But, of course, I didn't want to talk about it. I wasn't Indiana Olive anymore. I wasn't even Olive anymore. I was Liv. And part of being Liv was never ever talking about my dad. I'd learned the hard way that telling people that your father left you for a mythical island that 99.9 percent of the world doesn't believe ever existed is not a great idea. In fact, it's best if you don't even tell it to yourself that often.
So, "no," I told her. I didn't want to talk about my dad. I didn't want to talk about my past. And I most definitely didn't want anything to do with that list. It symbolized everything that had hurt me, and everything that I no longer wanted to be.
My mom told me that important things don't like to stay buried, but then, thankfully, she let it go. It felt like a victory. We'd moved on, hadn't we? I had no use for golden cities and broken promises. I was no longer interested in cryptic clues. I'd declared that part of my life over. Case closed.
And then Atlantis came looking for me.
#1. HALF A PACK OF BIG RED CHEWING GUM
My dad chewed this all the time. One foil-wrapped stick after another starting right after his morning cup of coffee. He said it was the first thing he bought when he arrived in the Chicago airport from Greece, and the second he popped it into his mouth, he knew he'd made the right decision: any country that made gum like this knew what it was doing.
He emigrated with almost nothing. Just his passport, a ratty backpack, a few hundred dollars, and a Greek accent so strong he said it took three months before he could successfully order a cup of coffee.
His philosophy for navigating the US with zero connections, zero money, and zero friends? "Jump and a net will grow."
He was always getting American idioms wrong like that.
I'M GASPING FOR AIR. MY lungs feel like two fiery balloons. The mailboxes and trees are starting to sway in my blurry vision. And according to the fitness watch my stepdad, James, gave me for Christmas, we've gone only 1.32 miles.
In the tradition of the great Master Yoda: a runner I am not.
And today I couldn't even fake it.
"I need another break," I wheezed, doubling over to rest my hands on my bare knees.
My boyfriend, Dax, slowed his jaunty pace and sighed loudly, not because he needed the extra oxygen, but because this was our third break in less than fifteen minutes. I didn't have to glance at him to know exactly what his face looked like. Disappointed. Well, disappointed and gorgeous in that sun-kissed, fauxhawked, blue-green eyes kind of way. Because, Dax.
He rested his hand on my back, but the weight of it felt more incriminating than supportive. "Liv, we already had a break. I still have three more miles if I'm going to hit my training goal, remember?"
I did remember. And honestly, I wanted to run those three miles with him. Not only does Dax hate running alone, but last night he also accompanied me to an art exhibit in downtown Seattle that was all about the history of the Polaroid. He'd even turned off his phone so we wouldn't spend half the night being bombarded by texts from his legions of friends. So this morning, as a thank-you, I had planned to make it through his entire run without any complaining, which I can usually at least sort of do.
But unlike every other member of Dax's family/friend circle, I am not a runner. Or a biker. Or a cross-country skier. And I'm definitely not a morning person. I am an occasional Star Wars quoter, a collage artist, and a friend to all houseplants, but when Dax and I first started dating, I'd casually agreed with him when he mentioned how much he loved running in the mornings, and here we were. Two years later the ruse was definitely up, but he was still dragging me along with him. He was nothing if not persistent.
Today felt extra hard. I was so sleepy.
And then the memory hit me in the face. Splashed me in the face. I'd had the dream last night. No wonder I had the stamina of an elderly sloth.