Mum’s eyes widen with confusion. She glances at my dad, then back at me. “What are you talking about, Erin? Going where?”
“I’ve booked a trip.”
My heart pounds as I try to swallow, my throat suddenly feeling like it’s closing over. I booked and paid for the whole thing online, non-refundable and with no insurance, because I knew they’d try to talk me out of it. Ten grand down the drain if I don’t go through with this.
“I’m going away. Overseas. For two months. I placed an ad on Craigslist for someone to come with me because I don’t want to take Calli. Or either of you. Or any of my friends.” I cringe. Oh God. The words are spilling out now, just like they tend to do when I get really nervous. Mum’s eyes grow wider—if that’s even possible—and I wait for the explosion I know is coming.
“Tell me you’re joking. Please, Erin.”
My gaze drops, because I don’t know what else to say. They’re never going to understand why I need to do this, so I’m at a loss as to what I say next.
“Erin? Is this one of the side effects of the cancer?”
I laugh, because I can understand why she might think that.
I’ve always been the daughter they never had to worry about, so me taking off overseas with a complete stranger is totally out of the ordinary. Even as a kid I was never in trouble—unless Calli dragged me into it, which happened more often than not.
“No, it’s nothing to do with the cancer.” Well, that’s not totally true. Would I be doing this if I wasn’t sick? Probably not.
“You can’t do this alone. What if something happens to you?”
“Like cancer?” I joke.
Her angry expression wipes the smile off my face pretty quick.
“Mum, I’m sick of things not happening to me because I’m trying too hard to avoid everything. And I’m not going alone.”
“You might as well be going alone,” Mum retorts, her face red. “I’d probably feel better about it if you were. Craigslist, for heaven’s sake?”
I knew I should have left that part out.
“Please don’t fight me on this,” I beg her. I glance at my Dad for help, but he looks as disappointed as my mother does. Am I really being that selfish? I knew this would be hard for them to accept, but surely they’ll come around to the idea. At least until they figure out the other reason behind all this, and by then it will be too late.
“You’re cutting us out of your life,” Mum says, tears springing to her eyes. “How are we supposed to be okay with this?”
“Mum, I’m not—”
“But you are,” she cuts in. “We were supposed to have time to get used to this, but if you leave now…” She shakes her head. “What happens if you don’t come home?”
“You’re going to Ireland next year,” I point out. “What happens if you don’t come home?”
“I don’t have an inoperable brain tumour,” my mother scoffs. “It’s hardly the same and you know it.” She sighs, and kneels down in front of me. “I get why you want to do this, Erin. I really do. And I’m so proud of how you’ve handled this whole…mess. But going off and leaving your family when you need them most isn’t the way to do this.”
“What is the way, Mum?” I ask. I take her hand, her skin soft and warm against my own dry, cold fingers. “I take you guys? So you can make sure I’m eating? And taking my meds? Let you push me around in a wheelchair, and wipe the drool from my mouth?”
“We can take you to see whatever it is you want to see—”
“What I want from this, you can’t give me, Mum,” I respond, my voice soft. “You don’t get it, and that’s okay, because up until now I haven’t really either.”
“Then explain it to me,” she demands. “Tell me why this is so important to you and why we can’t be there for you. I’m your mother.” She stops, her voice breaking. “I don’t understand why you’re pushing me away.”
“This trip isn’t about sightseeing.” How do I put into words why I need this? “I don’t want to just see. I want to live. I want to feel. Because up until now, all I’ve done is what I think is going to help me later in life. And what use is that now?”
“And you can’t do that with us around?” Mum presses. If anything, I’m impressed with her persistence.
“Honestly? No. I can’t.” I’m amazed at how firm I’m being. Standing up, I pull Mum to her feet and wrap my arms around her. “I love you guys more than anything, but you can’t help me through this. I can only help myself.”
“Please don’t say anything, Mum. Just go home and process everything and we can talk about it tomorrow. I’m tired and I have to get up early for work.” She opens her mouth but I hold up my hand before she can speak. “Don’t even start on that. Go. I love you. See you tomorrow.”
I all but push them out the door, resting against the back of it.
There. It’s done. No turning back now.
All expenses paid.
Just you and me.
About you: You’re fun loving, adventurous and you have a wicked sense of humor. You’re spontaneous, open minded and creative. You live for today because you never know what tomorrow holds.
I'm Erin and this isn't your usual Craigslist Ad. I’m twenty-four, and full disclosure, I’m dying. But I don’t want your pity. What I want is your help. I’m not looking for a nanny, or for someone to hold my hand. I want a friend, a confidante, a partner in crime.
I want you.
When she's not writing, she can usually be found looking for something to read.
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