"No, I haven't made up with them, Grace. You know this." I shifted the landline from one shoulder to the other, rolling my eyes as I answered her question. She'd been asking me for months now if I had patched things up with my family. My answer was always the same. 'No'. Of course, I hadn't fixed things with them, it had been six years since I'd even spoke to any of them. Initially, I had really wanted to. I loved them, even if they hated me. I thought I couldn't live without them. They used to be the ones that I leaned on.

"Why not?" She asked, slightly frustrated. "It'd be so easy. You know that I did the same thing last month. I wouldn't pester you if I didn't think that it was the best thing for you. You have no idea how great it feels to have your mom and dad back."

I sat in my painting room, in the chair I used for thinking. "Our families are nothing alike. Yours have been wanting to forgive you, and you didn't leave them alone for so long. Six years of radio silence is too much to just drop in with a 'Hey mom, hey pop! How's it going, hope you don't still hate me after choosing to go to art school, and letting the family business flop!'" Now, after those six long years, I had grown away from them. I had my own life here, hundreds of miles away. I was happy. Not saying I didn't miss them. I did, terribly. Especially at times like this. I just realized now, that I didn't need them. My friends were enough. Even though I missed my parents, they hated me too much to ever fix things.

"You didn't destroy the business. It was their own fault for not letting anyone outside the family own it. Besides, they're your parents, they'll miss you. There's no way they don't want you back. Look at my family."

"Grace, listen. My family has been wanting to get rid of me for years. They didn't support anything that I did, expected me to take over a floral shop, and never cared about me enough to listen. They basically disowned me when I chose art school over business."

I heard a sigh on the other end of the line. "Ana, look. They are your family. You've got to try. Give them a call or something. Your parents will forgive you, and your extended family will be so happy to hear from you."

"My answer is no. Do I want things patched between us? Yes. Do I think that it's ever going to happen? No. You didn't hear them yell at me that night." I bit my lip, thinking back to when this whole fiasco started. When I told my parents I wasn't going to own and run the store. The anger and disappointment in the faces made me blink back tears and steady my voice. "I'm pretty sure they hate me. Why do you care so much anyway?"

"I'm not supposed to tell you this, but your parents have been emailing me. They keep asking about how you are. If you're okay, what your grades are like. They miss you. They want you back, but don't know how to make the first step."

"What?" My family had been emailing my friend to siphon information? Half of my heart was soaring with happiness, while the other half was a compendium of emotions, ranging from devastated that I had been so angry at them, assuming they were mad at me, so angry that they wouldn't just call and apologize to me. It was so good to hear that they cared, but was it enough to call them? To start bridging the gap? I sighed. Maybe.

"Ana? You still there?"

"Huh?" I blurted, "I mean, yeah. I gotta go."

"Please, please consider it. You have to make up with your family before it's too late."

"Bye, Grace." I hung up the phone and set it facedown on the round metal table in front of me. I leaned back my chair and stared at a half-finished painting. I had the background finished, but the foreground was giving me trouble. The painting depicted a winter's night sky, a few snow-covered pines stood out against a dark blue-skied backdrop. In between the trees, houses covered in Christmas decorations were visible. So far the front center of the picture was a girl, sitting on a bench in amidst the snow, her back to the art's audience. She looked hunched over like she was unhappy. I felt like it was incomplete like more people were needed to make it look right--feel right. I scoffed looking at it now. According to Grace, it was just like me. I "needed" my family back. I crossed my arms.

I'm fine. I didn't need anyone. I shifted in my chair, drumming my fingers on the table. I didn't need any more family. My friends were good enough. Flashes of my childhood pop randomly into my head. Of my mom, tucking me in for the night. My dad, at a hockey game, screaming madly when I shot the puck straight into the net. A Christmas memory of all of us hugging and smiling as we unwrapped presents.

I jumped out of my chair, walking quickly to my laptop. I opened it and went straight to an airline that was stationed a few miles down the road. Without thinking, I booked a flight for that night, in an hour. When I finished, I sat on a barstool at my kitchen's island. I put a hand over my mouth, shocked. Had I seriously just done that? I stared at the screen, which told me apparently, I had.

Read Part 2 here: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/12-30-short-story...