The Countdown

Ten people stood in front of the store waiting for the door to open again. The guard let in groups every few minutes. Women in leggings waited in clusters by the red rope. I tapped my foot, checked my watch, and whipped out my phone. I needed a distraction from the anticipation. Everyone had been talking about this moment for the past week and I just wanted it to be my turn already.

Nine minutes to go, and my skin could have vibrated completely off of my bones. Standing there, swaying back and forth on the line, I practiced what I would say over and over in my head. I had never thought I would do anything like that before and I definitely didn’t want to ruin my moment.

Eight text messages came through on my phone and the beeping radiated throughout the crowd. I swiped my screen and smiled. Yes, I am here I wrote back. Text you when I’m done, I love you. My hands shook with each tap of the keys.

Seven minutes!” The guard announced. He folded his arms and remained quiet again. The women sipped their coffees and continued on with conversations. I stood alone. My husband’s job had mandated him to work, but he sent me smiley emoji’s all day. He knew how much it meant to me and made sure I didn’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime.

Six times I had tried to meet this woman. Each time I couldn’t save the money to fly out to the “meet & greets,” so when we saw that she would be right in my hometown, I made sure to find my way to the coffee shop. I adjusted the hem of my dress, applied another layer of lipstick and exhaled.

Five girls exited the shop. They giggled and held their books in the air. I was jealous. What will she be like?

Four more women walked out with books tucked in their armpits. I closed my eyes and memories flooded my mind. As a 34 year old, I could barely remember what I wore on my wedding day, but somehow I envisioned moments when I was a little girl. I thought back to a fuzzy memory when I was about four. I saw someone standing outside my window with bags in her hand and a blotchy face dripping wet from the rain. My erratic life had started in foster care. I didn’t understand how to connect with others. When I turned sixteen, I got myself emancipated. I found my soul mate unexpectedly and married him at twenty years old.

Three years ago I read a book after my coworkers were raving about the twisted plot. We were part of a book club in my office. It was the first time I had felt at ease, reading stories with others and really diving between the lines. It was one of those hot new romance novels but with a style never before portrayed. There was talk of MGM wanting to turn it into a movie. I loved the story and I remembered how excited I was to see it on the big screen.

Two years later while getting ready for work, I saw the author of that book-turned-to-movie for the first time on a talk show. I did a double-take. She had looked just like me! I got goose bumps and showed my husband. He thought the same thing. I figured if he said so, it might be true. I honestly thought I was going crazy. I had to know for sure so I studied this woman. I googled her, followed her Instagram, Facebook, and even wrote to her a few times. It still doesn’t make much sense how life happens but I thought she looked too familiar and I had to know more about her. She never wrote back, but most of those sites are monitored by a group of people, so odds are she didn’t even see my messages. It was a long shot but when she posted her arrival to my hometown, I made it my ultimate goal to get my butt on that line. I had vivid dreams for weeks. Flashes of moments that may or may not have been real memories, but I know in my visions I saw someone being brought into a car in the rain.

One by one we were led inside. The tables were emptied but the barista at the counter handed out books. As I looked closely, it was the sequel to the book I had read years ago. I hugged it tightly. Once around the corner, I saw her smile, the same smile I studied for years. I made my way over to her, kept my head down, and placed the book before her. I glanced up slowly to meet her smile and whispered, “Mom?”

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