“Olivia! Guys, over here!” I heard my father’s voice boom through the airport.
Riley, Tori and I all smiled at him and rushed to his side. I jumped into his arms and gave him a much-needed hug. He gently squeezed me as he took my bag from me. “Hey babygirl!”
“Hi dad!” I smiled.
“Well... I am not going to get used to this.” He said gesturing to my small baby bump that poked out through my shirt.
I sheepishly smiled. “Well, get used to it fast. I will be huge before I know it.”
“Joy.” My dad said sarcastically.
Riley showed up after grabbing our other luggage and hugged our dad. “Hey kiddo.” Dad said.
“Hey there pops. You have met Tori, yes? My beautiful girlfriend!” Riley beamed while putting his arm around her shoulders.
My dad rolled his eyes. “Son, I’ve known Tori since she became friends with Olivia... and you told me a while ago that you were dating.” He deadpanned.
“Right... but this is the first time you get to see her as my girlfriend!” He defended.
My dad looked at Tori and chuckled, “I am so sorry.”
“No, believe me, I’m the one that’s sorry.” She teased while looking up at Riley.
“That better not be something mean!” Riley pouted.
“Um, can we go now?” I laughed.
“Yes, lets!” My dad said while laughing at Riley.
“Trust me babe, it was nothing mean.” Tori laughed while trying to reassure a pouting Riley.
“Hey! Look! Airport snacks!” Riley shouted as we headed for the doors.
“No son, no.” My dad scolded. “There is food at the house.”
“Fine.” Riley mumbled.
Both Tori and I shared an eye roll on that one.
“Home sweet home! Couch, I’ve missed you!” Riley yelled throughout our quiet childhood home.
Our dad began rubbing his temples. “Remind me again why you had to bring him with you?” My dad teased.
I let out a laugh, “Sorry dad, had to.”
“Olivia, I made your bed. You AND TORI-” My dad casted a warning glance at my brother, “Can share your room.”
“Already planned on it.” I smiled.
“But Dad, I am a man now! I buy my own razors and shaving cream! My girlfriend can sleep with me.” He defended himself.
“Do you really wanna test me boy?” Dad warned.
“No sir.” Riley instantly shut down his idea. Tori laughed and patted Riley’s head.
“It’s alright babe. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” She smirked.
“Blah blah blah... kiss me!” Riley smiled up at her.
“Ugh, get a room.” I sighed.
“Not in this house.” Dad commented, to which Riley frowned.
I laughed at my brother and then began heading upstairs to my bedroom. I really missed being home with my dad. He always took my side on things and Riley always hated it, but secretly enjoyed seeing me happy.
I opened my childhood bedroom door and slowly walked inside. I smiled at my old room.
The walls were still a light purple color, though now the paint has faded a bit. The twin-sized bed seemed far too small for me now, and I wondered how Tori and I were going to sleep comfortably. I placed my luggage on the end of the bed and sighed as I looked around. The same Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears posters never left their spots on the walls. I cringed at my old taste in music, though softly smiled as I remembered jumping around my bedroom singing along to their once popular tunes.
I stepped up to my dresser and pulled open my old jewelry box. A little ballerina popped up and began spinning in a slow circle to the tune of the same soft melody that danced into my ears. I remember listening to this at least once every night before bed. My mother gave it to me when I was five and I’ve kept it here in this room ever since.
I saw a silver-chained necklace resting inside of the jewelry box and picked it up. It was just a solid silver-chained necklace with no charms or anything hanging off it. I instantly thought of an idea and pulled the ring Landon got for me off my finger. I opened the necklace and dropped the ring on it, watching it fall down the necklace. I clasped the necklace shut around my neck and saw the beautiful ring sitting against my chest right above my slowly beating heart.
I smiled as I slowly reached my hand up to touch the ring.
Perfect, I thought with a smile.
I let out a soft sigh and then I made my way back downstairs for dinner.
Tomorrow is going to be a very long and hard day... I need all the energy I can get.
“Rise and shine girls!” My dad sang in the doorway. Tori mumbled something incoherent and I sighed as I turned over onto my stomach, burying my face into my pillow.
“No.” I mumbled.
“It’s noon. You’ve got ten minutes to get ready and we are leaving!” My dad yelled.
Tori and I instantly popped up in bed and scrambled to get up. I rushed to my dresser and pulled out my clothes while Tori hopped around the room trying to take her socks off.
My dad chuckled and mumbled a quick, “Works every time”, and then he left the room.
I didn’t register what he said until before I was about to rush to the bathroom.
I caught a glimpse of the clock that sat on my bedside table and I sighed.
“What?” Tori asked, as she hurried into her knee-length black dress.
“It’s only eight in the morning Tor...” I mumbled.
Tori’s eyes widened as she searched around for a clock, until her eyes landed on the same one I was looking at.
“What the...” She started to say. “WHAT A MEAN TRICK MR. HARPER!” Tori yelled towards my bedroom door.
“HURRY UP GIRLS, BREAKFAST IS ALMOST READY!” I could almost hear the smirk I was sure he was wearing.
“Dads... they truly are a gift.” I deadpanned. “I’m going to shower.” I stated.
As the steam engulfed me, I took in a rigid breath. Today was the day. The day that I have been dreading since the moment the doctor called Landon’s time of death. Today was his funeral. Today I had to stand up in front of Landon’s family and some friends... and give a speech on his behalf. Today I had to face Landon’s parents, who I purposely ignored while I was staying in the hospital. I had no idea what I was going to say to them, let alone how I was going to react during the service.
The day has barely started, and I already want it to be over.
After my semi-long shower, I stepped out and wrapped my towel around my now shivering body.
I walked into my bedroom and made sure the bedroom door were locked before letting the towel fall to the floor.
I walked over to my dresser and pulled open the first drawer, revealing my underwear and bras. I took a matching black pair out and put them on.
I then grabbed a pair of black stockings and shimmied my way into them, desperate not to fall to the floor in the process.
Once the stockings were on and perfect, I walked over to my closet and opened it.
I looked towards the back and located all of my dresses. I browsed through them all until I landed on the perfect one.
It had no sleeves, and the top portion of the dress was a beautiful black lace. The end of the dress stopped at my knees and flowed out like a simple flower. I pulled it on and smiled as I looked in the mirror at the black dress that fit me perfectly.
I hope Landon likes it.
Once the dress was on and tied in the back, I began working on my hair. I grabbed my curling iron from my bathroom and began heating my hair into long, beautiful loose curls that hung down my shoulders.
I searched the cabinets to my bathroom and finally found my old bag of make-up I left behind. Some of the make-up had expired, so I threw it out. I was able to use some face powder, eyeliner, mascara and a deep crimson lipstick to finish the look. It was simple, yet intriguing.
After I made sure my make-up were flawless, I strolled over to my closet again to locate my black pumps. I wasn’t going to wear heels, but I felt like standing taller today. Maybe then, I could get through this service with a hint of confidence.
After putting on the heels, I took a step into the view of my mirror and beamed at my presence. I admired my work and confirmed it with a slight nod. I lifted my hand to graze the ring hanging against my chest and a frown found its way onto my face.
“Olivia, you better get down here or your brother is going to eat all the pancakes!” I heard my dad shout from the kitchen, annoyance laced in his words.
I chuckled as I began walking towards the stairs.
Upon entering the kitchen, the smell of pancakes found my nose and suddenly, eating did not sound like a good idea. The instant I greeted the smell, my stomach felt queasy. I hurried over to the sink and held my freshly curled hair back, as I puked causing my throat to burn.
“Honey, you okay?” My dad asked as he placed his hand on my shoulder.
I frowned as I turned on the faucet to let the water wash the vomit down the drain.
“Y-Yeah, I’m fine.” I stated, though I was unsure myself.
“Well, guess I don’t need to save these for you then!” Riley smiled as he placed the last three pancakes onto his plate. I glared at him, which caused his smiled to turn into a frown.
“If that’s okay with you sissy?” He mumbled.
I rolled my eyes, but nodded. Riley shot his fist into the air and began stuffing his face.
“Olivia, is this morning sickness, or nerves from what’s happening today?” My dad asked, concern hovering over his protective words.
“I honestly can’t tell. Maybe both.” I shrugged.
Tori grabbed a water bottle from the fridge and handed it to me. “Here, drink this after you go brush your teeth.” She softly grinned.
I snatched the water bottle and made my way back up the stairs to my bathroom. I began brushing my teeth, surprised that the taste of toothpaste made my stomach feel better.
After brushing my teeth, I took a few sips from the water bottle and took in a deep breath. After that, I pulled my lipstick out and reapplied a fine coat.
“You’re fine Olivia. You can get through this day. You will be okay.” I mumbled to myself.
“It’s true though.” I heard my dad suddenly speak from behind me, causing me to jump a little.
I turned around and frowned. “I don’t think I can do it.”
“Do what sweetie?”
“The speech. Any of it.” I sighed, exiting my bathroom and joining my dad in my room.
“I know it’s hard Olivia, and if it were up to me... you wouldn’t be speaking at all. However, it is probably the right thing to do. No one knew Landon the way you did. No one shared the deep connection with him that you did. I truly believe you and him were soulmates, or whatever.” He chuckled.
“How did you get through it... when mom died?” I found myself asking.
My dad took in a short breath and showed a sad smile. “Honestly, I have no idea. I just did what I had to do for you and your brother and I found a way to get through it. You will too. Just think about that little one growing inside of you.” My dad placed a hand gently against my stomach. “He or she will need you the same way you and Riley needed me. It is never going to be easy, and it will get harder as he or she gets older and begins asking questions about him. However, you being their mother... you will find a way, because you have to.” He simply stated.
“Thanks dad.” I smiled as I stepped forward into his arms for a hug.
“Anytime princess.” He smiled down at me. “Now let’s go before your brother throws up from over-eating.” He chuckled.
I giggled and followed him down the stairs again.
Upon arriving at the funeral home, I saw several of Landon’s relatives and a few of our old friends from high school gathered outside of the church, making small talk. I always thought funerals were just a big awkward mess of people trying not to say the wrong thing and a lot of crying, and after arriving here... my thoughts became reality.
I noticed Landon’s parents standing at the doors of the church, Landon’s mom looked as beautiful as ever, though her eyes were red and puffy. Landon’s father stood high and had his strong arm around his wife, happily being the rock she needed on a day like today. However, you could still see the grief dancing behind his tired eyes.
I sucked in a tight breath as I exited my dad’s car and headed towards the group of people. Riley and Tori followed behind me, and my dad behind them.
As if it were some Hollywood red carpet, as people noticed me, they began making a path for me to walk that lead right up to the church. As I passed by person after person, all I got were sad smiles and soft nods, in a way trying to reassure me that everything will be okay. I smiled at as many people as I could until my eyes met Landon’s mother.
Her smile grew ten times bigger as she rushed down the steps of the church and instantly wrapped her arms around my neck.
“Hello Barbara.” I softly spoke.
“Oh Olivia! It’s so great to see you sweetie!” She pulled away and looked me up and down.
“Wow, already growing.” She smiled.
“Yes, I know. It is crazy.” I smiled back.
She stepped aside and Brian brought his gaze to me and then to my stomach. He smiled himself as he pulled me in for a side-hug. “Good to see you, kiddo.” He huskily spoke.
“You too, B.” I smiled up at him. I was the only one that called him “B.” I started doing so when I was a little girl, and it just stuck with me.
I then frowned when I realized how much Brian and Landon resembled one another. It was almost as if I were looking at older Landon. It almost scared me.
“I know today is going to be hard, but we are all here for you.” Brian said as he noticed my frown.
“Thank you. That means a lot.” I sadly smiled.
“Well, let’s get this started before I change my mind and go home.” Barbara sighed as she opened the doors of the church, allowing everyone to gather inside and find a seat.
I sat in the first row on the right side of the church with Riley, Tori and my father. A lot of Landon and I’s old childhood friends were seated behind us, as most of Landon’s family sat behind Landon’s parents on the left side of the church.
The pastor made his way to the podium and softly cleared his throat. Once the room was silent, he began his opening statements and started the service, without skipping a beat.
There were some faint sniffles and sobs roaming around the room, and I reached up to my eyes and felt that they were still dry.
Why aren’t I crying? It is probably just your pregnancy hormones.
I softly shook my head at myself, and waited to be called to the podium to give my speech.
My eyes never looked at Landon’s casket. The thought of his dead corpse lying in that wooden box, freaked me out to no end.
“And now, Ms. Olivia Harper, Landon’s girlfriend, would like to say a few words on his behalf.” The pastor stated, and I almost missed it. I slowly stood up and started stepping towards the steps that lead up to the podium.
I could feel all eyes on me, and my legs began to wobble. I cursed myself for wearing high-heels.
As I lifted my leg to step onto the first step, I immediately held in a breath as my foot missed the step and I went tumbling down to the floor.
I normally would not have freaked out, however this time I did, and so did everyone else.
The room instantly filled with gasps, and I heard my dad yell my name as I instinctively brought my hands to my abdomen.
I landed on my stomach.