“Don’t worry, Ontario, I’ll never leave you. You will always have me here to protect you and your brother.”
Those words from a childhood memory would haunt Ontario Stratton for the rest of her life. Losing her father had been difficult enough, but her life would change even more drastically at the beginning of her senior year of high school. Only weeks into the school year Mrs. Stratton abandons her two children for a more carefree way of living. Suddenly thrown into a very different life, Ontario clings to her brother Eddy, her new legal guardian, and to no one else. Could she trust anyone anymore? Even her best friend isn’t there for her. . .
In order to feel like less of a burden on her brother, Ontario gets a job at the local fifties-style diner. It is there that she meets her new “family,” including the oh-so-intriguing Austin, the only one who can help her truly heal. In time, Ontario discovers that Austin has his own demons, and that he needs her just as much as she needs him. Some things in Ontario’s life begin to come together again, but others continue to fall apart. Though her world seems to be breaking, she is introduced to a kind of happiness she has never known before, and her new found friends show her that maybe, just maybe, she can learn to love again.
I stared out into the dark night as I sat in her lap on the porch.
“Mommy?” I asked quietly. I could feel her breathing as my head rested lightly on her chest.
“Yes?” she replied softly, looking down at me.
I leaned my head back so I could look up into her face. She looked different now. Sadder. Older.
“Daddy isn’t coming back, is he?”
Mommy’s eyes grew glossy and tears began to fall. After a few minutes she shook her head. “No my dear,” she whispered. “He’s not.”
I nodded slowly and tried to stop my lip from quavering. Daddy had been my best friend. I didn’t think he would leave me like this.
“Are you leaving too, Mommy?” I asked, with fear in my eyes. As I stared her bright blue eyes closed, releasing even more tears, and she started to sob. She held me tight to her and I hugged her back with all my might.
“Don’t worry, Ontario,” she said thickly. “I’ll never leave you. You will always have me here to protect you and your brother.”
I smiled slightly through my tears. I didn’t know why Daddy was gone, but if Mommy stayed maybe I could be okay someday.
I sat bolt upright, suddenly very aware of the cool night air in my room. As I woke I was panting, and in a cold sweat. I could also feel tears on my face that hadn’t been there before. I stared into the blackness of my room and saw the lingering memory of my mother’s face as she made a broken promise to me so many years ago. That face seemed to be mocking me now the more I stared at it.
Finally I couldn’t handle it anymore and I threw my blankets off and ran over to my bookcase. I didn’t need the light to find what I was looking for. I yanked a large binder from the bottom shelf and began to tear out the pages. Pages full of pictures, and notes, and memories of a mother who had said she would always be there for me, said that she loved me.
Furious tears ran down my sweaty face as I tore at the pages until the entire book had been destroyed. Gasping for breath I fell to my knees, and then gradually, to the floor on the pile of ripped up memories. I lay there, sobbing, until I couldn’t feel the pain anymore.
Heidi Nicole Bird has been writing for as long as she can remember and it is her favorite thing in the world. Heidi is a regular NaNoWriMo participant and is mostly a young adult fantasy writer, but also likes to write juvenile fiction and other genres. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Brigham Young University and she looks forward to exploring the genre of historical fiction. Heidi lives in Utah with her family and three dogs, and loves working from home as a full time writer.
Also by Heidi Nicole Bird, Through the Paper Wall
Links to Ontario: