Forget Me Not
She slurped down her second dirty martini. She hadn’t eaten enough that day to suffice such an endeavor, but they were taking the edge off. Her waiter stopped by and dropped off her antipasto appetizer plate. She had been waiting an hour already and didn’t care anymore. She was going to eat something. “Can I get you anything else Ma’am?” he asked. Ugh! Ma’am?! “I’ll have another,” she said motioning to her martini glass. She was twenty-eight. It wasn’t as if she had just celebrated her forty-fifth birthday. There was no reason he should be calling her Ma’am. He was probably twenty three himself, not that much younger. It made her feel even worse about her predicament.
She had agreed to this blind date purely out of courtesy. Her new boss had set it up. She didn’t know how to get out of it, so alas, here she was, drinking alone, on a Tuesday night, when she could have been at home watching Heroes On Demand and fast forwarding through the commercials. Of course, the drinking thing wouldn’t have been any different. Although, she would have saved a bundle enjoying a nice glass of Pinto Grigio snug on her couch instead of spending ten bucks a pop on martinis.
She hadn’t went on a date in months. Her last boyfriend broke it off with her for a girl he met while on a dig in South America. After finally getting over him, which took months, she picked one of the characteristics that bothered her most about him, him being short, and vowed to never date someone shorter than her again. In fact, this would mark the first date she’d been on since.
Since then she’d also decided that being a workaholic totally made sense. She wondered why she had resisted it before. Working around the clock the last eight months had been absolute bliss. She’d gotten promoted to senior account executive and received a substantial raise. Her plan was to work even harder in the months to come and potentially jump ship in an effort to get an even bigger promotion. She was always calculating and planning her next move.
She owed her outstanding drive and work ethic to her mother. Her mother had lived on welfare for most of her upbringing. She had been an absolute embarrassment on a regular basis. She loved her mom, even more now that she had passed. The memory of her ignited a warmer glow than the reality of her contribution to Alyssia’s life. Alyssia strove to be everything other than what her mom was. She was hard working, planned her life and expected nothing but greatness in return. Eventually she would find the perfect husband, create a family of her own, and be admired for her perfection. She had no family. She never knew her dad. She relied on her best friend Jada, who was more like a sister and a mother to her than anyone she had ever known.
She sat at her table tallying her bill in her head when she noticed someone approaching out of the corner of her eye. “Are you Alyssia? He asked. She stood up quickly and took his outstretched hand for a quick hand shake. “Bruce.” He introduced himself. His hand was warm, not clammy, like hers had instantaneously become. “I am so sorry that I am late,” he exclaimed. He looked sincerely sorry and almost a little frightened. His face was adorable and his eyes were soft and kind. Overall he was nice looking and well presented. He had dark blonde hair. Best of all, he was tall. He had to be about four inches taller than her, which meant he was probably six foot one or so. Alyssia herself was pretty tall for a girl, like her mom, which was one genetic predisposition she actually took pride in.
Alyssia wasn’t about to let him off the hook too easily for being late. “Are you able to stay or do you have something else you need to run to?” she asked. His eyes widened and he did not reply. Yikes, she thought that maybe she was a bit too harsh with that. “I’m just kidding.” She said. “No I deserve that. You see, I just got the oddest call a couple hours ago.” He explained. “I was on my way home from work to change before I came here to meet you when I got a call from a friend of mine. He works for the FBI.” Wow, this guy is pathological was all she could think. After she finished her martini she was going to fake an important call and flee the scene. She sat there nodding and sipping as he rambled on. It was too bad really, he was quite cute.
After a couple minutes of feigning a look of interest she distinctly heard him say the words “back ground check”. “Wait!” she said. “You had someone run a background check on me?” she asked. “This is a date for Christ sake, not a job interview. Flag on the field!” she said. Even though she hadn’t dated in a while, she knew when something just wasn’t going to work and she hated wasting time. Alyssia grabbed her purse and plopped down her credit card. “No wait. I know this sounds weird, but I just got out of a bad relationship last year and so I felt compelled,” he said. Alyssia just stared at him, not knowing what to say.
“Listen, I know this is strange, and I wouldn’t even be telling you all of this if it weren’t for.” He stopped mid-sentence and let out a sigh. “The reason I am late is because I wasn’t sure I wanted to come and meet you. “Wow, this is awesome, you are awesome!” she replied. “No, what I am trying to say… what I am going to say is very weird,” he said. “Oh, it’s just now about to get weird?” She exclaimed. This didn’t seem to bother him. He continued on. He lowered his voice, as if all of a sudden he had a secret to tell her. “What I found out, what I am trying to tell you is that, Alyssia, you are my sister. He hesitated. I am your brother,” he said in a tone which sounded like he said this to convince himself of this truth.
This was not what Alyssia expected to hear in the least. She was ready for something idiotic like he found out she went to a state college instead of an Ivy League or that when she was younger she had been quarantined from her classmates because of tuberculosis. But this, this came out of left field and left her speechless.
When she finally regained her sense of reality she made the decision that he must be full of shit and that he was screwing with her. Maybe she was in a new reality show called Blind Date Candid Camera. That absolutely made more sense than the nonsense that was coming out of his mouth. She just sat a stared rationalizing these thoughts. When she finally looked up to meet his eyes she saw that they were brimmed with tears. “Is this some kind of joke?” she asked. “No, Alyssia, this is not a joke, he replied. Alyssia stared at his face, into his eyes. It was his eyes, she had noticed them at first, but she didn’t put it together. He had her mother’s kind eyes.
“I don’t know what to say.” She paused for a long moment. “How did you figure this out?” she asked. He went on to explain that when his friend was running her background check that his own father’s name came up in the search. His friend got access to her original birth certificate which had both her mother’s signature and her father’s. The certificate that she herself possessed only had her mother’s name.
He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. He slid the paper across the table. She read it over. Indeed the birth certificate said her name, Alyssia Charlene Whitcomb.
She looked at his face again and felt her insides twist. Quickly her three martinis turned into a dull headache that throbbed just behind her eyes as she recounted what he had just told her. “Charlene, your middle name, is our grandmother’s name,” he said. Our father, Marcus, gave you that middle name, he continued on. Words flooded from his mouth for another minute or two, and then he fell silent again.
It was most likely her lack of response that kept him from going on. “Alyssia, do you get what I am saying?” He asked. “I had no idea that you existed. Dad never mentioned anything to me about you.” I tried calling him before I got here, but he didn’t answer, so I came anyway,” he said. He noticed she was picking at her fingernails again. “Are you okay?” he asked. “No, I’m not okay, she replied. “So what? He’s alive? Our father?” she asked. “Yes, he’s alive.” “I also know that your mother passed away not too long ago, I am sorry,” he said. She didn’t reply.
Questions that had no answers began brewing in her head. When she was growing up she’d rarely pressed the question about her father. When she did ask, her mom told her that he had a new life that didn’t concern them and that sometimes that’s how things worked out. She knew her questions made her mom sad, she could see it in hers eyes. She didn’t want to make her mom sad, so eventually she stopped asking and at some point, she wasn’t sure exactly when, but the questions stopped mattering all together.
The waiter came back with her bill and her card. Alyssia signed her name, realizing that she always signed it with a “C.” in the middle, which in the future might always cause her to think. She slid her card back into her wallet and stood up slinging her D&G handbag over her shoulder. Bruce looked amazed. “Don’t you want to meet him?” he asked. She grabbed her coat and pushed in her chair.
“Meet him? She replied. “No, I don’t think so, Bruce,” she said. “Had he wanted that, this would have never had to happen,” she replied. With that she walked out the through the restaurant lobby, and through the front doors. She allowed the rush of cool air to fill her lungs and bring her life. She would walk home instead of taking a taxi and allow the air and the city to take her home.
– A Girl Who Writes