“What is it?” Did it have to do with Dad? Panic unfurled in Sierra. What if something bad had happened, preventing Dad from attending her graduation? An accident? A heart attack? Dad ran daily. He was in good shape. But diseases struck even healthy people…so did drunk drivers. No, it couldn’t be. Dad was fine, most likely delayed by an important last-minute meeting. At least that’s what Sierra kept telling herself during the short drive it took to reach their home.
“You have ten minutes to pack. Bring only necessities. I’ll handle the passports and other documents. I promise I’ll explain everything. Please be patient.” Gran killed the engine and made her way down the gravel leading to their two-story brick house.
The last time Gran had used her “I’m very serious” voice was when a ten-year-old Sierra had swiped painting supplies from a store without paying.
Whatever was going on now, it was serious. Her pulse accelerated, drumming loudly, until it was all she could hear. How bad could it be? Was Dad alone in a hospital somewhere? Was he in critical condition?
She needed to hurry. Rushing up the wooden stairs, she felt nausea at the scent of cinnamon and applesauce, which normally calmed her. She breathed through her mouth and forced herself to keep moving. From underneath her metal-framed bed, she pulled out a suitcase and threw in clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, and her sketchbook before forcing the zipper shut. About to leave the room, she realized she didn’t have her mother’s bracelet, which she had misplaced the day before.
“Hurry up!” Gran called.
“Just a second.” Sierra darted around the room, digging through drawers. Nothing. She threw the cerulean cover back, hoping to find the bracelet in her bed. Tears stung her eyes. She couldn’t lose the only heirloom she had from her deceased mother.
Something crunched below her high heel; she kneeled to retrieve it, relieved to find the bracelet. Strange…she could’ve sworn it hadn’t been there a second ago. Pressed for time, she hauled her suitcase up and hurried down the stairs.
While Gran locked the house and started the Chevy, sickening scenarios raced through Sierra’s mind. Only a horrific event would’ve made Gran pull Sierra out of her graduation celebration.
The not knowing drove Sierra insane. In a whisper, she asked, “What is it? Did Dad get in an accident?”
“Sierra, your father is dead.”
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