A chill penetrated the air causing Scarlett to shudder. Her teeth chattered and her hands trembled as she moved toward the back, to where the names Adam Chandler and Catherine Chandler were carved into cold pink granite.
The sun refused to enter the dark mausoleum, no longer needed by those launched into eternity and not able to reach Scarlett's heart since the death of her parents at the hands of a drunk driver four months earlier.
She stood weeping, fully aware they were with Jesus, leaving her to go through life alone at age twenty-two. It's so unfair, God. Why did you take them from me? Why,God?
Her fingers traced over their names telling of the loneliness she felt and dislodging a sheet of paper from the seam on the wall. Thinking it trash, she picked it up to discard.
My Darling, Kitty
My Love Forever, Jess
The hand-written love letter was only a salutation and a closing, a beginning and an end. There was no body to the letter. Scarlett's Aunt Grace was the only person who called Catherine, Kitty. Who was Jess and why did he love her mother?
Before sunset, Scarlett pulled into Aunt Grace's driveway. She had prayed all the way over that there was a simple explanation and Aunt Grace would know it.
“Aunt Grace, do you know someone named Jess?” Scarlett asked as she offered the letter.
“What? Where did you get this?” Aunt Grace's face blanched as she read it.
“You do know who it is! I found it today at the cemetery. Who is Jess and why would he write mother?”
“Scarlett, let it go; he's nobody. Forget about the letter, come to the table; dinner is getting cold.”
Aunt Grace stubbornly refused to discuss the letter. Her quick dismissal of it only served to fuel the fire in Scarlett's mind. She would find out one way or the other.
Scarlett found new letters, one or two a week. Like the first, they were a salutation and closing with no body, a kiss hello and a kiss goodbye. Beginning and end only, creating a deeper and deeper mystery.
One morning Scarlett arrived and came upon him just as he was leaving. Grabbing his arm she asked, “Who are you?”
He stared at the girl with sky blue eyes and hair as red as his own. Shaking his head, he smiled a sad smile. “I'm nobody.” He never looked back as he walked away.
Scarlett couldn't get to her Aunt Grace's fast enough. She would have an answer. Tonight.
“Who is Jess, Aunt Grace? I saw him today. Who is he? I'm not leaving until you tell me.”
“Come, sit. I'll tell you.” Aunt Grace spoke softly.
“Your mother was engaged to Jess before she met your father. He's been gone...he spent twenty years in prison.”
“Mother was in love with a criminal?”
“I never said he was a criminal.”
“But, you said...”
“ Yes...your mother was a free-spirit in those days. She partied hard, but Jess loved her anyway. One night Jess, Kitty and I we were coming back from a night out. I was seventeen. The road was wet and slick and the car crashed head long into an oncoming car. It was horrible. Our injuries were minor; the other driver was killed. Jess was sentenced to twenty years for drunk driving resulting in a death.”
“So, he's an old boyfriend...? Mother was wise to move on, marry father and forget him. You both could have been killed! He got what he deserved. Just like the drunk driver who caused their deaths!”
“Not quite like that. Scarlett, your mother was driving the car that night. Jess took the blame, made me say he was driving. I found out later she was carrying his child. He paid her debt...just like Jesus paid our sin-debt.”
“He's my ...he's my father?”
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