Strangers of the Past: Part XXXII
Posted on 28/02/2013
Marcus dragged his eyes from the open back porch where Tampa and Hannah sat on a bench facing the sloping hill that looked over the ocean. “No thank you,” he said kindly to the woman before looking back at his wife and sister-in-law.
Genevieve nodded, glancing over at the quiet white man standing stiffly beside him. His gaze was attentive on Ameya, his expression solemn and uncertain. To think he was Tomas’ father and at some point the object of Ameya’s affection made her heart twist sympathetically for him.
On the other side of the glass wall, Ameya sat with her fingers wrung together as she faced the ocean, fighting not to stare at the woman beside her. Their resemblance was uncanny, the woman’s warm brown eyes too familiar to consider her as just a doppelganger.
“You’re probably wondering why I have your face,” Tampa spoke after a few moments of silence.
Ameya’s cheeks warmed as Tampa caught her surprised expression and giggled. “It was on my mind…” she muttered sheepishly, ignoring the slight twitch at the corner of her mouth. The woman’s laugh was surprisingly contagious and memorable, like she’d heard it times before this. Her heart skipped a beat.
“I’m your twin sister, Tampa… And you’re Hannah, older than I by only a few minutes.” Tampa’s lips curled up. “And you never let me live that fact down every day of our lives together.”
“Twin?” she echoed, suddenly unable to breathe correctly.
“Hmm,” Tampa nodded, a dimple appearing at the side of her mouth and Ameya swallowed hard. She too had that smile. “We were born in Waco, Texas in 1976, in some university hospital. When we were just seven years old, our parents moved us to Houston. You and I have the same birthmark at the small of our back, it’s the shape of a wishbone but mine’s bigger than yours. We broke our collarbones in the same month at age fifteen but yours was from tripping over a hole during soccer practice and mine was from falling off a tree—” she paused, noticing Ameya’s gaze drifting and held up a hand. “I’m sorry… I’m going too fast.”
Ameya swallowed hard. “How…” she licked her dry lips. “How can this be?” She shook her head, not able to place any of these memories in the dark empty corners of her mind. She squeezed her eyes close and leaned forward, supporting her elbows on her knees. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Tampa stared down at her sister with a solemn expression. “So it’s really true… You don’t remember any of us, do you?”
Ameya laughed bitterly. “Until yesterday, I didn’t even know anyone existed… Now I find out I have a sister.”
“And a husband,” Tampa whispered softly.
Ameya’s eyes jerked up and she gaped at her. Her throat tightened, unable to repeat the woman’s words.
Tampa sighed. “Jonathan Harris is not just your son’s father, Hannah… He’s your husband.” She offered a gentle smile. “Eight years ago—“
“Don’t,” Ameya found her tongue and straightened up to stand, glaring down at Tampa. “I don’t want to take this trip down memory lane, especially when I’m not even sure if it’s true.” Her heart pounded incessantly, threatening to push through her ribs. Jonathan was her husband. How could that be?
Tampa’s eyes narrowed at her. “And why would I have reason to lie?”
Ameya clenched her jaw, still seething.
“What, you think I went through plastic surgery just so I can have your face and seem legitimate enough?”
Ameya scowled at the absurd thought. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Then don’t accuse me of lying. I have no reason to lie to you of all people.” Tampa shook her head and patted the seat beside her. “In all my life, Hannah, I’ve never been able to lie to you. You’ve always been able to figure me out, even when I tried.” She peered up at the woman, offering a gentle smile. “Even if you can’t remember that, at least you can tell I’m not lying right?”
Jonathan and Marcus stood in tense silence, watching both their wives talk; only hearing the muffled version of their conversation. When Hannah had shot up to her feet, Jonathan had to steel himself from walking over to her, fearing that Tampa was only aggravating her and therefore making Hannah seek an escape from them.
He released a pent-up sigh of relief when Ameya slowly lowered back to her seat beside Tampa.
Marcus clucked his tongue. “That stubborn woman… She never listens to me.”
“Maybe this time, we should thank her,” Jonathan finally spoke up, his voice hoarse and weary. “I could never approach Hannah like that… especially not now.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “She has every reason to be angry with me. To hate me.”
“She doesn’t hate you,” Genevieve answered and the two men tensed as if realizing she was still standing there. She managed a smile when both Marcus and Jonathan turned to face her. “Give Ameya time. She just found out that you’re Tomas’ father and her long-lost lover.”
“Husband,” Marcus patiently corrected her with a smile.
Genevieve’s eyes went wide as saucers. “H-husband?”
Marcus nodded and reached over to pat Jonathan’s shoulder. “They were married for years before she was separated from him.”
The woman shook her head incredulously. “And how in the world did that happen? You two getting separated?” Her brows lifted inquisitively as she turned to face the reserved man beside Marcus.
“It’s a long story,” Marcus warned, glancing over at the women by the window who gave no hints they were leaving that spot any time soon.
Genevieve peered over at the window and smiled before returning her attention to Jonathan’s face. “It seems we have plenty of time. Please tell me.” Even if Ameya didn’t understand, Genevieve would have to hear it to help her friend come to terms with her past, with or without a husband, so she could move forward.