Remember me (VII)- Short story

The story of fate and destiny

Chapter 7

The Meeting

Ann was a gorgeous woman by the very definition. There was a softness to her appearance and a kind of warmth married to her beauty that allowed Tara to find sanctuary in her black twilight eyes.

Her fine skin, honeyed to perfection, glowed with the richness of a well-nurtured and perfectly groomed complexion that extended all the way to her fingertips.

Everything about Ann oozed an air of benign affability. The way she sat with an erect posture keeping both legs together while her hands rested on her knees, to the way she nodded her head to encourage Tara to keep unburdening her worries. It was such a practiced and well-drilled professional poise but performed effortlessly.

She had a striking resemblance with the woman in the photograph Tara had found in the bottle by the beach, but the woman was a younger version. There was no denying that there had to be a connection.

By the look and appearance of her smile, Tara could tell she was a loving soul, whose humility masked her moneyed background. She looked well and rested.

As they sat in her office that morning, Tara could not keep the tincture of confusion out of her voice when she hurriedly blurted out her startling findings.

She was careful not to reveal everything she had found all at once lest she was perceived as a nut case.

When she was done describing the man she met at the street where the house address was located, she watched for Ann’s reaction.

“The man you have described looks exactly like my father just as I remembered him. But he died in a boat mishap. He spent an awful lot of time on the sea. I assume you already know this from your research. Could it have anything to do with the bottle you found?”

“Yes, I only found out that I spoke to a dead man when I got back home.”

“Do you think that it is possible you have seen his picture prior to the meeting yesterday and that this may have confused you somewhat?”

“I have never seen that man in my whole life. I swear. Never.”

Silence descended into the office as Tara let her eyes wander to the trio of plants on the window-sill where white rays of light sauntered in as the day brightened.

“Did they ever find his body?”

“Not till this day.”

“So…what if……?”

“What?”

“I mean, what if he survived somehow?”

“Then he wouldn’t still look the way he did when he died years ago.”

Silence

“You are probably right. But it doesn’t explain the man I saw. Does he have a brother who is alive perhaps, that looks like him?”

“Not anymore. His surviving siblings passed on last year.”

“This is totally insane. I saw that man. We spoke and he told me about you and his wife – the woman in this photograph.”

“Do you have that photograph with you here? Ann asked with the softest voice tone.

When Tara handed her the photograph she had found, she watched her face for any reaction. She gave nothing away.

“And you found this in that bottle you say?”

“Yes, do you know her?”

“This isn’t my mother. At least the mother I grew up knowing. She does look a tad familiar but I have no idea who she is.”

“It doesn’t make sense Ann. I couldn’t have made this up.”

 “I perfectly understand Tara. You had a really intense day yesterday, perhaps some of the details are a bit muddled up.”

“No freaking way.” Tara got up from the chair, before pacing about the office.

Her inner critic was unrelenting and loud that morning, creating anxiety, doubt and anger. She shook her head in disagreement. The conversation with Ann wasn’t going as she had imagined when she stayed up most of the night thinking eagerly about the meeting.

“Please can I meet you mother.”

“I don’t see any reason why?” Ann’s response was quick, sharp and firm.

“Perhaps she can provide any sort of explanation to this conundrum. Maybe she has met this man and perhaps and she knows who the woman in the photograph is.”

Tara reached out to retrieve the photograph from Ann. She met no resistance.

Silence again.

“If you like I can ask my mum about the woman in the picture. She is visiting my house. Do you think that would assuage your concerns?”

“One more question please.” Tara ignored her suggestion. She was beginning to have other plans for her “mother”.

“Yes, please.”

“Did you ever live on No 17 Lawal Adeleke Street?”

“Yes, that was our family house. I lived there till my father died.”

“You know something Ann.” Tara found her voice and the words reeled out in quick succession while she maintained an accusatory look at the elegant lady sitting on the visitor’s chair.

“I think it is too much a coincidence that the bottle I found at the beach led me to your family house where I met your supposedly dead father who confirmed to me that this woman was his wife and your mother.” She ended the sentence with a raised voice.

“ Please calm down, Taraoluwa.” Ann rose out of the chair to face Tara.

“How did you know my full name. I didn’t tell you my full name.” Tara started to retreat, taking one step backwards towards the door.

Tara’s eyes darting around the room waiting for Ann’s next move. From Ann’s face to her hands and then to the office furniture and artworks and then pronto; in a swift desperate move, she yanked the door open and raced out of the office, through the reception area and out on the street.

“Tara! Tara!! Wait.”

That was the last she heard as she raced out of the wellness center looking back once to see Ann raise her mobile phone to her right ear.

Her last words to Ann were, “You are lying”

*******

Catching her breath behind the steering wheel of her car, Tara resolved to follow Ann home. She was convinced that there was something Ann knew about this that she wasn’t saying.

She had pretended to drive away from the parking area of the wellness centre on the street before circling back and waiting at a distance until Ann left the centre.

Her wait was not for long, as she watched the woman who looked every bit like the one in the photograph, she had found get behind the wheel of a luxurious wine-colored Lexus SUV.

When she checked herself in the rear mirror, her facial expression was that of tiredness, craving a need for nurture and a chance to rest. Thankfully she didn’t see the bottle on her backseat this time.

“Gone for good.” She giggled.

Tara slipped on her sunshades and drove at a safe distance behind the SUV.

“Game on.”

Please read next chapter here.

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