The beginning of Adelaide’s story.
I remember the moment my father died very clearly. It is my most prominent memory, the one that has had the greatest influence on my existence, and no one else believes that it really happened. I watched in frozen awe as the life and light left my father’s olive and earthy eyes, and what I saw has only been surmised as the over-active imagination of a five year old. Sixteen years later, I’ve learned to keep my theories to myself, but not a day goes by that I don’t think about the events that unfolded in that department store.
Daddy picked me up from Winifred Elementary an hour before school usually let out. I was ecstatic; not only did I get to leave school early, but Daddy had never picked me up before. Today was special, though. It was Mommy’s birthday and we needed to get her a gift before the big party at Auntie Rhian’s house that night. He headed straight to the mall after strapping me in my seat, and even with his slow and careful driving, it only took us around five minutes in the small town.
We walked through the mall together, my small hand wrapped tightly in his calloused one, leisurely taking our time to walk through every store. Mommy was a special person, and we needed to find the right thing for her. I remember the search feeling so special because I had all of his attention. He looked at toys with me and talked about what I wanted from Santa for Christmas. He bought me one of those delicious drinks from the shake place with the orange on the sign. It was an amazing day, and we searched a lot of stores before we found the gift.
It was a freshwater pearl necklace, with matching bracelet and earrings, from an heirloom jewelry store. It caught my eye as we walked by because it was the most beautiful shade of pink I had ever seen, and from the right angle, the color seemed to change to a pale lavender. The clasps were handmade and silver, and each pearl on the set had a unique and natural shape. The woman at the counter told Daddy that it was old, but had the durability and beauty that only handmade jewelry could possess.
The lady in the fancy dress placed the set in an equally beautiful white box, closing it with that ominous snap, and I never saw the jewelry again.
The little details from that day have cemented themselves in my mind, and I do not think that even dementia could pry them out. Maybe it was because it was the most significant day of my life, but nothing will let me forget what my small and observant eyes caught.
He had been in the mall that day, the whole time that we were. I remember him, with his golden eyes and caramel complexion that did not seem to fit together. It wasn’t like he gave me the creeps; I just remember that he had been along on our day like some quiet passenger. As we walked through the shoe store, I noticed him posing along the wall curiously studying a very tall high heel. While I shared my wish list, he glided among the children playing and watched them with delighted eyes. And as I passed the fruit smoothie to my Daddy so he could try, the man with the golden eyes sat at the shoe buffer seat pretending to find interest with a newspaper. But he was following us through the stores, this much I knew. We even locked eyes once, after the pearls were safe in the cloth bag from the heirloom store, and I smiled at him while he viewed me with a sad expression. I didn’t want him to be sad; it was supposed to be a great day. Why didn’t he understand this?
The man with the golden eyes had seemed to disappear as we walked through the department store on our way out of the mall. We stopped only ten feet from the door, and Daddy bent down to tie my shoe. And as he was there, kneeling in front of me as I leaned on him for balance, the man with the golden eyes walked up to my Daddy. He reached a long finger to Daddy’s temple, and the warmth drained from a face that was so dear to me.
I don’t remember feeling sad, or scared for that matter, of the golden-eyed man. He caught Daddy as the life escaped and gently set him on the rough carpet of the department store floor. As he turned to me, his fingers brushed a loose curl behind my ear, and he whispered something that I did not understand. He watched me until someone rushed to Daddy, and my world proceeded to turn upside down.
I roughly hit the push bar on the heavy metal door and burst into the late night summer air. The sounds of the city assaulted me as I lifted my dark hair from my shoulders to dry the glisten that I gained from dancing. The club had been fun, even though it would cost me, and I loved getting to spend time with my girls. They were the only ones that I could be me with, something that was so hard for me to find.
I stumbled along the sidewalk, dizzily making my way to the busy street where taxis waited for drunk clubbers. My fingers trailed the wall as I walked, most likely chipping the manicure I was forced to keep, and I smiled at the small rebellious act. To hell with the manicure. I walked carefully; five inch heels were a mistake after drinking with Tasia. The girl was Russian, she could outdrink an entire Irish family. She’d love that joke, I should text it to her. I pulled my hand from the brick, eagerly reaching into my clutch for my cell. I faintly wondered if it was prejudice, but my mom was Irish, so I figured it would be okay.
Pausing on the sidewalk with angled legs to steady myself, I stared at the screen of my phone, quickly typing the message. She was still in the club, probably finding her victim for the night, so it wasn’t likely that she would write me back immediately. At least, so I thought.
T: Addie, thats ttly racist! i still ❤ it, tho!
A: its not racist because im 1/2 irish. its all good. 😉
T: i don’t think thats how it wrx. lol. wth r u? u pulled a Houdini on us!
A: hding 2 Jakes, don’t want 2 get in worse trbl. 😦
I sighed out loud while I waited for her next text, I already knew that I would catch shit for mentioning Jake. I wasn’t wrong.
T: WTF!? Adelaide, u nd 2 get away 4rm him! we tlkd about this!
A: i know, ill do it soon, i promise…
T: X ur <3?
I really didn’t know if I was lying or not. Part of me wanted to follow my friend’s advice and shut down things with Jake. The other part of me recognized that I was a girl with daddy issues, which meant that I wasn’t likely to find someone who would put up with my level of crazy the way that Jake does. He may berate me sometimes about the things I obsess over, the things that I seem to see that no one else does, but he still accepts them.
T: i don’t blve u, but whatevs. txt me when u get there & txt in the a.m. so i know all is good. ok?
A: will do. love u babe.
T: u2. nite.
Standing in the fresh air for so long had helped me gain my senses; my legs didn’t feel as wobbly as before. Fixing the angle of my legs and briefly looking up to the corner, I continued my course to the taxi area. I wanted to get to Jake’s condo and show him just how great this dress accentuated my body. He couldn’t say that I looked as flat as a board in this tight-fitting ruby lace dress. I have curves, and this little number shows them all. He would love it. Smiling down at my phone as I started a text to him, I stepped off the curb without realizing exactly where I was. The sharp pain that felt like my elbow was being blown off by a shotgun was only overruled by the blaring horn of the truck that nearly made my body a sandwich with the pavement. At a complete loss with my senses, the only thing I was aware of was the steel bars that now caged around me. With eyes closed, I tried to steady my heart, subdue my on-coming panic attack, and basically pull my shit together so I could thank whoever just played Superman.
“Are you okay? You must watch where you are walking, koreetsi mou.” The words were whispered, so quietly that I don’t think anyone who wasn’t us could hear them. A spicy scent washed over me, laying over my skin like thin satin, and I felt lightheaded from something that wasn’t the near-miss. The deep voice wasn’t saying anything else, so I figured that he was waiting for me to stabilize. Something felt familiar, and those words sounded like a language that I hadn’t heard in years.
The possibility of the improbable hit me like a freight train, snapping me out of my memories and shock. Opening my eyes, I was met by golden honey ones. They were as perfect and deep as I remembered, full of hidden emotion, but nothing else about the man matched my memories. I was being held by a sandy blonde man who had to have been in his late twenties. Impossible.