The rest of the drive was peaceful. Stopping only for food and sleep, we had made it to Penton in good time. However, it was nine in the evening when I pulled into the all to familiar town, and I truly didn't know where to go. The first thought that came to mind was the parking lot down near the pier. I parked with a view and told the kids to get in the camper. I would have to wait until the morning to figure everything else out, because all I really wanted to do now was sleep.
The next morning, I e-mailed my Aunt Rebecca asking her if she stilled lived where she had when I was a teenager. She replied quickly, saying that she did, and I drove towards the old familiar home.
I had always been close with Aunt Becky. Ever since I was a child, she had told me to chase my dreams, and I did. I had a good, steady job, that allowed me to travel as much as I wanted to. Aunt Becky was the only person I spoke to from home. I truly didn't want to have to see anyone else in this tiny town, but it was unavoidable.
Aunt Becky had hardly changed a bit. Her hair was obviosly dyed, and she had a few more wrinkles than she'd once had, but other than that, she was still her youthful self.
"This must be Tyler." she said, hugging him. She stood back to take a look at him, he looked just like his father. She then took a look at Cassidy. "Just as beautiful as her mother." she said, hugging her. "Are you kids hungry? There's pancakes in on the table, give your Uncle Harry a hug while you're in there."
Despite their deprivation, my children were far from shy, and quickly ran towards her kitchen to greet their uncle.
"Danielle, dear. I think we should sit in the living room while the children are occupied." Aunt Becky said, softly. "I'm afraid Greta has less time than I thought. I think you should go see her soon, very soon. Today, if possible. After you unpack your things, and shower."
"What's wrong with her?" I asked
"Cancer, dear. We thought she could beat it, but it's stronger than anyone though. She's in pallative care at the moment, in her home. Your parents still live in the house on Church Street. It hasn't changed a bit in the past ten years."
"I'll go out to the trailer and get ready then." I said.
"Bring your things in the house dear. I don't want the three of you staying in the camper while you stay here."
"Aunt Becky. We aren't staying long. I'll until.." I couldn't finish the sentence.
"No one will say it out loud, dear, but we all know it's just a matter of time.. a short matter of time. But please, won't you come home for good?"
"I can't. I've been wandering around for ten years, running away from this place. I can't come back, I don't want to."
"The children would love it here." she said. "They really would. There's lots of children to play with, a good school. I think it would be good for both of them to be placed in public school. Homeschooling is good, but only for so long. They have to socialize, and just think, with them in school all day, you could write a novel, instead of a little column."
There she went again, dreaming my dreams for me, just like she had been doing since I was fourteen. I was contented, but she knew I secretly wanted more.
"I'll go get some things." I said.
Aunt Becky had been right. The house hadn't changed a bit. I didn't know whether I should knock or not. I didn't know how welcome I was, but it didn't feel natural to know. I did anyhow. As I waited, I thought about all the memories I'd had in the huge four bedroom home. Mostly fights with my parents, was all I could remember. Suddenly the door opened.
Dad had aged a lot. His once black hair was now silver, his face was rounder, and leathery.
"Danielle?" he asked, surprised.
"Yeah, Daddy. It's me. Danni."
Next thing I knew, I was wrapped in a hug. I could smell his familiar cologne, and a tear came to my eye. I wanted the daddy I had loved so much when I was six years old.
"Where's Mom?" I asked, quickly.
"She's resting at the moment, Danni. I hate to wake her while she's sleeping, she's been in a lot of pain lately."
"Oh, well I can come back." I said, turning around.
"No, Danni. Come in, come in. Sit down for some tea, won't you? Where are the children? When did you get here?"
He didn't leave time for me to answer. He just ushered me in, and sat me down at the kitchen table. The appliances were still the ones that had sat there ten years ago. The walls still the ugly green my mother had always adored. There was only one thing different, and that was how quiet the house was.
"Where are the boys?" I asked. My twin brothers Grant and Gregory had only been nine when I left.
"Grant is at university not far from here, and Gregory has an apartment downtown. He's working as a waiter, until he can decide what he wants to do."
"That's good," I said, "that they're both moved out, and independant."
"Yes. I guess it is." Dad said, sitting down with two cups of tea. "How are you, though?"
"Right now, I'm still in shock about Mom, but otherwise I'm fine."
"It's been a shock to all of us, Danni. I'm just so glad you're here."
I thought I saw a tear in his eye. I knew that he was going to say I'm so glad you're here to say goodbye.
I tiptoed upstairs and into my bedroom, which hadn't been touched since I'd left. It was still it's pale blue color. School papers and love notes were still scattered on the desk. Clothes still lying on the floor, and my favorite move still in the VCR, still paused from the night before I'd left. The bed wasn't made, the sheets still twisted. There was still pictures of Bo and I strewn all over the place. Next to my bed was the piece of looseleaf that I had doodled baby names all over. How could they have just closed the door and not touched any of it? Hadn't the boys ever come in? It was just like a time capsule. My unused prom dress still hung in the closet. I had boughten it in September, and gotten pregnant in October. So much for prom.
"Danni." Dad was standing in the doorway. "She's awake, hun."
I walked into my mother's bedroom, which also hadn't changed and sat at the end of the bed.
"Danni." she whispered. "Danni, I'm so glad you're here."
"Me too Mom." I said, as I tried to hold back the tears. She looked nothing like the mom I had left. She was aged far beyond here years. She was weak, frail and pale. She could barely speak.
"The children." she strained to say. "Danni, where are your children?"
"They're at Becky's Mom. I'll bring them to see you tomorrow."
"No, no tomorrow. Today. Call Becky tell her to bring them down right now!"
I did, and my children finally met their Grandmother. She adored them. Both of them were silent. We sat there for four hours. Ten minutes after we left to go back to Becky's, Mom passed.