Chapter 11, The Piece of Paper
I just finished recounting the vision I experienced upon my collapse into Todd’s arms, when the bookshelves moved to reveal a hidden room. It is the following morning; we are at Jittering Joe’s, where I am enjoying a wonderful Irish Cream Macchiato, with an extra espresso shot. Todd is sipping a caramel Frappuccino. He had been wonderful the day before…
…Once I came out of my stupor, he escorted me to the family room where he built a calm fire and brought me a cold glass of water. No words were shared. They were unnecessary in our silent bliss. I have always wondered what it would be like to find that one person you could commune with in spirit and mind, words absent. I believe it would be like this: A silence so comforting that a mere look or brush of the hand conveys emotions, feelings, and thoughts, enough to write a novel. I have that here with Todd. I choose to just enjoy it; revel in it; not over think it. In fact, I choose to give up control of thought from here forward. Lord, harness my mind; yield it to your will. Amen.
The soul of this room was palpable, breathing haggard breaths. A once joyous sanctuary stained by some unforeseen tragedy. I could see how this space was once lovely in my mind’s eye, but it was hard to ignore the damage done to the heart within these four walls.
Picking up the piece of paper, I wandered over to the bed and sat. There was a minimal squeak as my weight bore down. I look down at my hands, delicately holding a piece of history, not sure what I hope to see. I realize I am holding a newspaper clipping, a handwritten note upon it. The article read as follows:
Oliver Sanders’ body was found Monday, June 26th, 1994 off Overlook Pass Drive. No information has yet been released as to how long he has been at that location, or how long ago he passed. Oliver was born in August of 1963 in Copesville, to Carter and Lillian Sanders. He is survived by his mother Lillian Sanders, and sister Rosemarie Sanders. They have been residents of Copseville since 1953.
One thing struck me right off the bat: my mother’s name was Rosemarie Sanders. My last name is Sanders. Could this article be about my family? I was confused by the lack of information in the obituary. Why was there no mention as to how Oliver came to his death? And why is there no mention of Carter surviving his son, or having passed prior to Oliver’s death? Isn’t that information normally shared?
In the middle of reading this, Todd had entered the room. Noticing my deep concentration, he let me be, inspecting the picture frame that I find haunting. “Do you realize how much you look like this younger woman?” This was said more to himself, than to me. He removed the picture from the frame and turned it over. “Hmmm, based on the clothing one would think it was taken in the ‘60’s, but according to the back it was taken in 1975, of Lillian and Rosemarie…”
Did my family vacation here a long time ago? If so, why did they leave a picture behind? And what of this Uncle I have never heard of? I reread the obituary, this time my eye captured by the note written above the article: This was not an accident. Perplexed, I turned it over, though there was nothing significant on the back. Was Oliver murdered? Why was this newspaper clipping placed within that frame? I decide I cannot take in any more information. I feel as if my mind is incapable of containing everything that has just transpired, fearing I may split in two from the intensity of it all.
“I need coffee. How about you take me to Jittering Joe’s?”
And here we are, sitting at a café table inside the coffee shop near the window. He was patient in my retelling, never once interrupting, baked goods for breakfast already consumed. My recount left us both lost within our thoughts of the events from the past twenty four hours, content to just let each other be as we try to make sense of it all.
“If I may…” Todd graciously asks with his eyes before continuing. I barely smile in response as if saying, Of course you may. You always may. But alas, as of last night we learned words are not always necessary between us. I have a feeling I know what is about to escape those lovely lips of his anyway. Yes, those lips that I yearn to feel again… “I believe these dreams, as you have named them, are not merely dreams, but a repressed memory.”
And I am right. I had the same thought. But when would this memory have taken place? I do not remember being here. I merely whisper in response, “Yeah…” I pick at my mug as if wiping away crusted food, only there is none. I honestly am not sure how to progress, and seeing as how I relinquished all thought control, I find I am swimming in a sea of murky nothingness, but everything that my mind has held since the beginning of my time is among the tendrils of said murk. I exhale deeply trying to find my way back to the reality before me.
Todd notices my struggle. “I have an idea.”
Ok, he is trying to entice me. Good move. I bite, “And what, pray tell, is your idea?” My face has softened, I can feel that. I think I am smiling again; a real smile, not just a smirk. I feel an adventure on the horizon. Not the scary kind I have been experiencing, but a fun one to separate the dark from the light.
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“Yes, you will find those documents right over here,” said the middle aged woman behind the desk of the auditor’s office, located within the City Hall. We followed her to the section housing information on properties from the years 1980-2000. We had first tried the internet, disappointed to find that the only records that have been digitalized started with the year 2000.
“Thank you,” Todd responded as she walked away. “Ok, how old do you think you were in those...shall we just call them memories?” Yes, Todd, that would be easiest. He does not wait for a response. Apparently that question was rhetorical. But the age question was not. “So, how old do you think you were?”
I shrug. “Maybe about twelve or thirteen?” I have no clue. That would involve thinking. Or, heaven forbid, looking at past pictures of myself. I think not. Never felt the most photogenic. Hence I am not a model. Anyhow, that is enough information for Todd.
“That would take us to 1995-1996 time periods, one year after Oliver was found. Let’s start with 1990 and work forward.” He is already fumbling through the filing cabinets. I choose to take the back seat here and watch him. There is a table nearby, and I plop my bottom into it, content to wait. My mind flutters about trying to make connections where I am not sure there are any. Of course, it does not escape me that the possibility of my memory filling in gaps could begin at any moment. I am not sure how I feel about this, though.
I am trying to remember where I lived growing up. I am most certain it was not here in Copseville. I remember visiting Grandma, but I honestly do not remember where we visited her. I also remember my mother passing away. But, again, I don’t remember exactly when that was. Does that make me an awful daughter? How is it possible that I never thought it odd that I don’t know much about what happened to my mother? How have I never had the curiosity to find out the truth?
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What will Ivy learn about her family? What was Oliver's fate? What happened to her mother?
Think you know? Have any ideas? Share your thoughts!!!