Chelsea Atkinson cleaned out her locker with a smile. It was finally the last week of high school and summer was going to start soon. Graduation would be in three days and she felt excitement knowing she'd be heading off to college soon.
"Chelsea! Don't forget your baby pictures!" Ramona, Chelsea's best friend yelled out.
"Yeah I have to look for some. My parents said they didn't get to take too many baby pictures of me. I'm going to have to dig them up."
"Alright then, I'll see you tomorrow," Ramona called out as she walked away.
Chelsea headed off home. She usually saw her mother when she was home but this time her mother wasn't anywhere to be found.
"Mom?" Chelsea called out looking around the house.
The small Spanish style home was empty and Chelsea could almost hear her own echo. She decided that this would be a good time to search for her baby picture. She didn't want an embarrassing picture since all her classmates and her classmate's parents would be looking at the slide show of the student's baby pictures.
She headed up to the attic where she knew her parents kept most of their old belongings. The attic was dusty and felt humid. She turned on the light and gasped not knowing where to start looking for her baby pictures. The room was full of cardboard boxes and plastic bags.
"Oh God, where do I start? She asked herself.
She began rummaging through box after box. Some of them were labeled and some were not. She then heard noise downstairs and knew her mother was home. She decided she'd look for the pictures later. She went downstairs and greeted her mother who was getting herself a glass of water.
"Hey mom, I was just up in the attic looking for some baby pictures of me."
Wendy, Chelsea's mom, gulped. "Oh? Oh yes that's right. You need them for a slide show this Friday right?"
"Yes that's right, but mom, we have so much junk up there I don't even know where to begin!"
Wendy laughed. "Don't worry I'll help you honey. First I really need to go buy some groceries for tonight. You want to come with me?"
Chelsea smiled. "Yes! As long as you buy something good to eat tonight."
Wendy raised a brow. "Good to eat? Like what?"
Chelsea's eyes wandered. "Hmmm like... your famous chicken enchiladas that you make!"
Wendy groaned. "Oh honey those take too much time. Plus your father should be home soon and I might not have time to get it all done."
Chelsea did a pouty face. "Please? I know daddy will wait and besides, I'll be leaving soon for college and then I will hardly be able to eat your delicious food!"
Wendy laughed. "Oh Ok! You always know how to convince me."
At the grocery store, Wendy went buying all the ingredients for the enchiladas, while Chelsea stood in the magazine section reading the latest issue of Cosmo. She was getting into an article about flirting, when she noticed someone staring at her. She slowly raised her head and saw an older man and woman, probably in their early 60's or so staring at her.
Chelsea felt almost as if it was déjà vu. She felt she knew these folks or had met them sometime. Their eyes were piercing at her and she felt almost uncomfortable. She smiled at them and they looked away whispering something to each other. Chelsea put her magazine away and headed off to look for her mother.
Wendy was getting the grated cheese when Chelsea came up from behind. "Are you almost done?"
"Yes I am. What's wrong?"
Chelsea looked around as if she was going to tell Wendy a secret. "Mom, there was this elderly couple looking at me strangely just a while ago. Do I have something on my face or what?"
Wendy laughed. "No you don't have anything on your face."
"Well then, I don't understand why they were staring at me. I am so serious mom, their eyes were glued to me!"
"Oh Chelsea it's all your imagination honey."
"No it's not! Mom I just go so freaked out! I just want to get out of here."
"Alright no need to be frightened. We are leaving."
Chelsea sighed and both women walked to the check out line. Chelsea's eyes wandered the entire store to make sure she didn't run into these folks again. Something about the way they kept looking at her made her feel so strange.
After finishing bagging the food and paying, Wendy and Chelsea made their way to the parking lot. Wendy was busy opening up the car trunk and that's when Chelsea looked up and saw the same elderly couple standing only a few feet away looking at her.
"Mom!" Chelsea whispered.
"What?" Wendy asked putting one grocery bag in the trunk.
"The folks that were staring at me!"
Wendy was about to turn around when Chelsea stopped her. "Don't make it obvious mom! Just casually turn and pretend your looking all around."
Wendy rolled her eyes and turned slowly. Chelsea saw her mother's face turn white as a ghost. Wendy quickly turned away and continued to put the groceries up.
"They are pretty freaky huh mom?" Chelsea asked.
"Chelsea, get in the car please. I'm going to go put the cart away."
Chelsea shrugged and got into the car. She turned on the engine and rolled the windows down. She was about to put on the stereo, when she heard some voices. It sounded like an argument. Chelsea looked in the rearview mirror and saw her mother talking to the elderly couple. She could hardly make out the words her mother was saying but she only managed to catch a few.
"You kicked us out a long time ago. Leave us alone. We don't need you!" That was all Chelsea could hear her mother say. Did she know these folks?
Chelsea was about to get out of the car, but then stayed seated as soon as she saw her mother walking back. Wendy got in the car saying nothing. She turned on the car stereo and put it low. Chelsea eyed her mother.
"Mom? What was that about? Did you really tell them to leave me alone? Do you know them?"
"I might know them. Let's not talk about this right now Chelsea. We need to get home."
Chelsea didn't argue she just stayed silence. She could see fear and sadness mixed in her mother's green eyes. Wendy looked straight into the road and didn't talk all the way home, which was very unusual.
Chelsea helped her mother make the chicken enchiladas, while Wendy cooked the Spanish rice. Her mother hadn't spoken much since they gotten back. Chelsea felt so confused but yet she was scared to ask Wendy about what had happened back at the grocery story that afternoon.
Later on, Chelsea heard her father, pulling up to the driveway. "Dad's home," Chelsea said softly.
Wendy just nodded and continued to cook. Chelsea went out to the living room to greet her father. He walked in carrying his briefcase. He'd become a successful lawyer just like he always wanted to be.
"Hey dad," Chelsea said smiling at her father and hugging him.
Samuel Atkinson kissed his daughter on the cheek. "Hey sweetie. Where's mommy? Mmm wait a second something smells really good!"
Chelsea laughed. "Yeah I got her to make those chicken enchiladas you and I love."
"That's just a perfect ending to a perfect day."
They both walked back into the kitchen together and Chelsea's smile disappeared when she noticed her mother had been crying. "Wendy? Are you ok honey?" Samuel asked his wife.
Wendy just nodded without saying anything. Chelsea put her hand on her mother's shoulder. "Mom what's wrong? Please talk to me."
Wendy wiped her tears. "Chelsea, I need to talk to your father alone please."
Chelsea felt so confused but left the kitchen quietly. She sat in the living room hoping to hear what her mother was saying. Ever since the incident at the grocery store, her mother had been sad and angry. She'd been very quiet cooking, which was unusual for her. Wendy was usually a very upbeat and happy person.
"I couldn't believe it myself but it was them! They've got some nerve!" Chelsea heard Wendy whisper.
"Maybe they changed their minds, maybe they want to be part of our lives again," Samuel went on.
Chelsea tried to listen harder but the voices got lower and it was hard to hear anything anymore. She turned on the TV and waited until dinner was ready to be served.
At the dinner table, there was an awkward and unfamiliar silence. Chelsea kept trying to keep a conversation going but it was almost impossible when all her parents would say were things like "yeah," "oh really," "that's great."
That night, Chelsea lay in bed thinking of all the events that happened earlier. There had to be something, some kind of story behind those folks she'd seen earlier at the grocery store. The way the woman looked at her was not a cold stare but a warm, caring stare. The man also had the same caring eyes and sweet smile. She only hoped her mother would tell her what was going on. It wasn't like Wendy to keep secrets from her.
The next day after school, Chelsea went up to the attic again to search for the baby pictures for her graduation ceremony. Wendy was still at work since she taught fifth grade at the local elementary school. Chelsea continued to rummage through old boxes finding nothing but old Christmas, Halloween and New Years' decorations.
"Oh great, how in the world am I ever going to find anything in all this mess?" She asked herself.
.... There is more of this story ...