“I’m eighteen, finally!” Crystal reverently set the tiny silver box back down on her vanity, and pressed her fingers against the painful throbbing in her temples. She shook her head to clear it, and looking up, caught a glimpse of her face in the mirror. “Ugh,” she added and frowned. “I look horrible.”
“No, you don’t,” commented ever-faithful Maya, her younger sister, whose gentle smile in her elfin face reflected back beside Crystal’s. “You look like Dad.”
“Thanks,” Crystal responded weakly. She loved her father, but his looks were nothing to rave over, even if she was somewhat biased in his favor.
“He’s not that bad,” Maya groaned, and then burst out laughing. “I got his hair, didn’t I?”
Crystal noted her sister’s long shiny black hair, squashed her jealousy, and felt in the drawer for a tie to bind up her shoulder-length blond hair. “There,” Crystal said, satisfied. “That should protect my hair from this oatmeal facial mask.” Her green eyes the color of jade – Crystal’s one asset inherited from the dead mother she’d never known – looked thoughtful in the mirror. “I wish my mother was here,” Crystal added.
“She is,” said Maya simply, her dark eyes filled with confusion, then widened. “Oh,” she added, “your birth-mother.”
“It’s nothing against Mom,” Crystal said. “I love her. It’s just that it’s time to open the box. I wish my own mother could be here to see me do it, that’s all.” Unshed tears shimmered in her eyes, turning their translucent green brilliant.
“Envy me my hair but I’m jealous of those eyes. Tears do great things for the color…” Maya smiled and, responding to Crystal, added, “I guess I’d feel that way too, if you were me and I were you. You wouldn’t remember her, except for…” Maya bit off the words, but not soon enough. “Crystal, I didn’t mean to bring that up.”
“I wish they’d never played that stupid recording with me standing there!” Crystal said, her mind reeling. The storm’s violent crescendos re-erupted in her brain as the memory of screeching tires against wet pavement over the sound of a baby’s laughter rang in her ears.
“Dad was unaware,” Maya barely whispered, dark eyes huge in her small face, “it was an accident. He was playing it for the Aunt Sue, for her to listen to.”
“It was my fault. It was my voice they were trying to tape, the sound of me captured forever - for posterity – so that – what – so she could die?” Crystal’s voice rose shrilly, past the lump in her throat. “Why didn’t I die with her? It hurts so much, sis!” she half-sobbed in a choked voice, her shoulders shaking.
Maya wrapped her arms around Crystal. “It isn’t your fault,” she cried, the younger for the older, and the older for the lovely dead woman whose last words to Crystal recorded on a note, lay nestled, cocooned in the little silver container, not to be opened until her eighteenth birthday.
“Hush!” Maya crooned, as Crystal’s sobs subsided, soothed by Maya’s gentle hand softly stroking her hair. “God kept you alive; your mother is waiting. One day you’ll see her - she’s in a great place! It doesn’t get any better than up there with Him, does it Crystal?”
Crystal pulled away, her gaze intent on her precious heirloom. “I want to feel her arms around me, my own real mother. I’ve never had that you know. But, I will – one day…”
Crystal’s hand shook as she untied the delicate string, and lifted the lid to reveal a small folded piece of paper surrounded by tissue. Her head pounded and vision blurred, then cleared. Her voice quavered as she began reading, “My dear beloved daughter….”
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