The Reunion

You want straight facts? All right, I'll give them to you. I dislike my life, I'm conscious about my looks, and I'm afraid of my aunt Magdlin. Those are the facts in my life right now. Aunt Mag is a brutal woman and I've been living with her all of my life.

My mom died when I was three years old and my dad left when my mom was pregnant with me. It's a weird story, believe me I've considered that, but that's what my aunt has told me. Therefore, I was brought to her. I still sometimes wonder how my mother died, I'm too afraid to ask Mag, it might upset her somehow. It seems strange that at this age I still haven't gotten the whole story. Then again, many things in life turn out that way.

A while back, when I was younger, I use to have dreams of what my life would have been like if my parents were still alive. Of how they would be standing in the doorway when I got home with a batch of cookies, eager to hear how my day was. But then I grew up and I began to accept the fact that my life would always be emptied of parents. Plus, that stuff only happened on the Brady Bunch.

* * *

So, fourteen years later, on a bitter cold Friday morning, I was sitting on my bed running a comb through the unruly red mop on the top of my head. I was fully dressed in a plain yellow shirt and some straight-legged black pants, ready to start the day. Maybe something was in the air, I don't know, but I sensed that today would have something wonderful in store for me, something that would change my life forever.

When I had finally gave up on my hair, I marched down the stairs to approach the breakfast table, decided that I wasn't up for it and resolved to be an early bird at the bustop. I flung the door open. Brrrr! The cold wind whipped my hair around, forcing strands into my mouth. When I got there, about five min. later, no one was there, so I sat on the edge of the curb, took out my sketchpad and started sketching, which is the thing that makes me happiest. See I have this 'sketching process', it's a little thing I saw in a movie once, but it works for me. I drew in a deep breath, taking in all the smells of fall. I then closed my eyes and meditated on what I was going to illustrate. I decided to sketch the lake that extended out before me, with the trees on the other side at such a distance that they looked like little green dots. I love this lake, it's a place I go when I need to get out of the house, a home away from home. A long time ago, when I was little, I use to come down here in my flowery shorts and the uncontrollable fuzz that I called my hair, and talk to the frogs as if they were my friends. The only ones I had at the time. I was somewhat lost in my own memories, forgetting where I was for a moment. Childhood is so innocent, so perfect . .

"Hey space case," A girl snapped.

I blinked and looked up. A bright yellow bus was bumping along down the road.

* * *

The usual din of the morning crowd fluttered around me. I sat, staring out the window, still lost in thought. The bus screeched to a stop and the door creaked open, allowing a strange girl on. Her thin fingers gripped her bookbag as she looked around for a spot. Her eyes rested on me and lit up.

I groaned inwardly.

"Hi, I'm Simone." She bubbled excitedly as she slid in next to me.

I nodded and continued to look out the window.

"My family just moved here from Connecticut. I hope this school is worth it." She wrapped her parka tightly around her small body, "Gosh, it sure is cold out!"

I continued still to look out the window. Awkward Silence.

"So, does this school have a swimming program? Because my other school did but we had to wear these ugly bathing suits. And all the 'gill-less' geeks signed up, so that didn't make it any better. Those suits were the most uncomfortable and unflattering things next to turtlenecks . . ."

I just listened and occasionally gave a nod or grunt in agreement. She didn't seem to notice that I wasn't really paying attention. While she was talking, she handed me a messy stack of random papers, asking me to hold them for her for a while. She also asked me to go with her to the office where she would get her locker number. Therefore, I reluctantly said okay to prevent her from talking any longer. Oh how I wish she came with a remote, with a large MUTE button dead center. I never had much luck with friends. I've had a few. They've all moved to different schools or different parts of the country, and I'm too impatient to make new ones. I really don't need friends right now; my art keeps me happy enough. I wonder if I'm cursed. The thought jolted me; that was too deep.

After a while her voice started to annoy me. 'God get me off of this bus.' I silently prayed

" Oh, I'm sorry I've just been running my mouth," Simone breathed after a long paragraph of useless information.

"Mm-mm." I replied softly.

As we were getting off the bus, she flipped her long brown hair in my face, almost making me trip down the large steps.

" And I thought Lincoln freed the slaves." I muttered under my breath.

* * *

When we entered the lobby, congested with thick winter coats and rushing kids, I saw a tall lady that looked a little familiar as if she resembled someone I knew or saw before. Simone and I made our way toward the office. But I stared at the tall lady a while longer.

"Mary, earth to Mary," a distance voice was saying.

"What?" I say, not realizing who was talking.

"Mary," Simone slid her hand in front of my face, " are you in there?"

"Mm-mm . . . what?" I said distractedly. The lady seemed to catch my eye and her face lit up. However, she quickly ducked away and I lost sight of her. The hall full of kids started to empty. Strange.

"That's IT!" Simone huffed. She dropped her bookbag in the now deserted hallway and gave me a serious fisheye, her hand on her slender hip. She continued,

"I don't even know what class I'm going to! You know, I'm not use to snotty people at my old school and I'm not about to start hanging out with one now. So I'm just going to find the office, wherever that is." She snatched up her bookbag, took her papers from me and scurried off in the general direction of the office. That is, not until she gave me another 'look'.

Ok, what just happened there? What was she even ranting about? More importantly, who was that lady? I looked around for any witnesses, and headed to class. Oh well, remember never to speak to Simone again. So much for friends if they make you late for homeroom.

* * *

When I arrived home, no one was waiting for me at the front door, not as if I was expecting it or any thing right? Aunt Mag was at the dinner table shuffling through a large pile of serious looking papers. Her thin brows were furrowed and three cigarettes were slowly smoldering in the ashtray nearby. Why can't I be beautiful like her? I thought warily. Why did God give her the good looks and give me the hips and the large feet? I started to head up to my room.

"Young lady if you think for one minute that your going to continue to not eat breakfast morning after morning then you have another thing coming."

I turned around and looked at the floor, cause if I looked at her condescending eyes I wouldn't be able to look away.

"I wasn't hungr-." I started

" Oh that's a lie from the pit and you know it. When was the last time that you were hungry? Now I don't ever want to see you do that again. You're skinny enough as it is. You need to put on some weight. I'm scared enough to take you out in public because of your 'apathy-esque' attitude, and now I have to worry about your fainting somewhere? Go to your room your making my eyes hurt."

I gritted my teeth, "I'm not skinny, thank you very much. I am not trying to starve myself and thirdly, I wasn't HUNGRY!" I turned around and stomped up the stairs.

"Young lady COME DOWN HERE!"

"Why do you even bother to call me 'young lady' when you treat me like crap?" I mutter angrily under my breath. I thump harder up the last few steps and stop just before I get to my room. She had turned back to her work. I could already smell the rank aroma of a newly lit cigarette, and her muttering about anorexia.

* * *

In my room, I dropped wearily to my knees, discarding my book bag in my closet. I crawled all the way to the bed, collapsing on it as sleep enveloped me.

* * *

"Mary? Mary where are you?" a tall red figure emerged from the emerald trees at the edge of the lake. There was no telling whom it was or whether it was even human or not. It was just a fiery flame. Wandering. Searching intently for something . . or someone. The air was thick with humidity and the sky was pitch black except for a few pinpricks of light shining through darkness. Then there was me, looking fidgety and desperate on the bank of the lake, which glowed an eerie red under the mysterious night sky. Suddenly the figure stepped out from the shadow of a majestic weeping willow; and I was mesmerized, squinting at it, trying to retrieve a faint memory from my foggy mind. Then-

"Mom? Mom I'm right here!" I called with sudden urgency, stumbling blindly forward, trying to get to her. It was almost as if the mere thought of not reaching her seared my hectic mind and threatened to consume me. The figure swiveled around in my direction; its eyes two swirling pools of blue, drawing me in. "Mary? Are you there?" "I'm right here mother! Right here!" I choked out, my throat closing in with the thought that I couldn't . . . . I broke into a run. I scrambled up the slippery bank and pumped my fists up and down in a full out dash. Urgency ripped through my veins at critical mass, propelling my burning feet forward, trying to get to her side. I waved my hands frantically, always always trying to get to her, but never being able to reach her. Suddenly, I was getting closer! I tore my jacket off and tossed it to the wind, tears stinging my eyes, then breaking free and running down my flushed cheeks. No, I thought. I'm not going to let her get away again, not this time. Oh god not again. .

"I can't find you, Mary!" Panic. Heart beating faster. Running. 40 feet. Panting. 20 feet. Hair flying legs burning heart pounding fist clenched cant . quite. . reach . .safety . .when suddenly-

I collapsed. I tried to get up but my feet weren't obeying me. Suddenly a vice squeezed my chest, breaking my heart to pieces. Large lumps formed in my throat, and my chest was so tight I could hardly breath. Sorrow.

"Mom!" I croaked out one last time, "Please!"

The figure gave up the search and started to turn around, hanging it's flaming head. Ashamed.

* * *

I woke up with a start, sweat pouring down my chest. It happened again. The dream. I couldn't stop shaking: and I was burning up. I opened my window and let the cool fall air blow in. Taking in deep breaths, I stared out at the lake in the far distance, and told myself that I wouldn't cry. I've had this dream countless times for the past 2 years. At first it was just a horrible dream that I thought I could just put out of my mind forever. But then it happened again. And again. And again, until I've grudgingly come to accept it. But believe me, that doesn't make the headaches and damp sheets any easier to take. I drew my hair up in a ponytail and opened the insect screen. Cold air rushed in my room, knocking over old cups and rustling school papers. I stuck my head all the way out the window, letting the stabs of icy wind cool my hot cheeks when suddenly the tall lady from the lobby popped back into my head. I put my palm on the insect screen above my head, scratching the black wire. I probably couldn't prove the connection between me and that woman in the lobby, but there was always the possibility. I leaped up and ran in to aunt Mag's room. Scanning the dark green room until I saw the small box buried under and old umbrella in a dusty corner of the room. I went over and picked it up, bringing it over to her waterbed and spilling its contents out. In it were pressed flowers, a stale paper bag, and a small pack of old pictures bound by a rubber band. I took out the pictures that I had memorized by heart and immediately picked out the one I was looking for. It was the newest one, one of my mother, sitting on an old rickety swing in the backyard of someone's house. She looked about eighteen with her bell pants on, her thin red hair piled on top of her head, and looking a little wild in a very small halter-top. She looked surprised, like someone had just called her name out, and when she turned to look, a picture was snapped. Locking her in time. I take this picture out every now and then, just as a reminder that I had a mother. However, although it isn't the real thing, it helps. I concentrated hard on the picture and my hands started to shake as the realization hit me. I dropped the picture. The smiling rebel on the swing was my mother . . . and so was the lady in the lobby.

I grabbed my coat and quietly made my way down the steps. Aunt Mag had never left her spot at the table. I left out the house as quickly as I could.

I stepped out into the bitter cold and walked swiftly up the walk towards the large maple tree by the bus stop. I felt betrayed. Even a little hurt. My life had never been a soap opera. You know, where everybody has huge problems, and lives are schizophrenic. One day the characters are on top of the world and the next they're plummeting to their depths. My life, though weird, is usually in control and orderly.

As if to spite me, my foot caught on something and the next thing I knew, I crashed to the ground.

"Ah!" I looked my self over, "Great," I said. I stayed still, just lying there on the cold ground..

"Mary?" said a shaky voice very close by.

I scrambled to my feet and spun around.

I froze.

"Oh God!" I whispered as looked at the person who had called my name.

It was . . .her. My mother; the rebel, the child, my mother.

Only one word surfaced through the fog suddenly covering my brain: run. I started to run, in the opposite direction, back towards the house. I was so scared, so scared to death, not believing what I had seen. Tears blurred my vision.

"Mary! Wait," she said, then muttering a word not worth repeating. She ran after me. I could hear her rapid footsteps behind me.

My heart sped up. Please God don't let her get me!

I tripped, landing with a thud and let out a loud cry as the lady caught up to me.

"DON'T HURT ME PLEASE!" I cried, covering my face with my hands.

She knelt down next to me. Her hands fluttering uncertainly around my rigid body, probably checking for scars. I didn't know, I couldn't think.

"Are you okay?" her voice softer than butter.

I couldn't speak.

She took a deep breath and put her hands awkwardly into her lap.

"Mary, I'm your mother." She stated simply.

The air around us pulsed with silence for about five minutes as my heart stopped. Then several realities slammed into my wired mind all at once. This was my mom. She's alive. She looks like me. The world seemed to close around the two of us as blood rushed through my ears. Time came to a stand still, even the wind-whipped trees seemed to calm their tantrums, slowing to a melodious sway. My wide eyes narrowed a bit as I scanned this woman in front of me. Everything seemed to measure up, the red hair, the pointy nose and her uncertainty. But this couldn't possibly be true, right? Fear suddenly ran it's cold fingers up my rigid spine. And I swear, at that moment I almost jumped up and made for home. But then I remembered my dream. I've been waiting for this moment my entire life, and here it is finally, and I'm clueless as to what to do. Her hand reached out to touch mine, and I hesitated. Should I give in? Should I let myself give into a woman who may or may not be my mother? Suddenly I did know that she was telling the truth. I felt it in some deep forgotten place in my heart. However, just to make sure, I searched her eyes, looking for any doubt or deception that might take my battered hopes and fling them to the ground. She stared right back, with only desperation and a need for acceptance. I was faintly aware of the atmosphere around us, still dreamily blurred and pastel. Then all the powerful feelings that were stirring inside me suddenly burst free as tears sprang to my eyes. "Oh my.." I whispered, my voice thick with tears. "It's finally happening, she's actually here. She actually . . ." Then I hugged her fiercely, cheek to cheek. Tears were pouring down hers as well as mine, and they mixed together as if forming a dangerous love potion. I put every feeling I've had bottled up over the last fifteen years into it, leaving me with a warm hole in the center of my soul; one that I was certain would be filled with all the wonderful feelings I'd been missing out on for so long. After an eternity, we broke apart.

"Maybe I shouldn't have come," she said, hesitating and then touching my hair. I just smiled drinking the moment in. So I'm gullible, SO WHAT!

"Oh, you're so beautiful you know," She murmured softly as she gently entwined her fingers in my hair, running her hands over my cold ears, as if committing every detail to memory. And we just sat there, smiling at each other, our eyes relaying volumes of emotions that we hadn't been able to communicate ever before. It had to be the most wonderful feeling in the world. My eyes threatened to brim with tears, ultimately sending me spiraling into another emotional roller coaster, when a cloud of doubt crept into my brain. Slowly, the sweet-smelling fog of comfort that had rooted itself in my mind started to thin, dragging me back to reality and spoiling our moment. My mother sensed my apprehension and gave me a questionable look.

"I-I need an explanation." I began shakily, unsure of what I wanted to say, "I mean, I'm feeling so many things right now, and I don't know how I can . .I can't . . ." My throat closed suddenly as a forming lump threatened to choke me.

This was the single moment that I'd been waiting for my entire life. But, I still had questions. How was she alive? Why did she pick today to finally confront me? I had a sinking feeling that this chance encounter had a dark and complicated reason behind it, riddled with lies and deceit. I pulled away from her embrace and tucked my tousled tendrils behind my ear. Suddenly a sharp gust of wind ripped through the air between us and I could see our tender moment freeze and shatter before my eyes, the jagged shards scattering in the wind, never to be retrieved again. My mother met my eyes for a brief moment before turning away, pulling her thin jacket tightly around her frail shoulders. She had sensed it too.

"Look, honey," she said, focusing on a point just above my eyes, "How about we start on over to your house a while" Her voice sounded a little false, unsure and almost scared. However, that was okay, we could talk when we reached home. I stood up and my heart started to beat normally again, but my knees wobbled like spaghetti. The tress lining the walkway back to the house whipped in the biting wind, as if warning me of things to come.

I knew the full meaning of this situation had not yet hit me. I knew that. I wasn't stupid, I knew something was missing, something vital. Things were moving way too fast for the logical and cautious side of my brain to process it all. However, I was in love. As we walked the rest of the way to my house, we talked. We talked a lot. Mostly about me, as a matter a fact, I didn't recall her saying anything about her and why she left. My mind was somewhere different. Even if a distant alarm started to sound in the back of my head, for these few innocent moments, I would enjoy having a mother.

We came to the front steps of my house. I grabbed her hand tightly, startling her.

"Oh God!" I whispered, "I forgot all about Mag, oh god, she is so going to flip! Oh God! I cant beli-" I stopped in mid sentence, noticing that her face had not revealed surprise or . . anything. I drew my hand back, suddenly getting very sick. It had hit me. THIS WAS VITAL !

"She knows doesn't she? She knows that you're alive . . ." my voice trailed off.

My mother sighed, "She does, that's why I came here, to get you back. We've been at it for quite some time now. I felt like this was the only way."

"So you just decided to, like, appear after all of these years to just take me away? You don't even know me." I clamped my mouth shut.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that." I hung my head. Smart job, Sherlock. She lifted my chin, forcing me to look at her.

"No, don't you say that. You have every right to say what's on your mind. Besides, you're right. I know it's somewhat . . .short notice. But your mine," she said, looking past me into the house, a foreign edge to her voice, " and you belong to me."

I stepped away from her.

"Then why did you leave-"

She clamped her hand over my mouth, silencing me.

"Shh, let's go inside now, alright?"

She guided me up the steps and I opened the front door, letting us in.

"I hope that you have a darned good excuse for leaving this house without telling me young lady," Aunt Mag said as she came around the corner.

She stopped in her tracks and her mouth hung open.

"Magdlin," mother said, extending her hand.

"Mary who is this woman?" aunt Mag's face was livid, her fists clenched.

The room was stunned silent.

"Mag, its mom. I thought you knew?" I gave mom a puzzled look.

Mag stalked towards mom and grabbed her arm, yanking her towards the door.

"Mary I don't know this woman and I would appreciate it if she were out of my house!"

Mom ripped her arm from Mag's grip and Stood away from her.

"Get a hold of your self! You know good and well who I am!"

Mag's face was bright red as she tried to control her anger,

"Well I wish I didn't!"

I just stood there and watched them squabble like the siblings that they were. My eyes landed on Mag. However at that moment I felt something that I have never known before: Hate.

"Magdlin!" mom finally said after a long while, "Okay, let's just talk this all out. You know why I'm here." She pointed to me, "But she doesn't know the whole story yet. Let's . . talk, shall we?"

I felt a terrible shudder as we went to the living room.

* * *

We settled in different chairs, all of us edgy and nervous. Mother cleared her voice and began to speak.

"A year after I gave Mary to you I started working as a mail clerk in an insurance company. Not much money involved, but mom had me paying the electric and water bills and half the rent since I was still living there. So I considered taking training courses at the home office. Every now and then, I'd check up on Mary to see how she was doing here. But I was too afraid to show my face. God only knows what she thought of me. Anyway, I didn't have any time to drive all the way up to the office every single day. What with taking mom up to Hillside homes to see dad and to Aunt Tassey's, and . . . other stuff, I was swamped. I had nothing to show for in my life; so you could say that I was a 'loser'. Anyway, then one day, I remember it clearly, I was in the grocery and I passed the section with the Gerber products. And it just popped in my head: Mary, you have to get Mary back. And without knowing how, I listened to that voice and called Mag. And she refused to give you up." Her voice turned bitter.

"Oh save it Marsha, you know that it was just plain stupid to think that you could steal her from me."

"STEAL her? She is mine and you know it! I was just a child my self when I had her. People make mistakes Magdlin!" my mother gripped the arms of her chair. Her eyes were wild.

"What is all this about 'owning' her? She's not property-"

I didn't know what to think about this. Only thing I knew was that the anger inside of me was growing stronger. WHY were they fighting over me?

"You known what your problem is?" Mom asked, " you are so used to gettingyour own way that you just barge in here and-"

I stood up feeling light headed. Their conversation stopped, and they stared at me bewildered.

"Please, just stop fighting. All I wanted was answers, not a full out war. Please I'm begging you, tell me what happened to my real father and tell me why Aunt Mag felt that she had to lie to me all of these years?" suprisingly enough, tears started to roll down my cheeks. I forged on. I turned to Mag.

"Aunt Mag, why? That's all I wanted to know. Even if the truth would have hurt me more, it's still the truth! And I deserved to know what it was. I know th- that I'm supposed to be shaking in my boots. But it's now beyond that. You were horrible to me for fifteen years!" I couldn't help it I began to sob.

"I didn't even think you loved me at all! How could you do that to me? How? Was I too much trouble? Was I just some pebble in your shoe?" I was engaged into all out crying now and most words were choked off by the large lump of sorrow forming in my throat.

They sat there, still staring at me. I couldn't finish, I didn't know how. I tuned and ran up the creaky wooden stairs to my room. To safety.

* * *

My brain was fuzzy. I ran up to my room and slammed the door so hard that my lampshade rattled with the impact. I lay down on the bed. My thoughts were confused and jumbled. And I began to feel an emptiness. A big one. And it was eating away at my soul. So I started to cry again because that was all that was left.

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look kids it's not done yet and yes i know that i need to finish it. i'm just having the mother of all writer's blocks right now. Pray for my brain . . . . more importantly, do you want me to finish it? review!