Part 37 – Reunited
Though the girl that stood before me looked far different from the one I remembered, it was Megan. The nose I knew so well, the one which used to be a tad too large for her face had shrunk down to a more dainty and proportionate size. Her eyes were the same brilliant green and her lips just as generous. Her hair was another matter, she was now sporting long blonde locks. I couldn’t say whether it was a dye job or part of her twist, but either way it made her a near twin to her cousin.
Megan was the biggest tomboy in our class, and I hadn’t seen her wear the slightest bit of makeup the entire time we were friends. Today however, it was plastered all over her face. Many people would have thought her drop dead gorgeous, but it was her old face that I’d crushed on all those years.
Her fashion sense, at least, hadn’t changed. She was wearing a plain white t-shirt, jeans and a denim jacket.
Had I not known her better, I might have assumed that it was Allison I was looking at, but Megan was shorter and curvier and she was far less graceful in her movements. She stared at me all doe eyed for a moment. I even saw a tear glistening in her eyes, but then she swung her arm out slapping me across the face.
“IDIOT!” She screamed her feature’s twisting and contorting into an angry scowl.
I probably deserved that.
I was so flustered that I backed right into a mall directory. Carrie called after me, but I held a hand up warning her off.
I glanced back at her panting and with wide eyes. Her features softened, and she moved closer. I put my arms up, not to attack, but defend myself in case she struck again. She reached out, but when I swung my arm out to block her, she forced it aside and grabbed the collar of my dress.
Certain that another attack was incoming, you can imagine my surprise when she pulled me toward her and locked her lips around mine. My face was still throbbing from her blow, but I melted into her arms, nonetheless. When we broke for air, I stood there panting and staring back at her with eyes still wide. I slipped a hand up the side of my face, rubbing my fingers over my jaw and cheek.
Megan frowned, stepping back and folded her arms. “What the hell were you thinking?! Do you know how worried we’ve been! We didn’t have any idea what happened to you! I thought, I lost you!”
Unwilling to look her in the eyes, I lowered my gaze and adopted a pose almost identical to hers. “I thought if I left, it would take some heat off you guys.”
“You’re an idiot,” she repeated and pulled close slipping her arms around me. She put her head on my shoulders and I felt warm tears splatter on my shoulder. “Never do anything like that again, okay?”
“Megan?” A familiar voice spoke before I could respond.
We turned in unison to find Mr. Hails standing a few feet away. The toothy grin on his face told me all I needed to know. I craned my neck around at Carrie, my suspicions confirmed when I caught a knowing smirk on the corner of her lips. Our encounter was not a coincidence. Twice now, Carrie had pulled the wool over my eyes. One of these days, I told myself I would get her back.
I peered at the pair of them, arching an eyebrow. I might have expected more concern from Carrie, given that Megan just attacked me, but perhaps our kiss was enough to dispel any uneasiness, Pursing my lips before jerking forward, I threw my arms out and wrapping them around Mr. Hails.
“It’s good to see you!” I beamed. “Both of you!”
Mr. Hails stood stiff for a second, but then he relaxed and returned my hug. I pulled away looking up at him and glanced back over my shoulder at Carrie. All those years of looking for my father and I did not realize, until that moment, that I couldn’t have wished for a better dad than the one that now stood before me. Though we shared no blood ties, he had been there for me when no other adult would and had stood by me when my mother kicked me to the curb.
I was grateful to have found Carrie, but as we got to know each other and our relationship evolved she was coming to fill the role of a mother more than she ever would a father.
I cleared my throat and took a step back. As much as I wanted to tell Mr. Hails how I felt, it was neither the time nor place. Someday soon, I would make my feelings known, but for now the hug would have to do.
I stepped back, moving back toward Carrie. When I reached her, I held a hand out to her. “Megan,” I said. “This is my father… Carrie Christianson.”
“Shit,” Megan blurted out. “That’s why you could never find her! She twisted into a girl just like you! That’s so rad!”
She stopped, her eyes scanning each of our faces before shaking her head and smiling. “I mean, um, nice to meet you!”
Megan dropped to her knees and peered at Carrie’s legs. Confused, at first, I followed her gaze and caught sight of Amanda peeking out from behind them.
“Who’s this?” Megan asked, a smile spreading across her heart-shaped face and her eyes lighting up.
“This is Amanda,” Carrie answered bending over to retrieve my younger sibling. “She’s my youngest.”
Megan and Carrie, with Amanda in her arms, rose to their feet, and the former smiled at my youngest sibling. “Hi, I’m Megan, I’m Calista’s friend.”
Amanda buried her head in Carrie’s shoulder. “You’re mean!”
I smirked, watching Megan out of the corner of my eyes wondering how she would address the situation. Amanda saw her slap me, and it was nice to see at least someone had come to my defense even if I deserved the slap.
“I’m sorry, did I upset you? Your sister scared me, I promise I won’t do it again, okay?”
Megan looked up at her eyeing her with her big brown eyes and scowled at Megan. Though she didn’t seem convinced, she nodded. “Okay.”
“As much as I hate to break this up,” Mr. Hails said stepping forward, his hands fingering the cuff links on either of his wrists. “I’m afraid I have a job interview in less than thirty minutes.”
Megan arched an eyebrow, peering back and forth between her father and Carrie. “I thought it was after the movie?”
He smirked and then shrugged. Megan rolled her eyes and folded her arms across her chest. “So we’re not going to the movie?”
“I’m not,” he said making eye contact with Carrie and nodding.
Understanding dawned on her face and Megan peered back at me a smile touching her lips before she turned back to her father. “Uh, yeah, so I guess I’ll see you tonight.”
Mr. Hails nodded at Carrie, then he turned to me still smiling. “We’ll catch up later.”
I nodded, and he turned away. He’d only taken perhaps half a dozen steps when without even realizing what I was doing I ran after him. I threw my arms around him, and he jerked to a stop glancing back at me with a startled look on his face.
“Mr. Hails…” I froze as I looked up into his eyes. “I-I just wanted to say, thank you… for everything.”
“Of course.” He peered back, surprised reflected in his eyes.
“And… good luck, with the interview, I mean. You’re a shoo-in.”
Mr. Hails sauntered away, and a second later a weight pressed into my side. I glanced toward it just in time to witness Megan slip her arms around my waist and smile. I peered into her eyes and leaned in to peck her on the lips.
Of all the ways I’d expected my day to turn out, this hadn’t even made the list, but that was not a bad thing. Not at all.
We rejoined Carrie and made our way to the theater seating ourselves within the nearly empty auditorium. When the lights turned dark and Megan’s head came to rest on my shoulders, I let out a contented sigh. I’d come a long way to get where I was, and for a while things looked bad. I’d found my father and reunited with the girl I loved even if she looked a little different. What could be better?
As the opening credits rolled across the screen, I took Megan’s hand and squeezed it. I had no idea what the future held, but it had never looked so bright.