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I knew it was too good to be true. Only nine months. Forty weeks. Two hundred eighty-four days. If I wasn't so busy getting ready for the first day of my senior year, and I'd remembered to buy the calculator required for my AP calculus class, I could have had it down to the exact hour. The day I graduate from high school. Then a summer traveling around Europe with Taylor, where hopefully five years of conjugating French verbs would finally pay off.
Anyway, I had life all figured out. In one short, hopefully relatively painless year, I'd be on my way out East to college, where I'd join Patrick and things would be exactly like they were last year when I was a junior and Patrick was a senior. Only better. Because we'd be away from home and on our own (in a manner of speaking, of course, considering our parents would be footing the entire bill for our college experience and the road trips Taylor and I were already planning to Boston).
That was the plan, anyway. But then came the phone call. I was waiting to hear from Patrick, the cordless phone sitting silently beside me on my bed so my parents wouldn't get to it first. But when I picked up the phone it wasn't my college-bound boyfriend calling to tell me he couldn't wait for me to visit. It was a woman asking for my father in a voice that was so polite, so practiced, I thought she had to be a telemarketer trying to get him to switch our long-distance telephone service or, at the very least, renew his subscription to the Chicago Tribune.
If I'd known then what I know now, I might have just told her she had the wrong number, replaced the receiver quietly on its cradle, and unplugged all the phones in our house. Maybe even called the phone company and asked to disconnect our number all together. But I didn't. I brought the phone over to my dad, who was in his study reading a book while my mom worked on the laptop at his desk. And that's when everything changed. In that single moment when my dad said hello and I watched his face transform from a look of practiced calm to a look of petrified shock, I realized that life as we knew it was about to change.
And that's when my carefully laid plan went out the window.
Copyright © 2006 by Jennifer O'Connell