Time progressed as it has the habit too, sometimes people get busy and before they even realize it, the world has moved on, mercilessly.
KC and Everleigh’s twins were now 6 years old and today was their first day of school. The meet and greet and orientation had been Saturday, today was Monday.
Evey was very emotional as they both watched their children run into the school, full of excitement.
“KC, make it stop! Turn back two or three years. I cannot take it!”
“No way! I can count all the days I attended school on my hands and toes. There go the son and the daughter I never thought I would have, with the wife I never thought I would have, to learn, to be as brilliant as their mother, successful. They are breaking the old McCoy mold of trash raising more trash. No way am I gonna stop that. I want to fast forward and see what the future holds.” KC sounded unusually excited.
“Well, if you put it that way … but I am going to miss them being my little ones. Now they are big. School kids. I can barely keep them clothed, they grow so fast. Too fast. I miss those tiny toddlers….”
“I’d offer you another set, but I think we both don’t want that. Two is plenty. As brilliant and loved as they are, I cannot wait not having to entertain them constantly. I’d not be adverse to the keeping in practice for making some. Man, I cannot wait to have a romantic night with you again WITHOUT getting interrupted. They should be old enough now to understand closed doors. If not, I’ll write them a sign “DO NOT ENTER” and tell them to practice their alphabet OUTSIDE our bedroom door. If they don’t get that, I’ll teach them the meaning of a sock on the door handle.”
They strolled back home, hand in hand. Both had taken the day off work to witness their babies become school kids.
Heath and Samantha’s mutual children were now toddlers.
Abby turned 16.
She would hardly be home anymore, always out and about with friends, or – much to Heath’s horror – with her new boyfriend. The boy was nice, polite, courteous but his fatal flaw in Heath’s eyes was that he was a boy and dating his little girl.
Abby was unstoppable.
She had come some weeks ago wanting to change her hair. Heath told her there was no reason to, her dark curls were beautiful. That was the end of the discussion for Heath, but not for Abby.
The next day she came home late from school, with a flood of blonde highlights through her shortened hair.
Heath almost fell over.
Not just because that would have been most every parents’ reaction, but because she looked so much like her late mother Heather now.
She passed her driver licence test.
And then came a week-long class trip to Europe, to study the history and language. He thought it dangerous, especially since Abby had to be meticulous about when she had to replenish her serum to remain able to abide sunlight and human food. Sam insisted that he’d allow her to go. Resigned he had signed the parental authorization.
Abby would leave tomorrow, on a trip half way around the world. Heath disliked it more than he could even find words to describe.
If it weren’t for Sam keeping him sane, he would have gone mad for sure.
Four girls giggling.
“OK, which way?”
“How am I supposed to know? Ask someone?”
“I don’t speak Swiss … or whatever the hell they speak here.”
“Italian and German, you ditsy!” Abby said.
“Whatever, none of which I will ever need.”
“Why? Italians are cute and soooooo romantic. Meaow! Right Abs?”
“Why are you asking me?” Abby shrugged.
“You are the know-it-all …and maybe you wanna get some action in too…. YOLO, right?”
“Umm, hello, remember Philip? My BOYFRIEND.” Abby shook her head.
“I am sorry, I don’t see him here anywhere … again … YOLO. What happens in Swissland, stays in Swissland.”
“Switzerland. Jeeze.” rolling her eyes, Abby sighed.
“Why do I care?”
“Ooooh, a cafe … yes please! A bucket for me!”
“Yeah, me too. My feet need a break. All that walking … I need to park myself somewhere!”
The girls, ranging between 16 and 17 entered the cafe, ordered and sat outside to enjoy the sun.
“Wow, that hair … you look really grown up!” Abigail heard behind her.
She turned around to see some guy.
“What?” her voice was not as polite as usual. He was obviously not a local, spoke accent-free.
“I like it. Your hair.” he said.
“Oh, great. Can you go like my hair somewhere over there. M’kay, thanks, bye.” she told him purposely snooty and turned back to her giggling, whispering girlfriends.
“You used to be nicer.” he said calmly.
“And you used to be somewhere else and not bother me.” she was not friendly at all.
“Oh my gawd, can you not take a hint weirdo?! She doesn’t want any of that!” one of her friends told him, pointing up and down on him.
The boy left, but when Abby came back from the bathrooms, she felt someone pull her along behind the cafe, near the dumpsters.
She fought him.
“Let me go … please … PLEASE!” she begged, scared.
“Do you really not recognize me at all?” he asked now. Something in his voice, calmed her as he let go.
“What?” she was too confused to run.
“Think Abby!” he pressed.
“How do you know my … oh my God. Jacob?!”
“Finally. I am honestly insulted. And since when do you go by ‘Abs’? And your hair is shorter and blond now.”
“And you are …. so … tall … and your hair …. and ….. umm …..What are you doing here?”
“My school is here. Well, an hour or so by bus away. Sneaked out. I do that often.”
“Jacob!” it was a statement, as to reaffirm herself, as she pressed herself against him.
Abby was still completely surprised and in shock as she snuggled her head against his shoulder.
“Come with me Abby.” he whispered near her ear.
She followed him, they until they reached some remote spot by a pond.
“Mom said you were here this week. Did you really forget my school was in Switzerland?”
“Yes, no, kinda. I had no concept of all that and mom said we could never go see you. So I kinda … forgot I guess.”
“I didn’t. I made sure I would be out here when you would be. I just kept hanging out by the touristy areas. It worked.”
“Are you going to get in trouble?”
“I sure hope so.”
She giggled as he put his arms around her.
“Seriously, I have done nothing but get in trouble. They are so annoyed with me already.”
“Why? How many people from where we come from can say they went to school in Switzerland?”
“Except, I don’t want to go to school here. I want to go back home. So, if they kick me out, and my father has his new family now, my thoughts are I may be able to come home. You still want that, too, right, Abby? Or shall I say ‘Abs’ now?”
“Let’s stick with Abby. Of course I want that!”
“I missed you Abby. You look really … different.”
“So do you. I like your hair like that. Looks good. Suits you.”
“You’re pretty Abby.”
Abigail blushed deeply. Something was different. The way he looked at her. She felt her cheeks burn red.
Her phone began to ring, which startled her and she dropped it. Jacob was faster, picked it up and handed it to her.
Her lock screen appeared, showing her and Philip.
Jacob caught it, his smile faded.
“Yeah. Philip. He’s great.” Abby said, and felt oddly embarrassed. Why?!
“Don’t you have a girlfriend?”
“At an all boys’ school?” he chuckled.
“Oh, right. But looks like you get out plenty …”
“I don’t want a girlfriend, and definitely not one here. I want to leave, first chance I get. And I have a very specific type, a very rare one.”
“Sounds like she’ll be hard to find.”
“I have told you this before, many times, but love will always find a way.”
They spent the afternoon together, Jacob took her back to the hostel.
The next day they met again.
And the day after that. And after that.
“Just come back home with me, Jacob. I have some money saved from my summer job, and I have the emergency credit card from dad. We get you a ticket and figure out the rest back home.”
“I don’t have my passport, Abby. No way I can get it. Without it, I am not getting out. Plus, I am not 16, so I would be an unaccompanied minor. Big deal with the airlines.”
“I’m 16. I am accompanying you.”
“Abby, I wish, but there is no way. I am still stuck here till I am 18, but right on my birthday, I am out of there! Unless my plan works and they expel me.”
“Your stupid dad will probably just stick you into another boarding school.”
“Would you like me to come home?”
“Of course, I told you before.”
“I … have something for you.” he said, looking deep into her eyes, while brushing a strand of hair from her face.
He pulled a small box from his long sleeve and handed it to her.
She unwrapped it and it revealed a necklace, which he put on her.
“It’s one of a kind – no other like this in the whole wide world. Just like you, Abby.” he told her.
“Awww, I love it! Thank you! Now you’ll always be with me!”
“Do you still miss me Abby? I still miss you so much.”
“Of course I do … I …. ”
Jacob leaned forward and kissed her.
Abby swore the ground moved beneath her and she was floating.
When the kiss ended, all Abby could do was stare at him.
“Did you … not … like it?” he asked worried.
“No we are not. We don’t have the same parents. Not even the same name.”
“I have a boyfriend, Jacob….”
“Do you like him better than me?”
“Is he taller? Stronger? Older? Whatever it is, maybe I have something that he does not have …. Abby.”
“I … uh …. ”
Abby looked up at him, trembling, thousands of butterflies in her stomach, when she pulled his face closer to hers and kissed him.
A long kiss. Endless. Hopefully.
But eventually it did end and they stared at each other, happy, shocked, scared, startled, blushing, relieved, ….
“Oh God. I am sorry. I …. I cannot do this.” she pulled the necklace back off, tried to hand it back to him, but he just shook his head, so she stuck it in her pocket.
Abby could not figure out how to deal with this situation, turned around and ran back the way they had come. They were still close to the youth hostel where her class was staying, so she ran inside and up to the room she shared with her friends. They weren’t there. She just sat down and stared at the walls.
What was that? What just happened? Why did she do that? What about Philip? Was she a cheater now?
But Jacob was sooo cute, sweet, tall, grown up …. oh, and her step-brother.
Two weeks after she had returned home it was time for the monthly phone call. When Sam was finally done, Abby nearly tore the phone from her and ran outside.
“Jacob, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to …to … just ditch you. I was just …. you know … surprised. So sorry. Please don’t hate me!”
“I could never hate you Abby. It’s all good. At least this time I can tell myself I tried. I thought you knew that I liked you – like that. REALLY liked you. And I thought the feeling was mutual.”
“But … but …. I have a boyfriend….”
“Yeah, I know. Lucky him.”
“I wish you were here, Jacob.”
“Me too. Even though I’d probably run around embarrassed the all the time after … you know.”
“Don’t be. No reason to. I should be the one ashamed here. And I am.”
“Did you tell mom that we…”
“Let me finish! I was gonna say ‘met’. Does she know we met in Switzerland.”
“Good. I purposely didn’t mention it, didn’t want to out you. Since we are not to meet, according to the court thing. Don’t want to get you in trouble. I can’t wait till we’re 18. I am so tired of other people’s rules.”
“Abby, I found an internet cafe. The time difference is a problem. I can get out in the morning, but that would be nighttime for you.”
“I don’t care. When?”
“I can’t say… depends on how easy I can get out … if at all … Can you turn the speaker up and I message you. So when you hear a ding you know?”
So against all odds the friends had managed to not only meet again, but also chat again. Several times a week.
Jacob did not have access to money, so Abby wired him some every so often to one of those cash places.
For a few months this was the new routine. Until the dynamics changed. In the middle of the usual chat, about things that happened, funny moments, aggravating moments, annoying moments, Jacob suddenly wrote.
‘I miss you, Abby. All the time.’
‘Miss you too … ALL the time.’
‘I cannot stop thinking about that kiss. I cannot wait to see you again … so we can kiss. Again. And be together. And nobody can separate us anymore.’
Abby’s heart sank. Her most and least favorite memory of all times.
‘Jacob … I liked it too, but we cannot do that again. We shouldn’t have done that at all. I shouldn’t have. I have a boyfriend, and you and I – it’s just wrong. We are siblings, regardless of us not being blood-related. There can never be a ‘we’ like that. Just as friends, never more.’
‘Can you not just forget about that? I am sure we are not the first and not the last couple who are step-siblings on paper. The weird will wear off.’
‘I don’t think so.’
When no reply came, even after minutes, Abby typed.
‘I am sorry, Jacob. Really.’
He did not respond again. No more responses came after that.
Abby thought he was just mad at her, but when the scheduled call four days never came, Sam called Jacob’s father and learned that Jacob had run away from school.
Local police were looking for him, but still not even a trace.
Abby almost drowned in her guilt and regrets.
The day after they found out about Jacob’s disappearance she pulled the necklace he had given her from the bottom of a drawer where she had hidden it, as if it would show whomever would see it, what they had done.
Tears flowed as she put it back on.
“Please be okay, Jacob. I swear I will never take it off. I am so sorry. Please, please be okay and please come back. Please.”
Jacob would remain gone. Even many months later the only good news were that they never found a body, so he was presumed alive.