Issue Features

The Crossroad of Past & Present II

Jul 03

Part II

Melissa Detto

“Wow!” Jenna ran her hands through her long, blonde hair. She blew out a breath of air and looked down at the churning water, which was tinged with purple hues from the sun’s climb down the sky.

“You haven’t touched your drink.” Margaret watched her niece from wary eyes.

“I feel nauseous.” Jenna turned her head, her eyes taking in the crowded balcony of the restaurant that overlooked the river below. She smiled at a girl who was begging her parents to take her tubing. A second later, her lips turned down when she thought about her aunt’s revelation only moments before, a revelation that had changed her life.

“I know how you must feel,” her aunt’s voice said, cutting into her thoughts. “Your mom…”

“Yeah, you told me. She begged you not to talk about that summer with me.” The younger woman shook her head. “Why the secrecy? She never even told you my father’s name.” She looked at the river again, her eyes widening. “Was it because she was seeing more than one guy? Did she not know who my father was?” Jenna felt her stomach roiling wildly as the words left her lips.

“No, no!” Margaret reached over and patted her niece’s hand. She gave the young woman a small smile. Jenna sagged in her chair and expelled a loud breath of air.

Margaret reached for her Chardonnay glass with shaking hands. She managed to bring it to her mouth without spilling and swallowed a large amount of the wine. After placing it back on the wooden table, she stated, “Lo told me she fell in love with a wonderful man.” She shook her head and stared at the darkening sky, a scene from the past filling her mind.

A moment later, she turned back to her niece. “Your mother told me that she’d never been so happy, but at the end of the summer, everything changed.”

“Why?’ Jenna leaned closer to her aunt, her heart beating so fast she was sure it would burst from her chest.

“She found out he was committed to someone else.” Margaret’s lips pursed tightly. “I think the woman had been away with her family for a while. I don’t know all the details. Your mom was vague and…” Margaret’s words cut off as tears filled her eyes and threatened to spill down her face. She took several deep breaths and turned her gaze to the floor. She clenched her hands in fists, the nails cutting into her skin.

Finally, in control again, she met her niece’s eyes. “I have to know something,” Jenna said in a low voice. “Did my mom ever tell my father she was pregnant?”

“No. She said she couldn’t.”

“Because of the other woman?”

“I guess.”

Jenna scratched her head and sighed. Then it hit her. “So the guy in the hotel could be my….my…father.” Was it possible that after all these years she had actually come face to face with him?

“Well, he called you Lo, and you are the spitting image of her.”

“So now what?”

The waitress appeared at that moment. “Would you like to order dinner yet?” she asked, her eyes narrowing as she appraised the two women who looked pale as ghosts.

“No,” Margaret said. “We’ll take the check.” She turned to her niece. “We need to go back there. Are you up for it?”

Jenna nodded and swallowed the bile rising in her throat. “I can do this,” she whispered.

After paying, they made their way back to the hotel. A woman with short, curly gray hair was behind the counter, talking to a young man.

Jenna’s eyes widened when she saw the antique locket with the mosaic image of blue and red flowers. A cold sweat broke out on her forehead, and she began rummaging through her purse. When she pulled out her wallet, her clammy hands frantically flipped through it. “That woman is wearing Mom’s locket.” She pointed to a picture. “The one you said she lost.”

Margaret’s eyes narrowed as she peered at the image. “That does look like her locket. But it can’t be. How would this woman have gotten it?”

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