now.”
“I could take him from you. You know I have the power, Jeffery saw to that before he died.”
“Then why don’t you?”
“Say the word and he’s gone.”
“He’s my son.”
“He’s my son now too.”
“You can’t have him.”
“He will eventually know the truth Jennifer and if it doesn’t come from you then you will lose him.”
“Here. Give him this.”
“What is it?”
“He doesn’t need it.”
“Jeffrey left him a school fund for anything he needs. Since you’ve never wanted to accept anything for clothes then at least give it to him for his trip. He’ll appreciate it.”
“I wasn’t talking about Mathew.”
There is a silence and then the scrape of chairs as they stand.
The front door closes a few moments after that and I hear my mom crying silently.
I go back to my room.
The next morning I hand the permission slips once I arrive and turn in the ‘note’ from my mom for my doctor’s appointment.
I ride my bike to the doctors.
It’s not far from the school.
I read the name in the door and it’s the same as the woman’s who went to the house last night.
It’s a family doctor’s office.
“Hi. I’m Mathew. I have an appointment for nine.”
“Yes. I need you to fill out these forms.”
I sit down and pretend to fill out papers.
The nurse takes back a child and his mom and then calls me in.
She says I can finish filling out the papers inside.
I wait in the room anxiously with shaky and sweaty hands.
I hear two women talking outside my room and I tense.
Then the door opens and a female in a white lad coat enters.
She stares at me and then very calmly closes the door.
Her yellow eyes send shivers down my spine.
“Mathew.” She says. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“Who are you?”
She sits on the stool and after a moment, she looks at me again.
“I’m Thera Ulric, your aunt.”
“How come I’ve never met you before?”
“I’ve met you. You were just a child.”
“But since then. Why haven’t you?”
I look away completely filled with anger.
“You look like Jeffrey.”
I look back at her and she smiles kindly.
“So do you.”
“Well, we Ulric’s usually resemble each other.”
“Do you live here?”
“Yeah. Well, thirty minutes out of the city.”
“I love the country.”
“Why did you sign my permission slips?”
“You need it. Before Jeffrey died, he gave made me his power of attorney and he passed to me his legal right as a parent. So technically, I’m your mother. I have everything your
father left you and my signature is needed for emergencies, field trips, report cards. Basically everything your dad would have to sign.”
“Why did he do that?”
“There are things only I can teach you. Things your mother doesn’t know about.”
“Things you don’t need to know yet. How long will you be in London?”
“I don’t know. Two days I think.”
“You like art?”
“Are you any good at it?”
“I think so. I mean, I’m not any great artist but I can draw without my people looking un-human.”
“Did your mother give you the money I gave her?”
“Come to my office.” She says standing up.
I follow her out of the room.
Inside her office, there are pictures of me and my dad.
I stare at one taken at a lake.
Dad is holding up a fish in one hand and me in the other.
“You were three then.” She says.
I feel the sting of tears.
I turn away.
“Your father left you money, property and some of his personal items. I know I can’t give you any of that without your mother knowing you were here. I don’t want you to be left
behind from your trip so I won’t. But I was in London nine years ago and I had some currency left. I want you to take it and buy yourself something nice. And get some of those raspberry filled chocolates that you like.”
“How do you know the things that I like?”
“You’re my son Mathew. I might not see you but I know you. Besides, a lot of characteristics are purely Ulric. I know Jeffrey completely devoured them.”
She stands and walks over to me.
“Here.” She says handing me money. “It’s three hundred worth.”
I take it and the cell phone she hands me and I stuff them in my pocket.
She caresses my head for a moment.
“I love you.” She says.
I hug her for a long moment.
She steps back first.
She wipes away my tears.
“You better go back to school.”
“You can come by any time you want.”
“Without ditching school.”
I look at her one more time before walking out.
I ride back to school and think about her all day.