233 34 24

Slowly I backed out of the living room, hoping no one would notice my absence. I probably would have made it, too, had I not tripped backwards over Rufus, my dog.

"Rufus!" I hollered.

He gave me a small whimper before running off. I sighed and straightened myself up, just in time to come face-to-face with my uncle.

"Gemma!" He gave me a toothy grin and came in for a hug.

"Hi, Uncle Jerry," I said weakly as I tried unsuccessfully to dodge him.

"So, any plans for college yet?" he asked while laughing and poking me in the side.

I winced, both at the spittle that smacked my face as he spoke and at the word "college".

"Oh, Jerry. Leave her alone! She can take her time if she wants to," my aunt Shari said, coming to my rescue.

I exhaled loudly and smiled at my aunt.

"A girl's got to have options," she whispered to me. "Take your time and don't rush into anything." She gave me a pat on my shoulder and guided my uncle away.

As soon as I could, I ducked around the corner and hid in our kitchen. Hovering over a plate of vegetables and dip, I decided to wait there instead of being bombarded with questions from family. I had just graduated high school. Did I really need to have my entire future mapped out already?

My mom walked in carrying an empty platter and set it down on the counter.

"You hiding, Gem?" She smiled. "Come and visit with the family."

I rolled my eyes. "I did."

She shot me a look as she picked up the vegetable tray I was eating off of.

"Fine," I sighed.

I followed her into the living room and for the next couple of hours, danced my way around the many questions my family seemed to share.

Did you apply to any colleges?
Are you going to stay local or go out of state?
Did you choose a major?
What about a career?
Haven't you figured out the rest of your entire life, including your future children's names, yet?

Okay, so maybe they didn't really ask me the last question. But all the other ones they did.  And, yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it. I should've have answers to all of these questions and more. But, the truth is, I didn't. The problem wasn't that I didn't have any interests. The problem was I had too many interests. I liked a lot of things. How was I supposed to choose one and make that my lifelong career?

By the end of the evening, as I helped my mom clean up, my head was spinning.

"It's going to be alright," my mom soothed, as though she could read my thoughts.

I sighed. "I know you say that, but what if I never figure it out?"

"You will," she promised.

My mom finished cleaning the kitchen and I went to get ready for bed, exhausted after a long day. I could hear my mom on the phone, her muffled voice traveling through the wall. When she hung up, she came into my bedroom and sat on the edge of my bed.

"So," she started. "I just got off the phone with my new client, Mrs. Callahan. She wants me to stay the entire summer, and there's a small possibility she may want me to stay a whole year."

My mom owned a landscaping business and her newest client, Mrs. Ritzi Callahan, was a retired widow who traveled the globe. She had hired my mom to take care of her house and its
massive grounds for three weeks, or so I had thought. Now it looked like it would be all summer, if not much longer.

The Accidental Drowning of Mary Ann LamontWhere stories live. Discover now