Authors: Amber Garza
“What are you and Rhiannon going to do?”
No way could I tell her what we did. She’d flip. I couldn’t let Isaac find out either. He’d never understand. But it was something I just had to do. If there was even a remote chance that Wesley was my dad I had to pursue it.
“Um, just hang out.”
“What does that mean?”
“Just, you know, talk, listen to music. Chill, you know?”
Grandma chuckled. “Okay, well have fun chilling or whatever.”
Intently, I studied my food praying she wouldn’t ask any more questions about it.
Setting down her fork she said, “Mackenzie, I wanted to talk with you about something.” She squared her shoulders, narrowed her eyes. “I’ve thought a lot about our conversation this morning about your dad.”
I nodded, held my breath as I waited for her to continue.
“You were right. He’s your dad. You have a right to know about him.”
My mouth dropped in shock. No adult had ever told me I was right before.
“I talked with your mom today and told her I was going to tell you what I know about your dad. I thought it was only fair to warn her.”
“How’d she take it?”
Grandma pursed her mouth like she’d sucked on lemon. “Not so well. But it doesn’t matter. I’ve made my decision.”
I wiped my clammy hands on my thighs. My heart hammered in my chest. Finally someone was going to give me information on my dad. I sat forward in anticipation.
our mom met your dad when she was just your age. I remember her coming home from an outing with her friends one day and she was walking around with her head in the clouds. Not like that was unusual, but I could just tell she’d met someone. I guess you could call it a mother’s intuition. I pressed her about it but she wouldn’t tell me a thing.”
I remembered all the secret phone calls she’d been getting before I left.
“Pretty soon the phone started ringing a lot and your mom would race to get it before your grandpa or I could answer it. One day I got to it before her and a boy was on the line. I asked his name and he said it was David.”
I pictured my dad on the phone waiting for my mom to get on the line. He must have really liked her. I wondered if he treated her like Isaac treated me.
“Of course your mother was livid. I asked her about him when she hung up and she told me it was none of my business. Well, that didn’t fly with your grandpa so he grounded her. The next night I went into her room to talk with her and she was gone.”
“She ran away?”
“Well, that’s what we thought. We got in our car and drove around looking for her with no luck.
In the middle of the night we heard her stumble in through her window. I marched right in there fully prepared to punish her but what I saw was so awful I never ended up doing it.”
I leaned forward. “What happened?”
“She was a mess. All scratched up, tears streaming down her cheeks, snot running down her nose, hair tangled. I asked her what was wrong but she just cried. For the longest time I just held her and let her cry.”
“What was wrong with her?”
“I honestly don’t know. I begged her to tell me but she never would. In fact she told me she never wanted to talk about that night ever again.”
“And you just let it go?”
Grandma snorted. “Of course not. She was my daughter. I wanted to help. I made her see a counselor and had her talk with our pastor, but she never opened up to anyone. Shortly after that we found out she was pregnant. We assumed the two things were related but she never actually told us that they were.”
“Do you think she was raped?” It burned my throat to ask the question.
“I asked her that many times but she assured me she wasn’t.”
“And you bought it?”
“I really don’t know. Part of me believed her because she seemed so adamant, but I know what I saw that night and something bad occurred.”
“Did you ever see David after that?”
Grandma shook her head.
“How do you know he’s even my dad?”
“I don’t. I just assumed.”
I thought back to the night I found the picture of Mom and David. When I showed it to her and demanded an answer she told me that he was my dad, but she could’ve been lying.
“Grandma, did Mom know anyone named Wesley?”
Grandma furrowed her brow, deep in thought. “That name does sound familiar. Yeah, I think maybe she did. Why?”
I shook my head. “No reason.”
Grandma eyed me skeptically.
My mind swirled from everything she’d told me. Was it possible that David wasn’t my dad after all? That my dad was someone named Wesley? Someone who was dead and trying to reach me? And if so, did he rape my mom? If so, what happened to David? Why had he suddenly disappeared? I wished Mom would just tell me the truth, but I knew she never would. She was the queen of secrets and she’d been keeping this one for a very long time. No, right now my only hope was Wesley. He held the key to unlocking this mystery.
I woke up early the next morning and headed straight over to Rhiannon’s. As I rapped on her door, anxiety swept over me. What would I find out today? After several minutes of knocking, Rhiannon still hadn’t appeared. I glanced around and spotted her car parked on the street. Puzzled, I walked around to her bedroom window, attempted to peek inside but the curtains were shut. Maybe she was sleeping. It was pretty early, after all.
Behind me a car pulled up. I shielded my eyes against the glare of the sun and peeked out from under my hand as a Hispanic woman emerged from the vehicle. In her hand she carried a basket of cleaning supplies. Glancing behind her I read the housecleaners sign splashed across the passenger side door.
“Hi,” I said as I approached her.
“Hello,” she answered looking down warily.
I guess I did look suspicious, peeking in the windows. “I’m Kenzie. I live next door. I’m a friend of Rhiannon’s.”
“Hello,” she repeated, stepping around me. As she walked to the front door I followed her. Before she stuck her key in the lock she turned around. “Can I help you?”
“I’m just here to hang out with Rhiannon. She’s not answering but her car’s out front and so I know she’s home. She’s probably just sleeping in. So, I thought I’d just slip in with you.” I realized I sounded like a lunatic but I needed to get to that Ouija board.
The housecleaner shook her head. “No, they’re not home. They’re on vacation.”
“But…I don’t understand.” My mind whizzed through all my prior conversations with Rhiannon. Never once did she mention anything about a vacation. “Did they say how long they’d be gone?”
Again she nodded. “I’m sorry. “ She unlocked the front door. Before I could ask any more questions she slipped inside. I heard the click of the deadbolt locking. I had probably scared her to death.
Defeated, I headed back to Grandma’s front porch and collapsed on the swing. How was I going to get the answers about my dad? I needed that board. But it’s not like I could break into her house and steal it. But I also couldn’t wait a whole two weeks to find out the answers.
Maybe I’d have to buy my own board. I knew I could buy one at any toy store. But I wondered if Wesley could find me on any board. Was Rhiannon’s board the only one Wesley would appear on?
I’d never know if I didn’t try. Decision was made. I would borrow Grandma’s car when she came home from work and head to the store to buy my very own Ouija board. Now all I had to do was wait.
y the time Grandma arrived home it was almost time for my date with Isaac. I tried not to let my disappointment at not getting the Ouija board ruin my evening. I put on a black skirt, sparkly top and ballet flats. For the first time in months I actually wore short sleeves and it felt good. The salve that Rhiannon gave me worked and my cuts were healing nicely, but I did swipe some foundation over them just to be safe. After flat ironing my hair and applying some makeup I emerged from the bathroom.
“Wow, Kenzie. Isaac’s not going to know what hit him.”
I blushed, swatting away her words. Just then there was a knock on the door. I opened it to find Isaac standing on the porch, his face hidden behind a huge bouquet of fragrant flowers. I took them in my hand and thanked him. When our eyes locked, he grinned showing his dimples. He wore khaki pants, a white collared shirt and brown dress shoes. His hair was combed down, his face clean-shaven and he smelled like aftershave and cologne.
“You look gorgeous,” he said.
Grandma offered to put the flowers in water and we took off. As we walked toward Isaac’s car he took my hand in his, sending chills up my arm. The heat of the afternoon still lingered in the evening air and I was grateful my arms were bare. The scent of honeysuckle swirled around me, and birds chirped faintly in the distance.
“Where are we going?” I asked as we pulled out of the court.
“What an odd name for a restaurant.”
“It’s not at all like it sounds. It’s the best. You’ll see.”
He wasn’t kidding. Fat’s was nothing like its name implied. The restaurant was beautiful with its shimmering pool of water and giant gold statue as the centerpiece, its glossy floors and dim lighting throughout. The scent of fried Chinese food and sauces permeated the air, causing my stomach to rumble.
“What do you like?” I asked as I held the lengthy menu in my hand.
“The honey walnut prawns are the bomb.”
My mouth watered as I read the description.
“Also, the chow mein is really good.”
I nodded, setting down the menu. “I’m sold.”
After Isaac ordered and the waiter brought our sodas, we settled back in our chairs.
“So, what did you do today?”
“Nothing much.” I spoke loudly to be heard over the party at the table behind us. Chattering echoed off the high ceilings.
“You didn’t hang out with Rhiannon?”
I shook my head. “Apparently she went on vacation.”
“No idea. I didn’t even know she left. Her housecleaner told me.”
“Huh. That’s odd.”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
“So, what do you guys do together?”
“Girl stuff.” A woman fluttered past our table, leaving a trail of strong floral perfume in her wake. Her stiletto heels clicked on the slick floor.
“If I told you I’d have to kill you.” I winked and flashed him a smile so he’d know I was kidding.
He laughed and changed the subject which is exactly what I’d hoped would happen. “Hey, you ever water-ski?”
“No. Why?” A baby wailed from a nearby table, catching our attention.
“A friend of mine invited me out on his boat on Saturday. I wondered if you wanted to join me.”
The thought of being on a boat with Isaac sounded amazing. “I’d love to, but I don’t know how good of a skier I’ll be. I’ve never even snow skied before.”
“Water skiing is pretty easy. I can show you.”
“Do you go often?”
“Yeah, I love it. My Aunt and Uncle own a boat and we go all the time. I learned to ski when I was a little kid. My Uncle gets a kick out of taking crazy turns and trying to knock me over when he’s pulling me.”
“Isn’t that dangerous?”
“Nah, he knows what he’s doing. He’d never let me get hurt. Although I have had water go up my nose a lot of times and that’s pretty painful.”
“Is it hard for you to go out in the water after what happened to your brother?”
“It was at first, but my parents made me. They didn’t want my fears to run my life.”
“You’re lucky to have them. They seem like amazing parents.”
Ones I wish I had.
“Yeah, they’re pretty cool. What about you? You don’t talk much about your family. What’s it like being an only child?”
I pictured quiet nights alone in front of the TV, coming home everyday to an empty house.
“Lonely,” I finally answered.
He reached across the table, covered my hand with his. “I’m sorry.”
I shrugged. “It’s fine.”
Just then our food arrived and our conversation halted as we tucked into the prawns and chow mein noodles. By the time I finished I understood why the restaurant was called Fat’s I ate so much I thought Isaac would have to roll me out of the place.
Rubbing my stomach I said, “I feel like I gained ten pounds. You better be careful. If you keep taking me out like this I’m gonna get fat.”
Isaac chuckled. “It wouldn’t matter what size you were. You’d still be beautiful.”
“So how was your date?” Grandma asked me over coffee and toast the next morning.
“Good,” I answered.