1. a pathological fear of heights.
If you’re anything like me, then you are deathly afraid of heights, or more specifically you have acrophobia.
It’s not like climbing a couple of stairs give you the hee-bee-jeebies. It’s like standing on top of a skyscraper and looking down at the streets as the cars whizz on by. Your stomach drops just at thought of how far up you are.
It’s the feeling you get when you’re riding the escalator for the very first time and you watch petrified as the floor just keeps getting further and further away. You feel certain that if you make one wrong move, your guts will be the store’s new floor color.
And no matter what you do, unless you have mind powers, you can’t stop it. But you endure it and push past your fears so you can get the next floor.
And you have to get to that next floor. The next floor will provide you with stability and a chance to get what you need. In order to get what you need you have to sacrifice portions of your sanity, and sometimes it’s worth it.
So, right now, while Theo is staring into my eyes and silently questioning himself if I was able to commit murder on my own father a new fear has arose. A fresh horror right off the press, and it’d be thought of losing Theo.
Theo is my next floor. He’s the one thing I want, and I have to get past my escalator to have him. My escalator, in this moment, being telling him the truth of my past.
“What do you mean you put your dad here, Mya?” His question rings me out of my conscious and brings me to look at him.
I moved my eyes from his confused face to the entrance of the hospital again. There was a few doctors walking to and fro hoping the caffeine-filled coffee cups in their hands will persuade their bodies to stay awake for another shift. It looked like a slow and gloomy day here.
It reminded me of the day my dad was admitted here, the only difference being he was brought in at night. That day made goosebumps travel up and down my arms every time I even gave it the slightest though. Hence the reason I try my best to block it out.
It started out as a good day, but went south all within the course of a few hours. One question, one fight, and a whole lot of bad luck.
I turned back to Theo and his expression had grown worried. He was worried about me? For all he knew I was a serial killer who brutally attempted murder on her father. Yet, he was still worried about me, despite the all the negative possibilities. He was still there for me and cared for me, and that was the reason I was then certain I was ready to tell him all about my past.
High School Senior Year
It was almost Christmas break and everyone was getting ready for it. Most people were spending it with family, close friends, or even their significant other. Meanwhile I was in the library, with my piles of notebooks, flash cards, and text books, studying for mid-terms.
In school I had never been much of a socialite, but people seemed to always know me and were friendly to me in classes and hallways. I never gave myself much time for anything other than my studies, academic clubs, and volunteer work, so I’d never even been to an actual party.
Unless you count my cousin’s latest 6th birthday party at Pizza Hut.
I’d never been to a high school party. You know what I’m talking about. All those parties you read about or see in movies and tv shows that are filled to the brim with alcohol, drugs, dancing, and even socializing with kids your own age.
I was never asked to go, and never really focused in on that since I was far too busy trying to make my dad proud by getting accepted into our mutual dream college. In order to do that I had to constantly be on top of my game which meant no distractions, which meant no parties.
Sure. I’d been invited to them, but I always politely declined since I never wanted to disappoint my father in exchange for a good time. I had been tempted in the past, but no temptations were as high as the one I received today.
With my glasses perched on my nose and my eyes fully concentrated on my physics notes, I didn’t even notice a boy walk in the library and plop down at my embarrassingly nerd-cluttered table. More importantly a cute boy who is had a giant crush on since my sophomore year.
His name was Dillon Heron, and in my mind at the time, he was the most dreamy kid I’d ever seen. We’d been on the debate team together and I always had caught him looking my way and smiling, but out of shyness I usually just looked away.
And today, he wasn’t doing anything differently. In fact he looked to be smiling even more than usual. His grin looked almost cartoony with how far it was spread.
“Hello, Amaya.” He said in a chipper voice.
I let out a shaky laugh and tried my best to fix my hair hoping to God he wouldn’t realize that I didn’t do anything with it other than tie it up into a big knot on top of my head.
“Um. Hey...Dillon.” I mumbled like an idiot before quickly turning my head back down to my papers.
“What are you doing here on a Thursday night, and all by yourself?” He asked before moving one seat closer to me.
I started shuffling between papers more quickly, hoping to look extremely busy instead of getting caught avoiding eye contact. I wanted to look at him, but I was just so nervous and I didn’t want him to know that.
“Just midterms and stuff, you know.” I kept it simple.
“Yeah, I understand. I’ve been sort of looking everything over. Might just wing it, ya know?” He chuckled and I tried to do the same but all that came out were a few squeaks making me sound like a little chipmunk.
“Well I don’t want to bother or distract you too much, Amaya, but I just came here to tell you there’s gonna be a party tomorrow night, and I wanted to invite you.”
I immediately halted and nearly dropped all the papers in my hands on the ground. Was he joking? He had to be joking, right?
But it seemed impossible. After two whole years of waiting, he finally noticed me and was talking to me?
“Nope I’m not joking,” He laughed before grabbing my hand.
Damn I said that out loud??
“I’d really like if you came to the party, Amaya. But it looks like you’re busy right now, so I’ll text you with all the details tonight, okay?” He said with a smile as he got up from his chair and started to push it in.
“Uh. Um yeah. That sounds great! Thanks, Dillon.” I quickly averted my eyes from him back onto my work.
I heard him let out one last chuckle before saying a quick good-bye and leaving out the library door. I watched as he climbed into his car and drove out of the deserted parking lot before I jumped up from my seat, did a happy dance, and squealed.
The librarian gave me a dirty look and tried to shush me. I have her a quick nod and an apology before sitting back in my seat.
I tried my best to focus back on my work, but I couldn’t.
A boy had just invited me to a party. That boy was the biggest crush I’ve ever had so far in my lifetime. Even if it took all hell to break loose, I was going to that party.
So there wasn’t a point in trying to do my work considering it was like a moth trying to avoid a ray of light, impossible. I had far too much on my mind, so I packed up my things and left the library.
My junky little Volkswagen was sitting in the parking lot waiting for me right where I left it. I got in, started up my car and headed for home.
My plan was to get there, tidy up the house and cook dinner. This way I would have my chores done already and I go straight into asking for a privilege with high hopes of getting them.
So I picked things up, swept, mopped, did dishes, and a whole lot of other things. I was going to do everything in my power into convincing my mom and dad into letting me go to this party.
So I cooked my dad’s favorite dinner of steak, potatoes and green beans. I had just got done setting the table when my mom walked in the front door.
“Hey honey,” She greeted me with a smile as she walked into the kitchen. “Oh. You made dinner?”
“Yeah. I wanted to make tonight easier on you and dad.” I told her as I finished seasoning the food in the pan before turning off the burner and bring it to the table.
“Well that was nice of you.” She voiced before shedding her coat and sitting at the table.
“Yeah I try.” I chuckle before sitting down beside her.
She gave me a suspicious looks before folding her hands and leaning forward. “I know you’re a good girl, Amaya, but I also know when you’re up to something.”
“Up to something? Psh, mom-”
“I can tell. So what’s up?” She asked me with a knowing grin.
“Okay. Okay. There’s something going on tomorrow, and I’d really really like to go to it.”
“What is it? A basketball game? Whatever it is, good! I know you are set on just doing your school work, graduating, and scurrying off to college, but sweetie, you need to be social. It’s your senior year. Live a little!”
“Well...it’s not exactly a basketball game...”
“Oh. It’s a party.” She smirked.
“Yeah. How’d you guess?” I wondered.
“I was a teenager at one point too, ya know?”
“Of course I know. It’s just hard sometimes to imagine my mother as a teen.” I chuckled.
“Well I was and let me tell you, it was full of good times and mistakes, but everything I did made me the person I am today. Since you’re literally glued to your books and such, I think you deserve at least one night out. You make me proud, Amaya. You’ve turned out to be a child beyond my imagination. You are literally a miracle child.” She laughed. “I never really say that out loud because I don’t want other parents to be jealous.”
“You and dad are the reason I’m me. You owe it all to yourselves.” I smiled to her before gathering her up into a big hug.
I let go after about a minute, and sat back in my seat. “So it’s a yes for the party?” I asked hopefully.
“Yes. You can go, but I have a few conditions.” She crossed her arms and her face turned serious. “First of all, you need to find a friend to go with. This person has to be a designated driver.”
“But mom I won’t drink I promise.”
“I believe you, sweetheart, but you have no idea what peer pressure does to a person. Just have a designated driver there for you. It’s never a bad thing to be too safe.”
“Okay. I’ll get one.” I assured her.
“Good now onto number two.”
She went on for what felt like hours. No drugs, no alcohol. No sex, but if I did it better be safe sex. Then she went into a long, far too detailed difference between safe and not safe sex that left me with my ears plugged. Her whole speech ended with her telling me to try and stay safe. And how it was her number one priority.
I agreed to do everything she said, and just as I was thanking her for everything my dad walked in the house.
“Hey, gorgeous.” He left a quick peck on my mom’s lips leaving her with a grin.
“And there’s my bug!” I cringed at my life-long nickname while he ruffled my hair. “How was school today?”
“School’s school.” I shrugged as I watched him sit down on the other side of my mom.
“Well that’s descriptive.” He said sarcastically before his eyes caught the sight of the food on the table. “Steak?!”
“Yep. Our daughter cooked us all up some steak.” My mom told he before giving his arm a pat.
“Well what can I say? I’m her favorite.” He winked at me. “Ain’t that right, bug?”
Both my parents were watching me asking me to side with them.
“Uh-uh. I’m not siding with either of you. I love you both equally.” I chuckled before I started scooping some potatoes onto my plate.
“Oh whatever.” My mom sighed dramatically before I heard my dad chuckle.
My parents were seriously the best and I have no idea what I’d do without them. They were my best friends and I loved them to the moon and back.
Just as we were finishing up dinner, my mom decided it was the best time to bring up my plans for tomorrow.
“So, Amaya has a proposition for us.” She stated out loud.
“Oh, yeah? What would that be?” My dad asked before taking a big swig on his milk.
“Um, well you see. I got invited to this party tomorrow night, and since my grades are all up, i already applied to my college, started my scholarship application, and did all my chores already, I was wondering if I could go.?” I watched him as his smile turned upside down.
“I don’t know, bug. I don’t want you going to some random party.” He said as he wiped his mouth with a napkin.
“But I’ve done everything, dad. I never socialize because I’m constantly too busy worrying about my grades. Please, dad, this is the only thing I’ve asked to do in a long time.”
“It’s too dangerous, bug. So many things could happen.” He got up from the table and set his dishes in the sink.
“Come on, dad. I already went over with mom all the precautions and everything.” I explained.
“You cleared this without me?” My dad sounded a little angry as he turned to look at my mom.
“Patrick, she’s a teenage girl. She needs to go do teenage things.” She told him as she too got up to put her dishes alongside his.
“No. We should’ve discussed everything first. We’re both her parents, not just you.” He turned away from her and rolled up his sleeves to start the dishes.
“Dad, this isn’t mom’s fault, I asked her and-”
“This is between your mom and I. Please don’t interrupt in something you’re not involved.” He said with his back to me.
“Whatever. This is ridiculous. I do everything you ask from me without a single complaint for years and I can’t even go to a single party?” I shouted before I ran upstairs to my room.
“I can’t believe this. After all I do. I’m going to rot in this room before I graduate.” I muttered.
I had been in my room pacing with anger and anxiousness ever since I left the kitchen. I was hoping my mom could change my dad’s mind, but I know that the chance was very slim.
Suddenly there was a knock at my door. I opened it just a crack and saw my dad standing outside with his hands in his jean pockets and his coat and shoes were back on.
“Yes?” I asked in an attitude-filled voice.
“Hey, bug. I know you’re mad at me, but I have my reasons. You’re my little girl, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. You have to try and understand me here.”
“Whatever, dad. You come here for forgiveness? Because I’m not giving it.” I shrugged before shutting the door again.
“Get your coat and shoes on. We’re gonna make a quick run to the store. Just you and me. I’ll be waiting in the car.” He told me through the door.
“What if I say no?” I asked.
“Then you can count on your phone getting taken away.” I heard him say before leaving and waking down the steps.
“Damn it!” I shouted before I got up and shrugged on my light coat and a pair of black combat boots.
I ran down the stairs and out the door as quickly as I could. The quicker I got in the car, the quicker we got to the store. Then it’d be the quicker we can got home and I could wallow in self pity.
“Well that was fast.” My dad snickered before putting the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway.
“Why do you need me to go to the store with you?” I snapped bitterly.
“I don’t. I just needed a reason to get you out of your room, so I could talk to you without a door in my face.” He said.
I started to feel bad, but looked out the window to avoid even thinking about apologizing to him. I had given him all the respect the world has to give, but today was different. I’d done nothing wrong and was still being punished? How is that even fair?
“Come on, bug. Just talk to me. I’m just doing my best to keep you safe.” He said as we pulled into the store parking lot.
I remained silent and kept my eyes trained outside the window.
As my dad parked the car, he let out a long sigh. “You coming in with me?”
I replied with more silence.
“Want me to get you anything?” He asked sweetly.
I shook my head as a sign of no.
“Okay.” I heard the sadness in his voice before he climbed out of the car and went into the grocery store.
Yes. I felt bad about being a stubborn bitch to my own father, but now was the time to take a stand. I wanted to socialize with other people my age, and my dad couldn’t hold me back any longer.
My phone buzzed bringing me out of my self pity trance for a millisecond.
“Hey, Amaya. It’s Dillon. Just wanted to text you and ask again if you’d decided whether or not you wanted to go to the arty with me. If you haven’t decided yet take your time.”
I was going to that party despite my dad’s wishes. I was an adult now and could make my own decisions. Plus I had the permission of one parent already and that was plenty in my opinion.
“No more time needed! I’d love to go to the party!” I typed.
Would the word “love” make me come off as crazy??
I retyped it, and exchanged “like” for “love” before hitting the send button.
Within minutes of sending it he sent me details of location and time. I was going to my first high school party and I was actually excited. I couldn’t wait. All I needed was a designated driver and I was golden.
I texted a friend of mine begging her to take me and she immediately said yes. She wanted to go to the party too, but had taken a vow to never drink alcohol...it was perfect.
My dad opening the trunk pulled me out of my trance and put me back in my pity state. I wiped the smile off my face and looked back out the window.
When he climbed back in the driver’s seat he set a bottle of my favorite soda in my cup holder before cracking open a bag of our favorite snack: gummy bears. It had been our favorite since I was about six.
I had screwed up in the school play and he brought them to me as a gesture to cheer me up, and it had sort of became our thing.
“I got us gummy bears!” He tried to bribe me.
In the past I could never stay mad at my father. He was practically a saint and my partner in crime. He was the best dad a girl could ever ask for.
But me going to a party seemed to overshadow everything else. Him rejecting the whole idea had turned him into a monster in my eyes. A guy who was standing between me and a slight chance for me to go up in the ranks of popularity.
I continued to ignore him and out of the corner of my eye I saw him gingerly put the sugar-filled treats inside the center console. A part of my wanted to take the bag and dump the contents into my mouth before begging for forgiveness, but my pride got the best of me.
“So the team’s doing great this year huh, bug?” He asked talking about our favorite college football team. “With that Thompson on their side I think they’re going to big things.”
I continued to block out all his attempts at try to converse with me by ignoring him. No matter what he said I retaliated by either rolling my eyes or simply just shrugging my shoulders.
We were about ten minutes from home when everything changed.
Everything that happened next occurred so quickly it was hard to keep up. It was the flash of bright lights in our windshield that caught both me and my dad off guard.
The car had veered into our lane and was coming straight for us. With merely seconds to think, my dad slammed on the brakes and shielded my body with his own.
“I love you, bug.”
Everything happened so quickly and suddenly I was bathed in darkness.
When I woke up I was being pushed into the ambulance by gurney. There was constant sounds of sirens and walkie talkies. The lights of red and blue coming off the emergency vehicles were constant and almost blinding. It was the glimpse of white my eyes caught that frightened me.
I tried my best to focus on that until I realized it was a pure white sheet. It was laid overtop of a body, head and all. It was like a symbol of surrender after a great battle. That battle being with life. person had been killed. I immediately turned away from the scene feeling mournful and nauseous. I focused my sights on the ceiling of the vehicle to avoid looking at the unpleasant sight of the crash behind us.
I hoped and prayed the body wasn’t my father’s, but I had no information. I couldn’t even ask because I was frightened that it was his.
The ambulance doors clicked shut taking away my vision of the outdoors. The vehicle bolted on its way to what I’m assuming was the hospital.
This was my fault. If it wasn’t for me my dad and I wouldn’t have been in this car accident. He wouldn’t have asked to go all the way to the farthest grocery store just to get a more extended chance to talk to me.
This was my fault. All my fault.
And at that thought I felt myself getting dizzy and my vision was fuzzy. Another tear rushed down my cheek before shutting my eyes once again.
I looked up to Theo after I had told him the whole story, and he was sitting there with a sad smile.
“Well?” I asked.
“Well what?” He asked resting his chin on his the palm on his hand.
“What do you think?”
He sat there in silent thought for a minute before he finally opened his mouth to voice his own opinion.
“The whole thing being your fault is bullshit and you know it, Amaya. You know it, but you still think it is because you love to take the blame for everything. It was the other driver’s fault, the whole crash occurred. Not yours. As for the whole you wanting to go to the party and be popular, that was you being a teenager. Everyone wants to be popular and go to parties.”
“I think that no matter what you’ve done in the past, you’ve more than made up for. Hearing how your dad talked to you, I know he admired you a great deal and he would instantly forgive you for the little you’ve done. He would have nothing but a heart full of pride for the girl you’ve turned out to be.”
I gave a thought to everything Theo said to me and gave him a smile before reaching over to embrace him. He was the perfect guy. Always knew what to say no matter what the circumstances and situation was.
“Thank you, Theo. Thank you.”
“Anything for you, princess.” I could feel him grinning into our hug before I pulled away.
“Wanna meet him?” I asked excitedly.
He looked around the car confused. “Meet who?”
“My dad.” I chuckled. “I want you meet my dad.”
“You want me to meet your dad?? You sure that’s a good idea?”
“I know it is.” I held his hand and pleaded with my eyes.
“Then I would love to meet your dad.”