Carla could hear the last school bell of the year chime through the Coronado Middle School halls. She was sitting, waiting patiently in the parking lot for her son. Now that it was officially summertime, the two of them were leaving immediately to go on a two hour drive north to Carlsbad.
This wasn’t a fun trip.
Carla’s mom passed away in a violent car accident two years ago. The death was sudden and it shook her to her core. Her mom was all she had left. Her step dad had died from cancer three years earlier and she never knew her real father.
Now, Carla felt the weight of being the oldest person alive in her immediately family.
Her sister was three years younger, but they didn’t speak much anymore. She lived on the East coast and the distance was just too much so they grew apart.
Until today, she’d tried to avoid the drive to Carlsbad. It wasn’t the time in the car that bothered her – she loved the freedom road trips offered. It was the destination – her mother’s beloved beach house.
Carla spent her summers here. The beach house was where her mom met her step dad. It was the spot where Carla had her first kiss at one of the regular bonfires by the water. She’d told her parents she was engaged while sitting at their kitchen table staring at the ocean – and then again, she told her parents that they were pregnant while staring at the sea.
The house was filled to the brim with memories. For Carla, it was almost too much to bear.
But today was the day.
Her husband convinced her to take a few weeks off and make the journey. They inherited the house and it was about time someone checked on it to see that it was in good condition.
As Sawyer sprang out of the hallways and ran toward her car, she could sense his excitement. He loved the house as a child and couldn’t understand why it had taken so long for them to return.
When his seatbelt was fastened, she put the car in drive.
The two made their way down the highway playing games to pass the time. They’d stare at the milepost signs and try to guess what the next would say. Carla loved this game as a child and now her son was just as eager to play.
When they finally made the exit, her heart skipped a beat. They were here.
It was dinner time, so she stopped by a local restaurant before forcing herself to walk through the threshold of the front door.
Finally, around 7 p.m. she did it. She put the key in the lock, sensing every click and groove as she pushed it in. When she opened the door, the smell hit her. It smelled like home.
That night, Sawyer played by the sea while Carla started the heavy task of going through her mother’s paperwork. She couldn’t be in that house without seeing what was left behind.
As she shuffled through the desk drawers, she saw a single envelope with her name on it in her mother’s handwriting.
Carefully, she peeled back the adhesive and pulled out the card. When she read her mother’s final message to her, she stopped breathing…
… she had everything she needed to finally find her birth father.