I Wish You Goodbye

by JT Adeline

I Wish You Goodbye by JT Adeline It had all began with a handheld mirror. Now, at the age of fifteen, Skylar Montgomery has to do what he promised and wish his mom goodbye.

He never imagined life without the only parent he had. He misses her so much he swears he can smell the lavender lotion she used, hear her voice and feel her presence. Even with his grandparents at his side, he doesn’t know how he will make it through each day without her. But, he knows his mom died with a secret, and he’s almost positive it’s about his dad.

Ryan Kelley never imagined a letter from his longtime friend, Savannah Montgomery, was to tell him she’s dying and they share a son. He doesn’t expect the anger from Savannah’s dad, James, when he shows up at their home unannounced, and when he meets his son for the first time finds it shocking at their almost identical resemblance. He missed fifteen years of his son’s life and doesn’t plan to miss any more.

Reed Russell’s life started in foster care. He never had friends until he met Skylar in third grade, and struggles knowing Ryan won’t let Skylar stay with his grandparents. His mood continues to sour at how naïve his friend is in thinking life won’t change. How could his friend be so stupid?

Can Skylar open his heart to let his dad and his dad’s family in without losing his best friend and the cherished memories of his mom?

What are you waiting for—don’t you want to find out?






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He’s going to be a heartbreaker. After all, he has his father’s handsome features, the same tawny hair wisping out in every direction as if he just came off a fast ride. His eyes, the same color as his hair that takes everything in, and his smile—oh that smile—which makes everything brighter even on the darkest and dreariest of days. She hasn’t seen his real smile in a while. Sure, he tries to look at ease as if everything is going to be fine. But she knows he’s terrified. A mother always knows what’s going on in her child’s mind.

She watches him struggle to be casual, leaning against the dingy hospital wall, drawing his hand across his face, and knows he’s wiping away tears. She feels her heart break in what is to come and what she can’t change. She will never see him graduate or watch him fall in love. She will never hold any of his children or give parenting advice.

She’s dying.

“Skylar,” her voice croaks out from a throat too dry. He turns and comes to her hospital bed, looking exactly like his father. How can her son have so many traits of the father he has never met?

“Hey, Mom.” He takes her small hand in-between his larger ones and squeezes gently, a half-smile on his fifteen-year-old face. He isn’t going to be a heartbreaker, he already is.

“Hey yourself.” She lifts a hand and runs it weakly down the side of his face.

“Geema and Geepa are in the waiting room. They told me to tell you they haven’t heard anything yet.”

She tries to hide her disappointment. She had thought, or maybe she had hoped, Ryan would’ve come by now. She had sent the letter months ago and it shouldn’t be up to her parents to deal with the secret she decided to keep. These moments now are her last ones to share with her son and she won’t leave this world with him angry.

“Smile for me, Skylar.” Her voice is almost a whisper. She watches the alarm spark in his eyes, tears beginning to well. “You promised me, Sky.” She smiles as she tries to squeeze his hand. “Wish me goodbye.”

Tears fall freely as he returns her gaze. His hand tightens, almost too tightly on hers, as she feels him struggle to keep from falling apart. She’s already gone through how life isn’t fair, taking her away from her only child. Somehow, in her grief, she has accepted that fate has decided her life is to be too short. She tucks away her tears, grasping onto her lifeline to see her final gift as her beautiful, amazing, strong son takes a deep breath and gives her his smile that she will take with her forever.

“That’s my boy,” she whispers. “You are my light, my world, my life. I love you Skylar James.” Her eyes begin to close, her hand to slip. As she feels Skylar’s grip tighten, she hears her son’s choked voice for the last time.

“I love you, Mom. I wish you goodbye.”



Chapter One

Two weeks later


Grace Montgomery stands at the living room window of her home in Blue Heron Crest Community on the outskirts of Hudson, Wisconsin. She dabs at her eyes with a wet handkerchief as she watches her grandson working around the circular garden, with the ten-year-old maple tree he and his mom planted on his fifth birthday. Usually, on Mother’s Day, Savannah and Skylar planted flowers around this tree—violas and pansies for Savannah, snapdragons and sweet Williams for Skylar. Today, her grandson works around the garden in the unusually warm April day, upturning the soil with a shovel, his muscles straining with the effort.

“April is a little early to be prepping the garden.” James places his large gentle hands onto her shoulders and gives them a squeeze.

Grace sniffs and wipes her eyes. “He’s angry, James. I’ve tried talking to him. He only says he’s okay and leaves it at that.”

James pulls her back against his broad chest and she breathes in the familiar scent of shaving cream. “He’s grieving, Grace, and a fifteen-year-old shouldn’t have to grieve the loss of a parent.”

“What else can we do to help him?”

“Join him.”

“What if he wants to do this alone?”

“That’s just too bad. We’re all grieving and that boy has spent an awful lot of time alone lately.” He gently steers her away from the window and takes her hand.

His hand is rough and calloused in hers as she allows James to lead her out the front door and to the side of the house. The almost seventy-degree weather feels good on her face as they round the corner. Skylar mops at his brow with a black and white bandana, the shovel propped against his side.

“Are you finished for the day?” James asks.

“Almost.” Skylar stuffs the bandana back into his pocket, his gray shirt lined with sweat and his black cargo shorts streaked with dirt. He seems so much taller now, surpassing her five-foot-four frame by at least three inches, and the top of his head nose level with his grandfather’s six-foot frame.

He crouches in front of a white plastic bag and props it open on the ground, drawing something out. Skylar holds the fishing wire in between his fingers, reaches up, and slips the wire over a healthy, bare branch.

Grace gently takes the lavender winged crystal angel in between her fingers as Skylar removes something else from the bag and shoves it into the ground. Grace’s breath catches, and tears fill her eyes, as she reads the engraved words on the four-by-six cherry wood; I Wish You Goodbye. “Oh, Skylar, it’s beautiful. When did you make it?”

Skylar runs his finger over the words. “I made it in shop class a week before Mom died. I could hear classmates asking each other what it meant. I didn’t have the heart to tell them.”

James clears the lump in his throat. “When you go back to school next week, maybe you will get the chance.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Skylar gets slowly to his feet, rubbing his soiled hands up and down the front of his shorts. He lifts sad eyes before doing what Grace thought he did in private; he turns into their inviting arms and cries.

* * *

Skylar rolls defrosted chicken thighs in flour and herbs just like his mom had taught him, and arranges them on a large cookie sheet. He glances around Geema’s inviting kitchen as he works at the center island. The walls are a bold barn red with white curtains framing the windows that never block out the sun. White appliances flank the oak cabinets and spotless white countertops decorated with only a white Keurig coffee pot and a smiling Pillsbury Dough Boy cookie jar.

Geema’s at the stove prepping asparagus to roast in the oven while humming some catchy old-time tune Skylar knows will remain in his head for the remainder of the evening. Soft chatter wafts in through the doorway from the TV in the living room, until the doorbell rings.

“Would you mind getting the door, Skylar?” Geepa calls from the living room.

After washing his hands, he looks questioningly at Geepa sitting in his favorite chair as he walks past, and pulls the front door open, only to be surprised when finding his best friend since third grade standing with his parents.

“Hey.” Skylar steps to the side while receiving a pat on his shoulder from Reed’s dad, and a caress on his cheek from his friend’s mom. “What’re you doing here?”

“We’re invited for chicken dinner.” Reed smirks, following Skylar into the kitchen.

Skylar picks up the cookie sheet only for Geema to remove it from his hands.

“You and Reed are free to go until dinner is ready.”

“I need to clean up the counter.” He tries walking around her, but she only continues to block his path.

Reed’s mom places the washcloth into the soapy water in the sink. “I’ll take care of that, you two scoot.”

“The pirate ship is probably due in,” Reed says, following Skylar to the backdoor and outside. “They only get one chance shoving us onboard.”

Skylar laughs and lets the screen door slap closed. He heads to the weather-beaten picnic table in the backyard, sits on it, and watches as his friend picks a long weed to place between his teeth.

Reed Russel is a one-of-a-kind friend who would get into a lot of trouble without Skylar around. His black hair is as out of control as always, sticking up in random places as if he just climbed out of bed, his ice blue eyes looking across the yard. Reed usually acts on impulse, not thinking of the outcome of most things he does, and Skylar has pulled him out of many near-jams in their six-year friendship.

“So, are you coming back to school soon or do I have to keep dealing with the Standards without you?”

Skylar snorts. ‘The Standards’ are Reed’s expectations for a teacher to answer any and all questions thrown at them, even if the majority of them come from Reed himself. “Yeah, I’ll be back on Monday.”

“Good, then I won’t have to hog-tie you, drag you with me tonight and hold you captive until then.” He snatches up another weed and begins twisting it into knots. “I have to tell you something.” He glances up, his usual devilish grin missing. “You have to understand, I didn’t mean to get into trouble. I just wasn’t myself without you around.”

Skylar scoffs, leaning his forearms onto his thighs. “You’re always getting into trouble.”

Reed tosses the knotted weed into the yard, and then picks another. “This time it’s different.”

“Whatever you did can’t be that bad.”

“Oh, contraire.” Reed sighs, taking a seat next to Skylar, removing the weed from his teeth. “Do you remember how I joked about Ms. Stevens and Mr. Thompson needing to hook up with each other?”

Skylar raises one brow. “Yeah.”

Reed runs a hand through his black hair, making it stand up even more. “You know I’ve always admired technology. You can send a text message to anyone and they receive it in the blink of an eye.” He pauses and looks at Skylar through his thick eyelashes. “Are you aware there is a student in our grade with the name of Stacy Stevens, the same as Ms. Stevens?”

“Reed, what did you do?”

“I peeked at school files...”

“You mean you hacked into the school files.”

Reed cringes. “Hacked seems overly unlawful since I only borrowed two phone numbers and really meant no harm.”

“How many grades did you change?”

“Yours or mine?” Reed’s grin barely reaches his eyes. “Just kidding. I didn’t touch either of our school records. I simply borrowed Mr. Thompson’s cell number and what I thought was Ms. Stevens cell number and sent a—I guess you could call it a love text—from one to the other through the computer not aware it was going to the student and not the teacher. Before the end of the day, cop cars pulled in front of school. I over-heard some friends of Stacy Stevens, the student, talking about how Stacy’s dad had come in with the police and Mr. Thompson was arrested.”

Both of Skylar’s brows shoot upward and he clamps his mouth closed.

“I walked right out of fourth hour and went to Ms. Stevens and told her everything. She walked with me to Mr. Monroe’s office and stayed with me until my parents arrived. A detective came and I had to show him the computer I used, and proof I sent out the texts. Mr. Thompson was released into the waiting arms of his wife.”

Skylar cringes.

“I’m grounded until I’m thirty-five with only being able to leave my house to come to yours.” Reed moves from the table to pick at some rocks on the ground and chucks them at unforeseen enemies in the lawn as they did when they were younger. “Mr. Thompson refused to press charges and spoke with Stacy’s parents, asking them not to as well. After a meeting with Mr. Monroe, my parents, and Stacy’s, they were able to come up with a punishment for me at school so I wouldn’t have to stand before a judge, or be sent to a juvenile detention center as everyone expects.”

“Not everyone expects you to end up in juvie, Reed.” 

Reed places a foot onto the picnic bench. “I know, Sky. I’m not trying to sound corny or anything, but I’m thankful every day you moved here when you did.” He gazes at Skylar, his eyes sad. “You didn’t deserve what was handed to you, and I’m sorry if I’m making it sound like it’s your fault I screwed up.”


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