The instant that I closed the door on her a part of my heart had broken off. I couldn't understand any of this. How was this possible? But it had been real, she had been real and she had looked exactly like Anna. My Anna.
Jonathan, my eight year-old son asked me who the stranger at door was and I had simply stared at him. After a moment, he'd sensed the uncomfortable atmosphere and had turned back to watching cartoons with his ten year-old sister, Macy. When we sat at our large, glass dining room table my silence had continued. My wife Helena was intuit enough to realize that something was bothering me.
"Burt, who was at the door?" she asked. I knew she meant no harm, but my mind instantly began to shout accusations at me. How could I be so cruel? "Burt?"
"No one." I answered and stuffed some rice into my dry mouth.
"That's not true daddy," Jonathan spoke up, bless him he never knew when to keep quiet. "There was a girl mommy, she was real pretty and small."
Helena had waited for me to answer after this sudden revelation and I took a sip from a glass of water that sat taunting on the table.
"Burt?" She repeated. I could tell her patience was dissolving.
I cleared my throat and placed both hands firmly on the table that reflected my family. "She said she was my daughter."
The silence was thicker than even I had anticipated and Macy coughed uncomfortably.
"What do you mean, your daughter?" Helena asked, but I knew that she had heard correctly.
"She looked just like Anna." My words fell heavy between Helena and I and the kids watched on, curious and confused.
"Oh," she simply said before getting up from the table.
I watched her enter the kitchen before following her inside. "Eat," I told the kids before disappearing into the kitchen.
"I didn't know Anna had a daughter." Was all that Helena said in the several agonizing moments of silence.
"Me neither." And I meant this, I had loved Anna but never had she confided such a thing to me before she had left.
"Well, what are you going to do?" she asked me finally.
"I don't know. I told her to leave, but even if I don't know her I feel horrible thinking of her sleeping somewhere out there alone."
"Then tell her to come here."
"What?" I was amazed at her choice of words.
Helena sighed and grabbed my hands tightly. Her hands were cold and clammy with worry. "Tell her to come stay with us."
Now I walk up the steps thirty minutes later with a stranger behind me and I recall her words. They had been the last thing that I'd expected Helena to speak, but then my wife always surprises me with little acts of kindness.
When I found the young teenager in Eddy's place, part of me knew that she was indeed Anna's daughter. She has several of her mannerisms and her blunt questions and comments mimic her mother's. Not to mention her eyes, those same ocean blue eyes that her mother had once challenged my heart with. But as I come to recognize Anna in this teenager, I also begin to feel the old pain that my current life had scabbed over so long ago.
As we walked towards my home I had told her some interesting things about this small beach town, Robbin, where her mother and I had grown up, met, and fallen in love. I told her to follow and I silently hope that this is enough for now.