Mia remembered the day her dad had died like it was yesterday. She had been in school, having lunch with some friends when her phone had gone off. Checking it, she had read her brother’s name Finn.
“I’ll be right back guys, it's the bro.” she had said, standing up and pressing the green button. Her friends giggled and nudged each other; they all thought her half-brother was gorgeous, even though he was a lot older than them and had a girlfriend.
“What's up?” Mia asked, walking out of the cafeteria and down the halls. It was silent, as everyone was either in class or eating lunch.
Finn's voice was subdued over the phone, “Mia you've got to come home. Dad… dad is dying.”
Mia almost dropped her phone she was so shocked. Sure, dad had been having some difficulties, but he was so young, only seventy something. Her voice came out a soft squeak, “W-what?”
“I don't know what happened. He was climbing down the stairs and just… fell.” Finn said, “I called the hospital, they said he's having a stroke. Mia you have to come home now, I've called the school.”
“Okay.” Mia whispered, before ending the call and running out of the building.
Her house was only a few blocks away, about 10 minute walk, but she usually got a lift from her boyfriend, who could drive. Now she didn't know what to do, and she stood in the parking lot with tears streaming down her face.
“You need a ride?” it was the resident bad boy and her neighbor Nik, smiling at her from the window of his car. They’d never really talked much, even though they lived across the road from each other. When they had been children they had been close, but once middle school started, Mia and Nik had drifted apart.
Mia nodded, “yeah, thanks. Can you take me home, please?”
She climbed in, and Nik started driving. He was eight months older than her, which was why he could drive but they were still in the same grade. He was one of the oldest, and pretty much the only sophomore with a car.
The good thing about Nik, something Mia remembered from her childhood, was that he wouldn't push you to talk about things you didn't want to. This why although it was obvious she was upset, Nik didn't even mention it.
When they pulled up to her house, Mia saw that her brother’s car was in the drive, which was unusual because they had a large garage to park their cars.
“Thanks Nik.” Mia said, practically sprinting from the car to her front door. She didn't see Nik drive away, as she was already throwing open the door, which was never locked.
There wasn't a lot of family left. Mia didn't know her grand-parents, and her dad hadn't had any siblings. Finn's mom had passed away a few years back, and so had Cassie’s parents. None of her dads old flings would be coming around in a hurry, since most of those ‘relationships’ had ended with him cheating. It was just them.
Oh, and Finn and Cassie's baby, Lea. She was only a few months old.
Cassie saw her first, and she came over with tears in her green eyes. “Mia! Thank God you're here.” She hugged the teen closely, and Mia felt safe with the woman who was not much older than herself.
“Is it… bad?” Mia asked hesitantly. She couldn't see Finn or her dad anywhere on the ground floor.
“He's in his room.” Cassie said, and it hit Mia that for Cassie it would be like losing her dad all over again. Cassie had grown up in this same house alongside Finn. Their love story was what Mia herself wanted in her life.
Mia walked up the stairs slowly, scared of what she would see. A stroke… would he be able to talk? Would he remember her? She remembered to duck as she came up into her dad’s room, which was small and had barely enough room for his bed and desk.
From the stories that Finn had told her, when his mom had found out about his first affair, she’d kicked him out of their shared room and into what used to be the art room.
The way Mia saw it, she was lucky he hadn't been kicked out to live on the streets as she may not have had the best upbringing then.
She saw Finn first, who was sitting on the edge of the bed and blocking her view of her dad. Mia stayed hidden and assessed him critically. They didn't look much alike. Finn had messy black hair and skin that tanned well, which contrasted with her blonde curls and ivory skin. They both shared the same piercing blue eyes, which they had inherited from their father.
Finn caught her eye and smiled sadly at her before saying something softly to their dad. Mia walked the rest of the way into the room.
To her relief, Jay didn't look that different from the way he usually did; gray hair, pale blue eyes and wrinkled skin. He had never looked like her dad, and was always mistaken as her grandfather.
He smiled when he saw her, and beckoned her closer. Finn got off the bed. “I’ll give you guys some privacy,” he said and went down stairs. Mia took his spot on the bed.
“Hey dad,” she said softly, tears threatening to fall. She didn't let them though; she wanted to look strong like her brother did.
“Mia,” he croaked out, “I don't have much time, so I'm going to make this brief. I regret not being there for you as you grew up, I was so selfish and wrapped up in my own drama. I never taught you how to walk, or talk. I never potty trained you. And I think that's the biggest regret of my life.” He coughed, and his voice was raspy, “I should've been a better dad.”
Mia found that she had silent tears running down her face, so much for being brave, she thought bitterly. All the things her dad had said were things she had resented him for her whole life. It was a massive slap in the face to be told that he had never helped her as a toddler, something that both Finn and Cassie had left out. It made her angry and sad.
“That’s okay dad, I forgive you.” She said, and had the pleasure of seeing him smile, before coughing again and closing his eyes.
“Good…” he breathed out. Mia felt a flash of panic. Was he dying? Was this really the end?
“Finn!” she called down the stairs, “Cassie!” the sound of running footsteps. Quickly, Mia turned back to her dad and grasped his hand. Was it her imagination or were his hands getting colder?
“Dad please don't go.” She sobbed, but he didn't seem to hear her.
Finn lent over and listened to their dad’s chest. Finn was training to be a doctor, which meant he probably knew what was going on. His tanned skin paled, and Cassie grabbed his hand, her own skin going pale.
“His heartbeat is fading out,” Finn said, pulling his cellphone from his pocket and calling the hospital, telling them to bring an ambulance but not to hurry as there was nothing they could do.
Mia couldn't watch it, but turned to hug Cassie and cry onto her shoulder. The distant wailing of the ambulance was getting closer, and would probably arrive after her dad died.
She was wrong, the paramedics were there to call his time of death and then load him onto a stretcher and take him to the hospital, where he would stay until they had the funeral.
Watching the ambulance drive away was the hardest thing Mia had ever had to do. She hugged Finn and cried silently as he hugged her back, while keeping one arm securely around Cassie.
And then Mia was struck with an awful realization. She thought of Finn as more of a father than her real dad ever was. And now that he was gone, she would be living with her half-brother and his girlfriend and their child. She was awkward younger half-sibling with no parents.
Mia was an orphan.
“I need to get out of here.” She muttered, running over to her bike, which she rarely used except in times of emergency. Finn and Cassie let her go; probably knowing that she needed some space.
Mia needed a distraction from the devastating turn her life had just taken. So she went over to her boyfriend’s house. He would help take her mind off of things.