"Aria, calm down, this is what's best for all the family and you know that."

"All the family? Is that supposed to be a joke?" I laugh bitterly, "Since when have we been a family? Because I'm pretty sure it was years before dad walked out." 

"Look, I know you and Mike aren't fond of this idea, but I amserious and we aremoving, whether you two like it or not. This is what we need. To get away from California and just, you know, settle down for a little while." She touched my arm lightly, but I flinched away from her. 

"Mom I'm still growing up, I don't need to settle down. Why can't dad move instead? How come he's the one who ripped us apart but we're the ones who have to move across the country?" I felt the frustration brew. 

"Aria, I'm not changing my mind. You don't have a say in this, and I don't want you bringing your father into this anymore." She turned her back on me, occupying herself with something in the kitchen. 

"Why are you defending him?" 

"I'm not, I'm not," she sighs, "I just don't want him to still be a part of us and I don't want people thinking I'm still making decisions based on your father, that boat sailed a long time ago. And despite what you think, I am doing what's best for you and Mike. I know you don't think so now, but I think you'll like this move and I think you'll meet some wonderful people there."

I pause a moment, feeling guilty that I had yelled at her in the first place. "You know what, sure, I'm on board. Whatever you say, mom." This takes her by surprise at first and she raises her eyebrows, waiting for me to say I was joking but then her face relaxes and she smiles at me when she realises I'm serious. "I'll start packing."

I go upstairs to start outing things into boxes, because I realise I don't have any chance of changing my mom's mind, and she could be right: Rosewood couldbe a fresh start and a chance to meet new people. My mom had brought me a few cardboard boxes from the supermarket over two weeks ago and my suitcase had been lying on my floor, empty, for the same amount of time. I don't even know where to begin with packing anything up, which makes me regret being so stubborn about this whole move.

I look out of the bay window at the left-hand-side of my room and focus on the deep blue ocean – which was only visible from my window because it aligned with a gap between the houses on our estate. My heart sinks at the thought of not being able to get in the car and go to the beach whenever I feel like it; I come to the conclusion that this is going to be one compromise of many more. I'm happy here in California and I just started as an assistant at the local bookstore after my therapist told me I was in recovery about a month ago; now I'd have to explain to my boss why I'm resigning after only two weeks of work. I wonder if Rosewood has a rustic feel to it; vintage stores and a lot of coffee shops, maybe. The name fits my expectation, I guess, but in all honesty, I don't know what to expect, and I want to be surprised – it adds a thrill to the tediousness of it all.

I have nothing left in California anyway, except Mike and my Mom and my ambitions – we could move anywhere and I wouldn't lose any of that. I don't have friends here, my dad left us, none of my family live in the same state as us and we only see them at Christmas and special occasions anyway, and my life had only just come back to almost normal after falling apart.
- - -
It happened about a year ago. 

I had woken up before mom and Mike and trudged downstairs to get a mug of strong, black coffee. I glanced at the grandfather clock in our living room and read the time to be 5:00am. I started to boil the kettle when I noticed a letter leaned against the toaster with the words 'Ella, Aria, and Mike' written in my dad's cursive handwriting. I left it there, absentmindedly, but I should've instantly known something was wrong and I didn't even take a second glance or have a second thought about what it entailed. I just left it for my mom to open, and I really wish I hadn't.  

When she emerged from her room a few hours later, I'd told her there was a letter for us, "It's for me, you and Mike," I'd said, completely unfazed. But I could see her nervous facial expression, with a hint of anger. She avoided eye contact. I still suspected nothing.  

If only I'd have opened it instead of mom, I'd have spared me and Mike the fright of her frustrated cry echoing through the house and would've spared the ear-splitting sound of a picture frame being slammed to the floor, glass shards flying across the tiles. Mike practically flew out of his room and looked at me for the answer. "Wait here," I said gently and he nodded, terrified. 

I got into the kitchen and found my mom sobbing on the floor.
"Mom? What's happened?"
She just shook her head at first, not wanting to talk about any of it, but I pushed her – I know she'd be grateful for it later on.
"Wait is gran..." I asked, my voice faltering.
"Your gran's fine." She cut me off mid-sentence. "It's your father."
"Oh my god what happened? Is dad okay?" My heart had started beating ten times faster in fear.
"I wouldn't worry about your father anymore." Her bottom lip quivered and she wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her cardigan.
"What did he do?" I ask, angrily. Seeing my mom in such a state as this can only mean one thing, but I refused to believe my own assumptions until my mom confirmed them.
Silence.
"Mom! Please tell me, I need to know." 

She pushed the creased letter into my hands, forcefully. I knew she was only taking it out on me because I was the only person there, but it still stung because she isn't the only one who'll be affected by whatever dad's done. After all, Mike and I are his children and we're probably going to get cut off now, and Mike will go through his teenage years without a father figure in his life. 

I read through the letter and I got to the part that was clearly the source of my mom being distraught. My dad decided he would be moving in with 'friend' from his work who attended his birthday dinner, the 'friend' who came to my parents' wedding anniversary celebrations – I suddenly felt sick to the pit of my stomach. He'd left us for a size zero blonde who was his former student. Meredith. Even her name left a bitter taste in my mouth. I felt lightheaded and I just managed to reach the bathroom before almost heaving up the contents of my stomach.

"Aria?" Mike came up behind me looking scared. "Is dad gone?"
I nodded and tears started streaming down his face. "It's okay Mike, we'll be fine."
- - -
That's the point in which my life had started to spiral completely out of control. My and dad signed the divorce papers a week later and he told me and Mike to look after ourselves when we were waiting outside the offices – no hug, no kisses, no smiles. Our dad was leaving and he didn't even care; he snaked his arm around Meredith's waist and she whispered something in his ear causing him to snigger and them both to practically run out of that place.
what came after was the hardest. A year of therapy. A year of spontaneously running into my dad at the supermarket with Meredith and completely blocking them out. And after a year of contemplating a move abroad, my mom finally decided on staying in America.

Rosewood, Pennsylvania was going to be our new home; a small town, a fresh start and a place where nobody knows us. It sounded perfect – it still does - and as much as I said I love it here, I know I'm just wanting to stay here for the lifestyle and for the fear of a huge change in my life, but I would never let my selfishness get in the way of mom's new job opportunity as a teacher there and probably our last chance at happiness. So, as I said before, I gave in and we moved. We moved to Rosewood.

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