Krystina sat at the edge of the couch, her mind racing as she struggled to take it all in. She peered uncertainly at her mother, who just sat beside her, staring blankly ahead and saying nothing.
I was right all along… The girl thought to herself. Krystina had figured most of it out years ago, of course. But the conversation with her mother had just confirmed everything. It was all so overwhelming to think about – and she couldn’t even begin to imagine how her mother must be feeling.
They sat in silence for several more long moments before Krystina finally found the courage to speak.
“I guess… it all kinda makes sense now, huh?” She said softly.
“Krysti,” her mother whispered, “none of this makes sense. This… this is impossible.” Melanie turned her head, meeting her daughter’s gaze at last. “Please tell me this is some elaborate practical joke you and your father came up with.”
Krystina shook her head. “Mom, it’s true.” She replied seriously. “I know it sounds crazy…”
“Because it is.”
It was hard to argue with that – it was crazy. But it was also the truth.
“I know, mom.” She said gently. “And I’m sorry I could never tell you before…”
“How long have you known, exactly?” Her mother asked, a hint of anger in her tone.
Krystina bit her lip guiltily. “I never knew for sure until today.” She said honestly. “But… I figured most of it out a long time ago…”
“Um… About ten years?”
Melanie sighed in exasperation, rubbing her temples for a moment. “I can’t believe you kept this from me… And from your father!”
“And I can’t believe he kept it from me…” Her mother added, shaking her head.
“Can you blame him?” Krystina asked, her tone defensive. “I’m sure dad kept it a secret for the same reason I did… Because it sounds insane!”
“That’s no excuse.” Melanie insisted. “This is a big deal, Krystina.” She said seriously. “Especially you keeping this from your father…” Her mother sighed. “We know now that she didn’t really die, but your father obviously thinks that something awful happened to her… You have no idea how long this has been eating away at him.”
Krystina suddenly felt a wave of guilt beginning to rise up inside of her. Maybe I really should have told him… Had she made the wrong choice all those years ago? It had certainly felt right at the time.
The young woman shrugged her shoulders. “They both just seem really upset about whatever happened between them…” She explained softly. “I didn’t want to make things worse.”
“Well, dragging this out any longer won’t help…” Her mother replied. “Your father needs a chance to apologize for… For whatever it is he did. It’s been haunting him for years.”
“But if they see each other… Do you think maybe they’ll try to be friends again?”
“I don’t know.” Mel said softly. “I guess it depends.”
Krystina hesitated. “And… what about bringing her back? I mean, remember how excited you said he was about that weird flower? It sounds like it’s something dad still cares about a lot… And I know Evelyn does too.” She paused. “Do you think… he’ll start trying again?”
Melanie did not respond for a few moments. “He might…” Her mother said finally. “I… I can’t say for sure how I’d feel about it if he does…” A soft sigh escaped her lips. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, I guess… But first thing’s first.”
The girl looked at her mother uncertainly. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Melanie took a deep breath. “It means you have to talk to your father.” She replied simply. “You can’t keep this from him anymore, honey… It’s not right.”
Krystina’s eyes widened. “A-are you serious? I mean… Do you really think it’s a good idea?”
“I’m not sure.” She confessed. “But it doesn’t matter what I think.” There was something strange in her tone – resignation? “What matters is what’s right…”
“B-but how are we even gonna tell him?”
Melanie shook her head. “We’re not telling him anything… You are.”
Krystina felt her stomach drop. The prospect of revealing the truth to her father was absolutely terrifying. “But…” She began weakly.
“Krysti, listen.” Melanie interjected. “I can’t force you to do anything… Believe me, I learned that a long time ago.” For the first time, she smiled slightly. “But this is the right thing. I’m sure you know that, honey…” The woman paused. “And your father can’t find out that I know anything, okay? Not yet, anyway.”
“Why? I thought you were pissed!” Krystina replied, surprised. “Don’t you want to talk to him about it?”
“Of course I do… and I am pretty pissed, believe me.” Her mother admitted. “But… Your father really needs this. And…” She sighed. “I think he needs it without worrying about what I think, you know? I’ve still got a pretty big bone to pick with him, trust me… But I think it has to wait a little longer.”
Krystina was thoughtful for a few moments. Her mother was right, of course. This couldn’t go on any longer… But confessing the truth to her father seemed so much easier said than done. No matter what the outcome, things were about to change a lot for Krystina and her family. All she could do was hope it would be for the better…
Krystina felt like she was going to be sick – and it certainly wasn’t because of the baby. After her mother had returned home, she had spent the rest of the day mulling over the conversation they’d had, and trying desperately to figure out what she would say when the time finally came to face her father.
Out of habit, she’d almost considered sneaking out of bed that night to go talk to Evelyn – after all, Ev had always been there for her through the most difficult times in her life, and always gave the best advice… But of course, this was one time when she was the last person Krystina could talk to…
She took a few slow, deep breaths and tried to calm herself as she lingered on the front porch, trying to will herself to open the door. Mom’s right… you’ve gotta do it… Krystina told herself. You already chickened out once… Don’t make the same mistake again.
With one last deep breath, she opened the door.
“Dad?” She called out as she stepped into the entryway.
The house seemed empty. Her mother was working today, of course. But where could her father be?
Krystina was almost embarrassed by how long it took her to figure it out.
She crossed to the back door, heading across the softly creaking wooden floor of the porch toward her father’s garden.
She found him standing over the bizarre plant at the back of the garden, staring down at the ugly, skull-shaped flowers on the bush in front of him. He looked so sad… defeated, almost.
He worked for who knows how long to grow that funny little plant… And he thinks it was all for nothing. She realized.
Krystina couldn’t explain it – there was just something about seeing him standing there, looking so lost and upset…That was when she truly understood that her mother was right – Her father deserved to know the truth. He needed to know.
And he needed to see Evelyn again.
“Hey, babygirl!” Lucas’ face lit up at his daughter’s approach, but a hint of sorrow still lingered in his bright green eyes. “Nice of you to drop in.” He said with a laugh. “What’s up?”
Krystina approached him nervously. It’s now or never… Don’t mess this up.
“Dad?” She watched his smile falter as he saw the look on her face. “We need to talk.”