You're lying down under a tree, watching the branches sway in the wind. Your golden tresses blow into view as you sit up, looking at your surroundings. You're in a big park- with people all about, here and there. In the distance you see a familiar face, running sideways as if to catch something. Her face is round, and her cheeks are red- you recognize her right away. Her dimples on each side of her smile shines through when you catch her eye and she smiles at you- making you melt inside instantly. Her light brown hair, which is your natural color, falls just past her shoulders and her dark brown eyes glisten in the sun as she looks over to someone, catching a Frisbee in her hand at the same instant. You look over to him- a face you also know too well. His swept back brown hair, his light brown eyes- you recognize him instantly. Your husband, the love of your life. He looks over to you for a second, winking at you, before looking at her again. Your daughter. She's tall for her age, like you always were. She just turned 7 years old and you both can hardly believe it. It seems like just yesterday she was a baby. Though she'll always be your baby.
Mia, she looks like you. Everyone always says it, and you don't really see it, but you believe what the others say. She's got Justin's personality though- she's tough, but she can be caring too. She's your whole world- both of you. And Justin, well- you're sure that you'll never love another person more than you love him (besides your daughter together). He's perfect- things between you two are finally good. Things were tough in the beginning, you know he knows it just as much as you do, but it's gotten better. Much better. You've got him and Mia- and that's all you could ever want. Of course you want more children, but you both want to wait for the right time- however, your only child contradicts that. Mia certainly wasn't planned- she came at the worst possible time for you and Justin. But you wouldn't trade her for the world. You wouldn't redo anything.
You hear her call out to you- you see her beckoning for you to come to her. "Mommy!" Her voice echoes in your mind a million times in a row- growing softer each time. You want to tell her you're coming, but you open your mouth and nothing comes out. You suddenly realize- this isn't you. This is not your life, this is nothing like your life right now. But this can't be a fantasy- this has to be real. You don't think you'll be able to handle it if it's not. You stand up off of your place on the grass, trying to walk over to your daughter and husband, but as you keep walking, they get farther and farther away. Justin looks over to you, smiling his signature smile that is still forever etched into your brain, and all you want to do is kiss him again- touch him again. See your daughter. But you run to them- and they get farther and farther away. You call out to them, and they can't hear you. You call his name, and, suddenly, he opens his mouth and speaks these words that echo in your mind.
"That's the dream I want. I want to be a doctor and I want to be a husband and I want to be a father and it's all because of you, Rebecca." You remember this. This part isn't a dream- this is a memory. He said this to you when he proposed- you remember it so clearly you think you can see it. But you can't.
Before you can respond, you're in a new setting. You're sitting on Justin's bed in his room at Nora's house. You remember it so clearly- how his clothes were always strewn about the room, how it was always cluttered with pointless things you always reminded him to organize when you both lived at the house years and years ago. It's cold in here, you notice. You thought you were alone in the room, until you look to your left side and see Justin sitting next to you on the bed, looking into your eyes. He looks forward now, and sighs painfully, as you hear him talk to you.
"Rebecca…" He breathes. "Why did you go? Why did you have to leave me?"
"I had to go to New York- like you had to go to Afghanistan." You say, looking at him.
"I thought you loved me- I thought what we had together was special-"
"If it was then why aren't we together now?" You ask him, as he looks at you with pained eyes. Suddenly, a figure fades into the room right in front of the bedroom door and catches your eye, with its back turned to you. At first, you're frightened, and your heart starts to pound, until you see who it is. The small little figure turns to look at you with sad, dark brown eyes and you swear you think your heart stops then and there. It's her- it's Mia. It's your daughter- but she's different now. She's paler- her face is paler but her eyes are red, and she looks like she had been crying. She's wearing a white gown and you think it makes her look just like an angel. An angel…
You want this to end, you can't handle seeing her. Seeing them. She looks at you with pitiful brown eyes- and you suddenly see- she's not so much like you now, she looks like Justin. You look over to Justin briefly, who is smiling weakly at her. You know he knows who she is. This… was supposed to be your family. This was supposed to be your life. You want to wake up, you tell yourself to wake up. But you can't. She talks to you both now- in a sweet, soft voice that lingers in your mind.
"Mommy, Daddy- I missed you. Don't leave me, Mommy. Don't go." She says, as she walks over to you and sits on your lap, as you wrap her arms around her, holding the girl close to you. She's speaking to you softer now, looking straight ahead at Justin now. "Don't go, don't leave me- stay with me forever. I'm so lonely here, I want you to stay. Don't go, don't leave me…" She weeps as you caress her face, and you want this to end immediately, as soon as possible. You can't take it. You hold Mia as she cries but you feel like you can't breathe. You wanted this life- you wanted her so bad. You wanted you and Justin to work out. You wanted a life together- with her. But it's all different now. And if you could change it, you would in a heartbeat.
"I can't stay- we can't. I wish we could, sweetie, but-" You stop talking when you hear Justin next to you sniffle, holding back tears in his eyes. You didn't even realize you were crying until he reached over to you and wiped the tears off of your face. You smile weakly at him, before looking down at your daughter once more.
"Don't go, don't go Mommy, don't leave me, Daddy…" Her words repeat in your head over again until-
You sit up in bed, in your bed- in your studio apartment in New York City. Your alarm clock wakes you up- meaning you have to get up and get ready for work. You got what you wanted- you got to go to New York and become a photographer. But you're so alone here. It's been almost 7 years since you lived in Pasadena- since you've seen your mom or dad, or Justin, or any of the Walkers. It's been years since you've been truly happy. You miss Justin sometimes- he's in the back of your mind, what you two were together. You wish every day, that whether you or Justin worked out or not, that you could have had your baby. Yours and Justin's baby. You know it's not your fault "she's" not here today, and you know you should've gotten over it by now. But you never have. She's always there- in the back of your mind with her father, haunting your dreams from time to time. She's always there. And every time you dream about her, you wish your life could have been different. You wish things could have worked out with her. You'd change everything, to have a chance at having that life. But you can't go back in time. You can't change anything.
You get out of bed and wipe the tears from your eyes with the back of your hand. Dreams like this always bring you down, bringing back painful memories- but you have to remember- you came here for you. You're living out your dream- the best way you can. Life didn't turn out the way you planned- and sometimes it just kills you. But you made it work out here in NY. You're a successful photographer, and you made it out here. You still talk to your mom and dad- who are now married and still live in Pasadena, and they regularly update you about the Walkers and Justin. They told you recently that Justin got remarried- to a woman named Tyler. And you're actually happy for him- you always wanted him to end up happy. You miss them sometimes- that crazy family you were a part of. Sometimes, you even talk to Nora and Kitty and Sarah, and they constantly remind you that you're still "a Walker", but you've moved on. You're not a part of them anymore- as fun as it was to be. You've been seeing a guy you work with- James. And he's… well, he's your fresh start. You've dated since your divorce, but haven't really gotten into anything serious, so he's… a good thing. A new thing. You started over. You starting living for yourself- finally. And you're okay.
You walk into your bathroom, looking at yourself in the mirror. Sometimes, you see the same girl you were when you left Pasadena. But today, you see someone different. You've changed. Your face is the same, your hair is the same, besides its length- which is significantly longer than it was when you lived in California, but your values? Your life experience? That's all changed. You've stopped living in the past- always going back to "what if's" and what could have been. Though you dream about it, you know you can't change anything and you keep going. You're living in the present now- for you. For your future. That part of your life- when you were young, and crazy, and in love, and a part of a crazy, dysfunctional family- it's over now. You look back on your memories, both good and bad, and you recognize that it was a part of your past. Though that part of your life is over, you've still got your memories. You'll always have your memories. Of Justin, of the Walkers, of your parents. Of who you used to be. You realize that you're not that same person anymore.
You grew up.