Extra - An Important Question 3
Cherry didn't come to the cemetery often. She'd been there maybe twice, three times at the most, since her grandparents had died.
She wasn't even completely sure where their grave was. Which is why she didn't realize immediately that the young woman was sitting in front of the same memorial that she was looking for.
Or, that the woman was her daughter.
She started to leave the moment she recognized her, but it was too late. Autumn had already heard someone behind her, and she scrambled quickly to her feet, stopping in shock when she saw Cherry.
"Mum, I... "
"I can leave."
"No, don't," Autumn said. "I mean, it's your grandparents. I was just... thinking..."
Cherry gave a little laugh. "I should have known that'd be why you were here."
"What do you mean?"
"When you were growing up, whenever you had something on your mind, you'd go to your great-grandparents' house, or later to granddad's shop. When something was bothering you, I always knew I'd find you there. You must miss them."
"Yeah, I... just... Mum, I need to ask you an important question. I... I think maybe I know why you left, but I need to know why you never came back. You didn't even call us or anything, you just disappeared."
"I wanted to call you," Cherry said. "Call you, or visit you, or... anything. But your father thought it would be better for you guys if I just left completely. He thought you'd stop missing me if you didn't hear from me at all."
"And you believed him?"
"Well, he said you all stopped talking about me and - "
"He said that you didn't want us," Autumn said. "He said that you never called because you were too busy with your new life."
"That's not true," Cherry said. "Please believe me, that was never, ever true."
"So he lied to us, then," Autumn said. "All this time, he just kept lying to us."
"I guess he was trying to protect you," Cherry said. "He probably didn't mean - "
"Stop!" Autumn said. "How can you defend him?"
"I'm not defending him," Cherry said. "I'm just saying that, when you're really upset and hurt about something, sometimes you do things and feel things that don't make sense. Like... " She looked down at the grave. "Like I was always jealous of your great-grandparents because they had you."
"What do you mean? You gave me to them, while you finished college."
"I know. But I always thought they'd give you back."
"They did," said Autumn, puzzled. "I went to live with you and Dad when you graduated."
"Yeah, but you still went to them whenever something was wrong. I wanted you to need me the way you needed them."
"Of course I needed you," said Autumn. "You were my mother."
"I'm sorry," said Cherry.
Autumn hesitated for a moment.
"I know," she said.
"So... um... did I answer your question?" Cherry asked in the awkward silence that followed.
"Yeah, you did."
"What happens now?" Cherry asked.
"Hell if I know."
"Do I get to meet this boyfriend of yours?"
"That depends," said Autumn. "Do I get to meet yours?"