I wake up on the couch, my phone pressed to my face and I'm in a fetal position. I sit up, practically peeling my phone off my face. I try checking the time, but it happened to be dead. Which is great. I look around and start to panic, forgetting where I really was until I saw the pictures on the fire place mantel. I give a half hearted smile towards the pictures and then get up, deciding to actually do something today. The bedroom might be the last thing I do because I don't know if I can handle it at all. I get up, finding the keys to my dad's car which is still in the garage. Hopefully I don't get pulled over today because I don't have my United States license yet. I get dressed quickly in the downstairs bathroom and grab the keys, leaving to get groceries.
I come back from my scary trip to the store for the fact that I almost forgot you have to drive on the right side of the street here, not the left. I realized that when I was on a road which didn't have lines painted in the neighborhood and I got honked at when someone tried turning from a different street. If I didn't notice soon, I could have gotten in a bad accident. Luckily nothing bad happened. I bring in the hundreds of bags from the car. At least it felt like a hundred. And now, to reveal what is actually in the fridge and how gross it is. I pull the empty garbage can over and a stool over and I brace myself for the awful smells of things that are several years old. I'm surprised there isn't bugs and animals in the house for the fact it's been left alone the way it was for the past few years. I open the fridge to find that it didn't smell as bad as I thought it would, but I do put on my rubber dish gloves and throw everything away from the fridge and the freezer. I don't hesitate to take out the trash right after. After throwing away everything, I take a cleaning spray and a sponge and wipe out the fridge. After doing that, I put away the new groceries. I smile, satisfied with how well I did. I go over to the pantry and do the exact same thing. I get rid of everything and replace it with what I just bought. I hear my phone start to ring from the living room where I had left it to charge while I was out at the store. I run in there and answer it.
"Hello?" I answer.
"Hey, how are you doing? Any better than last night?" My dad responds, I smile.
"Yeah, a little bit. I'm cleaning up the house right now. I got rid of all the 15 year old food in the house and replaced it with new food I got from the store." I smile, sitting on the couch.
"That's good. I'm guessing the bedroom will be the last place you'll go?" He asks.
"Yeah." I sigh. "It's hard. It really is. I mean, I actually knew him, so it's not like 'oh my dad died when i was 7, I don't remember him much'. I knew him because he loved me a lot and always made sure I was happy." I sigh, holding back the tears. "I can't believe I'm still crying over it."
"Don't say that, Madison. You have every right to cry still. I still cry. He was the love of my life and honestly, Calum is tired of hearing it whenever it's your father's birthday or it's our anniversary or it's the day he passed. But he told me that he doesn't mind because he understands. He told me that if it were the other way around and he was the one who lost his spouse, he'd do the same thing." Dad says, obviously getting a little upset at the mention of Michael.
"I know. And I wish Alex didn't accept to get adopted by Calum. I would have, but I'd rather keep the last name Clifford." I scoff slightly at the thought. "Now he's a Hood and not a Clifford. It just makes me upset."
"But it's his choice, Madi. Not yours. You're old enough to know that." And I am old enough to know that. It was about a year ago when Calum asked us if he could adopt us. He was hoping that we'd both say yes, but was upset when I said no. It's not like I don't like Cal, because I do. He's always been a part of my life. I just didn't want to legally be his daughter. Because I'm not. I will never be his daughter.
"I know." I sigh, looking at the time on my phone. "Why are you up at 5am, Dad?" He sighs and then answers my question.
"I couldn't sleep and I woke up to that same dream on repeat. The day I found him the first time." I could hear him get choked up and it just killed me to hear that on the other line and I'm not there to help him. My dad and I have a very close relationship. When he has nightmares, I help him get back to sleep and when I have nightmares, he helps me get back to sleep. It's comforting to know that you've always got someone by your side at those times.
"I know, I know how hard it is, but we're pushing through it. For him. Even if it's been over 10 years." I almost mumble.
"I know. I'm going to let you go to clean the house. I love you, Madi."
"Alright, I hope you can get back to sleep soon. I love you too, Dad." I say, ending the call. I sigh, looking around the room to see a clean, but dusty living room. This is going to take a while to get it back to normal. Maybe even a few coats of paint and a little bit of furniture update.