Long lost Alice
The old woman sat alone in the dark, the time and date irrelevant, since there was no where to go, and no one to see. Widowed for years, she was, and friendless, but only due to having been predeceased by her two dear friends. The three of them were like sisters.
There was a daughter. Her name was Alice. Long lost Alice. It was the 60′s and peace love and happiness took her away. Where? The old woman never found out. She tried. Almost died trying. Exahusted all her resources. Private Investigators. Several of them.
No trace. The strain took a toll on her marraige and her husband’s health. He died so long ago she could barely conjure up his face in her mind, sometimes getting up in the middle of the night to look at his picture on the mantel.
The day’s mail sat beside her in the dark room on the end table; junk mail, a bill or two and a letter in an unfamiliar handwriting. She had placed it there earlier in the day, intrigued by the unknown correspondent and had forgotten about it when the dryer buzzer pulled her away. As she sat, she couldn’t remember exactly why she was drawn back to her chair in the dark, so she turned on the light hoping it would help her remember.
“Oh yes. The letter.” She croaked to no one. Her underused vocal chords fought against the utterance.
Although she had felt quite tired when she was drawn back to her chair, her heart awakened from years of slumber when she read the following:
Dear Mrs. Perino.
My name is Nancy Frank. Are you the widow of Anthony Perino? An internet search lead me to his obituary and the obituary lead me to you. If you are his widow, can you please call me? I have some vital information for you. My number is 631-444-5332.
“Vital information? Could this possibly be about Alice?”
Wide awake. All night. She wanted to call Nancy Frank right then and there, but as a courteous woman, she held to the old school unspoken rule about not calling someone too late in the evening. She would call in the am, when the clock notified her she would not break the unspoken rule of calling someone too early in the morning.
“Is this Nancy Frank?”
“Yes it is. Can I help you?”
“I don’t know, can you? This is Julie Perino. I received a letter from you?”
“Hello Mrs. Perino. Thanks for calling. So you are the widow of Anthony Perino?”
“Yes I am.”
“Sorry for you loss.”
“Thank you, and about the vital information?”
“Okay, Mrs. Perino. I’m not sure how to unpack all this, so bare with me. Are you sitting down?”
“Yes. Please continue.”
“Did you have a daughter named Alice?”
“Yes. You said have a daughter. Is she alive? I’ve been searching for her for 36 years. What do you know about my Alice? Tell me NOW!”
“I’m so sorry to inform you Mrs. Perino. Alice has been dead for probably close to the 36 years you’ve been searching, but before she died she gave birth to a daughter named Star. Star was born in a commune, and when Alice died, she was raised from infancy by the commune members. When Star was old enough, she booked it out of there and for years was trying to find her biolgical family. Ancestry.com lead her to a distant cousin of your husband’s, and the cousin lead her to the obituary.”
“I don’t understand? Why isn’t Star contacting me?”
“Mrs. Perino. I’m so sorry to inform you that Star and her husband were killed in a plane crash. She had planned to contact you as soon as she got back from her vacation. I am her best friend and felt compelled to follow through with her wishes. Her daughter was staying with me while her parents were away. She’s six years old and is going through a very difficult time. Her paternal grandparents died in a fire a few years back. As far as I know you are the only living blood relative of Star and just your great grandaughter now. Mrs. Perino, your great grandaughter is named Alice. The people that raised Star told her stories about Alice, about her dreams to reach nirvana and how she was a beautiful feral soul that slept outside each night under the stars.”
“Stop right there. I want you to know that Mr. Perino and I were good parents. We raised her as a proper Christian and loved her. I suspected she was running off with one of those hocus pocus Harry Krishna type groups right after her high school graduation. We tried to rescue her and exactly what we warned her about, oh my God, it happened. I knew it, I felt her death in my bones. Do you know if her death was reported?”
“There was nothing to report until now. Perhaps you would like to pass this information along to the authorities. I’ll help you any way I can. Star knew nothing other than her mother’s first name and the commune disbanded around the time she left. She was living on the streets and truly was an admirable success story. Got her GED, a career and family. And now this. So sorry Mrs. Perino. We don’t know each other, but I can’t imagine the pain you must feel right now. Let me give you some good news. Alice knows about you and she really wants to see you. We are only about a two hour drive from where you are. Would you like to meet her? Star had written a letter before she went away giving me legal guardianship in case of an accident. Who would have thought it would actually happen?”
“So tragic! But would I! Of course! When?”
“You come whenever you like, as early as tomorrow. My address is on the return envelop. Call me when you are on your way.”
Mrs. Perino sat perfectly still. As still as the night air on the night her only child took her last breath many moons ago. She reached over, turned off the light and began to cry tears that had dried up eons ago.
And then she got up, walked over to the mantel and didn’t have to turn on the light to look at Alice’s picture, because the memory of her only daughter was crystal clear. She stood there before Anthony’s picture, even though the darkened room blurred his features and spoke to him as if he was in the room.
“The search is over my darling. Who would have thought your death, your obituary would have been a blessing in disguise? We can rest now my love. Alice is home.”