Chapter 16

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"I'm making a hell of a lot of promises lately. Let's just hope I can keep all of them..."


Looking at the marble stone in front of me, I can feel how my sanity slowly threatens to slip away, the only thing keeping me grounded being Mia's hands tightly wrapped around my own.

"Hey, mom... Hey, dad." I clear my throat while Mia places our intertwined hands on my shoulder, giving it a firm squeeze as she squats behind me. "This is Mia. She uh... She quite literally saved my life," I speak in a quiet voice, suddenly feeling absolutely overwhelmed from emotion. "You'd like her. Especially you, mom."

I can't help the smile that tugs at the corner of my lips, the words being more than true. Mom has always been a powerful woman, fought for women's rights, and saved lives on a daily basis. The similarities between her and Mia are uncanny in that aspect, both of them being examples for strong and self-assured women.

"Hi. It's so great to finally meet you," Mia whispers when I don't say anything for a while, and I turn around to see her shoot a kind smile at the marble stone on the grass. "That's quite the man you raised there," she exclaims, and I somehow can't help but chuckle at her words, knowing it's exactly how my father would've reacted at them.

"I told you, you'd like her..."

"I have to admit, I am pretty likable." Mia winks at the gravestone.

And I can hear my father chuckling in my head, I can see how he shakes his head at this situation, that trademark fatherly grin on his face. "You definitely got yourself a diamond there, son," he'd say. He once told me women are the reason men actually manage to do shit. And I believed him immediately, knowing that my mother saved his ass more than once in his lifetime.

"I'm going to give you some privacy, okay?" Mia interrupts my thoughts, and I realize I must have sat there for a while without saying anything.

"No, you don't need..."

"It's okay, Link," she interrupts me, "I'll be right by the bench over there." She points to the green park bench a few feet away.

To be honest, I don't want her to leave my side. But maybe she's right, maybe I need to have a minute alone with them. "Okay..."

She squeezes my shoulder before walking over to the bench, taking out her notebook and then starting to scribble something down in it. It's hard not to look at her the whole time, but I manage to pry my eyes away from her, focusing on the stone in front of me.

And as I sit there, my knees feeling cold from the wet grass beneath them, I suddenly feel this immense weight on my chest, the guilt crashing down on me like an avalanche.

"I'm so sorry... For everything... For calling you that night, for not appreciating you enough when you were there, but most of all for not seeing you sooner. I know I should've been at the funeral. I just... I couldn't," I sob out the words, "I couldn't face them all, their looks of pity, of shame... They blame me as much as I do, I know that. And I got what I deserved with everything that transpired afterward..."

Not only did I lose a patient and my parents that day, I also lost every penny I had. "Why didn't you just tell me, mom?" I can't help the accusation in my voice. I just don't understand it... My parents said they paid for my education, which shouldn't have been an issue with how much money they made. But apparently they hadn't. Mom donated a lot of money while dad spent it on research to develop a new device that could help children with congenital heart disease. They wanted to pay off the debts as soon as things had settled, the hope that dad's device could save lives was too great. It was supposed to go into the testing phase when the accident happened, and his research partner somehow managed to strip him of all rights, using my father's death to make a shit ton of money and leaving me with nothing at all.

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