Part 26 – Shattered Expectations

“Carrie, you need to see her.” Liz said holding up her hands.

“D-did she say who her mother was?” Carrie asked clearing her throat and folding her arms across her chest.

I’d yet to reveal myself, still surprised by our resemblance, but it was as good of a time as any. I stepped down the last few steps and moved into full view. Carrie caught sight of the movement and her eyes followed me as took stepped toward them.

“Kate Rumsfield,” I said swallowing hard as I met the newcomer’s gaze.

I studied her face. My initial impression, was more or less correct. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a little of my mother looking back at me, but as I took in the woman’s features it was clear most of my looks came from Carrie. I bore the same jawline, the same high cheekbones and the same generous lips. My nose was narrower and shorter, but the remaining differences were so slight that they were hardly even noticeable.

Liz and David, turned back toward me and I folded my arms across my chest my cheeks flushing. “I-I–Sorry, I heard you talking and… I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.”

“It’s okay, dear, it’s only natural you should be curious,” Liz smiled and moved toward me. “You must be famished, I’ll get you something to eat. David, why don’t you help me in the kitchen? I’m sure they would appreciate a little one-on-one time.”

Liz left with her husband in tow before I could thank her and they left me standing opposite Carrie, at a loss for words. For as long as I could remember, I’d wondered about my father. I’d even planned out what I might say should we ever meet, but now there was this woman standing in his place. I didn’t have any freaking clue what to say.

Carrie, smiled and held her hands out motioning toward the sofa and loveseat. “Why don’t we have a seat?”

I nodded and moved toward the sofa and watched Carrie take a seat opposite from me. I’d read somewhere that men preferred to sit across from someone so they can look into their eyes while women tend preferred to sit side by side because it was more intimate. If true, it suggested to me she wasn’t very comfortable with me just yet. Which was okay by me. I was as uncomfortable as hell.

“So.” I leaned forward clasping my hands in front of me. “I gotta ask, you are Harry Turow, right? The one who used to live in Clearville and dated Kate Rumsfield.”

She nodded, running her hand through her hair and collecting it behind her ears. “I haven’t gone by that name in a long time, but yes, that’s me. I guess you must have realized I’m twisted. My younger sister had this little nurse getup she used to play dress up in, and one day, just horsing around, I threw the cap on my head and Carrie was born.”

“And your family moved to Spiral to escape persecution.” I nodded, the gaps were easy enough to fill in. Things were a lot worse for the twisted in those days. To my knowledge no one in town was even aware Harry was twisted, which suggested the Turows fled without telling anyone. Things were pretty scary before I’d left, there was no telling what the residents in Clearville would’ve done if Carrie and her family stuck around.

“Can I ask you, when you were born?” she asked staring back at me with wide eyes.

Given our resemblance, I had no doubt she was my father, but I didn’t blame her for asking. If the situations were reversed, I’d have done the same. “February third,” I said pursed my lips and then added the year.

She sucked her breath in and leaned back in her seat. “We left Clearville in June the previous year and your mother and I… well,” she bit her lip her cheeks turning red. “Nine months give or take a few weeks would land somewhere around May, yeah I’d say it’s possible. Did your mother ever say anything to you about me?”

I shook my head. “She wouldn’t tell me anything about my father. The only reason I even knew your name is because I found one of her old yearbooks. She hates the twisted, wants nothing to do with them… us. I guess, maybe, she thought if she could keep the truth from me I’d end up being normal.”

“People have a lot of weird ideas about us. They accuse us of being tools of demons or alien, or being one or the other depending on who you ask. It’s not much of a stretch to suppose your mother would think she could hide your heritage and prevent you from being twisted.”

I nodded. “Did you know? I mean, did she tell you she was pregnant?”

“No, and if I had known, believe me, I would have tried to be a part of your life. I wrote her letters, but she never answered back. She’d made it clear what she thought of the twisted even then, but I sort of hoped that she would come around. I guess I expected too much.” She pursed her lips and let out a long sigh. “You made it to Spiral all by yourself? That must have been scary for you.”

I nodded and as I spoke, I told her all the details, starting with the day I’d found out I was twisted. As I described my twist, tears stung my eyes as I related the details of my naked march through the mall. I paused and met Carrie’s gaze, she sprung from her seat, and took up position on the couch beside me, wrapping her arms around me. It almost felt like having a mother again.

When I continued, I told her about my mother, and erupted into a fit of sobs and wails. I burried my face in her shoulder and just let the floodgates burst open. It hurt, almost as much as it had when it happened, but in telling her I could feel all the tension drain out of me.

Her voice whispered in my ear, speaking soothing words and she rocked me back and forth. When done, I bit my lip and pulled away my cheeks flushing as I realized that Liz and David had returned. My grandmother had a plate of food in hand, and she set it down on the end stand beside me, before a sad smile touched the corner of her lips and she embraced both me and Carrie.

The warmth from these two women gave me a sense of belonging I’d been sorely missing since fleeing Clearville.

It hurt no less, imparting the rest of my story, but with Carrie and Liz there to offer support, it made it a little easier. I grabbed the plate of food, a plain turkey sandwich and banana which Liz had peeled and sliced up for me. My period had made me nauseous, and I found it hard to stomach even such a simple meal. I hadn’t eaten since that morning and I forced myself to down it.

Something told me, she’d given me such plain fair on purpose. A woman her age had undergone more than a few periods. I had no doubt she knew full well what I was going through.

I spoke between bites, telling them the rest of my story. I left out some of the interactions between me and Megan, but aside from that I held nothing back. Even describing my confrontation with Jeff and the later one with those jackasses at the gas station. I feared they might lecture me or tell me I used poor judgement, but neither did. Instead, I earned hugs from each and soothing words.

Once finished I was drained. I’d had a long day, hell I’d had a long week, and it wasn’t even over.

Carrie reached out, and her hands cupped my cheeks. She was shaking and as I peered into her eyes, I saw tears stream down her face. “I am so sorry. God, I should have been there!”

I shook my head, putting both hands on her wrists and pulled them away. “Don’t be. It’s horrible, but none of it’s your fault. Mom chose not to tell you and that’s on her.”

I saw David’s finger’s moving, but had no idea what he was saying. Liz was good enough to translate.

“David’s sorry about what happened to you and wants you to know you’re welcome in our home.”

“T-thank you,” I said a long drawn out yawn escaping my lips.

Carrie smiled and freed her wrists. She turned back to meet her mother’s gaze, they exchanged glances, nodded and my father turned back to me resting a hand on my shoulder.

“It’s late, I think we can postpone the rest of this until tomorrow. I’m sure you’d like some rest.”

I nodded, biting my lips and forcing back more tears. As much as I was dying to grill her on every little detail, I was damned tired. “Yeah, that’d be nice.”

“Mom is it all right, if Calista stays here for the night? I’d rather not wake Drew or the kids. This will be hard enough to explain as it is… and if she’s going to be staying we’ll need to find some room for her.”

“Of course, dear. She can sleep in your old bedroom.”

My heart skipped a beat at the mention of ‘the kids’. I’d always wondered what it might be like to have siblings, but in my youth that had always taken the form of an older brother and even, on occasion, an older sister. When I got older I came to realize, how unlikely it was, and had given up on that dream. After, I’d gone looking for my father, I hadn’t once considered that he, or rather she, would get married and have more kids.

As I grappled with the idea, I now appeared to have multiple younger siblings, the rest of my mother’s words sunk in. ‘If she’s going to be staying.’

I didn’t seek clarification as Carrie rose to her feet and extended her hand. Just knowing she’d accepted me was enough to keep my curiosity at bay. The details would be filled in later, when I’d gotten some sleep.

I took her hand, letting her lead me back up the stairway and into a bedroom across the hall from the bathroom.

Stumbling toward the bed, I paid no heed to the decor. I collapsed atop it and closed my eyes. I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.