Two, three, seven, nine and twelve. Those were his favorite numbers, although I didn’t realize it until the night I received word of his untimely death. That’s a night ingrained in my head forever. My world came crashing down around me. Everything I knew was stripped away and I had to start from scratch, rebuild my entire view of my childhood, my parents, my very existence. Nothing was as it seemed and that was never more evident than the night I had to find his so called life insurance policy.
I’m a semi-typical-17-year-old girl, well, 18 tomorrow. In fact I’m supposed to graduate from high school in two weeks, but I don’t know if I’ll be around to walk across the field with all my friends. A police officer knocked on my door tonight and said my father had been killed in a car accident. I shrugged. Nothing I hadn’t heard before. Dad’s body had yet to be recovered, something about being too badly burned, which didn’t make too much sense since the officer had his wallet to hand me. I rolled my eyes. The officer even looked apologetic. He could tell I wasn’t buying it, but when I asked further questions he had no answers. Typical.
Then there was the issue of being underage. He wanted to put me in the care of an adult. Somehow, I managed to convince him that technically I was legal, since in two hours and thirty-seven minutes I would be eighteen. He let that go and left me with his card, telling me to call if I had any questions or needed help. I informed him I would be fine and not to worry. My neighbors knew me well and Grandma lived just down the way. That wasn’t entirely truthful. She’s a few states away, but he didn’t need to know that. After all, that was the plan if anything like this ever happened. I was just following instructions.
So after the police officer left, I was able to take Dad’s wallet and finally find the truth. That was part of the plan too. See, Dad’s a lawyer that works on high profile cases. He has had a lot of people out for his blood and for as long as I can remember, he’s been running me through the “if this happens” drills. “If this happens to me then you respond this way . . .”, “If that happens to me, then this is the way you act . . .”, “If someone says this to you, you say this . . .”, “If I don’t come home after a trip, then you do this . . . .” We would practice at least once a week if not more. So I assumed this was just another one of those times. I followed protocol like I was supposed to. Now I find out what’s really happening and when Dad would really come home.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that this would be the real deal. I just figured it was another “drill.” So when I found the note in his secret compartment, right where it was supposed to be I blew it off, threw his wallet on the couch and stuffed the note in my pocket before fixing something to eat. Then plopping down in the recliner I flipped on the TV to watch Dad’s and my favorite show, Jeopardy. We loved to see who could answer the most questions. I munched on the sandwich I had made, saying the answers between bites. When final Jeopardy hit, I glanced at the clock. 10:56. I froze mid-bite. The time was wrong. The “drills” never happened in that hour. My heart beat faster as realization hit home. Slowly I put down my sandwich and found Dad’s note. It didn’t say what they usually say. It didn’t tell me what time he would be home or where to meet him. There were no comforting words in this note. All it said was, “Find my life insurance policy and then you’ll understand.”