Chapter 1: PROLOGUE : COMING HOME
"Fudge!” A little dotted line of blood made its appearance onto my thumb, giving rise to a paper cut.
A scrawny man with a thin pencil moustache and round spectacles sitting next to me looked at me funny. “Is everything alright, miss?” He asked me, his British accent clearly evident in his voice.
“Uh...yeah. Just a paper cut.” I nodded with an apologetic smile, awkwardly looking away as I put the tip of my finger in my mouth, clearing away the small line of blood and tasting the salty, metallic red.
I folded the newspaper and put it in the seat pocket in front of me. My eyes shifted to the small window next to me and I childishly gazed at the randomly shaped clouds, trying to make something out of their figures since I had nothing else to do. The morning sun cast a beautiful light on the white heaps of cotton, making them almost magical as I wished to float on one of them.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your co-pilot and we will be landing in a few minutes at the Seattle Tacoma Airport. The temperature there is 49°F. Please put on your seatbelts and shut down your laptops. Don’t forget to save your work. The cabin lights will now be dimmed. You can switch on the overboard lights as per your needs.”
My hands tightened around the armset. I was always fidgeting during flights. Being in the air made me feel squeamish but the landings were always the worst. My stomach dropped as the plane’s wheels touched the ground, my heart rate rapidly increasing. I closed my eyes for the rest of the torture to finish.
“Passengers, we have landed. Your luggage will be collected on the 32B belt. Thanks for flying with us.” The announcement ended and I huffed out a breath, relived. I had survived another haunting ride of my life.
Everyone around me rushed to get out and I found myself following the crowd. Collecting my luggage, I quickly headed towards the gate, ready to leave the busy airport.
The cold air hit me in the face, reminding me of the cold weather here. It had been two years since I came back home and the last time I was here, I only spent two short days and this city felt strange and almost frightening as of now as I looked at the rush everyone around me was in.
My mother had called me earlier today to inform that she and her boyfriend Henry wouldn’t be able to come as they were on a trip to Hawaii and will be returning tomorrow morning. She had also informed me that Henry’s son will come to pick me up despite the fact that I told her I could come in a cab on my own but she wanted me to be welcomed here properly but so far, there was no sign of him and I patiently looked around, tapping my foot.
I shivered as the cold air hit me again, making my hair fly all around my face. It was freezing and being too used to Arizona’s hot temperature, I had forgotten to carry a warmer jacket with me. I cursed myself for being so silly, I had even checked what the temperature was going to be here yesterday.
Pushing in the numbers that my mom had sent as Henry’s son’s phone number, I put the phone to my ear, waiting for him to pick up the call and after three rings, a woman picked it up, “This is Reid Parker’s office. How can I help you?” Huh. ′Office’? How busy was this man exactly? I rolled my eyes at the shenanigans of the corporate world despite the fact that I myself had a degree in business administration.
“Uh... Can I talk to Reid? He was supposed pick me up from the airport.” I said lamely, mentally facepalming myself as I shifted on my feet.
This is stupid. I should have just taken a cab.
“Ma’am, sir is in a meeting right now. I will inform him that you called afterwards. Um...what is your name again?”
“Elizabeth, I am Hazel Baker’s daughter...”
“Okay ma’am, I will make sure to inform Mr. Parker.”
“Actually, never mind. Don’t tell him that I called.” What was the point anyway? He did not sound like he cared.
“Okay, as you wish ma’am.”
I quickly ended the call and after a couple of minutes managed to hail a cab, sighing in relief once I got into the heated car and gave the address to the driver.
A smile came on my face as I saw the roads pass by. A lot of things had changed after my father’s death that I hated thinking about but it was time to come back to face the reality. As we passed by the central library, I felt my heart clench as I remembered the days I had spent there, with my father when he took me for reading every Saturday and we both spent recommending each other our favourite books. My smile dropped as I gazed at the hospital where my father had finally taken his last breath, whispered his last words to me before he had left me.
Stay strong, kiddo. Be kind, be you Betty.
I missed the crowded roads, the biting cold weather and the gigantic, tall buildings that covered most of the city’s skyline. I missed home.