My parents kept a lot of secrets from me until I was nine, the age they deemed that I was old enough to know the truth. The truth was that they were spies and they work for NSO collecting information about other countries and what they were doing. It was a dangerous job, and they told me that one day they may not come home. Then, I didn’t know quite what they meant by it, but now I know its full meaning. The words “One day we may not come home” haunted me for the rest of my life, because one day those words came true – they never came home.
I was 11 when I lost my parents. That was three years ago. I mean “lost” as in I can’t find them, because I don’t know whether or not they are dead, and I don’t want to say they are until I know for sure. I still hang on to the hope that they are out there, waiting until they can come back to me. I feel that if I say that they are dead, they will be, but if I keep hope, someday they will come home.
I’m not the only one who has suffered from the loss of my parents. I have two sisters: Dawn and my twin, Sky. Dawn is 16 and she is in high school. She studies hard so she can go to college, but she had to work at the local McDonald’s so she can even earn money to go, and working cuts into her study time. Sky is 14 and she acts as though we are the most normal family in the world. She is always hanging out with friends and going to movies. It is almost like she doesn’t care that her parents aren’t home, and they may never be again.
One day I got really upset and started yelling at her. Really I was jealous that she could act happy and have fun, when I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
“Don’t you even care?” I asked her when we were at the table doing math.
“About what?” she asked.
“About Mom and Dad. Don’t you even care that they may not come home? Sometimes you act like nothing’s happened; sometimes you act like you don’t care.”
“Oh,” she said in a quiet voice, “Yeah, I care, I just try not to think about it. My friends don’t even know about it.”
“Good,” I said, “they shouldn't. It just that sometimes you act as though nothing bad is going on, and that makes it seem like you don’t care at all.”
“But really, nothing bad is going on.”
“You think Mom and Dad being gone for 3 years isn’t bad?” I said.
“Well, they could still be alive.”
“They are alive,” I said defensively, “they just can’t come home or contact us.” Many times I had said those words in my head, making myself believe that they were true.
“But what if they aren’t alive? What if they aren’t coming home? You have to get it in your head that that might be true and that it is the most likely thing. I’m not going to sit around and wait for them to come home when there is a 99% chance that they won’t. I want to do something in my life. You can mope all you want, but I am going to have fun and be happy with my life, it’s the only one I’ve got.” She stood up quickly, the chair skidding behind her, almost falling over. She stared at me, then left, and I heard her slam the screen door shut, and I knew she had gone outside. Her math book and pencil were still sitting on the table.
What she said made me think. I had always made myself believe that they would come home. What if I was letting myself believe childish things? My twin sister, who happened to be two minutes and 17 seconds younger than me, was taking it better than I was. She was the one being strong. She was the one doing what she knew Mom and Dad would want her to: not letting their absence ruin her life. What if I was letting that happen to me? What if I was letting my own parents down -- the very people I wished would come home?
Everyone thinks that twins act the same and think the same. Maybe that’s true with some twins, but not Sky and me. We have very different personalities and interests, and most the time we take different sides of things. I closed my math book and left it there on the table, next to Sky’s.
We have a housemaid named Joan. Mom and Dad hired her to take care of us and clean the house and pay the bills and all those things, but three years ago Joan stopped receiving her monthly payment. Her contract said that once she stopped receiving money she was allowed to leave, but she grew to love us, and she stayed. She got a second job and sold her house, moving in with us. The money from her second job went into taking care of us since the money in the bank account my parents had was decreasing fast.
Joan's missing payment was the first of many signs that something was wrong with Mom and Dad. At first we didn’t make a big deal out of it, not until it lasted a year and no more money was going back into the bank account. Then came the day that they were suppose to come home; I remember sitting by the window all day waiting. You would have too if your parents had been gone for over a year. At the time I was 11 years old, and Dawn was 13. She thought it childish to sit next to the window all day long when, she thought, we should be cleaning the house to make them happy. I told he that our parents didn’t care if the house was sparkling, they just cared about us.
But they never came. That whole week I sat next to the window, doing my school on the sofa (we were homeschooled and Joan was a former teacher), looking out every time I heard a car go by. They’re just late, that’s all. Their plane was canceled or something, I thought to myself over and over again.
After a week Joan said that I should be doing something more constructive than sitting by the window watching cars drive by, but I didn’t want to do anything else. It was like if I stopped believing that they would come home, they would never come home. I looked out that window has much as I could, but they never came.
Christmas came and went without them. It was the worst Christmas ever. I tried to act happy, for Joan’s sake. She had gone out of her way to buy us presents and decorate the house. I was a little happier when I helped her hang the lights on the tree, thinking maybe we could be a normal family. Then we got the ornaments out, and the first ones I saw were Mom and Dad’s, and the ones they had given me. I started to cry as I hung them up, all the happy memories of Christmases past rushing to my head: Waking up on Christmas morning and running down stairs to find Dad drinking coffee in the recliner. Jumping in his arms and gazing at the presents under the tree, and falling asleep in his lap. I had the smallest hope that they would come home one Christmas day, but they never did.
Three long years had gone by and I couldn’t bring myself to believe that they may not be coming home. I’d only believe it when someone could prove it, and even then I wouldn’t want to.