Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)
TITLE: Opening Pandora's Box
By Johnna Stein
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“Curiosity killed the cat.” Mom’s familiar voice resounds in my heart. Would it kill me just to sneak a peak? What could be so private inside such an old, dusty box? Who would know? Shannon won’t. Mom won’t. God will.
Just breathe. I obediently place the unopened box back in the recesses of the open drawer. “Stay there.” I command the tantalizing treasure.
Betraying Shannon’s trust would wound our bond. Breaking her heart might just break mine. Most sisters are close, but with us, it’s hard for me to know where Shannon ends and I begin.
Although sixteen years my senior, she’s shared everything with me; my first day of school, my musicals (even my debut as a singing apple), my first kiss, graduation…
Compared to my friends, I feel double-blessed. It’s like I have two mothers. My mom fulfills the roll of teaching me responsibility, manners and the importance of academics. God also gave me Shannon who is my confidante, my comfort and the one who points me to Jesus.
Our obvious age difference bears witness to my unplanned birth. I know, as a then fifteen-year-old, she was keenly aware of my impending arrival.
“Do you think Mom and Dad really wanted me?” I have pleaded with Shannon to know every detail of my unexpected beginning.
Shannon can always recall Mom’s exact words. “She sure was surprised. From the moment she knew, Mom said, ‘Oh, I think God has special plans for this unique child. God never makes mistakes. His plan is always perfect.’”
My eyes are drawn like a magnet to the open drawer. Could Shannon have anything to hide? I have confided every corner of my soul to her. If I open the box, maybe I will discover more about her.
I won’t open it. I just want to touch it. The treasure has again found its way onto my lap.
I blow a stream of warm breath to scatter the settled dust. I’ll take a quick peak. I won’t touch anything.
I pinch the clasp between my forefinger and thumb and flick it open. On first glance I notice a smattering of photos, cards and notes. Pandora’s box revealed.
A cursory look makes me wonder why she treasures a photo of Mom pregnant? As my eyes zero in, my mother comes into focus and although there’s an uncanny resemblance, it’s not Mom. It’s Shannon! She couldn’t be more than fifteen or sixteen in the photo. What? My sister, a pregnant teenager?
A sudden realization washes over me. Panic paralyzes me. Nausea crowds my throat begging for an exit. Breathe. I close my eyes and reopen them. Breathe. The picture hasn’t changed.
My shaky hands turn over the photo.
Shannon: due date Aug 10, 1988.
My birthday is July 27, 1988.
“Two weeks early. You just couldn’t wait to see your mother.” Mom always said when relaying the tale of my early arrival. Which mother does she mean?
Like the unraveling of a great mystery, every missing detail of my life is falling into place.
“Shannon was a rebellious teenager and we felt moving cross-country would give her a fresh start.” Dad explained their sudden move to New Mexico just a month before I was born.
“Can you believe the camera broke on the day of your birth?” Mom explained away the scarcity of my newborn photos. The sheer volume of photos thereafter quelled any suspicion I might have harbored.
God! Where are You in all of this? How could You let this happen?
Familiar words echo in my soul, “God never makes mistakes. His plan is always perfect.” No wonder Shannon could remember the exact words.
I slam the lid shut, trying to trap the last remnants of hope.
The implications of my discovery come at me like sharp arrows aimed at my heart.
Who is who now? Dad is Grandpa. Mom is Gran. Gran is Great Gran. Shannon is Mom. Who is my father? Who am I? Am I still me?
God, I don’t want to lose my beloved sister. Shannon’s the best part of my life.
The dust particles continue their dance as God whispers in my heart, I Am your Father, you are my daughter and Shannon remains forever your sister, in Christ.
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