The arcade is bustling and the sounds of the games surrounding me remind me just how alive and vibrant this place is. I sit at one of the tables towards the back with a now cold pepperoni pizza as I watch everyone move around me. A young girl is crying because she lost the game while her older brother chuckles and tries to console her. The boy to the left sits at the table drinking his soda while being engrossed in some random comic strip in his hand.
I look to the center of the store and I swear I can see her. Standing there in front of a young boy who looks just like me. I blink back the burn of tears, letting the memory play itself out before me as if it’s a movie of my life.
“Oh, my sweet little Izzy. I promise the machines are clean,” she assures me with a sweet smile. & year old me just smiles in excitement.
“Shouldn’t I be at school?” ten-year-old me asked her.
“Not today. Today we are celebrating yo
*Faith POV* The car idles as I sit and stare at the garage door. A stray tear slowly weaves its way down my cheek as I swipe at it furiously. I hate feeling like this. My therapist keeps telling me that healing is a process and even when I ‘heal’ I’ll still have moments when I’m not ok. And today I’m not ok. I feel emotionally drained, and all I want to do is sleep for days. I hate these scars that make me feel so ugly and imperfect. I have done so well compartmentalizing all my shit so I could help and be there for Cameron. And it felt amazing to do that. I regret nothing. But now I’m being bowled over by my own insecurities and internal pain and I feel so alone. I have people I can call who would be here in a moment for me. But I feel terrible for bothering them with my sob stories. Mia called me the moment I left Cameron his food to ask if we could reschedule our girls-only night. Of course, I said yes. She is in love and happy
“Do you guys think it's stupid of me to keep doing family therapy?” I ask Mia, Noah, and Cameron. They all look around at each other, waiting for someone to talk. “That’s up to you,” Mia says. “If you think you need to do it to get the closure you need, then I think it’s exactly what you need,” “You have to remember that you are un-hashing a lot of heavy stuff. You are reopening old wounds so that you can heal appropriately. It’s going to be tough in the beginning.” Noah adds. “You said Uncle John is back to actually showing up, right?” Mia asks, and I nod. I forgot how long it’s been since we’ve sat and had a serious conversation about it all since she spends most of her time with Noah and I’ve been busy with Cameron. “Did he give a good excuse?” Cameron asks. “He went back to visit his AA mentor and talk about everything. His mentor helped him find a therapist here and Dad claims he is going daily now.” I say, sh
*4 months later* * Faith POV* “Come on, Faith!” Cameron shouts “Run faster!” Mia screeches “Yeah, pretend Mia is coming for you!” Noah adds. I can hear an oof from him, which makes me smile, knowing Mia probably whacked him. I try to tune them out as I run by them on my last lap, hurtling towards the finish line. I need to hone in and focus. Currently, I’m sitting in second place with Mariah right on my heels. My heart is racing with the sheer adrenaline of the race and my legs are exhausted. They feel like jello but I push harder, faster than I have ever gone before. Little by little, I gain on the girl in front of me. Each step vibrates through my leg, pulling me closer to my last victory.
4 years later, *Cameron POV* I wipe my sweaty palms on my khaki pants. Faith’s name rings through the speaker system and a single graduation cap rises from the sea of green as she makes her way to the stage. Noah and I jump to our feet, screaming and cheering for her. It doesn’t matter to me that every man and woman graduating is wearing the same robes and hat. My Faith looks a thousand times better than all of them. Her auburn hair shimmers in the sunlight as she climbs the stairs, a stunning, excited smile on her perfect face. There is no doubt in my mind that this woman is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. She shakes the dean’s hand and pauses for a minute while photos are snapped. Noah and I take our seats and he leans over to me anxiously. “Ok, dude. I’m freaking out for you,” he whispers. I shoot him a scowl, and he just chuckles and shrugs. Noah and I quickly became good friends and then, as fate wou
Warm water trickles down my leg as another contraction squeezes my insides in an invisible vice grip. I groan loudly, clutching the counter and leaning over. I hear a clattering beside me and I look over, seeing Izzy holding his little stuffed puppy, his eyes wide in fear. He looks so much like Cameron right now. I smile through the pain as he tentatively steps closer. “Mommy, you peeped your pants on the floor?” he asks in his sweet 3-year-old voice and I chuckle. “No baby, mommy is going to have a baby. Do you know where mommy’s phone is?” I ask, hoping he might remember where I had it last since I never can recall these days where I put anything. “Um. Yep!” His tiny little legs work hard as he runs out of the bathroom and bangs around in the living room. “Iz. Izzy?” I call to him. “Yeah, mommy?” “Did you find it?” He walks into the bathroom, holding my phone, and I nearly fall over with rel