I was at a High School poetry competition this week and saw a glimpse of her face on someone else. When the girl stepped to the mic I saw familiar cheek bones and eyes and red hair, thick like hers once was. This girl had a unique approach to the poem. I wanted to talk with her, find out if a quirky red headed woman visited her dreams. Is that how she discovered trees had voices? But I'm sane enough to know how crazy that sounds.
There were differences. My niece was taller and, after the chemo, leaner. This girl had a midwest accent. Not the one I hear when I listen to my voice mail. She called on my birthday but I was celebrating at Chuck E. Cheese with the grandkids. When I called her the next day I explained we did it as a mystery trip on the way home from Red Lobster. I jumped out of our car at a red light and into my daughter's van. I said "Somethings wrong with Papa. He says he won't take me home. I don't know what's going on." My acting was worse than a B-movie. I yelled "Follow him!" Then covered my face trying to stifle giggles while my daughter drove and pretended to act concerned. The nine year old was suspicious. "It sounds like you guys are laughing." But the five year old believed it, and cried. Fortunately Chuck E. was just a block away.
My niece didn't know about our mystery trips. So I told stories about pulling the kids out of bed to take them to a lunar eclipse and blind folding them for ice cream runs. I promised a mystery trip during her next visit.
The voice in the message is barely her. She was breathless and the words didn't flow easily. But she says my name and "I love you". Every thirty days the lady inside my phone tells me I have a message ready for deletion and asks if I want it saved again. Silly question.
I know the poetry girl wasn’t her, but it was good to see her again.