Part of the Story
The story begins, as so many of them do, at the beginning. Or rather a beginning, for the story that this one is connected to had been in existence for some time before. That story is just as important as this one—probably more so—but, in the here and now, this is the story to tell. The story that comes from this one is one for … another time and place.
It begins shortly after two souls met, had been through their awkward moments, and come to realize something, or several somethings. For one, it was coming to know she had met her Eternal, the only one for her, the one that accepted her, not for what she was, but who she was. For the other, it was him finding the one with that smile, that little sparkle in her eyes when they met, and how they held each other, how their bodies and souls fit together in just the right way.
Not too long before, in another place, another Realm, the two had appeared to her mother—the Queen—and he was … if not grilled by her, at least thoroughly examined as to exactly what his intentions were for her daughter. His answer was truthful, there was no question, and the encounter wasn’t nearly as terrifying as his intended thought it might be. After all, it was her mother, and if there was the slightest question of him not being her Eternal … but there wasn’t, there never would be, and, when it mattered most, when the time came, he would always stand with her.
As he did on this particular day.
It was, quite possibly, the most terrified that she had ever been. She had hidden away her horns and tail; this was the Human Realm, after all, and walking about with them visible would have been a rather poor idea. She had been hyperventilating during the drive, her hands covering her nose and lips, worrying about what was to happen next. She had faced all kinds of things, large and small, and not once had she been this paralyzed with worry and concern.
It was, after all, the first time she would meet … her … far worse than her mother; it was his mother.
They had parked in the driveway, sitting there for a time. He held her hand and promised that it would be fine, that she had nothing to worry about. But she was worried. What if his mother didn’t like her? What if, in that first moment, she was turned away, rejected, told to leave and never return?
They waited in the car for a few more minutes, then he gave her hand a squeeze and told her: “She’ll love you.”
Fidgeting wasn’t something she normally did. But, as they waited at the door, he knocking lightly upon it, she worried her hands over and over, looking down at her sensible red shoes, worrying they were too much. Her thoughts scrambled around the red dress she wore, worried that it was a little too short, a little bit too … red. She worried about her looks being too … too much.
Then the door opened, and the time had come. She expected a moment of being judged, of her measure being taken. After all, this was his mother and, Goddess knew what her own mother was on meeting him, and she was prepared for the same now.
What happened was a smile, a long, tight hug, and the first words spoken, words that she would never forget: “Hello, Daughter. Welcome home.”
The visit was a whirlwind. She was put off balance some of the time—well, really most of it, to be truthful. She tried to help, but was always told, “No, thank you. Everything is fine.” In the end, it seemed, she found herself much like she was with her own mother. She listened attentively to the wisdom, the love, the secrets shared. She laughed without fear, teared at times without shame. The moment was but one afternoon and evening, but she remembers it as being one of the most important moments in her life.
Second only to meeting him.
She instantly understood that she was loved without question, that she had found a mother, one of the human world, but meaning as much as her own mother. She came to see, in the blue eyes of the woman that insisted on being called ‘Mom’, who never, not once, allowed her to use her proper name, which was something she always did.
It was just as the dishes were being cleared away, she and he helping, over the protests of his mother, of course, that there came a moment when she was alone in the dining room and looking for things to put in their right place.
And that is when she first noticed it.
There was a picture turned upside down on the mantle. This seemed odd, and she was just reaching out to put it right when her hostess came into the room, took her aside, and they continued to chat.
By the end of that first visit, she knew one thing for certain: she was loved every bit as much as he and always would be. She wasn’t born as the daughter of this family, but she felt like now she had two mothers that loved her without reservation, with all of their hearts.
But she felt like there was something unsaid, something important, and that picture was part of it. Perhaps it was how, when she was talking with Mom, she kept looking, occasionally, at her hair, or how Mom smiled when she spoke of her own mother. It felt like there was something unsaid, something that mattered, but she never asked, and Mom never explained.
Time passed, as it does, and throughout the years that came, the laughter and tears, the highs and lows, every time she came visiting, every time, without question, that picture frame remained laid down. She was never able to see what the picture was. It was many years later, in the midst of a dark time in the lives of her family, that she found herself alone in that room with that picture still face down on the mantel. She wanted to look at it, to find out what the secret was, and again, for the umpteenth time, tried to look at it. But again, no. She was drawn away, off to help, to comfort, to give what her family, her mother, as she now thought of her, needed.
The truth would come in time, eventually, just not on this day. After she had left, the sound of her car pulling away on an errand, a somewhat older hand, but the same soul that had met her so long ago, stood the picture up once more.
The picture revealed two teenagers, both blond, one with a bob cut, the other with her hair in a wild mane about her. Both smiling, holding each other. Each making bunny ears over the other’s head in a joyful moment together.
The one was Keith’s mother.
The other was Tera’s.
Eventually, when Tera would finally see the picture, she would cry for days on end, not knowing why she was never told … until she read the diary that explained … everything.
But that story is for a day yet to come and it is one that she and he pray is far, far away …