You Know I Still Love You

Image by Team GHB

:: previous — Come With Me


The ridiculous construction work on the way home has kept traffic stalled forever. I’m trying to get home and check on Misa. It’s impossible locked in this single lane of vehicles moving at a snail’s pace.

My phone rings. I check the dash, hoping it’s Misa.

Fuck. I slam the accept button and grip the steering wheel. If this woman makes me crash my truck…

“Mother.” I answer without emotion.

“Emilian. Why did I get this horrific alert from your school? Cheating? Property damage? Is this true?”

“Not exactly.” I check the back of my hand. My knuckles are intact. “Well, the damage part is true, although I’d classify it as necessary classroom renovations. Property damage sounds too harsh.”

“Excuse me?”

“Don’t panic, I’ll buy Instructor Inga a new table.” Piece of crap anyway.

“I can’t believe you, Mili. This is insanity. First your low placement test score and now this. What next? You become some criminal?”

“It’ll be fine, Mom.”

“Let me tell you something. It’s not fine. You hear me? Cheating is not fine. What made you do this? You don’t need to cheat. You’re smarter than that.”

“I didn’t cheat… I was helping a friend.”

“Helping a friend…” She pauses. “Was it a girl? There’s been sunflowers haunting my dreams lately. You know what that means.”

“No. Incorrect, Mom. Just—” I feel my blood boil. “It’s okay.”

“But it’s not okay, Mili. You got suspended for a week. That’s a lifetime! You’ll miss work in your other classes, and it looks terrible record wise.”

“One zero won’t ruin me. Besides, my record is irrelevant. I’m going to work at Grim Systems. They won’t care about it there.”

“What? You’re going to work for your father’s company now? What happened to moving out here to the district with me? Remember, you were going to work for the crown?”

“Correct. Until their logistics head asked me to do consulting work that they weren’t going to pay me for. Therefore, I was no longer interested in anything the insignificant Crown had to say. If I’m working, I expect payment, especially from them. You want me to be a slave?”

“Stop being dramatic. You wouldn’t be a slave. It would lead to a very prestigious role, Mili. I even spoke with the king’s advisor about it. He’s interested in you. Anyway, you wouldn’t have to worry about money living with me. I’m your mother. Taking care of you is my job, you know that.”

“Listen, I can’t talk about this right now, okay? I’m in the middle of something.”

The car in front of me creeps forward a little.

C’mon, let’s get moving… Sick of looking at these mountains.

“This is ridiculous. What made you change your dreams, Mili? Are you hanging out with bad influences? I need to look at that apartment you’re in. Your father helped you find that one, I bet, didn’t he?”

“I like my pla—”

“Your father was penetrating his scallywags at that complex the day we broke up. I’ll never forget.”

“Okay, I have to go—”

“So he doesn’t make the wisest decisions, but we’ll leave the past in the past. Anyway, I’m confident you’ll work for the crown, right?”

“No, Mom—”

“That’s a yes? Great. So, if you didn’t want to stay with me when you move here, I could get you set up with a house. Ooh, you’d look so handsome as a homeowner. I could see you now, mowing the lawn without a shirt on. Sweat, muscles, sunglasses. Aww! Just think how nice it would be if you met someone too!” She gasps. “Maybe a house with more space for children. Assuming I like your mate first, of course. You know what? I’ll book a flight and get you out here. We’ll look together.”

“NO! Shut. Up. I punch the mute button quick before I say something I’ll really regret.

Silence falls, the awkward kind.

Then a sniffle, then another and another.

“You never spoke to me like that before.” Her sobs sound like a small, wounded animal. “You sound just like your father.”

Here we go.

“Mom. I… I need you to back off. You’re suffocating me with the nasty emails, calls, surprise visits. I mean, come on, parental reports sent to you with my grades? It’s too much. I’m twenty-two!”


“It needs to stop. You….” Before I continue, I take a deep breath. I don’t want to hurt her; I just want her to understand. “You’re the reason for approximately ninety percent of my stress. I calculated it. You need to back off and let me be. Please.”

Dead silence on her end.


I hear her sobbing, far off in the distance.

“C’mon, don’t cry… You know I still love—”

“No one loves me.”

She hangs up just as the road clears ahead.


.     .     .

I get home and run straight to Misa’s door.

Tap. Ta-tap. Ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap

No answer.

Tap. Ta-tap. Ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap

Still nothing. She has to be home; her vehicle is parked in her assigned spot.

Tap. Ta-tap. Ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap

Dad taught me that knock when I was a kid. It gets any woman to answer their door, he told me.

Except on Misa, this time at least. Hmm.

She’s not here. Or she’s ignoring me.

Or she’s dead in there.

I walk down the garden path to the parking lot, staring at the white jalopy in spot number ten. Misa’s car.

Where are you?

My phone chimes in my pocket. Great. Mom wants to complain again.

Hi, Emilin. This is Misa, and this is my number. I’m so sorry about today.

Emilian* Sorry!

My phone slips out of my shaky hand and tumbles to the grass. I scramble down to retrieve it and text back.

Don’t apologize. It was my fault. I am sorry. Are you okay? Did you get suspended? I got a week.

I got a week too. And I’m ok.

A tsunami of Misa’s honey grapefruit scent surges through my veins as if she were standing beside me. I’m glad she’s okay. She’s never been in trouble in her life, I bet.

I head back to her apartment as I text her back.

Have you been suspended before?

Never. Have you?


Really? What’d you do?

Long story. Are you home?

Misa doesn’t text back immediately like the other messages.

I stare at her door, waiting for it to open. She’s in there. Maybe fixing herself up.

My phone chimes.

No, I’m out of town for a little.

Out of town? With who?

No, don’t say that. If I deep dive too much, I could scare her away. I’ll just track her device and see where she’s ventured off to.

Safe travels, Misa :]

thx [:

I head back inside, rethinking my last message. It sounded like a closing statement, like the end of our conversation. I’d prefer it continued, but I need to figure out what to say. Maybe something clever. Something that’ll make her laugh.

But first, Mom. I grab my phone to text her.

I will always love you.

Hopefully she’s okay.

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