I’m trying to use each picture as a part of one story, rather than each one standing alone. Not sure if that makes sense or if it will even work, but that’s what I’m trying to do so… hope it works.
Mirana sat in the small breakfast nook of her mother’s kitchen, ignoring the smell of simmering stew in the crockpot and old coffee in the percolator, staring at the nicks in the ancient formica table trying to pretend her world hadn’t just been destroyed – deliberately picked apart by her mother’s meandering, self-serving tale of unrequited love and abandonment, all in an attempt to explain why Mirana had a sister that up until today had been a secret, a person Mirana had had no idea existed. Not just any sister, either – a witch. From another planet! If not for the fact that the entire world now knew we are not alone in the Universe, she’d be calling a doctor to have her mother evaluated, rather than sitting here alone in her mother’s kitchen trying to accept what she’d been told. How could her mother have done this, she wondered. Why had she done this?
It didn’t really take much thought to understand why her mother hadn’t raised the girl – many young women decided adoption was a better alternative than struggling to raise a child alone without sufficient resources. Mirana had gone to school with a girl who had made the same choice when she found herself pregnant before finishing high school. She didn’t blame the girl for making that choice and if she were being honest with herself, she didn’t necessarily blame her mother for making the same choice. But Mirana did blame her mother for keeping the secret. For leaving her in the dark. For making her have to face this situation without any preparation or advance knowledge.
Mirana knew it wasn’t really fair to blame her mother for that. It was her mother’s life after all – and everyone is entitled to their secrets. She wasn’t about to admit that though – at least not to her mother – not now. She was still angry and somewhat shocked and wasn’t in the mood to let her mother off of any hooks just yet. A sister! Never mind that – an ALIEN sister!! How had that happened? Mirana wasn’t sure she believed her mother’s tale of a summer night spent with a fascinating man she didn’t know and never saw again. It seemed a bit too convenient for everyone involved. But whether it was one night or a thousand – there was a child. A sister! Mirana was still trying to come to grips with the fact that her mother had never, in any way, spoken of the baby she conceived, birthed and then abandoned. Would I be able to do that, she wondered? Could I just move on, never saying a word to anyone? Although to be fair, she had no way of knowing if her mother never spoke about it – she only knew her mother had never spoken about it to her and she had no intention of being fair. At least not yet. A sister!
Mirana’s eyes strayed to the picture her mother had set before her during their “conversation” and quickly looked away again. She didn’t want to look at it. Didn’t want to acknowledge it. Didn’t want to think about what it might mean. She kept hearing the words “we are related” and it terrified her, confused her. It didn’t make sense. Oh, the story made sense. Woman meets man, things happen, nine months later a child appears and the man has disappeared. Common enough story, she thought. No big surprise there. No, the surprise was two-fold. The man had not been of this world, he’d been from another planet. That was news. That was something worth talking about even if her mother had never mentioned the child. Why had she never… well, Mirana thought, probably not too hard to understand. If someone had told her they’d had an affair with an alien she was pretty sure she wouldn’t have believed a word they said after that, so maybe it wasn’t so hard to understand why she’d never heard that story. But now that everyone knew about life on other planets, shouldn’t her mother have brought it up? Shouldn’t she have said something? Anything? Mirana didn’t know and sighed as she argued with herself about it. She wasn’t going to be able to come to a consensus with herself anytime soon and figured it was a waste of time trying while she was still so upset. Her eyes strayed to the picture again and quickly moved away. She didn’t want to think about that.
Her mother said the picture had been given to her by the alien mystery lover who disappeared after their one night together. Why had he given it to her? What did it mean? It wasn’t a picture of himself which would be understandable enough – a momento would have made sense, Mirana thought. But this wasn’t a momento. It was a picture of a ruined cathedral set on an empty expanse of land covered with heather in bloom, some gravestones, a dead tree and mountains in the background. While all of the elements in the picture were easily identifiable, Mirana thought there was something slightly not right about the picture as a whole. Something about the purple heather, maybe? Maybe it was the angle of the light behind the cathedral, throwing shadows that seemed slightly off to her. Perhaps it was the oddity of seeing cathedral ruins, but no sign of any other building or evidence of other life. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but it seemed… wrong. Her mother had told her this was all she had from the mystery man. Sperm donor? Mirana shook her head to clear it. She didn’t know how to refer to this man. Was he a man at all? Maybe he was an alien in a human meat-suit like in all the movies. Ewww. That was a disgusting thought.
Mirana didn’t know what to think of her mother’s story, other than the fact that it just didn’t add up. Why did she have this picture when she had nothing else? What did it represent? How did she get it, because Mirana really didn’t believe the man/alien in human meat-suit had simply dropped it, as her mother claimed. There were two reasons she didn’t believe her mother had told her the whole truth – or perhaps any truth at all. The first reason was because this “sister” had said they were related and as proof offered the reason that Mirana had heard her thoughts without there being any words. How could that happen? The “witch” part of this so-called sister came from the man – not her mother – so how could Mirana have any ability that could even be likened to a “witchy” power? No matter how many times her mother insisted she had never seen the man again, her story didn’t explain why Mirana would have any kind of ESP-type ability, especially considering she’d never been aware of any ability before. No, that part didn’t make sense, she thought. No sense at all. Her eyes strayed to the picture again. Beyond that part of the story, what really scared her, made her wonder about everything she’d ever taken for granted as true, was that she’d seen this cathedral before. She’d seen the heather, the gravestones, the dead tree, all of it. She’d been dreaming about this building since she’d been a little girl. What she wanted to know now, more than anything, was why.