Are you happy?
I know it’s a ridiculous question to ask, but really think about it for a second. Are you happy?
If you are, hold onto that for as long as you can, because I have learned that above everything, not all things happy in life last forever.
Not even I, being a normal girl from Ohio, could be happy forever after living what I thought was a normal life.
Aside from not having a dad, my mom and I had always been close.
But just because I didn’t have a dad in the picture didn’t mean my life wasn’t normal. Plenty of people only have one parent in their lives, and they turn out fine. So could I.
All of my life, it has been my mom and me, the strong-willed woman and her only daughter.
My mom is the owner of a cake shop Duval’s Cakes, and after graduating high school, I spent the summer there helping her.
I added icing around the edges of a graduation cake someone ordered, and just as I was about to add the finishing touches, the lights in the cake shop went off.
“Mom?” I asked, lifting my head and attempting to get a clear view, but everything was too dark.
The staff room door squeaked open, and my mom’s face, along with my best friend Kira, was lit up from the candlelight.
They began to sing “Happy Birthday” to me as she walked out of the staff room and toward me, causing me to laugh and set the icing aside.
“Make a wish, Elaina,” Kira said to me.
Today is my eighteenth birthday, the day I’m supposed to become an adult, and it should be the happiest day of my life.
I hadn’t thought much of it. I focused on working at the shop, but having Kira and my mom here made me feel more in the mood to celebrate.
I closed my eyes and thought of a wish before blowing out the candles. I didn’t wish for anything, because in that moment, I didn’t need anything. I already had everything I wanted.
I had built my life the way I wanted it to be, and no wish I made would change that; actions would.
As I opened my eyes, I smiled at my mom and Kira. “Shall we cut the cake?”
We sat together at a small table in the cake shop that was close to the window. Since we were closed at this late hour, we had the whole place to ourselves, and the privacy was nice.
While we enjoyed the fresh cake my mom had baked for me, Mom and Kira also passed their birthday gifts to me.
They consisted of a best friend charm bracelet, and my mom gave me a limited edition copy of The Great Gatsby, which happened to be my favorite novel.
“I’m also trying to get us tickets to that Pitbull concert,” Kira explained to me, seeming disappointed. “They’re sold out, but I might be able to get some for the show in New York.”
My jaw dropped in excitement. “You’re kidding? Kira!”
My mom simply shook her head. “No. I’m sorry, but you’re not leaving Ohio, Elaina.”
“What?” I asked.
“I said, you’re not leaving Ohio. Do the concert, but only if it’s in this state…” She cleared her throat. “I, uh…I’m not comfortable with you leaving the state.”
It’s seemed highly unfair that she felt like she had that type of control over my life, especially now she legally didn’t.
“Mom, I’m eighteen now. I’m an adult,” I explained to her as politely as I could. “I’ll be okay. Kira isn’t even sure yet.”
My mom’s gaze met Kira’s. “I’m kindly telling Kira to not waste her money because you are not leaving the state. Ever.”
I had no intention of staying in Ohio forever. I planned on doing my schooling elsewhere and escaping this town.
But the way my mother stated this made me feel trapped, and I could only wonder about the meaning behind her words.
The lack of control she had over me now that I was eighteen seemed to scare her. Though she wouldn’t admit it, I could see it in her eyes.
Kira cleared her throat, uncomfortable. “I should be heading home. I have this…thing tomorrow.”
She was escaping—something I wished I could do. I wasn’t sure why my mom was so adamant about this, but I knew it was about more than being overprotective of me.
I sat on my bed the following day, still attempting to understand my mom’s reasoning behind her control over me. When I thought about it, she had always been like this.
In the tenth grade, my class took a trip to Canada to explore Niagara Falls, but I wasn’t allowed to go.
For Kira’s sixteenth birthday, her parents took her three closest friends to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but my mom refused to let me go.
It was a never-ending cycle, and now that I was eighteen, she couldn’t prevent me from experiencing the things that I wanted to enjoy in life.
My phone buzzed with a text from Kira.
I smiled to myself. She was hosting a birthday party for me that was luckily in the same state, so I could attend without my mom getting furious and forbidding me to go.
Of course I would go—the party was for me, no matter how much I didn’t feel like celebrating. The feelings just weren’t there now that I was sensing all the stress from my mom.
She was hurt by my words yesterday even though I was hurt from her holding me back from things all teenagers my age do—things that legally, she had no say in.
Regardless, she was my mom, and I respected her opinion, so I didn’t necessarily just go against her anyway.
As I stood from my bed, I decided to checkup on my mom and tell her that I would be attending my birthday party tonight.
My hopes were that we could just move past this negativity today, for my birthday, and discuss everything else later.
I hurried down the steps that led to the foyer of our small home. “Mom? Kira is hosting a birthday party for me. I’m going to b—”
I stopped as I noticed my mom in the foyer with three men whom I’d never seen before—not that I could recall. She didn’t seem happy to see them, and they were dressed extremely formal.
Perhaps this was about a cake order, but we weren’t at the shop, so house calls seemed a little too personal.
“Mom?” I asked as I took the final step, reaching the floor and looking at my mom’s nervous features.
“Elaina, go upstairs,” my mom responded quickly before one of the men cut her off.
“No, no. That isn’t necessary, Fiona. Let Elaina stay. I’m sure she’s very curious.” The man spoke with a thick accent that seemed European.
While the other two men stayed silent, the man who seemed to be running the show continued, “Ah, sweet Elaina. You have no idea, do you?”
He took a step closer in my direction, and I hesitantly stepped back, looking over at my mom who quickly stepped forward to stop him from coming closer to me.
“Do not interrupt me, Fiona. Not when I’m talking to my daughter.” The man, Vadim, smirked darkly at me. “That’s right, sweetheart. I’m your father.”
My father? My mortified eyes met my mother’s. She looked devastated but didn’t deny anything. If anything, she looked shocked that I’d found out this way.
“Mom! He’s lying…” I said, and when she didn’t say anything, I raised my voice again. “Mom!”
“Ah, such a spitfire. You get that from me,” Vadim said with an amused tone. “Let’s catch up, my dear.”
“Let’s not,” I snapped at him. “Get out of my house!”
I turned to run up the stairs, not having a moment to take any of this in before I felt an arm grip my wrist tightly and pull me back.
“Do not talk to me in that manner,” Vadim scolded in an extremely stern tone, but his ice-cold eyes bore into mine as if he had some kind of high authority over me.
I just stared at him, my mom not saying a word, as the other two men stayed silent while my suddenly present father appeared out of nowhere.
“Why are you here?” I asked him softly. “Why now?”
He furrowed his brow as if I had just asked him the most ridiculous question in the world. “Your mother knew I was coming. This was always the plan, Elaina. You’re eighteen now.”
“What does being eighteen have to do with this? Just yesterday, I was seventeen. One day doesn’t make a difference.” I attempted to prove my case, but it seemed impossible.
“It does, actually.”
“Vadim, please let me talk to her first,” my mom begged him, and I stared at her, confused. Why was she bowing down to this disgusting excuse of a man? He seemed terrible.
He simply raised his hand to shush her before continuing. “You’ve had eighteen years to talk to her, Fiona. She’s mine now.”
“Yours!” My eyes grew wide before Vadim began to speak in a language that I assumed was Russian. He seemed Russian based on the accent, and he had a lot of similar features.
I’m not one to stereotype, but the language was a hard giveaway.
If he’s my father biologically, then I have Russian blood.
After his rant in his language, one of the men strode toward me and held me firmly so I couldn’t move while the other stopped my mom from doing anything.
This wasn’t real. It had to be some practical joke.
“You see, Elaina, your mother has known she would only have you for eighteen years…” Vadim explained to me.
“I’ve been providing for you both under the condition that when you turn eighteen, you leave with me.”
But why did he want me now, and why did my mom agree to this? For my entire life, my mom knew that she was losing time with me, and she made no attempt to even let me know.
I stared at my mom who had tears rolling down her cheeks as she mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.”
I’m sorry? She’s serious. I’m sorry doesn’t cut it.
“I don’t want to go. So I kindly reject your offer,” I told Vadim, struggling in the other man’s grip.
“Elaina, you need to listen to him,” my mom warned me, but I was done listening to anything she said.
She set me up for this. I could have run or tried to hide from this man who was supposedly my father, but now, I was trapped for God knows how long.
Vadim lifted my chin and gave a bone-chilling smile. “Sweetheart, you have no idea who you’re talking to, do you?”
“Not my father,” I spat, looking away from him only to have my chin yanked back quickly, which took me off-guard.
He stared at me, silence filling the room for a deadly amount of time, which may have seemed like a dramatic buildup for him, but for me was a terrifying moment in which I had no idea what to expect.
“I am Vadim Vasiliev, leader of the Russian Mafia, my dear. Which makes you, my only child, Elaina Vasiliev.”
Black. That was it—everything went black. But it isn’t what you think. I didn’t pass out. I wasn’t so shocked that I fell to the ground in complete dismay.
As my vision went black, I felt a sting in my side, a similar sensation to the feeling you get when you get blood work or have a vaccine.
After hearing that the man in front of me was claiming to be a part of the Russian Mafia, I was injected with something that instantly made me pass out, and that was it.
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