Home > Falling Fast

Falling Fast
Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds




FEELING MY CELL PHONE in the front pocket of my apron vibrate once again, I pull it out. When I see it’s the same number that has called me at least five times in the last two hours, unease fills my stomach. No one ever calls me, so something must have happened. Looking toward the front of the small classroom, I wait until Maya’s eyes meet mine and as soon as I get her attention, I point toward the door, letting her know I’m going to step outside for a minute. After she lifts her chin, I squat down so that I’m eye level with the five kids gathered around me in a semicircle. “I’ll be right back, guys. Just keep painting, and if you need anything, ask Miss Maya,” I say quietly so I don’t disturb the rest of the students.

“Okay, Miss Gia,” Ben, one of my favorites, agrees.

Patting the top of his strawberry blond head, I stand then head toward the door. Leaning back against the wall once I’m in the hall, I press send on the number that has been calling me and wait for someone to answer.

“Hello,” the voice of an unfamiliar woman greets me after the third ring.

“Hi, this is Gia Caro. Someone from this number has been calling me.”

“Oh, thank God. Ned, it worked. You found her,” she says, sounding relieved, and I hear her moving around then hear her tell someone on her end that she will be right back. “Hi, Gia. My name’s Nina. Me and my husband live next door to your Grandma.”

“Grandma?” I whisper as nausea turns my stomach and pain blooms in my chest. “My grandma’s dead.”

“Pardon, darlin’?”

Clearing my throat, I hold my phone a little tighter. “My grandma passed away over ten years ago.”

“Oh dear,” she murmurs, and I hear her moving around some more. “Is your grandma Mrs. Genevria Ricci?”


“Oh dear,” I listen to her pull in a breath. “Your grandma is very much alive,” she tells me after a moment, and my back slides down the wall and my ass hits the floor as my feet inch out from under me.

“I…” A thousand questions lodge themselves in my throat.

“Gia, are you there?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” I finally get out.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, darlin’, but your grandma’s not doing so well.”

Her words are like acid burning my already sensitive flesh, and it takes every ounce of willpower I have not to scream at the top of my lungs. “What’s wrong with her?”

“She’s not been herself for a while now. She was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago, but over the last year, she’s been forgetful and sometimes unaware, like she doesn’t know what’s going on around her. Ned—Ned’s my husband—he and I believe she needs someone to take care of her full-time.”

“I’ll be there,” I say without thinking. “It will take me a couple days to get things sorted out here, but I will be there. Can you keep an eye on her a little longer?”

“Of course we can.” She pauses, then her voice is softer as she continues, “She’s missed you.”

Guilt and regret wash over me, but I push that aside for now. I’ll have plenty of time to deal with those emotions later. Right now, I need to focus on what I need to do. “I’ll let you know when I’m on my way.”

“All right, dear,” she agrees quietly before I hang up and clutch the phone to my chest.

Leaning my head back against the wall, I close my eyes and breathe in through my nose so I don’t cry.

“Gia.” Opening my eyes, I tip my head down and find Maya with her head sticking out of a crack in the door. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, sorry.” I push up off the ground and walk back into the class in a daze.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” she asks, following me.

“Yeah,” I lie. “Do you mind keeping an eye on my kids for a few minutes while I go talk to Jana?”

“Sure.” She bites the inside of her cheek, studying me with worry in her eyes.

I like Maya; she’s only been here for a few weeks, but the kids already adore her, which to me says everything about the kind of person she is. Kids can read people. They can usually tell what type of person someone is, even when that person is pretending to be someone they aren’t.

Giving her what I hope is a reassuring smile, I leave the class and head down the hall toward the office at the front of the building. Day Dreamers Daycare is one of the bigger daycares in Chicago. We have seven classes and a nursery, with over one hundred kids in all. I’ve worked here for the last five years, since the day I graduated from college with my degree in early childhood development. My plan was to teach in the public school system, but since starting here, I haven’t wanted to leave.

As I get closer to the office, the smell of lavender seeps into my senses. Jana, the owner, is always burning some kind of herbal scent to help her relax, think more clearly, or be more energized. She swears by the power of her infuser and has tried to convince me to get my own more than once, but I still have yet to buy into the hype. As soon as I turn the corner, I see her sitting at her desk with her eyes glued to her computer, her dark red hair up in a ponytail and her glasses pushed up on top of her head.

“Hey, you.” She turns in her chair, smiling at me after I knock on her open door to get her attention.

“Do you have a minute?” I ask, walking in and taking a seat across from her.

“If you’re going to tell me you’re quitting, you need to stand back up and leave.” She points toward the door laughing, and a fresh wave of tears fills my eyes. “Oh, God. Are you quitting?” she questions, sounding horrified.

“I need to leave town for a while, and I’m not sure how long I will be gone,” I admit regretfully, trying to wipe the tears that are now streaming down my cheeks.

“What happened? Is everything okay?” She stands, bringing a box of Kleenex around to where I’m sitting and taking a seat next to me.

Pulling a tissue from the box, I wipe my eyes then break down and tell her about the phone call I just received.


Sitting across from my stepmom later that evening, I wait for her to react. I wait for her to answer my question and admit she has been lying to me, that she kept me from the only living connection I have to my mom. Even though I know I’m waiting in vain, I still wait. I silently beg her to look me in the eye and be honest.

When my mom died and my dad married her, I tried to understand how he could spend twenty years of his life with my mom then move on so quickly after she passed away. I didn’t get it, but I loved my dad, so I supported him. I even tried to have a relationship with Colleen, because I knew it would make him happy. It never worked; she was never interested in getting to know me, and my dad was always oblivious to the lack of a bond between us, a bond that never developed even after my dad passed away when I was sixteen.

“Why did you tell me she died?” I repeat the question I asked as soon as we got seated at our table in the fancy restaurant she chose for us to meet at. Like always, she looks perfect. Her blonde hair is back in a tight bun, her makeup sophisticated, and her suit feminine but powerful. She’s nothing like my mom, who wore floral floor-length skirts with colorful tops, and so much silver jewelry that you could always hear her coming from a mile away. I never got how my dad could go from one end of the spectrum to the other, from someone who was full of energy and life to someone who always appeared as cold as a dead fish.

“She wasn’t right in the head,” she finally says, folding her napkin on her lap and picking up her glass of water, taking a sip and still avoiding looking at me.

“She’s my grandmother.”

“She wanted you to live with her.” Her eyes meet mine and I watch her lips press tightly together. “Imagine living with that woman.” Her lip curls up and I shake my head.

Her opinion doesn’t surprise me. She’s always been judgmental; she’s always thought she was better than everyone. My grandmother, just like my mom, was or maybe still is different than most women nowadays. Grandma grew her own vegetables, made jam when certain fruits were in season, sewed her own clothes, and knitted her own sweaters, and she started to teach me how to do all those things too after my mom passed away. I thought I would have her to lean on after my dad died when I was sixteen, but was told the news she had also passed away a week after my father’s funeral.

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