Fiction Drama Contemporary

TW - mentions of suicide.

Theresa looks me up and down, an unreadable expression on her face, but that's understandable considering she only met me two hours ago. I know she's unsure of what to think about me - most people are. I give her a moment to form the question I'm anticipating she'll ask - everyone asks it. 

Her gaze parts from mine momentarily, flickering to the table, then back up to me. Her nails create a rhythm on the chipped, creamy colored plastic. The clicks only last a scarce amount of seconds before they silence.  

Her voice fills the familiar silence at last, but the words she speaks throw me off, "What about your family? Any siblings? Only child?" 

From being thrown off of my game, I quip, "this isn't a date." 

Theresa sighs, "I'm sorry for all of the personal questions. I'm just interested to know about you." 

"You're the first," I cross my arms, leaning back in the booth. 

She doesn't respond to my comment - not verbally or physically. 

I'm surprised that she classes her questions as personal. Sure, some are, but I suppose I've gotten so used to answering these questions that I no longer find it uncomfortable to reveal to a near stranger what my life's like. From bouncing back and forth between people my whole life, it seems nothing about me is a private fact. Everybody knows a little something about me although I've been told many times that I'm very much reserved. 

At the same time, no one knows a thing about me. 

"Family?" I begin to answer her previous question, my palms growing sweaty even though I've recited the following line hundreds of times, "my mother killed herself after I was born, my father was never around, I don't have any siblings." 

I can tell she's stunned, but she's trying to hide it. 

"I don't have one of those: a family," I add on when a beat of silence passes. 

"I'm sure you have a family." 

My eyes snap up to meet hers. She's certain in what she's just said, but I wonder how. "Okay… explain to me what you mean." 

She sits up straighter in her seat, elbows on the table leading to clasped hands with rings on knuckles facing me. "I mean a chosen family. 

"They're not necessarily biological, but they're people you trust and people you care about that care for you too. A family without the traditional structure." 

She's cut off by Ethan and Wren approaching the table once again. They're back with the food we've ordered to finish off our day out and immediately, our previous conversation disappears into thin air. 


I meet eyes with Wren as she squeezes into the booth beside her sister. "I know you said you'd share with me, but I got this for you in case you have more of an appetite later on." 

I glance at the cabbage rolls she's passing to me. The package contains only two - just enough for me if my appetite isn't satisfied by what Wren's willing to share. 

Beside me, Ethan has shuffled in, scrolling on his phone. His dark eyebrows are furrowed in concentration and I take that opportunity to steal a piece of his chicken. He doesn't notice which is usual. He does one thing at a time and no more than that. 

"So, looks like you two had a good talk while we were gone," Wren says, looking between Theresa and I. 

Her sister speaks up first, "Honey's quite an interesting person. I like her." 

"And Honey?" 

I send Theresa a smile as I say, "I like her too. She's like you, but a wiser version." 

Wren looks offended. 

Her sister laughs, "well, I'm the older one. I guess that gives me wisdom." 

Ethan comes back to reality, lifting his head, "What? What's going on?" 

Wren pulls a dramatic pout as she opens her containers of food. "Honey seems to think that Theresa's smarter than me." 

"Wise," I correct. 

He looks between them, then shrugs, "You're both wise, just in different ways. That's what she meant." 

"Yes, thank you." 

We fall into another conversation as I feed off of Wren's plate. It's comfortable and I'm enjoying the addition of Theresa. Unfortunately, she's only in town for the weekend. I'm sure all of us wish she could spend more time here. I'm thankful that I got to meet her, though, and that she's no longer just a name to me. 

Going off topic, Ethan starts to talk about his new side hustle, "So, you know this kid that I'm tutoring for math? Well, I met his mother and surprisingly she has the same last name as you, Honey." 

I shrug, "I suppose it's common enough." 

"Of course," he nods, "Arabella Kenter. Isn't that interesting?" 

Wren's eyes meet mine in a hurry, her expression the same as mine. We share a knowing look before he continues. 

"She even looked like you. Like, her son could have been your little brother. It was weird. I thought I had traveled through time or something." 

I can't be certain, but a sickening feeling starts in my stomach anyways. My gaze stays plastered on the table as I try to tell myself it's all a big coincidence just like it has been every other time I thought I had found my father.  

They've noticed at this point. The silence is suffocating. 

"That's my mother's name. She's dead, she has to be, but still..." I trail off. 

Wren reaches across the table and takes my hand. She knows a lot, almost everything that I would offer up to another person. She reassures me, "it's just a coincidence." 

Ethan pipes in carefully, "I don't know if this will help the situation, but she mentioned she has an older daughter named Allison…" 

Wren's hold tightens on my hand because she's the only one here who knows I haven't heard that name in ages. Allison is what the nurse at the hospital named me twenty four years earlier when my mother had refused to form any sort of bond with me and my father was nowhere to be found. I grew up being bullied and insulted and abused with that name. It wasn't the name itself, but the memories attached to that name were too painful. So I changed it when I was eighteen.

I get Ethan to let me out of the booth and Wren follows closely behind me. I head outside, still trying to process everything. It's not making sense to me. How could this be a coincidence? 

"Honey?" She stands in front of me, eyes scanning my face to read how I'm feeling, but I'm not quite sure myself. 

"She's dead so I don't know what I'm doing right now. I shouldn't be worrying about this," I ramble. 

"Who was it that told you that in the first place?" She questions. 

"My father told me when I was three or four, when I started school, before I never saw him again." 

She pauses, possibly thinking about how to phrase her next few words, "Don't you think it's possible that that was all a cover so you wouldn't keep asking him about her?" 

I swallow the lump in my throat as the thought of that hits me in the chest. "Maybe… but even so, I don't want to meet the woman who abandoned me and had her boyfriend lie to me for the early years of my life and then abandon me as well. I don't… I don't want to…" 

Wren knows me too well to believe the splutter of words I've put together in an instant out of fear. "You do." 

I shake my head, "I… don't." 

"Okay, let's put this off to the side for the night and we'll revisit it again when it's not so new and overwhelming," she suggests. 

I nod although the thoughts still swirl around in my mind. All my life I thought she was no longer alive. I may have some family left after all. 

August 15, 2021 01:12

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Shea West
22:04 Aug 26, 2021

Hey there! Your story made it's way into my critique circle with Reedsy. I think your story has a good bones, you did a nice job of balancing the dialogue with this group of characters. I also feel like you have some room to stretch out some of the details that you use in this story. I wonder if the shift of the main character being harsh at first to liking Theresa is a bit too abrupt? Does Theresa do something that helps settle Honey? Something that makes them feel safe? This section: She sits up straighter in her seat, elbows on th...


Aoife Blu
15:10 Aug 27, 2021

Thank you so much for your suggestions! I appreciate the time that you took to read the story and your suggestions are very helpful!


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