A Beautiful Mess

Contributor: Angeltopia

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Penelope stood in front of the mirror perplexed. Her life was a beautiful mess. Her bedroom was a circus of confetti-filled photos that seemed to drape every part of the room. She searched photo after photo of her mother’s first husband, Dale, and her second husband, Scoot for similarities in appearance. Ashley, Scoot's sister, was the culprit. She had intrigued her with the irresistible curiosity of searching for her true identity.

She held the photo of her and her stepdad Scoot that Ashley had given her. She clutched it in confusion and frustration. Scoot was sitting in his chair at the home office and she stood behind him crouching over him, hugging him, and remembering the bittersweet moments of their unspoken bond. Caressing the photo of his face comforted her. She mumbled to herself over and over again in confusion and then looked at herself in the mirror for reassurance as if her reflection was another person.

“Could this really be my dad, my biological father? Why didn’t mom tell me?”

She pulled on her cheeks and lifted the center of her eyebrows in curiosity. She pulled her bottom lip down to look at her teeth, the crooked ones and admired the contours of her nose, neck, and shoulders as her fingers stroked every crevice. Searching for some reassured semblance, she hurriedly searched through the piles of photos on the floor, desperate to find anything that provided some evidence.

She heard her mother’s footsteps approach her bedroom door. The clapping sound of her sandals sounded louder than usual as she walked in her direction. Penelope’s heart raced. She wondered what mood her mother would possess seeing her room in disarray. The bright and early morning sun overtook the room as she opened the door with her usual unpleasant and abrupt demeanor.

“Penelope, I need to go shopping for some linen, let’s go!”

Seeing her daughter teary-eyed in front of the mirror only seemed to irritate her.

She tried to act concerned and superficially asked, “What’s wrong?” in an apathetic tone.

She mustered up a response with self-pity, “Scoot’s sister, Ashley, and I have been talking a lot lately and she mentioned something that confused me.”

Stuttering she replied, “Why are you talking to her? You know I don’t like Scoot’s family and they don’t like you either.”

“Well, we missed each other and were out of contact far too long, is this a problem?” she asked in a respectful tone.

Her mother nodded in disfavor opposing the question and the insistence of their communication. Her stance and voice remained rigid although her words were slow.

“I just don’t understand why you would want to communicate with them. They excluded us from all their family functions when Scoot was alive,” she said, frantically embracing her elbows.

Penelope looked in the mirror and then at her mother. She wondered if her mother even knew who her real father was. Her hands shook with tension as she held the picture in her left hand. She took a deep breath and walked toward her mother putting her hands on her shoulders.

In a soft but firm voice she asked, “Was Scoot my father? Please tell me, I need to know the truth!”

Her mother’s eyes paced back and forth with resentment refusing to look her in the eyes. Her shoulders shrugged, her hands clapped against the side of her thighs sighing with irritation. Her eyebrows clashed with a silent roar as they collided in shame as she nodded.

She hesitatingly answered, “I don’t . . . know!”

Her mother’s attempts to detach herself from any emotion were feeble and she stomped out of the room as if she were stepping on land mines.

Penelope felt dejected but couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of an official confirmation. She scrambled through her photos and grabbed the DNA test kit and tried to get Ashley on the phone before she changed her mind. Her calls went straight to voicemail.

The very next day, Penelope drove to her house but to no avail. She sat in the car pacing her thoughts in eagerness to complete the DNA kit and send it off. Waiting only irritated her, so she went home to check her messages. Her mother sat at the kitchen table reading the newspaper and scornfully flipped through the pages. As Penelope entered the room, her mother derisively read Ashley’s obituary. Penelope was overcome with emotion over the horrifying news. She drowned herself in sorrow for two weeks.

After some time, she desperately searched for the DNA kit. She began to rip it apart and threw it at her mirrored reflection. She was overtaken by anger. She began to grab all the photos that surrounded her and attempted to rip them in bundles. As she frantically cried, she picked up the picture Ashley had given her from among the piles. At that moment, she got up and slowly walked to the mirror. For a moment, she just looked at herself blankly. She took the picture and held it toward the mirror wanting to finally rid herself of it. She wanted the mystery to stop torturing her.

Then suddenly, she squinted at the mirror. She leaned in closer and saw faded letters. It looked like handwriting and she immediately turned it over to make it out. Then all of a sudden, she heard a piercing sound, almost deafening. It was the sound of her alarm clock and she was abruptly awakened by it. After turning it off, she immediately grabbed the picture and quickly approached the mirror. Slowly turning it over, she took a deep breath. She looked for the faded letters, but what she found was a faded watermark stain. At that very moment, Penelope realized that she had set her alarm a second too soon. She somehow knew that her next dream would bring her one step closer to the truth. It was just a matter of time.

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Disciplined and skilled in the acquisition of analysis and critical thinking in literature, film, and music. Propitious screenwriter. I am brave enough to be different, smart enough to be humble, and short enough to take leaps and bounds.
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