The airport smelled like body odor and diesel. There were two airports Adam could have used. This was the smaller, and dirtier, of the two. Rachel stood between the two luggage belts. A large group of people gathered around them like dessert animals around a puddle. The monitor said that the belt on her right would have Adam’s luggage so she split her attention between that belt and the door that people were coming through.
Now that she was here and she’d have the next little bit alone with her brother she allowed herself to get a bit excited. The broken, filtered information her mom had been feeding her about the relationship likely held little resemblance to the reality. Despite her mom’s position as leader of the Wednesday Bible study she was known to bend the truth, sometimes substantially, when a situation involved her children.
It was that character trait that has caused their falling out. But that whole situation was in the past now and to dig it up would only cause more problems. Right now she needed to keep her attention on Adam and his problems so she could protect Adam.
Since no one had protected her.
The conveyor belt whirred to life followed shortly after by a gush of people through the door. She saw him and quickly ran in his direction. He looked up and saw her. His smile and wave were a poor mask for the pain in his face. He had aged years since she saw him six months ago. His skin was dull and his eyes droopy with dark bags underneath.
“Rachel.” He said.
She signed his name by tapping her “A” hand against her temple. Tears burned her eyes. She couldn’t let him see her cry. Not when his pain was so intense. She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. Sobs ripped through his body and he hugged her tight.
Her big brother was broken and it was killing Rachel inside. He composed himself and they walked to the belt to retrieve his luggage.
“You want go restaurant?” she signed in American Sign Language.
“Yes, we go eat before see mom, dad.” He signed back.
She picked up his suitcase and carried it to the car. He tapped her shoulder.
“Yes, long time beautiful sun. Two days ago change cold now, continue maybe through spring. Don’t know.”
She lifted the suitcase in the trunk. It was fairly light. Hopefully that meant that despite his one way ticket he was planning on returning to California and Yvonne soon.
They decided to stop at Wendy’s on the way to mom’s house so they could talk without mom worrying about their delay.
Rachel picked at a salad while Adam shoved a double cheeseburger and fries in his mouth.
“You know mom have food home?” She asked him.
“Yes. Hungry now. Eat again mom, dad house.”
Her stomach tightened but she wanted to know what had drug Adam away from the woman he adored in Southern California all the way back to Ohio, in the fall…alone.
Rachel gently touched Adam’s hand to get his attention. He looked up. The whites of his eyes were covered with red lines. Rachel’s eyes stung with tears again.
“Adam, what happen?”
He looked away for a moment before starting. “We go California things change.”
That was why she had told him, begged him really, not to go out to California. Yvonne had confided in her that she didn’t think God was calling them out to California. Rachel didn’t get in to the God thing but she had a really bad feeling about them going too. Of course Mom had chalked it up to Rachel not wanting her big brother to leave. She hesitated before continuing.
“What change in California?”
“Yvonne stop love me.”
Rachel’s ears burned, something reserved for extreme anger. “Yvonne never stop love you.” She signed so hard that she accidentally banged the edge of her hand on the table which threw it off balance. It tipped and she grabbed for her pop. She caught it but her salad slid off the side of the table and splattered all over the floor.
She dove to the ground and scooped up lettuce on to the plate. One of the Wendy’s crew, a chubby boy with bad skin came over and mopped up the dressing. She threw the salad in the trash and tried to regain some composure. She looked hard in Adam’s eyes and signed again, this time with more control.
“Yvonne never stop love you. Yvonne adore you.” Adam looked away and Rachel touched his arm. He turned and faced her. “Why you think Yvonne no love you?”
And that was all he had to say on the topic. Rachel pressed a little harder but Adam was no different than Mom. When a topic was closed it would not be discussed again until they decided. They gathered their things and went back to the car for the silent drive to their parents’ house.
As she expected when they arrived her mom immediately took Adam off to his old room where the two of them could talk without the prying eyes or Rachel, or daddy.
“Hope your back gets better, daddy.”
“It will.” He grunted and pushed on the arms of his recliner as he stood. “You be safe going home.” He kissed her on the forehead.
“I will daddy. Take care of Adam.”
“You know I do.” He gave her a hug. Daddy’s quiet strength was one of the few things that gave her confidence that Yvonne and Adam’s marriage could be saved. Daddy had a way with Mom, just as she had a way with him. Their marriage was stronger than anyone else she knew which made her mom’s attitude towards Adam’s marriage more confusing.
“I’ll see you soon, daddy.”
She went out to her car and drove home.
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
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This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
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