Oh yes dear, don’t you worry about me. I’ll just have my son come get me and I'll spend some time with my grandbabies. You take care, Ever. I'll be back in Wichita in a couple of weeks if you need anything. Keep me updated on that handsome young man of yours. God, I am going to miss her.
I will. You take care too, Jackie. I love you.
I love you too, honey.
I get into the cab, ready to make my journey back home. I can't wait to see everyone. I wanted it to be a surprise so I didn't let anyone know I was coming back. The driver starts to pull out and I have a whole mix of emotions taking over inside of me. Once we are on the highway from Tulsa heading back to Wichita, I gaze out at the empty land, willing this ride to go fast or slow. Hell, I don't even know anything except my hands are shaky and sweaty, my legs are bouncing ridiculously fast, and my stomach is twisted into a thousand knots.
When we get right outside of Wichita, I pull out my phone, sending a text to Zoey.
Me: Go to Mom & Dad’s alone. Gotta tell you something.
Zoey: On my way!
She responded almost immediately so I bet she is worried and thinks I’m going to Skype. Boy, is she in for a surprise. They all are.
The cab driver pulls into the driveway of my parents’ house. He grabs my bags from the trunk as I step out of the cab. I take them from him before I walk up to the door and knock, instead of just walking in. My mom opens the door, looking at me blankly, I think she might be in shock. She blinks a few times as if to make sure I'm really here then she signs and speaks, “Ever?”
I let go of my bags to sign back, Yeah, Mom, it's me. Her hands fly up to cover her mouth as tears pool in her eyes. I expected nothing less since she hasn't seen me in a year. They all tried talking me into coming home, especially during the holidays. I know that it hurt my family when I wouldn't come back, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
My mom grabs me by the arms, pulling me into the house and into her tight embrace. After she lets me out of her death grip, I grab my bags before following her into the living room where my dad and Zoey are sitting.
They both look at me with the same shocked expressions, mouths open, eyes big. They can't believe I'm really here either, this is exactly what I wanted. They both shake their heads before jumping up, my dad grabbing me first, and then Zoey, both hugging me just as tight as my mom did. When I pull back from Zoey, I look around at all their smiling faces and teary eyes matching mine. I'm home and it feels so damn good to be back, I can only hope Writer is just as happy to see me.
Zoey signs, What are you doing here and why didn't you let anyone know you were coming back?
I wanted it to be a surprise and I couldn't do it anymore, Zoey. I missed you guys and Writer terribly. It was all a lie, I never got to design anything. I gave up my life for nothing.
I'm so sorry. She pulls me in for another hug.
When I pull back, I tell her how I feel about leaving. It's okay. I would’ve always wondered if I would have stayed, so I'll never be sorry I went. She gives me a look of understanding so I go on, I need to go see Writer though. I miss him so bad, Zoey.
I don't think that's a good idea. Maybe you should let me give him a heads up first. Why does my sister look like that? It's almost like she is scared for me to go see him.
No, I want it to be a surprise. It'll be fine. He loves me, we just gotta get past this.
Ever, he's not the same guy anymore. I don't think you should go.
I'm going, Zoey, you’ll see. Everything will be fine. I cock my brow and give her that look, you know the one, I'm doing it and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.
My dad chimes in, Maybe Zoey is right Ever. Maybe he should get a heads up. We've all seen him. I don't know if it would be good for you to just show up.
Dad, no! You guys are not stopping me! Everything is going to be fine. I miss him and I love him. I gotta go get him back. Give me my keys. I hold my palm out waiting. My mom, being the sensible one out of this bunch, leaves the room. She walks back in, dropping them in my hand. She then puts her two cents in. I hope you’re right about this. I don't want you to get hurt. Jesus! Maybe I was wrong. I'm starting to wonder if they all lost their damn minds.
Writer would never hurt me, Mom. I made a mistake when I left, but he loves me. I know he’ll forgive me. Besides, how bad could it be? It’s been a year. I'm sure Zoey is just overreacting. I leave my bags in the living room as I head out the door.
I make what is supposed to take thirty minutes to get to the club in about half that because I couldn’t keep my foot off the accelerator. I park my car and Zoey pulls in right beside me, jumping out of her own. I get out and start to head inside, but she pulls on my arm, stopping me.