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The simple dates we used to enjoy were no longer good enough for him, and since we hardly ever saw each other, the burning passion we once shared was now a flickering flame. Our conversations were now short and redundant—downgraded to “How are you?” “How was your day” and “See you soon.” We were like two lovers locked into a complacent marriage—hanging on for the sake of holding on, constantly trying to get on the same page. Problem was, we were in two completely different books.

Sighing, I leaned my head back against the headrest. Before I could completely doze off, I felt my phone buzzing against my fingertips. A phone call from my mother.

I debated whether I should answer it since her previous twenty calls were sent straight to voicemail, but I gave in on the final ring and answered.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hello? Gillian?” She actually sounded concerned. “Where have you been? I’ve been calling you for weeks now.”

“Sorry. I’ve been really busy with work lately.”

“You can’t be that busy.” She clucked her teeth. “I’ve even called your office phone and it just rings all day. Did your work number change or something?”

“Not to my knowledge. I’ll have it checked out by the IT department this week, though.”

“Good,” she said. “Anyway, now that I’m sure that you’re alive, I wanted to give you some great news you’ve missed about everyone back here at home.” She cleared her throat. “Amy and Mia are soon to be inductees in the National Health Science Hall of Fame. They’re the youngest scientists to ever be invited. Do you have any idea how proud that makes me? How good it feels when my children actually achieve something significant?”

I bit my tongue, now wishing I’d sent this call straight to voicemail without a second thought.

“Claire is about to be published in next month’s Scientific Journal, and your big brother Brian won his hundredth case over the weekend. How amazing is that?”

“So amazing....”

“Isn’t it? Don’t you wish you’d accepted that scholarship to MIT like everyone else in the family? Who knows who you could’ve turned out to be?”

“You’re saying that like I turned out to be a drug dealer.”

“Are you a drug dealer?”

What the fuck... “What? No! Why would you ask me that?”

“I can never be too sure when it comes to you.” She sounded dead-ass serious. “The way you dodge phone calls and whisper talk from time to time gives me pause, honestly. Not only that, but the fact that you’re still living in New York and never call home to ask for money is quite—”


“Disappointing.” She paused. “Either you’re too proud to ask us for money because you know we were right about you moving to that city, or you’re engaging in some illegal activities to stay afloat until they inevitably catch up with you. When it happens, I’m sure you’ll have to call and ask us to post your bail.”

I shook my head, unsure of how to address that comment. I simply gave her my usual, “I’m sorry for not picking up as often as I should. I’m still working fifty plus hours a week since we don’t have any new interns” excuse since it was the truth. Well, it would’ve been the truth six years ago.

“Are you sure that’s all that’s happening?” she asked. “My motherly senses tell me that something is off.”

“I’m sure.” I rolled my eyes. If she actually possessed any ‘motherly senses,’ they would’ve told her that something was off a long, long time ago.

Changing the subject, she droned on and on about the “new and exciting” studies she was conducting, hardly ever stopping to catch her breath. I only halfway listened, looking outside my window as the city rain fell harder.

“Can I still expect you at home in a couple months for the big surprise?” she asked moments later.

“What big surprise?”

“Brian is proposing to his girlfriend, the mayor’s daughter. He’s planned this huge party and he told me that he texted you about it months ago.”

“Oh, right.” I remembered that, and I remembered telling him that I wasn’t coming. “I’ll try my best to be there. I’ll look up plane tickets tonight.”

“Great! Well, I don’t want to hold you up from doing—what exactly are you doing right now?”

“Copy-editing. Fact checking a few articles for the week.”

“Of course. That sounds like...That sounds interesting,”

“It is.”


“Well...” She cleared her throat. “Feel free to call any time you happen to remember that you have a family, or whenever you want to talk to me.”

“I always do. Goodbye, mother.”

“Goodbye, Gillian. Love you.”

“Love you, too.” I hung up before she could say anything else, before my heart could sustain another strain. Our phone conversations were always brief and awkward. They were harsh reminders that no matter how many years passed by, I would always be the black sheep of my family. Literally.

At first, me being born as the only brunette in a family full of sun-kissed blondes was treated as a running joke—a “Ha! The youngest daughter came into this world making sure she stood out!” type of thing. But over time, and as the youngest of five, nothing I ever did quite measured up to those who came before me.