Hey guys, I finally have a new story ready to post. I would appreciate any kind of feedback, even if it's just one or two words, so that I know I have some readers out there. I'm going to try to update every Friday at least until I start school again. This story is a little different from my other ones, because I'm having two outside characters. I know the summary is only based on one of them, but the other character will have a pretty big role later on.
Also, just a couple of notes... there will be some flashbacks, especially in the beginning, because I wanted to show aspects of the character's past without just explaining everything. They aren't necessarily pertinent to the story, so if you're bored by them, skip them. You'll still know exactly what's going on without reading them. Another note is that the flashbacks are sad, and you might need some tissues for the first chapter if you're emotional like me, lol. (I cry every time I read this chapter, and I wrote it...)
This chapter is more of an intro chapter and the guys won't make an appearance yet. Sorry that it's not too exciting. I promise they will get better. Anyway, without further a due...
Prologue: New Beginnings
Waking up with a pounding headache and thinking you would be better off dead was no way to start the day. The bright sunlight streaming through the partially closed blinds made it even worse.
I have to remember to watch how much I drink, the half asleep teenager thought, regretting her stupid decision to join in a case race with the guys the previous night. At least my team won, she thought victoriously, though it wasn't any thanks to her. She could hardly tolerate drinking beer without adding the fact that she was a light weight. Rolling over in bed, the girl suddenly realized she wasn't in her room, let alone her bed. Instead of rolling into the wall that was supposed to be there, she rolled into another body. A big body. Now she regretted the previous night ever more.
"Shit," she said out loud, though barely above a whisper. "What did I do this time?" Making every effort to get up quietly so as to not wake up the shirtless, still sleeping guy she had been in bed with, she climbed out of bed, grabbed her clothes off the floor, and tiptoed into the bathroom.
He's probably pretty out of it too, she thought, thankful for small favors.
Hoping that a shower would wake her up a bit, she turned on the shower and stepped in before even letting the water get warm. The ice cold water didn't faze her though, as she couldn't stop thinking about the previous night. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't get the thoughts of the guy in the next room out of her mind.
What was I thinking? Oh yeah, that's right, I wasn't thinking. I shouldn't be here. How did I let things go this far? None of this should have ever happened. I shouldn't be here right now, not with him.
Once she finished in the shower, trying to think about anything other than the night before, she dried off and threw her clothes back on, ready to do the 'walk of shame' she heard college students talk about before. It was funny, because she never even knew if things happened that way, but now she knew that they apparently do happen just like everyone says. She just wished she could remember even a little bit of what had happened last night. The only thing she remembered was the case race. Why am I ever here? She thought again, though already knowing the general answer, which was enough for her. She thought back to the past several months, wishing things could be different.
Four months ago...
"Mom, you can't be serious. There's no way I'm moving," she yelled, angry about the news.
"Look, I'm doing what's best for everyone, and this is it. We're moving - end of story."
"But why now? Why can't we wait for a few more months?" she said, whining. She knew she sounded like a five-year-old, but at this point, she didn't care. Moving the summer before her senior year of high school was crazy.
"You know we can't wait a few more months, Riley. That would defeat the purpose of us moving."
Riley knew what her mother was talking about. Like usual, she wouldn't come right out and say it though. As if that would make it less of a reality, Riley thought. Mom, dad's dead. He's gone and never coming back. Would it kill you to talk about it instead of pretending like it never happened?
Instead, Riley said, "Fine." She knew she would never win the argument anyway. Tomorrow she'd be packing to move four hundred some miles from her home in Chicago to St. Paul, Minnesota in the middle of nowhere and that was that. But Mom better realize that if I have to move to Minnesota, I'm not going to pretend to be okay with it, Riley thought bitterly.
The next morning, Riley woke up and went downstairs for breakfast to find her best friend, Jenna, already there to help her pack. Riley's mom made pancakes for everyone, mainly because she wanted to finish the milk and eggs before moving day. Riley and Jenna tried to eat breakfast and talk like they always did, but today it was really difficult. The two friends knew that today was one of the last times they would be able to hang out, and being that their day together was going to be spent packing, it was hard to even look forward to it.
Once the girls went to Riley's room to pack, they stopped trying to make conversation and just focused on the task at hand. "Where do you want these?" Jenna asked, holding up some framed pictures of Riley and her dad.
"You can put them in the box with the baseball and hockey stuff," Riley said, referring to the box she had with every possible memory of her dad.
Ever since Riley was really young, she had been extremely close to her dad. He took her to countless Cubs and Blackhawks games, taught her everything she knew about sports and most of what she learned in life in general, and was always, always there for her. When he got sick, Riley didn't know how she would survive without him, and prayed she would never have to find out. Unfortunately, she found out less than a year later.
Late May, 1979
Riley came home from school on a sunny Thursday afternoon to find an ambulance at her house. She immediately began freaking out, and ran from the corner bus stop to her house.
"What's going on?" Riley screamed running up the front porch steps and into the house.
"They're taking your dad to the hospital. He passed out and they think there might be something wrong with his cell counts," her Mom told her.
"I'm going with you," Riley said. Her mother just nodded, knowing Riley would want to go.
Waiting in the hospital for the tests to be completed was agonizing. Riley was pacing the family room area, while her brother and sister were happily watching TV. Her mom was pretending to be reading a magazine, but every little while, Riley would look over at her mother and see that she had been crying. Since her mother was crying, Riley knew it was bad. Mary Brennan almost never cried.
For the next week, Riley spent every moment she could with her dad. The whole family was coming and going all of the time. Riley knew it was a bad sign, but didn't want to admit that everything might not be okay.
By the first week in June, Riley's dad had been moved to a hospice room. Riley knew hospice meant imminent death, but still couldn't face it. She had final exams coming up in school, but just didn't care. She didn't care about anything anymore – except her dad getting better.
On June 9th, Riley's entire family was in the hospital room. Dan Brennan was acting like his normal, healthy self, and laughing and joking like nothing was wrong, which gave Riley hope. He looked really good. That night, after the extended family left, Riley, her mom, and siblings all stayed because Mary thought it would be a good idea. Riley was trying to stay awake, but it had been a long day and she was tired. She ended up falling asleep next to her dad's bed. The next morning, Riley woke up with the sun coming in the hospital window, and she hoped it would be another good day for her dad. She looked across the bed to where her mom was sitting, and noticed that she was crying.
"Mom what's wrong? Dad had a good day yesterday, and maybe he'll have another good day today."
"Oh Riley," her mom said, crying harder. She went around to the opposite side of the bed and wrapped her daughter in a hug. "He slipped into a coma a few hours ago. The doctor's are saying he probably won't wake up. Within a few hours, he'll probably be gone. I'm so sorry." While Riley's mom was trying to soothe her, Riley was sitting there in shock. Yesterday, her dad was doing so well, how could he be that much worse less than 12 hours later?
"No Mom, he can't die! Daddy can't!" Riley cried, reverting to what she called her dad when she was five. Right now, Riley wished she was five again – when everything was perfect and there were no worries.
The doctor insisted Dan could hear them talking, so each of the family members took turns saying their goodbyes. Riley refused and left the room at first, she didn't want to believe any of this was actually happening. Finally, after her mother pleaded with her for the tenth time, Riley agreed to talk to her dad. She wouldn't say goodbye though.
"Hi Dad," Riley started. "The doctors are saying you're not going to wake up, but I know you're not leaving us yet. I need you. We all need you. They wanted me to come in here to say goodbye, but I just can't. Instead, I'm going to talk about our yearly summer vacation. I can't wait for Cape Cod this year dad. Just relaxing on the beach will be great. We'll play catch like we always do, dad. You'll carry Erin in the water so the jellyfish can't touch her, and you and Kyle will go fishing before any of us girls are awake. We'll have so much fun, dad. So you need to-" Riley was cut off by the steady beeping of the heart rate monitor turning into a loud, long beep. She looked up and saw a flat line instead of the normal spikes.
"Mom what's happening?" Riley asked. Her mom was already crying uncontrollably, after hearing Riley talk about their summer vacations, and knowing that Dan was dying made it even worse.
On cue, the doctor and two nurses came in.
"Are we resusutating?" a nurse asked. The doctor looked at Mary, who shook her head.
"Time of death, 11:22," the doctor said, and switched off the monitor.
"No!" Riley screamed. "Get him back. You can't give up! You can't give up!" she screamed, pleaded to whoever would listen. "Please. Help him! Please," she said, breaking down into tears.
Riley's mom wrapped her arms around her three kids and kissed each on the top of the head. "He's gone. I'm so sorry guys."
"No," Riley said. "No, please no!" She broke away from her mom and ran to the bed where her dad was laying, wrapping her arms around him, resting her head on his chest and not letting go. Her mom went over to the bed and softly rubbed her daughter's back, trying to soothe her. Kyle and Erin followed their mother, but stayed back from the bed. They didn't want to get too close. Neither of them was crying, but finally, Erin started sobbing.
"I want Daddy!" Mary turned around to comfort her other, younger daughter now. Kyle still had an expressionless look on his face, and didn't start crying until his mom wrapped him in a hug.
For a good twenty minutes, the family stayed in the hospital room, trying to grasp the fact that their lives would never be the same.
Jenna noticed Riley lost in a trance and interrupted her thoughts. "Hey, moving won't be that bad Ry," she said, trying to cheer her best friend up. It didn't really work though.
"Yes it will," Riley said. "I mean - Minnesota of all places. Come on. I'm a city girl. I've lived my entire life in Chicago and now, because my mom's family lives in corn country, hicksville, Minnesota, the land of a thousand lakes, I have to move there and pick up everything. Moving will be bad, Jen."
"Well, maybe you'll find out that the country isn't that bad. And it's not like you'll be living on a farm. St. Paul is a good-sized city."
"A good-sized city filled with hicks. Come on, I might as well be living on a farm. At least farms have lots of opened land so when I kill myself because of boredom, no one will be able to find my body," Riley said sarcastically. Jenna just laughed, thinking she was exaggerating. Riley wasn't so she was exaggerating though.
Late that afternoon, Riley finally finished packing. Looking around her now almost empty bedroom, she couldn't believe it was actually happening. After living in Chicago, in this house, her entire life, she had to move away. Minnesota was looking worse by the minute. She only hoped something good would come out of it. Dad always said that everything happens for a reason, Riley thought. I'm not so sure I believe him now though.