I saw the packed suitcases on her bedroom floor. I saw the empty bureau, the blue drawers no longer containing the knickknacks I had come to expect there. I saw these, but I didn’t accept them, didn’t understand. I scanned the room for an explanation, but there was no note. Then I felt a gentle pat on my back, and turned around to find Ana standing next to me, smiling a sad smile. She must have noticed the tears forming in my eyes, for she immediately began to comfort me. “I’ll never abandon you,” she said. And because she had been my stepmom for as long as I could remember, I believed her.
I had only been stopping by the house for clothes for my visit with my biological mother, so I wiped my eyes and shut the door behind me. When my mom and I arrived at our apartment, I called my dad, who was on a business trip at the time, and told him what I had seen at the house. He told me not to worry, and that Ana was probably just cleaning out her room. The confidence in my dad’s voice calmed me. How could I have been so stupid? I thought. Ana would never leave us. My dad was right.
I reprimanded myself for thinking such things about her. All the times she had been there to comfort me, to console me; I couldn’t forget that. She was the one who hugged me after a bad visit with my mom, the one who drove me to school each morning and picked me up afterwards asking, “How was school today, honey?” She wove French braids into my long hair before concerts, making sure to brush away any knots or tangles from my hair beforehand. We would stay up late laughing in bed with popcorn kernels lost in our sheets and candy wrappers surrounding us. She was my role model, but most importantly, she was my mom.
That night I slept peacefully. In the morning I was awakened by the sound of my cell phone announcing a missed voicemail. I flipped the pink cover open and pressed the speaker to my ear. “One missed call from Dad, received at 9:45 am,” the robotic voice informed me. Then my dad’s voice began. “Hey Hun. I…I got Ana’s lawsuit in the mail today. I…guess I was wrong. I’m sorry. Call me, ok? I love you.” “End of voice mail. To replay press-,” I cut the voice off, and threw my phone.
“How could she?!” I screamed. I hurled my striped pillows across the room with the most force I could muster, knocking over a framed picture of me as a toddler in the process. And then, almost as quickly as I had become angry, I began to cry. I sobbed for what seemed like an hour, clinging onto my mom for dear life. Eventually, I became quiet, and my rapid breathing slowed. Ana was leaving. It was final.
That day I had a revelation. I could no longer see myself happily married with children crawling onto my lap. Instead, I envisioned myself as a single, yet successful woman. Never would I trust another. Ana had taught me the danger in that.
7 years ago