"Do you think you're mom could take us?" Zac asked. I nodded, knowing that my mom would be more than happy to take us to Ice-o-Rink. Zac smiled. "Maybe you should call her at work just to make sure."
"Yeah, you're right." I said, picking up the phone to call my mom at work. She agreed. She actually sounded really excited about it. "She said that we would leave as soon as she got home."
"So what do you want to do until then?" Zac asked. I smiled and then kissed him. "I like that idea."
"He took my hand and pulled me into the backyard. Then he reached inside his jeans and pulled out a pocketknife. He engraved our initials into the trunk of the big oak tree. I smiled and kissed him again.
My mom was supposed to be home at 4:00, but at 4:30, I didn't think anything of it. I figured that she stopped at the grocery store or something like that. But at 5:30 is when I really started to get worried. She was never this late before. Zac sensed that I was worried.
"Ang, calm down. Maybe she had to work late or something." He said. I was already becoming hysterical.
"She would have called, Zac! This isn't like her. Sure, I don't know my mom that well yet, but she always told me that she would call me if she would ever be late." I said, feeling the tears burn under my eyes. Then my stomach grumbled. I got up from the front porch and went into the house to get something to eat. Zac followed me. "You want anything?"
"Nah, I'm not hungry." He said. Then the doorbell rang. I made my way to the door. I wasn't expecting anyone to stop by. I opened the door and discovered two police officers standing there.
"Angela Sherwood?" the lady officer asked. I felt my heart stop.
"Yeah, that's me. Um, can I help you?" I asked. Something serious was going on. I felt Zac come beside me. It felt better to know that I wouldn't have to be alone with the officers.
"I'm Officer O'Keaf and this is Lieutenant Bronski. I'm terribly sorry, but there has been an accident on Bridgecrest Highway."
I stopped breathing. So why are they telling me this? I was confused. Something was wrong. I knew something had to be or else they wouldn't be here telling me this. I heard Zac take in a deep breath.
"Your mother was involved, Miss Sherwood."
Tears burned under my lids again and I felt paralyzed. My mom was in a car wreck? I couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't think.
"We're already questioned other motorists who witnessed the accident and from what we have gathered, it wasn't your mother's fault. According to witnesses, your mother's car was well on her own side of the road, but an oncoming car hit her. The driver was legally drunk, way over the limit and then lost control. There was an immediate explosion and then both cars caught fire." Officer O'Keaf explained.
I never felt so numb in my entire life, yet needles were stabbing every part of my body. The tears were still burning and I became a little dizzy.
"My mother?" I managed to whisper out. My voice was so weak that I could barely hear it. "My mother...is she...she can't be...dead, is she?"
The eyes of Officer O'Keaf softened and for the first time in the entire conversation, they showed some emotion. "This is very hard to tell someone, especially a child and it pains me dreadfully to bring such bad news. From what the doctor says, she was killed instantly from the collision. The fire isn't what killed her."
My mother was dead? No!! I let out a small cry and I felt Zac's arms envelop me in a comforting hug. My eyes exploded with tears and my breaths with sobs. I pulled away from Zac and looked into both of their eyes to tell them that that had to be lying. My mother could not be dead! Not my mom! She just couldn't be!! To me, death was for old people and sick people, not someone as young, beautiful and loved as my mother was! She was only 29 years old! She still had her entire life ahead of her!
I threw my arms around Zac's neck again and I am pretty sure that I almost choked him. He returned my hug and gently stroked my back. Tears stained my face, my cheeks. Dear God, no! I was just beginning to get close to my mother and now she was gone! And she would never be coming back. I would never get to see my mother again
"Perhaps we should come back when conditions...have improved." I heard the male officer suggest.
"That would be a lot better." I heard Zac say and then the door shut. My sobbing became heavier and the tears flowed more freely. Zac released me.
I ran. I didn't want to be in the house anymore. I heard him cal my name again. I ran from all the things that tore at my heart and made me ache worse than any pain I had ever experienced. I ran to out the backdoor and into the yard to the oak tree. I beat my fists on its hard trunk. I beat my fists until I no longer felt any pain, but instead saw red blood slowly crawling out through the cuts that formed on my hands.
I fell to the grass and cried more. I felt Zac beside me. He touched my back. I looked up. He had been crying, too. I sat up and he embraced me. My head fell against his chest with my arms wrapped around his stomach. I was so cold. I don't think I am ever going to stop shivering. What a nightmare.
"Maybe I'll wake up pretty soon." I said, my voice hoarse and scratchy from crying so much.
"Ang, I am so sorry." He said.
"My mom, she was only 29! She didn't deserve it." I mumbled. "I don't want to talk about it right now." Zac stroked the back of my head.
"Sometimes incredibly bad things happen to extremely good people." He said. Then he stood and pulled me up, too. "Come on. We'll pack you an overnight bag and you can stay at our house."
I shook my head. "I should stay here tonight. I want to..."
"My mom will insist on you staying and if I come home without you, then she'll come over and her you herself." He led me into the house and braced my back in his comforting arms. He caught me when my legs gave out.
Everything I looked at made me cry. He was right. I wouldn't have been able to stay there all alone. I collapsed on my bed and curled up in a ball. This all was so horrible. I heard Zac going into my closet, taking a few things and put them into my bookbag. Then he left my room and returned. I looked up. He had my tooth brush, toothpaste and hairbrush in his hands. He sat next to me on the bed, reached over and placed his hand on the side of my face.
"You still have me." He said, wiping a tear away from my cheek with his soft thumb. "I'll never leave you."
I managed a weak smile and then wrapped my arms around him. I was so lucky to have him. I didn't know what I would be doing right now if he wasn't here with me. I hugged him as if there wasn't going to be any tomorrow. I looked up into his eyes.
"Thank you so much...for just being here. I love you." I said.
"You're welcome so much...I love you, too." He said. His fingers reached under my chin and tilted it up. His lips pressed against mine. It was only a short kiss. I didn't really offer anything else...considering...
He picked up my bag, hung it over his shoulder and then helped me up. We slowly walked to his house, hand in hand. He stroked his thumb over the rest of my hand. It sort of felt like he was reassuring me that he was always going to be here for me. When his mother greeted us at the door, she held a look of concern on her face. She saw my red, swollen eyes and immediately swept me into a hug.
"Dear Lord child! What happened?" she asked, stroking the back of my head. Tears started leaking from my eyes again.
"My mother...accident..." I choked on my words. She looked at Zac for an explanation.
"Her mom was in a head-on collision. The other driver was drunk and she..." Zac trailed away. Even his voice choked and he then looked away.
"Passed on?" she mom asked gently. I nodded. "Oh Dear God." She said, hugging me tighter. "You can stay here for as long as you like."
Zac took my hand and pulled my up to his bedroom. He pulled out his trundle bed and fluffed the pillow.
"You can sleep in my bed." He said. "I'll sleep in the sofa bed downstairs."
He went to leave, but I grabbed his hand before he left. He turned back to me.
"I don't want to." I said. My voice was still scratchy.
"I appreciate everything, but...I don't want to be up her alone with your brothers. I'd rather be with you." I said. His eyes seemed to brighten.
"Okay." He said, pushing the trundle bed back in place.