The condo was fifteen minutes from campus. Mark didn't just rent it for me, he owned it. Call it foreshadowing if you will, but he had kept it even after the marriage 'just in case' and was subletting it until the end of the school term. University was finished before secondary schools, so it was blessedly vacant at the time I needed it most.
I packed the very next day after the fight with my mother, well everything besides the essentials until I knew where I was going. Mark told me to take my videogames and things with me in exchange for leaving my bigger furniture that had been a gift from him. I was pretty upset to leave it behind, but I understood it would be too hard to take.
Instead I took everything that was portable and belonged to me. Mark got his hands on an envelope with my name on it from the safe. It was much bigger than I thought it would be, and I waited to open it until after I had left 'the danger zone' with my mother stalking the halls and shooting me dirty looks. She hated me more than ever, and I was relieved to be leaving.
Mark helped me pack up his SUV with all my trunks, suitcases and boxes of stuff. It was full to the brim, and other than my overnight bag with the last of the toiletries and personal items for a day or two, my life was packed away tightly for the trip to the condo. I was excited to see what Mark's bachelor pad looked like.
I was also somewhat happy that I was not going to be too far away from him. It was only a two hours drive to get to my mother's house, and he did promise he would visit me once in awhile. I wouldn't blame him for wanting to get away from the witch he married. Especially once I saw the beautiful building he lived in before, and walked into the warm space he once occupied.
I was expecting a cool, modern condo with granite and hardwood everywhere. I was pleasantly surprised with exposed wood beams, plush carpets and massive velvet drapes that framed the view. The couches were a warm brown leather and the television enormous. I was in a cozy student's dream pad, and I was getting it for free!
I hauled my butt and brought my stuff inside, then hugged him so tightly I think he couldn't breathe. Then we sat down and he ordered us pizza, on me now that I was about to have access to my accounts. I opened the envelope and added a few obvious things to my wallet, such as any missing identification she was keeping.
There were no recent statements or books, so I had no idea how much was in the accounts though. I would have to go in and set things up with the bank now that I had moved. I would need to set a pin for my account and get a debit card, since that was missing too. I had to find out what investments were under only my name. All I had to go on were initial signup sheets. There was also a pile of envelopes inside, all elastic banded together.
I opened the one with the oldest date and my face went red in fury. It was a letter from my father, my real father, to me. Each one told me I was loved. Each one told me that he thought of me. I learned of birthday gifts I had never received. Visits that I was never allowed to show up for. I learned the full extent of my mother's selfishness.
I passed each one wordlessly to Mark to read after me. We stared at each other until the door rang for the delivery and then we sat down with cooling plates, not as hungry as we once were. This was so big, neither of us knew quite what to do. I felt so betrayed in that moment that I was unable to even speak, for fear I would lose my sanity.
"I will hire someone to contact him and let him know what has been going on if you like. We can set up a meeting... if..." He whispered the words, as though sensing how delicate the situation was. I nodded faintly, relieved that he would take it over for me because I didn't have a clue what to do. I stared at the stack of opened accounts in my name and wondered what other surprises were in store for me.
YOU ARE READING
My mother never could keep to one man. It wasn't like I went out of my way to fall in love. She was just blind, and he was just... perfect. It was impossible not to fall in love with my stepfather. The real question was... Did he love me?