In Between the Lines of Healing.

The first time Avery asked about her mother, she was five. She didn't remember much. Just bits and pieces. But she did recall her and her dad were outside, sitting on their favorite bench – An old, worn-out piece of furniture they liked to lounge on to pass time. All starry-eyed, she asked her dad and got the standard, out-of-the-textbook answer. “She's in a better place hon,” he said, carrying her into his lap. She remembered looking into his eyes. “A better place?” She was confused. “What could be better than being with us?” He laughed and looked into the distance. “You're just going to ask her if you ever meet her.” Six years later, Avery finally understood what being in a better place meant. And to be honest, it didn't bother her as much as she expected. It had always been her dad who had been there for her. Plus, she had never met her mom before and didn't mind cutting her out of the picture. Personally, it was okay with just her and papa anyways. So, it could be imagined the shock fourteen-year-old Avery got, walking in on a phone call her dad was having. “You can't just –!” He was pacing up and down, a habit of his when he was nervous. “Thirteen years Kate! You didn't even call!” Avery moved her feet and began to climb the stairs. She knew when somebody needed their privacy. “But she's our daughter. Your child.” Avery stopped in her tracks. “Couldn't –” He paused. “Couldn't you come to see her at least once?” Silence. Then a muffled voice. And a sigh. Avery couldn't recall what happened exactly. All she remembered was the crushing feeling she had when she realized that her mum was actually alive and probably didn't want her. The shock went just as fast as it came. She made no indication that she knew, and her dad didn't deem it fit to tell her. So, life went on, until it didn't. At least for her dad. Avery was proud to say she didn't cry. Not when she found her dad on the floor. Not when he was rushed to the hospital by the neighbors. Not when she came to visit him and saw him all pale and haggard. Not when she heard the news. Not even after the funeral. She told herself over and over again that she would not cry, and she didn't. People she had never met. People she knew. Everyone told her it was going to be okay, that they understood. But Avery knew that they didn't. After the funeral, Avery had to stay with her dad's sister, Aunt Veronica. In order for that to work out, she had to move. New house, new school, new friends. It was all very strange for her. Everything seemed to be happening too fast for her to catch up. Nobody thought to ask her how she felt about it all, until she met Mrs. Ada. Mrs. Ada, the temporary stand-in for Mr. Jacobs, the English teacher, was petite, brunette-haired lady who was said to be too nice for her own good. After class one day, Mrs. Ada called her back. “Avery?” Mrs. Ada called. “Could I see you for a moment?” Avery took a seat, wondering what this was about. Sure, she wasn't a star student. But she definitely wasn't failing. And even if she was, Avery didn't think Mrs. Ada had it in her to chew her out. Mrs. Ada pushed her glasses up her nose, a comforting smile on her face. “I've noticed you've got a lot on your mind lately, and I was wondering if you wanted to talk about it.” She paused, scanning Avery's face. “I know being a new student and all that can be a little too much –“ She continued, “ – but I just wanted to say that I'm here if you ever got anything troubling you, okay?” Avery muttered something along the lines of a thanks and began to stand up. “Hold on.” Mrs. Ada interrupted. She bent to bring out something from her bag. It was a black notebook with some words on the front. “I heard about your dad.” She placed the black book in her hands. The front cover read: 'There's no greater agony than keeping an untold story inside of you' – Maya Angelou. Mrs. Ada winked at her, “It's my favorite quote. For times you don't feel like talking, it might surprise you how well writing helps.” Avery rushed out of the classroom, a stuffy feeling in her chest. When she got home, she brought out the book and stared. After a minute of silence, she opened to the first page and began to write. About her dad, the mom she never met, how she felt, her new school. About everything. And for the first time, Avery let the tears fall.

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