You’re sitting at a café when a stranger approaches you. This person asks what your name is, and, for some reason, you reply. The stranger nods, “I’ve been looking for you.” What happens next?
Don’t run, I tell myself. Running would be fatal.Yet, my body disagrees. I have to clench my fists against my legs to stop them from trembling, desperate to carry me away from this woman. At first my throat catches on my words, giving me away. I see a smirk unfold, made more sinister by the shadows cast by her hood. “Sit down,” I tell her, my voice finally clear and strong. Silently, she takes the seat opposite me. As she slowly peels her gloves off, I catch a glimpse of the engagement ring sparkling in the dim light. “What do you want?” Is all I can muster without screaming at her. This stranger wearing my grandmother’s ring. Her eyes finally lock on to my gaze and she peers down at her hand. All of a sudden snatching it away, she shoves the leather gloves back on, taking a moment to fit her fingers into the right sections. “I can’t stay long,” she mutters, shifting in her seat. “My name is–,”she offers her gloved hand to me. “–I know,” I mutter back, reluctantly shaking her hand. It takes all of my energy not to reach across and throttle her. Admittedly, she is prettier than I expected. And I had thought she would come closer to Christmas time, when I would be in a festive mood to accept her news. The news she didn’t know that I had already found out.
“Mr. Arthur died last Thursday.” That news I was not expecting. The man I hate is dead. The man that made me hate this stranger, gone. And yet, I feel no sense of justice or relief. I don’t feel much of anything at all. “Are you all right?” I realize that I haven’t spoken for a long time when I look up at her concerned face. “Just, shocked, I guess,” I say quietly, still pondering. Then, my eyes focus back to her, remembering why she came. “That’s not all.” I declare. I feel my fingers tighten their grip on the armrests of the chair. She shakes her head sullenly. “I’m afraid not,” she mumbles, “But I am not who you think I am.”
“Oh I know who you are!” I scoff, unable to hide my anger now.
“I am Christina, Margaret’s cousin.” My face crumples in confusion. This really is a stranger.
“Why are you here? Where is Margaret?” I shoot the questions at her. At first she is taken aback by the force of my words. Then, she adjusts herself and begins to explain.
“Margaret is very upset about her husband’s death. But she is also upset about what happened, and she wants to try and make it up to you.” I open my mouth- ready to tell this stranger that she doesn’t know half of the things I have been through-when she cuts in:
“I know it isn’t much for me to tell you all this, but I have brought you some things. She will give it all back, eventually.
“Just giving all the things she stole back doesn’t make everything okay again!” I shout.
“It’s a start,” she says quietly. Then, she slides her gloves off again and hands me the ring. “It’s very beautiful.”
I snatch it from her, clutching the only thing I had left from my grandmother, which had been taken from me for decades. Nothing can stop the tears from welling up in my eyes.
“I have more,” she offers. I nod, getting up from my seat. I secretly agree; having all of your mother’s possessions taken from you by her second husband and his mistress can’t be made up by a single ring. But it’s a start…