"Where are we going?" Sole asked, Rhea had been dragging him for a while. Normally this wouldn't bother Sole but he was also blindfolded. He couldn't see where this was going. No pun intended.
"For the billionth time it's a surprise. We're already here anyway." Rhea knocked on a door.
"Where is here?" Sole heard a door opening. Rhea took off his blindfold. He heard a noise that sounded like it came from an animal. He suddenly felt two arms squeeze him hard in a painful hug. "Mom?"
"Sole!" Sole's mom, who was shorter than him, only reached his chest. Sole's shirt became wet because his mom was crying. Worried Sole started to rub her back to comfort her. Sole's mom, Joan, hadn't seen him in a long time. Sole felt guilty about making his mom cry like this. "Come in. Both of you." Joan invited them in. Sole knew his mom was getting older but she was still as strong as an ox. Sole this time was dragged into his childhood home. Rhea wasn't dragged in and just entered normally.
"Hey Sole." Sole's father, Rome, waved to him. That was his dad cool as a cucumber. It was as if he had seen Sole only yesterday. His father was watching sports on the TV, he lowered the volume and motioned to the couch near him. "Take a seat. We need to talk."
"What's going on?" Sole asked as he sat on the couch near his dad.
"Closer" Rome said, sounding serious. Sole leaned in. He was anxious to know what his father had to say."Who's your friend?"
"She's my t-" Sole almost called her his tulpa. He thought over what to call her and he decided on calling her his therapist. Spending time with her was therapeutic.”therapist."
"Oh my to think my son would be able to seduce his therapist." Sole's father seemed very proud of his son. Rome had pretended to wipe away tears of joy. Sole was hoping Rhea wouldn't see how weird his father was. Luckily Rhea was in the kitchen cooking with his mom.
"Um miss Sole's mom." Rhea said not sure what to call Sole's mom.
"Relax sweetheart, you can call me Joan. Thank you for bringing Sole here." Rhea didn't have a mom but if she did she hoped they would be like Sole's mom. She felt at ease around her.
"I feel kind of guilty. Sole said he had been meaning to come over but he kept putting it off. I gave him that extra push to get him here." Rhea let out a small smile.
"Sole has been known to drag his feet.. Sole's lucky to have someone like you in his life. Do you know how to cook? I worry about the boy not getting enough nutrition. When I hugged him he felt so much thinner than last time. Sole, after his trip around the world, developed a taste for all sorts of things. It was hard but I learned to cook all sorts of foods for him. If you'll help me I'll gladly teach you the recipes." Sole's mom had made Rhea an offer she couldn't refuse. Rhea nodded enthusiastically.
"Dad, please don't go forcing your fantasies on others." Sole said this so often the words came out reflexively.
"I'm sure all the therapists visit their patients' parents and cook for them." Sole's father said in a playful tone.
"She's one hell of a therapist. She's always willing to go the extra mile for me." Sole responded with a smile.
"She reminds me of your mother. If you plan on making her more than your therapist I suggest you make your move before someone else does." As Sole's dad spoke Sole thought of Rhea with someone else and he didn’t like that thought. His dad gave a knowing smile. "Even thinking about it is enough to make you jealous. Youth is wasted on the young." Sole's father let out a mock exasperated sigh then smiled.
"Incredible!" Sole's mom watched Rhea chop up vegetables with machine-like precision.
"Thank you. I guess I learned a thing or two from those cooking shows I watched." Rhea blushed from the unexpected praise.
"If you are able to do all this just from watching TV, imagine what you could do with some practice. I'm sure the guys will be lining up to marry you." Sole's mom said as she rinsed the rice. Rhea could only think of one person she would want to marry. Sole's mom knew who Rhea was thinking of. "Silly me, I wouldn't want to get your clothes dirty here." Sole's mom gave Rhea an apron that said kiss the chef.
"Thanks for the advice, Dad." Sole got up and checked on Rhea. He saw Rhea and his mom chatting up a storm. The scene was heartwarming. Mom usually cooked alone.
"What’s up Sole?" Sole heard a familiar voice call him from upstairs. The voice belonged to his sister, Stella. Taking after their dad, she acted as if she had seen Sole only yesterday. She was smaller when he last saw her. She was becoming an adult. "Who's the girl giving me a death stare?" Sole figured it wasn't his mom so he looked at Rhea. Rhea was holding a knife and looked ready to use it at a moment's notice. Sole's sister ignored Rhea. “Meet me upstairs.”
"Long time no see." Sole's sister said with a big goofy grin. Her room looked the same as before. Maybe a few new posters and a bigger bed. "Are you okay?" Sole felt guilty about making his sister worry. "Mom worries herself sick most nights. You know Dad is usually pretty stoic but it's easy to tell he's sad too. They won't let me do anything because they're worried I could end up like you.” The words felt accusatory and they kind of stung. “I've passed my driver's test but they won't let me drive or take classes." She was blunt but Sole could empathize with her. "Tomorrow we will go to the beach. You know Mom loves the sun. I'm begging you. Show them you're better and maybe they'll let me do more." Sole would do anything for his sister so he agreed. She gave Sole a big hug. After that they ate dinner and we're invited to spend the night.