I awoke the following morning to smells of breakfast cooking drifting into my room. The sun was barely over the horizon casting my bedroom in an orangish glow. I smiled slightly before I slipped from the bed and went to the window. The small stage that had been setup for the party was in the process of being taken back down by a small group of workers, while another group of people was busy taking down all of the tables and chairs. The yard was covered in dew that made the grass shimmer slightly in the morning light. I sighed happily before I turned back to see that Kyan was still sprawled out on the bed sleeping soundly. He was snoring quietly, so I decided to leave him be and went to the bathroom to relieve myself.
My mind was still trying to process the fact that I was home as I came out of the bathroom and grabbed a pair of shorts and a t-shirt with a silly smile on my face. I grabbed the phone that Geoff had given me from my nightstand before I finally made my way downstairs. My stomach growled as I entered the kitchen to find my mother and father talking quietly with each other. Both of my parents smiled at me as I joined them at the kitchen counter and sat on one of the stools.
“Good morning, baby boy.” My mother greeted me pleasantly as she took a moment from her cooking to give me a tight hug.
“Morning, mom.” I said softly.
“Would you like some juice, baby boy?”
My dad reached over and pulled me into his side as he kissed the top of my head.
“Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “Kyan snores, though.”
Both of my parents started laughing at my comment.
“Maybe, he’ll finally believe us when we tell him now that we have another witness.” My father suggested to my mother as he sipped on his coffee.
My mom sat a glass of orange juice in front of me and rolled her eyes. “I doubt it, David. That boy is as stubborn as you are.”
I giggled quietly at the comment, but my father poked me in the side anyways.
“You’re not supposed to take your mother’s side in these discussions, Zyan.” He said with a laugh.
“At least we know where his true loyalties lie,” my mother teased my father smugly.
“For now,” my father retorted with another chuckle.
My stomach growled again.
“Are you always hungry?” My father asked me with a grin.
I knew he was teasing me, but it didn’t stop me from blushing.
“Oh, stop teasing the poor boy, David.” My mother chided him. “You’re going to give him a complex.” Then, she turned her attention to me and smiled. “Does pancakes, sausage, and eggs work for you, Zyan?”
“Yes, ma’am.” I said with my own smile. “Pancakes are my favorite.”
“Just wait until you try her French toast, buddy.” My father said. “You’ll never want pancakes again.”
I giggled lightly at his comment. My father smiled and ruffled my hair before he turned back to his newspaper.
“There’s a yard sale down the road from us, Lauren.” He said without glancing up from the paper. “Would you like to head down there and see if there are any collectables you want to add to your collection?”
“As long as we’re back with plenty of time to get ready for the concert, tonight.”
I frowned at the sudden reminder of the concert that I was going to have to go to later in the day. I fidgeted for a moment in my seat before I pulled out my phone and sent a text message to Chad.
Me: Hey. . .
Chad: Zyan! What’s up, man?
Me: Are you going to be at the concert, tonight?
Chad: Absolutely! You’re not backing out are you.
Me: No. My mom and dad wouldn’t let me even if I tried. LOL. I think my mom is too excited for this.
Chad: Give her a chance, babe. She just wants to be in your life. Your mom and dad have a lot of time to make up for.
Me: I know. I’m just not used to someone paying this much attention to me.
Chad: Give it time. I’m certain that you will love all of the attention after a few weeks. Don’t be late tonight!
Me: I won’t. My mom will make sure of it.
I put my phone down as my mom brought me a small plate of food. She set a bottle of syrup next to my plate and handed me a fork.
“Will this do?” She asked me pleasantly.
“Could I have a banana, too, please?” I asked nervously.
“Of course, Zyan.” She replied happily before she turned and pulled one of the bananas off of the bunch sitting on the counter and handed it to me. “Here you go, love.”
“Thank you, mom.” I said sheepishly.
“It’s my pleasure, baby boy.” My mother said before she returned to the task of making breakfast for all of us.
I quickly set to work devouring my food. I had just finished when Kyan and Sarah finally wandered into the kitchen. Kyan took the seat to my right, while Sarah went over and poured herself a cup of coffee before she sat down on the other side of our dad. My mother greeted them both with a smile as she made up plates for them.
“Why didn’t you wake me up?” Kyan asked me between bites of pancake.
“You were snoring, and I figured it was a better use of your time,” I said with a giggle.
“You turd!” Kyan said with a roll of his eyes.
“We told you that you snore,” my father said with a laugh. “Now, we have even more proof.”
“That’s not fair,” Kyan whined. “Zyan is supposed to be on my side!”
Sarah snorted as my mother and father laughed.
“Don’t worry, Kyan.” My father teased my older brother. “Zyan appears to be taking your mother’s side, today.”
“Traitor,” Kyan mumbled as he bumped his shoulder into mine.
I frowned for a moment until I realized that he was teasing me. Then, my phone chimed, and I picked it up to see I had another message from Chad.
Chad: Mrs. G wanted me to double check that you’re going to be there, tonight. I tried telling her you would, but she is apparently very nervous that you’re not going to show.
I frowned at Chad’s message before I replied.
Me: I have no choice but to be there. I’ll even show up early if she wants.
Chad: Only show up about thirty-minutes early. That gives us enough time for our warmup session.
“Who is it?” My brother asked from beside me.
“My friend Chad,” I said with a grin. “He’s making sure that I’m still going to be there, tonight. Mrs. Grant is worried I’m going to bale on them.”
“She’ll understand that’s not the case once she meets mom,” Kyan said just loud enough for me to hear.
I giggled quietly until our parents both looked at us.
“What are the two of you up to?” My mother asked suspiciously.
“Just planning our mad escape into the wilderness,” Kyan replied without hesitation.
“After the concert,” my mother said with a wry grin.
I tried to fake a pout, but my mother wasn’t having any of it. She ruffled my hair and kissed my cheek before she took my empty plate and put it in the dishwasher.
“You’ll get used to it, Zyan.” Sarah said encouragingly.
“Thanks,” I said sardonically. My mother and father chuckled to themselves while I waited for everyone else to finish eating.
“Do you want to go to the yard sale with me, Zyan?” My mother asked.
“Sure,” I said softly.
“Make sure he’s back in time for me to do his hair, mom.” Sarah said with a hint of warning in her voice. “We know how you get when you start shopping.”
“I haven’t the slightest idea of what you’re talking about,” my mother said with mock innocence. I giggled at the expression on her face before she smiled. “I promise we won’t be gone forever. We might even be home by noon.”
“Just don’t let her take you to the mall, or you’ll never make it to your concert.” Kyan warned me with a laugh.
“There’s an idea,” I said with a grin.
“You’re not getting out of it that easy, Zyan.” My mother said with her own smile.
My dad reached over and ruffled my hair again. “Nice try, though.”
I blushed and looked down at the countertop. There was no way they were going to let me get out of the concert.
“Go get your shoes on, Zyan.” My mother said making me look up at her. “It’s time for you and I to spend your father’s hard earned money.”
I smiled and went to find my shoes near the backdoor where I had left them the night before. My mother grabbed her purse and followed along behind me.
“Just head through the door on your left, Zyan.” My mother said as she touched my shoulder. “That will lead us to the garage.”
I nodded and went through the garage door and stopped with a look of disbelief on my face. There were three different cars in the garage. Two of them were Mercedes SUVs and the third was a 2019 Lexus Ls. I smiled at the different vehicles before my mother motioned towards the car.
“This one is mine,” she said with a smile. “The white SUV is your sister’s car, and the black one is your dad’s.”
“Nice,” I said in awe before I followed my mother over to the black Lexus. I climbed in the passenger seat and had my seatbelt latched before my mother was fully in the car.
She hit the button on the garage door opener before she started the car by pushing a button on the dashboard.
“We really won’t be gone for very long,” my mom said as she backed the car out of the garage. “It’s not even nine yet, so we have plenty of time to do what we want.”
“Is this going to be our regular thing on Saturday mornings?” I asked nervously.
“If you want it to be,” my mom replied with a smile.
I smiled back at my mom.
“I’m just happy to be home,” I said quietly. “I don’t care what we do.”
My mother gasped and reached over to hug me tightly.
“I’m just as happy that you’re back home, baby boy.” My mother cooed softly. “You have no idea, Zyan.”
My mother pulled away and wiped her eyes on her sleeve before she put the car in drive and headed down the long driveway towards the guard shack. I smiled happily as the guard on duty waved us through the open gate. My mother waved back at the dark-haired man before she pulled out onto the road. I switched on the radio to whatever my mom had been listening to and relaxed in the seat as my mom took us shopping for the morning. At least, I wasn’t worrying about the concert coming up that evening. My phone chimed in my pocket, but I ignored it and focused on spending time with my mother. I’d been waiting ten years for a moment like this. I wasn’t going to waste a single second if I could manage it. I’d only known them for a few days, and already I couldn’t imagine my life without my family. It even made me wonder how I had survived without them. . . Then, a gloomy thought crossed my mind.
I didn’t survive without them.
The monster had succeeded in stealing my life from me. A moment that I would never be able to forget. I took a deep breath to relax myself before I had a panic attack. That wasn’t how I wanted the morning with my mother to go. I wanted her to know that I wasn’t completely broken. I feared that if I was too messed up, my parents would send me away and that was something I wouldn’t ever be able to handle again. It would push me off the deep end if they didn’t love me or want me. It would destroy me emotionally. . .
“How was your first night home, Zyan?” My mother asked with a nervous smile as she drove down the road at a slow speed.
“It was different,” I said nervously. “I had a strange dream.”
“About what?” She asked me curiously.
I hesitated for a moment before I finally decided to answer her.
“It was weird,” I said quietly. “There was an old man there.” I saw my mother appear shocked for a moment before she was able to school her expression. “He said he was going to help me heal before he touched the sides of my head.”
“Oh?” I could hear the hint of worry in her voice. “That’s different.”
“He called me his grandson, mom.”
She froze for a brief moment before she smiled at me again.
“You were probably just really excited to be back home, baby boy.” My mother said warmly. “Being in a strange house probably made your dreams seem different than usual.”
“Maybe,” I said, only half-agreeing with her.
She smiled at me as she reached over and patted my leg.
“You’ll get used to being around us, soon enough.”
“I hope so,” I said with a giggle.
My mother and I bounced between three different garage sales where we wound up spending nearly five-hundred-dollars. I balked at the cost of the different items, but my mother smiled with each little thing that we noticed along the way. She would tell me different stories about Kyan and Sarah as we browsed the different items people had for sale. My mother even told me how my siblings refused to go with her during her Saturday morning excursions anymore. I frowned at that before I promised my mother that I would never miss another Saturday with her. I heard her slight gasp of surprise before she pulled me tightly into her arms and held me against her chest. The slight tremble of her body was the only sign that I had upset her as my mother held me.
“I love you, baby boy.” She said in a near whisper.
“I love you too, mommy.” I whispered back.
She held me for a little bit longer before she finally pulled away from me.
“We should probably get you home so your sister can help you get ready for your concert.”
I frowned at the mention of the concert that evening. I bit the corner of my lip as I thought about the one secret that I was keeping from my family, a secret that I made Natalie and Greg swear to keep silent as well.
“What’s wrong?” My mother asked with a worried look.
“I’m just nervous,” I said as I forced myself to smile. “I’ll be okay, though.”
My mother smiled as she pulled me in for another hug.
“Let’s go, baby boy.” My mother said softly. “We’ve got things to do, and I’m pretty certain that your father is going to have a few words with me over how much I spent.”
I couldn’t help but giggle lightly as she led me back to the car. We crammed the last of our purchases into the trunk before my mother had us headed back towards the house. I smiled again as she proceeded to start telling me more stories about the family I had spent the past decade being separated from. It made me happy to hear the different accomplishments of my cousins and siblings. Then, I began to think about what might be special about me. The only thing I could even think about was how I could passably play the piano and how I could sing. That didn’t make me very special. I needed to find a connection to my family. A way for me to show that I was truly one of them.