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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)

TITLE: That Tell-Tale Birthmark
By Jan Ross


“…oh, and by the way, you have a brother.”

Marah was stunned. The social worker obviously didn’t understand the emotional frailty of an adoptee in the throes of a lifelong search. If one’s life is not touched by adoption, it is difficult to understand the deep longing for “forbidden” knowledge. A sealed record holds the key which can unravel a very personal mystery. The unknown resonates in the heart while three-letter words strum a haunting melody of “Who?” and “Why?”

Marah grew up with an adopted brother, never feeling the bond that comes with being a sibling. She watched him break heart after heart, again and again, as he rebelled against the loving guidance of their adopted parents. He was dead. The past was buried. But now she has another brother—a true brother, someone with her same genetic makeup, a man less than thirteen months younger who now demanded to become part of her life whether he knew it or not.

Marah’s search for her biological family had been a long one. Time and time again she picked up the pieces of her shattered hopes and dreams, questioning whether to stop her search. Then, something would nag at her—drive her to make one more call, write one more letter, or check one more phone book.

This news of a biological brother both angered and excited her. Why were they separated? What kind of person was he? Would he be like her adopted brother—a disgrace to all who loved him? Could she find room in her heart to embrace a man she didn’t know and love him as a brother? The day would come when she would find the answers to these questions that consumed her thoughts.


“Hello, I’m looking for Dean McKinney. Would you happen to know him or how I could reach him?”

“This is Dean. What’s up?”

“I’m not sure what to say or how to explain anything, but my name is Marah Samuels. I was adopted when I was twenty-one months old. In my search for my biological parents, I learned that I have a brother who was adopted by another family. His adopted name is Dean McKinney. He was born June 30, 1952. If that’s your birthdate, I am your sister.”

“Woah! Wait a minute! I may be Dean McKinney born on June 30 in 1952, but I don’t have a sister. You have your facts wrong, ma’am. I’m sorry. Hope you can find whoever it is you’re looking for, but it ain’t me!”

“Wait! Before you hang up, let me ask you another question.”

“Okay, but make it quick. I don’t have time for any long, drawn-out life story. What is it?”

“If you are the Dean McKinney who is my brother, you will have a birthmark on your left leg just above your knee.”

Dead silence served as Marah’s confirmation. She had indeed found her brother.

Dean cleared his throat. “How could you know that? I don’t even wear shorts in public cuz I don’t want nobody to see it. How could I be your brother? I never had a sister.”

“I know this is awkward…I haven’t known about you for very long, and I’ve had to work through my own set of emotions knowing I had a brother. You know you were adopted, right?”

“Yeah, but my parents are gone; they never made a big deal about it. Guess I just didn’t care.”

“Where did you grow up?”

“In Vermillion. What about you?”

Marah had trouble catching her breath. “I was raised about 20 miles away from you, on Columbia Road near the mall.”

“You’ve got to be kidding! Me and my buddies used to cruise all around there when we were in our teens. I betcha we went up and down your street hundreds of times—you know, there was that bar down the road. It was our favorite hangout—our parents couldn’t find us.”

“Gosh, this is so strange. My dad had a boat docked in Vermillion. We used to park and eat at McGarvey’s right there on the water.”

“That was my family’s restaurant. We probably saw each other there and didn’t even know we were related.”


Marah and Dean spent the next days on the telephone getting to know each other. Six weeks later, they met face-to-face; there was no mistake they were siblings.

The eyes.

The hair.

And, that tell-tale birthmark.

Sister and brother…brother and sister.


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Sara Harricharan 05/08/08
That tell-tale birthmark! Lolz. I like that Marah was able to get Dean's attention and then they finally had the chance to talk and realized how close they were-even before they met. That was neat. ^_^
Joanne Sher 05/10/08
The intensity of this story, especially in the beginning, was very strong. I was definitely engaged throughout. Enjoyed this piece.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/13/08
Interesting story. It brings the hope with it that they really will be brother/sister friends.
Debbie Wistrom05/14/08
Glad the brother was receptive.

Wonderful and well done tale.