“Since you’re the navigator, Anna, tell me what you think of the new route,” her father said.
“Ok. We’re heading west out of Salt Lake City and then we’ll hit Reno and Lake Tahoe first,” she said. “Oooo, jetskiing.
“Then we’re heading south-ish to a place called Sweetwater Lodge near Yosemite.” Anna looked up at her dad. “What is that?”
“It’s this adorable RV park that’s just outside the National Forest,” her mom enthused. “We saw it featured on this travel show. Remember that, Arthur?”
“RV park?!” Anna said. “How short-lived your memories are! I seem to recall a KOA where all of us spent the majority of our time there with salmonella poisoning.”
“This one is different,” her mother insisted. “It’s been in the family for 40 years. The husband and wife that run it now have it all modernized with a pool, picnic grounds, wifi and a little quarter shop where the kids can buy little candies and toys. I think they even have a chuckwagon dinner on the weekends.”
Anna shivered. Just thinking about barbecued chicken made her stomach heave.
“The best part?” Art said. “Ellen – let me tell her. The whole thing except the river and the lake is wheelchair accessible – the bathrooms, the cabins, and the lodge house.”
“Nice. I guess we can try it,” Anna said, trying to keep the sarcasm out of her voice.
“Ok, next after Sweetwater, it’s a week at . . . . Disneyland!” Anna said.
Squeals and “yes!”‘s erupted from the back of the motorhome.
“Next, some time at the beach in SoCal,” Anna said. “Then it’s east to Las Vegas -“
“Whoohoo!” Ophelia shouted from the back.
“It’s too bad you don’t have any money,” Anna said, smiling back at her sister.
“I have a little squirreled away,” Ophelia said. “Maybe I’ll hit it big. Then I’ll open my own bakeshop.”
“Sure . . . “
“Then after Vegas, we’re going to the Grand Canyon and Moab, and then we’ll head home.” Anna said, folding the itinerary. “Dad, this is fantastic. We’re going to have so much fun.”
Art smiled over at her. “I’m glad you think so. Your old man really knows how to get around Google Maps now. Let this adventure begin!”
The family spent the next day in Reno. Anna’s father insisted on taking the kids to all the touristy spots and get pictures. By the time they got done with Reno’s arch, the planetarium, and the zoo, the kids were pleasantly passed out in the back of the motorhome.
Sunbathing and watersports were the order for the next few days at Lake Tahoe. Ellen had to convince Art that the children would get horribly sunburned before he reluctantly loaded them all into the motorhome and headed to California.
“Dad, how about you take a rest? Let me drive for a while,” Ophelia said. “I have to get all the latest gossip from Ann.”
“A nap sounds good,” Art said. “Just don’t run us off the road, ok?”
Ophelia batted her eyelashes at her father coquettishly. “Why, father, whatever can you mean?”
Art pointed to Ophelia and looking at Anna said, “Watch her.”
Anna nodded at her father in what she hoped was some semblance of solemnity while trying to keep her lips from twisting into giggles.
“So, how’s life been treating you?” Ophelia said, bouncing in the driver’s seat.
“The kids are out of school. We have this vacation. I’ll start planning for next school year when we get back and then the same again next year,” Anna shrugged.
Anna chuckled. “When would I have time?”
“Right . . .” Ophelia said.
“Sis, its been four years since Darren died. Don’t you think you deserve to find some happiness?”
“I am happy. I also think my children deserve happiness and stability,” Anna said. “You can’t have stability when men are coming in and out of their lives all the time.”
“I guess that’s fair,” Ophelia said. “I just don’t think you’re trying hard enough.”
“I’m not trying at all,” Anna said. “I’m doing the best I can. My children are happy and I’m content, so why mess that up?”
“Okay, I get it,” Ophelia said. “But if you tried hard enough, you could find a guy that would offer you happiness and stability for your children. They exist.”
“Wow, you don’t let up, do you?” Anna said.
“No, I’m serious!”
Anna rolled her eyes. “This Mr. Hypothetical doesn’t exist, Phee. Not for me. You should be worried about your own search for happiness, ya dum dum.”
“What? I’m just fine the way I am. Besides, I’ve been dating,” Ophelia said giving her sister squinty eyes. ” You can’t ever find what you don’t look for.”
“See all this?” Anna slid her hand down her body. “There’s just too much woman here for one Mr. Hypothetical to handle.”
“You’re planning on more than one? Sister, I’m shocked.”
Anna playfully shoved her sister’s shoulder.
“Hey, stop using big words at me,” Ophelia complained. “You’re just stubborn.”
Anna leaned her head back.
“Do you know what it was like in high school?” Anna said, tears sprouting up in her eyes. “I would have a crush on a boy but they would look right through me as if I wasn’t there. Everyone around me seemed to get asked to dances, and I sat at home. Then I went to college, and practically the very first day, I meet Darren. Darren who comes out of nowhere like a knight in shining armor to rescue my spilled papers. He never once saw me as the wheelchair girl. He just saw me as me. I will not find that again.”
“Aww, sis,” Ophelia said, reaching over and giving her sister’s arm a squeeze.
“Darren and I had ten wonderful, short years together. I’m so grateful for them. I’m just not interested in spinning my wheels – so to speak.” Anna sighed and wiped away the tears.
“What about you?” Anna said. “It sounded like you said dating as in more than one. Aren’t you still dating whats-his-name?”
“I’m currently single,” Ophelia said.
“Oh, no,” Anna said. “What happened?”
“Well, turns out he was kinda, sort of married . . . the whole time.”
Anna stared at her sister in shock.
“Don’t say anything to mom and dad,” Ophelia said, throwing a look over her shoulder. “Please?”
“No, I won’t, of course,” Anna said. “But what the hell were you thinking?”
It took Ophelia a moment to collect herself. She looked over at her sister with sad eyes, bright with unshed tears.
“Oh, boy. Well, I didn’t know at first. But then someone at the bakery told me about his wife,” Ophelia said. “We had a big fight. I didn’t want to be the other woman. He never had plans to leave his wife. So I kicked him out, blocked his number, threw all this stuff out of my apartment. I’d rather live alone with my dignity.”
“Being with him, it was always secrets and lies,” Ophelia said. “I mean, I deserve to have true love, right? Something like you and Darren had, or even mom and dad. Or maybe I don’t deserve that.”
“Of course you deserve happiness, Phee,” Anna said. “You have so much to offer someone. Just offer it to the right person next time.”
“Please don’t be mad at me.” Her voice shuddered.
“Oh, Phee, I am far from mad at you,” Anna said holding her sister’s hand. “I just thought I was the only one in this family who could have a pathetic love life.”
The sisters laughed. Ophelia wiped her tears away with the back of her arm. “Yeah, well, you’re my older sister. I have to keep up with you somehow.”
“We need to discuss more productive ways of doing that in the future.”
“You know, you’re pretty cool for a girl who sits in a wheelchair all day.”
“And you’re pretty cool for kicking cheating jerks out of your life. Like a boss, as Brody would say.”
Anna held up her can of soda, and her sister clinked her soda can against it.
Homesite of author Whitney Sivill. I'm a mother of three, a wife and a student. In between, I write clean romances, fantasy tales, and mid-grade & young adult fiction. I might throw in the occasional fanfiction, too.