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surprises
by collette mcfarland 
02/22/14
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christian stories Thursday, February 20, 2014

SURPRISES

I can’t take it anymore, the heat wins. I’m going to have to give in and crank the air conditioner up another notch before my hubby gets home. This heat wave is going to make the electric companies rich…richer. I refilled my cup with more water and ice and sat back down under the fan in my round oversized chair, readjusted the many pillows, where Scruffy, my terrier, joined me, equally satisfied with my decision in climate control. A few seconds later Rocky, Scruffy’s pet squirrel, popped up onto my lap also. Well, I was stuck here for a while now. I always hate to disturb sleeping animals. At least I have hold of the remote control. Cindy, my chronically effervescent teen, came in the back door griping loudly about something with her friend Angela. Scruffy twitched his ear as if he might get up to greet her but succumbed to his heat induced lethargy while Rocky nestled in closer to him affirming his decision to conserve energy.

“Mom, you won’t believe this,” Cindy stated crossing the barrier from kitchen to den. “We just saw Amber at the mall and she wouldn’t talk to us, in fact, she acted like we were complete strangers”

“Hmmm,” was all I had the energy for.

“She was real friendly looking with some hunk; I think he’s the quarterback for Middleton High. And she was dressed real …,” Angela added struggling for the right definition. “different.” Well that covered a lot of territory as Amber was pretty conservative to avoid attention.

Shy, clumsy Amber with a hunk? The school loner? The girl could barely keep from turning pink when she ordered a big Mac from the acne afflicted adolescent boy at the counter at McDonalds. This information got two twitches from Scruffy’s ears. Both ears.

I was saved from responding by the bell; the door bell. Guess who decided to pay a visit right now? Amber; who Cindy and Angela jumped on simultaneously with thousands of questions but all it earned them was one very confused look as Amber denied vehemently her presence at the mall let alone with any boy. Scruffy and Rocky, who had decided their quiet time had been razed, plopped to the floor and sauntered away.

“Quiet,” I ordered as the national news came on. Scruffy halted midstep, sat on his haunches and stared at the television, then rotated his head from side to side as though he was looking at something or someone on either side of the television. For a split second I thought... no I definitely just imagined I saw two wispy figures pointing at the TV.  I’ve said this before but that dog was certainly odd at times and it must be contagious.

There on the screen was our reclusive neighbor from up the street, Mrs. Heldels. Oh my gosh, has it been 15 years already? She obviously had gotten some air time to beg for her daughter to call home. Fifteen years ago eighteen year old Stacy and her mysterious boyfriend left town to elope, after a rather ugly family argument that her mother has since been paying for, the poor dear. Mrs. Heldels had threatened to disown Stacy if she went through with marriage before college and career paths had been completed. Cindy was just a baby when all this had happened. I looked over at her, grateful to God we had a good solid relationship; so far. Stacy and her beau left town at night and never looked back, apparently taking Mrs. Heldels’ threats seriously since they hadn’t been heard from since. Subsequently Mrs. Heldels and her husband divorced over the issue and she has been a lonely soul just going to work and back every day, refusing to move so Stacy could find her again. Living all alone with a younger daughter who she had kept under tighter control than Stacy, allowing the unfortunate thing no social life or after school activities until she was old enough to disappoint Mrs. Hendels and move in with her dad. I said a silent, lengthy prayer for Mrs. Hendels to receive some closure.

Cindy and Angela resumed their attack on Amber. “How come you act so shy around us and we caught you dressed up with a star quarterback? We wouldn’t mind meeting his friends.” I should have known the real issue was boy related, not that Amber had ignored them.

Before Amber could answer, Cindy’s phone went off shifting Cindy’s priorities leaving Angela and Amber to continue the discussion. “Holy cow,” Cindy interrupted. “Look at this!” Cindy held up her phone causing Angela to gawk and Amber to temporarily freeze, what a nice feeling in this heat. One of Cindy’s numerous friends had texted a picture of Amber with, well; a hunk. “That’s not me!” Amber declared taking the phone from Cindy’s hand. “Really, it’s not!” How could it be, Amber was here and the picture was just taken. The friend had texted Cindy how Amber was just not acting herself while pretending to not know anyone and claiming to be someone else. The question was what kind of drugs was Amber on.

I made the only logical comment I could think of, “Well, I’ve heard we all have a twin somewhere.” Then I left teen drama world to go get my swimsuit. I don’t know why I was perspiring with a perfectly wonderful back yard pool that hadn’t completely evaporated yet. Scruffy and Rocky followed to peacefully recline in the pool side lounger. Tree top squirrels chittered away at Rocky, doubtlessly calling him a traitor for giving up wild live to be a kept pet, I many not speak squirrel-eze but some things can just be deduced.

Amber sightings continued throughout the following weeks, Amber at a football game, Amber at a water park in a skimpy two piece, Amber at a gas station with Elvis Presley, until one morning I received a visit from Amber’s mom, who seemed…a little agitated would be an understatement. Sitting in the kitchen drinking nice cold sodas Mrs. Kelley Stenson struggled with her words until she revealed a very well-kept secret; Amber had been adopted (I didn’t see that coming) a fact even Amber was ignorant of. Well why should I have known that, it wasn’t any one’s business except the Stensons’ and it certainly didn’t mean anything to me. Now wait a minute; the Amber sightings? Kelley suspected it might be a sister of Amber’s and she wanted me to help investigate it before Amber found out about herself on FaceBook. Her husband didn’t want to pursue this but had given Kelley the permission to do it on her own. What a descent chap. I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to get involved in this. Oh, who am I kidding! I had been born with a healthy dose of curiosity tempered with enough good manners to feign the opposite.

Kelley and I did some research, found the adoption agency, filled out petitions and submitted them to the county clerk, got a satisfactory hearing before a judge, made a few calls and walla, there it was; the file of Amber’s history. Amber did have an older sister also given up for adoption. A sister that was just five minutes older since they were apparently identical twins! The other adoptive parents didn’t want two babies so the set was broken. This was brand new news to Kelley. And there in print were the names of Amber’s parents.

Kelley unveiled the news to Amber at my house with Cindy present. To our relief Amber took the news quite well. It only took her about a couple of hours to accept the fact her parents weren’t her parents, and she had been lied to for all these years from people who endorsed complete honesty in all of her behavior. Kelley explained that no one had really lied, they just never told all the facts as they had always considered Amber theirs. Can you say “Rationalization?”Amber was thrilled with the prospect of having a biological sister and was relieved the Amber sightings weren’t the result of a split personality disorder. Now to approach the sister.

Contact was made with Twins parents who had just moved into the area and were not opposed to the sisters meeting. Evidently they had been more direct with their daughter who knew she was adopted, but… one little thing had been withheld; the identical twin part. They needed some time to explain that to Twin who thought it was cool to also have a biological sister along with the other adopted and foster siblings her Godsend parent’s had, then they called to set up a meeting day and place. This was all fitting together so nicely.

Off we went, Cindy for moral support, Kelley and Amber and of course Scruffy who enjoyed whole heartedly every outing that involved hanging his head out of a window going sixty miles an hour. As we crossed the lake on the outskirts of town I was shocked at how much it had dried up. Scruffy jumped from side window to side window over the passengers in the back seat barking excitedly at the body of water. Sometimes I just don’t know what buttons get pushed on him.

We found the assigned meeting place on the other side of the lake marked by festive balloons tied to picnic tables and surrounded by strangers, presumably Twin’s family. I prayed Amber would outgrow her bashfulness; fast. My prayers were answered; fast. Amber’s sister, Megi, was as serious an extrovert as Amber was an introvert and yet they hit if off fabulously. Megi did all the talking, planning sleep overs, make up parties, and clothes shopping. Amber was going to emerge a new girl. It seems fifteen years of separation are nothing when twins share the same cramped womb for months; sucking each other’s thumbs and toes.

It wasn’t long before Scruffy, who had been reasonably well behaved, started barking and carrying on, grabbing pant legs or shoe laces with his teeth, attempting to get someone, anyone to pay attention to him as he pointed towards something only a dog could see. Everyone laughed momentarily at his playfulness then resumed visiting causing his animation to go into overdrive. He wasn’t enjoying being ignored.

I decided it was time for a doggy timeout; however Scruffy had other plans as he dodged me and dived between a sea of legs. Everyone started springing for him to help nab him but dogs being dogs have a basic instinct for freedom and more agility than this forty something mother.

Someone finally lightheartedly yelled, ”Hey Scruffy, go jump in the lake!” Scruffy stopped evading us, sat down and appraised the lake. Oh no, I could see it in my mind’s eye. He was thinking that command through, running it through his hard drive. Yep, off he went at a full trot.

“No! Scruffy come back” I yelled in hot pursuit. I didn’t want a dirty-lake-water-logged smelly dog in my nice clean car on the ride home.

Scruffy was almost at the lake when a lanky teenage boy (I still can’t get all their names yet) leaped in front of him. Scruffy eluded him and took a flying leap 500 feet from the bank that any Olympian would be proud of, into the water. Wow, how did he do that? Once in the body of water he started to scramble onto something that he kept sliding off of and crawling back on till after an invisible looking boost he appeared to be standing ankle deep on the surface of the lake. What the….?

Another teenage boy waded out in the shallow water to rescue Scruffy who had now calmed down having gotten his audience where he wanted them and was rather eager to get back to dry land.

“Hey there’s a car here!” The boy hollered to the gathering crowd. “And I think I see bodies in it.”

Cell phones were extracted from pockets and purses all over the park. 911 was about to be bombarded until one level headed adult suggested he make a single call. Several emergency vehicles and a tow truck later the submerged car was resting on the dry land, and yes, two bodies, using that term loosely considering their state of decompostion, were resting in the front seat.

A truck turned off the road and into the park grounds and a lone lady walked hesitantly down the incline. Mrs. Hendels very calmly exhaled the words, “Oh my God, that’s my Stacy’s car.”

Kelly and I exchanged glances that said, “what were the odds of this happening today of all days”, and went to stand by Mrs Hendels to offer support. After some postulating that would have pleased Sherlock Holmes, it was concluded that Stacy and her beau had been heading back home judging from the side of the road the car was on, or rather the side of the lake it was in, but had missed the curve and ended up … well that was obvious where they ended up. To add a touch of comfort it was suspected they had died instantaneously from head wounds and not suffered a terrifying drowning.

The party was now considered officially and prematurely over so the attendees all headed home with mixed emotions of rejoicing in finding new family and sadness at the discovery of an old accident. I drove off with my dirty-lake-water-logged smelly dog who was restricted to the floorboard and the rest of my crew. Mrs. Hendels stayed behind to be with her daughter one last time until she was transported to the morgue for scientific identification that she considered superfluous. This was definitely her daughter, after all she had bought this very car for her sixteenth birthday.

At my house, before Kelley got in her own car with Amber, Kelley and I sneaked another look at the birth certificate to verify Amber’s biological mother’s identity and reasoned between ourselves that there would be no harm now in divulging that information. No invasion of privacy would be inflicted now.

Later that night Scruffy slinked miserably into the kitchen where Rocky proceeded to slowly circle around him. After sniffing him from head to …butt Rocky laid down, flopped over on his back and did the squirrel version of rolling on the floor laughing his rear off. Scruffy shook himself vigorously from head to…butt and growled menacingly at the two fifteen foot wispy apparitions leaning on the kitchen counter as though to say, “This is all your fault.” After all, it was they who had plunged him into the water, they being Cindy’s and her mom’s guardian angels.

“Now Scruffy, isn’t a bath a small price to pay for helping Mrs. Hendels find her daughter and get some closure?” One wisp asked. “And never mind Rocky, I think the doggy cologne is very refreshing compared to flea and tick powder. Baby "Pawder" isn’t it?”

One more wisp emerged from nothingness and stood beside the first two and also bent over the counter to avoid cracking his head on the ceiling. Houses just weren’t made for angelic visits.

“Well we have a good report for you. Stacy has watched the whole incident unfold upstairs and is thrilled that her mother has finally discovered the truth.” The new wisp announced. “And she is equally excited that her daughters are back together and can hardly wait for her mother to be informed by Kelley that she now has twin granddaughters living nearby that she can smother with all her spent up affection . And when she sees the birth certificate she’ll find out Stacy and her boyfriend never married and were only gone 5 months at the most until they joined us.”

“Well I say it’s been a day well spent, let’s go home,” all three wisps evaporated just as rain broke loose on the parched land. After all the heat wave did it’s bit helping to expose a no longer immersed car and its passengers. Scruffy,deciding to take advantage of the rain, broke through the doggy door and rolled robustly around in a puddle. No one was going to put perfume on him and make him smell like a girl!

“SCRUFFY!” came from an upstairs window.



If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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