"Mira, stay. Why do you leave before your mom comes?" Mira's dad spoke in a low tone as his half-closed eyes blinked at his daughter.
"She's my stepmother, dad and I don't want to see her." Mira turned on her heel and left.
Her dad looked at the multitude of needles probing him, the heart machine showing a slow rhythm, and hoped that he could make it enough to reconcile those two.
That night the ominous beeping sounds made him feel otherwise. He pressed the button for the nurse and as she put an oxygen mask around his mouth, he spoke to her, even when she chided him to stop.
The nurse reluctantly got a piece of paper and wrote down the disjointed sentences spoken by the dying man.
Joy looked at the coffin of the man she loved and the blur of faces as they said goodbye to him, she looked for one face, but it remained as far away from her as possible.
It seemed that she lost two people on the same day, her stepdaughter had ignored her throughout the ceremony.
Little by little, the crowd left murmuring some words she didn't understand. She stayed near him for a long time, and left making one last attempt to look for Mira.
At home, she looked around the once cozy apartment which seemed cold and draughty. She'll put it on sale and disappear, there was nothing tying her down to that home now.
She went to her room and sat on her desk and opened her laptop. There were over 200 mails for her Agony Aunt column. Could she give advice today?
My roommate keeps borrowing my clothes without asking. She's great otherwise but I'm sick of this habit?
Joy gave a sad chuckle. She wanted to write back to her, at least you have someone to come home to, and not devastating quiet.
My mom keeps on asking about my work, she loves to talk and sometimes I get late for work. I abruptly cut the phone but then I feel guilty. Why does she talk so much?
Joy wanted to write in bold letters - because she loves you, she misses you, but she can't say that...
Maybe she can't tell you she loves you because she's not good at it, remember when she would get up early to make your lunch, stay up with you for exam prep, go across town to get your favorite cake on Christmas or do you just remember when she forgot to pick you up from school that one time, when she couldn't go shopping because she had work, when she watched you tell your father that you don't want to talk to her.
Ah Mira! Joy buried her head in her hands as she thought about how she couldn't shrug off the title of stepmother.
1 month later
Joy got up and had her usual breakfast of coffee and toast, opened the curtains a bit to peak at the new day, shook her head and closed them again.
She sat at her old table in her new dinghy apartment and began to check her mails.
After efficiently answering about twenty, she rubbed her eyes, and smiled. Human nature is pretty much the same, the questions varied but the basic nature never changed. She went to the next question.
"I'm trying to get in touch with my mom. I've been stupid enough not to see what she did for me, and now I feel I've lost her. I lost my dad last month and he left me a letter about the wonderful person my mom is and begged me to be with the only family I have. Unfortunately, two weeks back mom moved out and changed her number. She's the best at giving advice but I must find her first. Sorry mom, love Mira."
Joy looked through a teary prism at that word - mom.