Hello coffee lovers and avid readers! Welcome to Olive’s Library at Olive’s Café, where you can read the stories of adventurous characters as they explore life.
Here’s a story of a young woman who comes home from college, but later opens up about her how she feels in the world, let alone her family. As I wrote this story, I was emotional, and I had to pause each time I wrote because I almost cried. It got more emotional towards the end, but I had to stop before it went longer than already is.
All the students in college were so excited to go home and be with their families, and not have to deal with school for the next three months. They’ll go back to family dinners, meeting their friends again, and just get more rest. How fortunate of them.
Me? Well, it’s all the same.
I have a family to go to, but… this year, I really hesitated to pack up my things. I even contemplated on living off campus so I can live on my own.
I mean, that’s how it always felt anyways.
But it’s too late to turn back now. I’m almost home after leaving the airport.
Home. Like I can call it that.
“So, you’re just visiting?” the Uber driver asks me as he drives me to my house.
Not really into small talk, I politely answer, “Just going home, sir.”
“Okay,” he says, then looks forward, not asking anymore questions.
I really do have to work on having conversations, but today I just don’t feel like it.
I just want summer to be over already.
Once the driver gets to my house, I get out with my luggage and he kindly helps me take them to the front door.
“Thank you,” I say before he leaves. He waves his hand as he runs back to his car. I never thought Uber drivers would help their passengers with their belongings. Maybe he’s the only one? Oh well…
I grab my keys from my backpack and unlock the door to hear my parents conversing and some commotion with sizzling and utensils clashing. Quietly, I take my stuff and take it to my room, and I open the door to see that everything is still in place and nothing out of place. It’s either they don’t know that I’m in college, or they don’t bother going inside. Either way, I still have my room.
A silver lining in the dark clouds, I guess.
I set my stuff down next to my desk and leave my room to the kitchen. As I enter, I see my dad and mom still talking as they set the dishes on the counter. I quietly enter and grab the dishes from the top cabinet and begin setting up the dinner table.
I turn around as my mom says, “Oh, you’re here! When did you get here?”
“Five minutes ago,” I tell her as I walk to get the silverware from the drawer.
“Wait, how did you get here?” Mom asks as I set the silverware down next to a plate.
“Uber,” I answer, moving to the next plate.
“But why didn’t you ca-” my dad begins to say.
“I didn’t want to wait,” I interrupt him, only telling half of the truth. The only reason is I assume they would forget to pick me up or forget that I was supposed to come today. It happened in Winter Break. And last year.
“But you still have to call us, so you don’t spend money,” my dad says, concerned.
I shrug, not saying anything else as I finish setting up the table. As usual, the moment gets awkward as they stay silent, my guess is that they have nothing else to say.
When is Maggie coming?
After I finish setting up the table, I start to bring each dish to the table as I feel a pair of eyes following me. When I look up, my parents turn away and continue to talk to each other as they finish the next dish. I take another dish and turn to take it to the table as I hear my dad ask, “So, what time is Maggie coming over?”
“I think 6? She’s bringing her boyfriend as well,” mom answers.
“Oh, okay. I wonder how they’re doing,” my dad says.
I roll my eyes as I hear my mom say, “oh, they’re great! Maggie got into that law firm she’s been talking about.”
“Oh, that’s great!” my dad says, excitedly.
The last time my parents got that excited was when I got my first paycheck. They didn’t even celebrate when I got into NYU, but they threw a party for Maggie’s acceptance to UCLA, and another party for her graduation.
I won’t even talk about my graduation.
When 6 o’clock comes around, there’s a knock on the door. “Katie, can you get that?” my mom asks as she comes from the hallway. I put down my book and get up from the couch to get the door. I open the door to see Maggie and her boyfriend, smiling.
“KATIE!!! I’m so happy you’re home!” Maggie greets as she hugs me tight.
It feels nice to hug her. She’s been the only person that acknowledges me. “Hi, Maggie,” I greet back.
“Are you okay?” Maggie asks as she pulls back and looks at me. I shrug as I slightly smile, not showing my teeth.
“Again?” Maggie asks, as if she knows what happened but wants confirmation. I nod, and shrug as I say, “It’s fine.”
Maggie nods as she moves out of the way and lets her boyfriend. I close the door as he greets me, “Hi Katie.” I nod, silently greeting back before they walk together to the dinner table.
I guess I’m fifth again.
As I take my seat in front of Maggie, our dad comes from the hall and sits across from my mom. “Hi Maggie,” dad greets, smiling at her.
“Hi Dad,” Maggie greets back. “Let’s eat!”
We each grab a dish and take a portion, then trade the dish and continue the routine. Once we all got what we need, we start to eat the food on our plates. As I taste the potatoes, my tastebuds explode in happiness, but I hold myself back from saying anything. I just eat quietly.
“How’s the food, Maggie?” my mom asks, cutting the steak.
“It’s delicious,” Maggie says, “Isn’t it, Joey?”
“Oh, it’s super good!” Joey says, taking a bite of the potato and steak together.
“Right?” Maggie says, agreeing. We continue to eat our dinner quietly, until Maggie breaks the silence and asks, “How’s the food, Katie?”
“It’s good,” I say nonchalantly. Honestly, I just want to eat and then go to my room to read. I really want to finish that book.
It just got awkward again. Nothing new.
Until my dad breaks the silence. “Look, I’m sorry, we couldn’t pick you up from the airport, but can you be a little excited today? At least you’re home safe and sound.”
I look at my dad, surprised at the tone of his voice. It’s like he’s annoyed. But why, though? It’s not like anyone forgot that he existed.
“What? Did I say something wrong?” I ask, confused, but I know why he’s bothered.
“I mean, the way you answered to your sister about the food, it’s like you didn’t really like the food,” he says.
“Sam,” my mom calls, attempting to calm him down.
“Janet, I’m just saying. Something must be wrong here. I’ve cooked for two hours to make dinner so you can rest, and this is the thanks I get? It’s not fair,” Dad says.
As he says this, blood starts to run cold, but my face burns from my growing anger.
“Sam, please. She just got here from college, and the last thing she wants is anyone putting more weight on her,” Mom defends.
“I can understand that. But, Maggie, if it is about the Uber ride home, I’ll make sure to not forget to pick you up. Cool?”
I look at him, and quietly respond, “Fine.” Then, I go back to eating my dinner. Right as I do, I start to lose my appetite, but I still eat my food, not wanting my dad to get any more frustrated than he is now.
Then, something shocking happens.
“I’m sorry but this has been bothering me for a long time, but when will you two ask her how she’s doing?” Maggie asks.
“Maggie, no, it’s okay,” I say, attempting to stop her from this conversation.
“No, this isn’t fair,” she says, setting her fork down. “Dad, I know you want us to acknowledge what you’ve done for us, but let me ask you; since when have either of you acknowledge her?”
“Hey, that’s not fair,” Dad says, sitting up straight.
“Yeah, we’ve always acknowledged her. We noticed her when she walked into the kitchen,” Mom defends.
“Uh huh, but did you remember to pick her up from the airport today, or did you forget again?” Maggie asks, calling them out.
They stay silent. Then, my dad starts to speak, “We didn’t forget this time. We were going to pick her up.”
“Okay, at what time?” Maggie asks, looking at Dad. After a minute, he says, “At 3, right, Janet?”
“Yeah, sure,” Mom follows.
“My flight arrived at 4:45pm,” I say with a low voice, not looking at them. Everyone sits quietly, again.
It’s like they never expected me to talk.
My dad sighs as he says, “Damn, I’m sorry Katie.”
I’m sorry? Well, I guess today will be the different where everything becomes different.
“Dad, can you stop apologizing?” I request, my anger finally appearing.
“What? I am, though. I seriously thought it was at 3pm,” Dad says, “No one’s perfect.”
“But you haven’t even tried to even ask if it was 3pm. No text, no phone call, nothing,” I say.
“I didn’t know I had to call you for confirmation,” Dad says.
“Sam!” Mom says.
“Oh, but both of you call Maggie to see how’ she’s doing. The only phone call I’ve ever received from both of you is if I bought something with the credit card that you gave me,” I explain.
“We called you for that?” Mom asks, confused.
“Yes,” I confirm, looking at her. “And I told you it was for my books because I didn’t have enough in my bank account, and I didn’t get paid in 3 days.”
Again, the room got quiet. I got angrier.
“You know what? I can’t eat anymore. Thanks for dinner,” I say, then I throw my napkin on the side and get up to walk to my room. Just as I enter, I forgot that I left my book in the living room, so I leave and walk to the room, only to stop and hide behind the wall as I hear Maggie talking.
“I can’t believe the two of you.”
“Maggie, not now, please.”
“Then, when, Dad? You guys do understand why she’s like this right?”
“What do you mean? She practically has everything. What more does she want?”
“Really? Because she doesn’t seem so happy about it.”
“She’ll grow out of it soon, hopefully by tomorrow.”
“Mom, she’s 20 years old, she won’t grow out of it. I’m not a therapist, but I am her sister. Compared to her, I have more than she does.”
“Wait, I don’t understand.”
“When WAS the last time you called to ask how she’s doing?”
The room got silent. Seriously?
“Oh, you’ve got to be joking me.”
“Hey, you’re the eldest, you’re supposed to be on our side.”
“Dad, that’s the issue. When will she have someone on her side?”
“But we are on her side.”
“I don’t know. I called her two days ago to see how she’s doing, like the big sister I am, and she said that everything was ‘okay’. Then I asked if she’s excited to come back home, you know what she answered?”
When neither of them answered, she continues, “She said that she doesn’t even want to come home. Although it breaks my heart that my younger sister has to feel this way, I’m not surprised that she feels the way she does.”
My eyes widen when she says this. Does she know?
“Both of you haven’t realized why she’s been acting all quiet, have you? Did you know that she got an award for Perfect Attendance, and having A’s back in elementary school? No? Because of my soccer game, right? Or how about when she graduated in high school at the top of her class?”
“We were at her graduation at that time.”
“Dad you were at my college graduation the week before her graduation. Did you even fly back in time to make it?”
“Really? So, then, why when I called her to congratulate her, she asked if you two were with me?”
“Oh, right, we stayed in LA for a little longer because it was so lovely.”
“Mom, no. Not now.”
The room got quiet again as Maggie continues, “She spent that day alone, at home, with no one to celebrate with. She even told me that she couldn’t eat anything that day. Did you even send her to college?”
Silent. Right then and there, I burst into tears, recalling the memories where I had to do everything by myself while my parents mind their own business. They didn’t even notice that I was gone unless I came back. I can’t take this anymore. I walk out of the hall and go to the couch to grab my book until Maggie calls for me, “Katie, come back, please.” I turn to see everyone staring at me. It makes me feel very vulnerable as they look at me. I walk back to the table and sit in my seat, still in tears.
“Katie,” I hear my mom call me. I look at her, my face burning in anger as tears fall from my eyes. “Nena, have we ignored you?”
To confirm, I begin to sob at the table, letting go years of pent-up emotions that I’ve felt for years. And today is finally the day where they understand what it’s like.
After I calm down, I explain to them, “You guys don’t understand what it’s like being the extra person in the room. I work at a coffee shop, where I’m supposed to make coffee, but I always end up closing the place and cleaning up when we have a custodian that cleans up. My coworkers only acknowledge me when they need to trade hours or need help with something they can’t do. At school, I’m placed in groups where no one asks me about my ideas, but they appoint me to present in front of class because I’m convenient. As for friends? Every time I make friends, they all would have their own friends, while I have no one. I can’t even talk to anyone about my issues because I don’t know who to trust, yet I’m the person they go to when they need advice. Not even to have a light-hearted conversation. I mean none of that would matter if my parents, for once, at least call me and ask me how I’m doing! Maggie gets all the attention, whether or not I’m here. I mean, why do I even exist anymore?!”
As I finish letting everything go, I sob and cover my face, so no one looks at me. It hurts to live this life, just some convenient person that just exists in a space. But what I’ve wanted for so long was my parents to give me the same attention they give Maggie. A hug even. I haven’t had a hug from my parents since 5th grade when I broke my arm.
Maggie has been the only person that has hugged me every day since we were kids.
Man, being lonely sucks.
As I wipe face while I calm down from crying, Dad is the first person to speak,” Katie, I’m terribly sorry that it’s been like this. I can’t imagine what it would feel like being in your shoes, but now that you’ve said something, and Maggie, we’ll do our best to be better parents.”
“I’m sorry, too, Nena,” Mom says, patting my back. As soon as she touches me, I start crying again. Even when the pat is small, my mom’s touch feels nice. The longest I’ve ever felt. Immediately, my mom gets up and hugs me in my seat as I cry on her shoulder, holding onto her. Suddenly, I feel more arm wrap around the two of us as I keep crying.
Although it may take some time for us to get better at communicating with each other, I have a feeling that I will be able to have a better attitude about everything, and I’ll be able to forgive them down the line.
After we finish dinner, Maggie and I sit outside and talk as Joey gets the car running, and our parents are in their room getting ready for bed.
“Thank you,” I tell her.
She looks at me, smiling, as she asks, “For what?”
“For being there for me, for acknowledging me, and for standing up for me,” I tell her, smiling back.
“I have not seen that smile in such a long time. I hope to see it again, kiddo,” Maggie says to me. “But you do have to remember, when something is bothering you, talk about it, okay?”
“I will,” I say, then we get up and hug each other before she leaves to the car.
For the first time in a long time, I feel happy that all the weight on my shoulders have been lifted, and I can finally hold my head up high as I feel more confident.
Today has truly turned around.
Please comment below if you or anyone you know has ever felt like they’ve been the extra person, or your feelings toward the story.
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