Read pt. 1 Pink Dress
Read pt. 2 Stranger
Read pt. 3 Two Little Girls
Read pt. 4 Basil and Garlic
My sight is so blurry. My body aches. An older woman with my eyes is leaning over me. She’s holding my hand.
“Mia,” she whispers.
“Who’s Mia?” My voice is scratchy. She hands me a cup of water and I guzzle it down.
She wipes her eyes with a crumpled tissue. “Mia…that’s…it’s…what…your mother called you. She was my daughter…”
Gently, she tells me the story. A neighbor heard the gunshot and called the police. I was found, clinging to life, in the shed. I was rushed into surgery, where doctors managed to save my life. I’d been out of it for three days. The police had only discovered my true identity a day ago.
“…honey, there are so many people who love you. You have a father, and a grandfather, and so many cousins and aunts and uncles, they’re all out there waiting…”
“What about…her…the woman who…”
“They haven’t found her yet.” She squeezes my hand. “They will, honey. They will.”
I’m not so sure. But I let her love and determination wash over me for the moment. I have a family.
She was never going back, despite what all the news stories said. She knew that the second the plane landed in her new destination. She thought she’d try somewhere coastal for a change. But Lauren’s mom and her father would worry, would look over their shoulders and jump at every unexpected noise for the rest of their lives. That brought her great pleasure.
America was fascinated with her now, which she found ironic. People with whom she’d only spoken in passing in her old town now were giving interviews on morning news shows, giving fabricated details of her former life. Everyone was overjoyed that the girl in the pink dress had been found, had recovered from her gunshot wound, but times had changed. People were more interested in the sordid details. Cora was the star.
Her long hair, grown out for years, was shorn and bleached blond. Her eyes a new color. New IDs in her wallet. It was always so easy for her, becoming someone else.
She’d rather enjoyed being a mother, while it lasted. Before she’d been betrayed. Maybe she’d do it again.
Her eyes searched the restaurant, landing on a man sitting near the windows, trying unsuccessfully to feed a squirming little girl in a high chair. She took a seat next to him. The child quieted, her eyes fixated on her. She already loves me. The man smiled at her with relief and introduced himself. She returned his smile.
“What a beautiful baby.”