Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)
TITLE: Time for All Things
By Beth Muehlhausen
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“I can’t believe it … I never knew you even existed!”
Their bent arms rested on the red checked café tablecloth as they searched each other’s eyes.
“All these years…”
“How do you suppose Mom kept it a secret?”
“I suppose she thought it best for both of us.”
They each sipped their herbal tea – one orange spice and one mint – and studied the steam rising from their cups. It was cold outside, and this place full of warmth and hospitable smells seemed a fitting retreat.
“How old are you again?”
“And I’m fifty-four.”
“Mom was sixteen when she had me …”
“And she was twenty-four when I was born.”
“Of course it was only logical she would give me up for adoption … she was so young … unmarried and single.”
“I can totally understand that. The crazy part about US though, is …”
“I bet I know what you’re going to say!”
“Can you believe it … we’re full-blooded sisters … except there was a wedding between your birth and mine.”
A petite waitress donned in a lacy apron brought their raisin-pecan scones on delicate china plates. They chimed the polite necessities in unison: “Thank you … hmmmm … these look awesome!” The older of the two women studied her scone, turning it over to view both the crusted sugary top and the darker bottom side. Finally, she looked up at her companion with eyes full of wonder.
“You can’t imagine how many years I fantasized about my blood relatives. I mean I always loved my adoptive Mom and Dad, and my two brothers … and yet I’ve wanted to find my birth parents for years, too. I used to dream about what it would be like to have a little sister.”
Her younger companion gazed magnetically from across the table. “And I … I didn’t think I had any siblings … and yet always wished I did.”
Silence fell like a line of demarcation, and yet evaporated almost as quickly as it had come. Four hands spontaneously reached across the table and clasped with a bond of forever unity that would never be broken.
“But we’ve found each other now! That’s the important part.”
“What if Aunt Ellie hadn’t slipped when she was babbling on her deathbed about Mom having a baby as a teenager? What if you hadn’t researched until you finally re-connected with Mom at the nursing home?”
“I know – there are so many ‘what ifs.’ With my bad heart, I’m sure glad this all happened sooner rather than later!”
They picked little pieces off their scones and nibbled between torrents of words.
“Do you think we’d have ever recognized each other if we lived in the same town? You look so much like Mom …”
“And so do you!”
“Yeah, I guess we both got her German features, huh?”
The two gray-blonde heads nod simultaneously in agreement.
“And her blue eyes and …”
“We could almost be twins!”
The waitress returned to refill their hot water pitchers and offered new tea bags. “Anything else for you ladies?”
“Just time, thank you.”
They smiled up at her, wondering if she thought they looked like sisters.
“We have a lot of catching up to do!”
In that split second, reality hit all three of them simultaneously: déjà vu. They’d been here before … but no! How absurd! How impossible!
“Time.” The waitress nodded. “You need time. More time.” She headed for the kitchen, then glanced back over her and disappeared behind swinging doors. A breeze blew crispy autumn leaves outside, stirring them in little semi-circles along the sidewalk like cornflakes in a dry bowl.
“Who was she? I feel like I should know her, but of course I can’t since I’m from out-of-town. Do you know?”
The answer was slow in coming. “No … not really … but yes … sort of … maybe …”
Sunlight suddenly streamed from behind a cloud to brand their table-top with shadows of the letters painted on the window: Heaven-Scent Café.
“… Maybe she’s a messenger … to remind us we can know some things, but not others. There are so many mysteries in life … and we’ll always be fighting against time, until we reach eternity …”
The older figure stopped speaking, sighed deeply, and slumped sideways in the booth.
It was time … for another reunion.
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