Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Family Reunion (06/05/08)
- TITLE: Can It Be?
By Steve Bato
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While his eyes held her captive, Rory’s mind transported him to when he was four years old. His father had picked him up from daycare in the middle of the day. His heart felt again the cold grip of fear which accompanied the news that his mother and sister had been killed in a terrible car accident. His father explained that the two of them were going to move, that day, far away. He could not stand to stay in the same house, or even city, since it would be a constant reminder of his loss.
Snapping back to the present, Rory noticed that the blond had moved up two positions in line and now only had three people to be served before her.
Even though Janice had been five years older than he and hardly deigned to give him the time of day, he still recalled the precious few times they had together. Mom played games with them, helping Rory without making it too obvious. She rewarded Janice with presents of her favorite gum. As they played, Mom’s dancing eyes spilled love with every wink she gave them. Their laughter still sparkled in his heart, when he allowed himself to recall it.
The nine years that had passed since that day had been hard. It seemed to him that every few years his father found a new job and they moved to yet another city. Ever the new kid at school, his role as the outcast now seemed permanent—only the surroundings changed periodically.
For the first few years he kept pictures of his mother and sister on the table next to his bed, and spoke to them each night of the day’s events. He asked them to pray for him—that he would make some friends and that Dad would spend some time with him. After three years of unanswered prayers, he spoke to them less and less and eventually put the pictures in a drawer. He did not need the constant reminder that they had abandoned him in death as well as life.
Suddenly he noticed another slim figure join the blond. This girl looked like she was about eighteen or so, and was the spitting image of the blond. As soon as she arrived, the mother stopped tapping and the frown turned into a warm smile. They began chatting, while the daughter displayed the items from the bags she was carrying.
That smile! His ears strained to hear, but to no avail. He threw caution to the wind and edged slowly closer.
That laughter! The lock on his heart seemed to spring open of its own will, and the remembrance of their laughter filled his mind, heart, and, from nearby, his ears!
His legs seemed to move on their own, his head in a fog, his heart hopeful but anxious. As she moved to the front of the line, the woman noticed that he was heading her direction. She stopped talking and the light in her eyes went cold.
He kept coming closer anyway.
Just as she opened her mouth, a glimmer of recognition flickered over her face. Her mouth closed as her eyes widened. Her visage expressed a palette of emotions—moving quickly from incredulity, through disbelief, to the wonderment of hope.
The daughter turned. As her eyes rested on Rory, her mouth dropped open, displaying the gum that she had stopped furiously chewing. She could not believe her eyes, it seemed. Although nine years had passed, Rory’s features still greatly resembled the boy they remembered.
“R-R-Rory? Is that really you?”
Rory’s heart sang! It WAS them! The three fell into each other’s arms. After they dared to believe this was really happening, they compared stories. Rory discovered his father had kidnapped him and lied about the deaths. They had searched for him for years to no avail. Rory had no idea what would happen next, but he knew that with his mother and sister restored he could endure anything.
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