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Finding Eden(10)

By:Mia Sheridan

It swung open and she stood there, my mother. I knew her immediately. Not because I recognized anything in her face exactly, well, except my own, but because the feeling that swept over me was the same sensation I’d felt when I tried to recall her for the past fourteen years.

I started trembling even more. Once I had belonged to someone. Once I had belonged to her.

I blinked at her, just taking her in. She was a little taller than I was, probably five foot five or so and her blonde hair was cut into a straight bob that ended right at her jawline. She was wearing a pair of darker jeans with a white sweater. She was real. She was alive—standing right in front of me. Emotions slammed into me, too many to investigate.

She cocked her head, a small frown coming to her face. Her mouth opened and then closed as she took me in. "I'm sorry . . . how can I . . .?" She paused and blinked at me. "Do I know you?"

"I'm Eden," I said, so softly I wasn't sure I had actually spoken. "I think I'm your daughter," I squeaked out.

The woman's eyes, my mother's eyes, widened and she took a step back, bringing her hand to her chest. "Molly," she called, her voice breaking, turning her head slightly to someone who must be inside. "Oh, Molly . . ." And then she swayed as a young, blonde woman ran up behind her, catching her in her arms as my mother fell backward.

"Oh my God," the girl named Molly cried out. "Carolyn!"

I rushed in and helped Molly lead Carolyn to the couch in the large family room right off the foyer.

"I'm so sorry," I murmured, bringing Carolyn's feet up on the couch. "I didn't do that in a very sensitive way. God! So stupid, Eden. I was just so . . . I didn't think." I had prepared myself for this, at least as much as I could. She hadn't had any warning whatsoever.

I straightened myself and looked down worriedly at Carolyn who was lying on the couch. Her eyes now open, she looked up at me with shock on her face.

"Holy shit," the pretty girl next to me murmured. I looked over at her to see her staring at me. "You can't be," she said, and then shook her head slightly as if she was attempting to wake up. "What's happening here?"

I took a deep breath. "Should we get her a cool washcloth or something?" I asked, nodding down at Carolyn.

Molly blinked and then looked down as if just remembering Carolyn was there. "Oh, right, um, sure. I'll be right back."

Once Molly had left the room, I sat down on the couch next to Carolyn and I took her hands in mine. She was still staring at me, her large, blue eyes wide, her mouth parted in shock. I took a deep breath. "I'm sorry," I whispered.

Her hands gripped mine and a tear rolled slowly down her cheek. Her chest rose and fell in quick inhales of breath and her mouth opened and closed, but no words came. "I know," I said softly, squeezing her hands back. "It's okay, I know."

"How? Where?" she squeaked out. Before I could answer, Molly came rushing back into the room and knelt down on the floor and put a damp, white washcloth on Carolyn's forehead.

Molly's eyes shot to mine. "Are you really her?" she asked. "Like, how? My God! Do we need to call someone? What's the protocol here? Jesus!"

"I'm sorry." I offered her a small smile. "I didn't even ask. Are you my step-sister?" I remembered the letter Felix gave me telling me my mother had never had more children, but perhaps her second husband had. My brain was buzzing.

Molly shook her head. "No, I'm your cousin." Her eyes widened. "Oh my God! My cousin is alive." She put her hand to her chest and took a deep breath, composing herself. She shook her head back and forth, almost as if she was trying to remember who she was. "Um, I've been living with Carolyn since my mom, her sister Casey, passed away five years ago."

"Oh, I'm so sorry." I frowned. "It's so nice to meet you." This feels surreal. Molly stared back at me as if she was thinking the same thing.

I looked back at Carolyn as her head shook back and forth and she pulled on my hand so I would help her sit up. She came up slowly, breathing out and leaning back on the couch as the washcloth slipped into her hands and she handed it to Molly. We both watched her carefully. She gripped my jeans, almost clawing at me although I'd let go of her hands. Her eyes swept over my face, down my body, and back up to my face. "Eden," she breathed out. "My girl."

I nodded my head. "Yes."

"You're so beautiful," she squeaked out, her hand coming up to my cheek as she touched me tentatively and then pulled her hand away.

Her eyes moved down to the locket I wore around my neck and she gasped out. "The locket!" she cried. Her eyes flew back to mine. "Your father and I gave you that for your sixth birthday." Tears coursed down her cheeks and her hands trembled as she reached forward to touch the small round piece of jewelry.