From the book
Who sends postcards anymore? I wondered when I saw it in the mailbox. How quaint, how old-fashioned. The picture was an old black-and-white photo of a gargoyle on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the kind you might find in a musty antique shop. Even the faded French stamp looked like it was from a previous century. Then I recognized the loopy handwriting and my stomach lurched, first in relief, then in boiling hot rage. So Mom wasn't dead, kidnapped, or suffering from amnesia. She was gone, plain and simple.
Dear David, Malcolm, and Mira,
I know this has been a shock to you all, but don't worry about me. I'm doing what I should have done years ago. There is so much I need to learn, but believe me I'll be home as soon as I've figured things out.
Gargoyles have always fascinated me. Just think what stories they could tell if we only spoke their language!
Take care of yourselves, and remember that I love you.
I examined the card-front, back, and sideways-but that was it. She'd left us, and all she said was "don't worry about me"? I was furious! Such a tra-la-la, have-a-nice-day kind of message when she'd thrown a bomb into our lives, blowing our family apart.
When we first realized Mom was really gone, I was terrified. We called the cops, filed a missing person report, waited with our breath held, and...nothing. A big fat nothing. Funny how quickly I went from being scared that she'd been hurt to wanting to kill her myself.
Dad was a wreck. He expected to get ransom demands from some mythical kidnappers for weeks. Every time the phone rang, he'd practically jump out of his socks. As the weeks rolled by and he corralled us into therapy, he talked about Mom as if she was on one of her work trips that she'd somehow forgotten to tell us about. She didn't answer her cell phone? The battery must have died. No email? She must be super busy. But after months went by, even Dad couldn't believe his own lie.
Still he swore he didn't have a clue that Mom was unhappy or that she wanted out of our family. He insisted something else had to be going on. Like what, my brother, Malcolm, and I wanted to know. Like Mom's really a secret agent and she's on some hush-hush mission?
Malcolm is sixteen, a couple of years older than me, and his humor kept me from crying my eyes out those first days. Some people think he's too sharp, but to me his sharpness has a reason. Plus, he isn't mean, just scathingly right. He's awkwardly tall and skinny, too smart to be cool, with unruly hair he proudly calls a Jewfro. Looking like that, you need a sense of humor.
Mom says he's just like her dad, with that same drive to succeed, that same need to prove himself, but minus the skill as a sculptor since that's what Grandpa did. I always thought Malcolm was her favorite. He gets better grades, takes harder classes, and actually thinks math is fun. So I knew Mom didn't want to abandon Malcolm. Me, I wasn't so sure about.
Secretly I always wondered if Mom was disappointed in me. I'm not beautiful like her, though Dad says I'm cute (but then, what father doesn't say that about his daughter?). Mom's face is a smooth oval, her hair wavy, her eyes big and golden. I have her eyes, but that's about it. I'm short, with wild kinky hair and a nose a little too big for my face. Kind of like Dad, I guess, but minus the John Lennon glasses.
What I really wanted to inherit was artistic ability. Not Mom's, but her father's, the one Malcolm is like. Grandpa was such a successful sculptor that he even had pieces in big...