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“Okay, you two. I have been on you for three weeks now to get that attic cleaned out,” Angel Sorenson said to her twin daughters, Epiphany and Miracle. “You will be leaving for college soon. This is the only chore I have asked of you before you go.”
“We’ll get started on it today,” Miracle promised her mother from her place on the couch.
“Yeah, and this time we mean it,” Epiphany said with a great smile. She was sitting hip-to-hip with her sister as the TV played some episode of some show Angel knew nothing about.
“Just like you have meant it all summer long?” Angel asked. “Come on, girls. Please. Give your father and me a break here, okay? He’ll be back from his conference on Friday. That gives you two days to get it done.”
“We will, Mom. I promise,” Epiphany reiterated. “Now go to work. Analyze whatever kind of data pays your exorbitant salary.”
“My exorbitant salary is putting you through school, young lady.”
“Yeah-yeah-yeah, go tell ya muddah,” Miracle said in the best Bronx accent she could muster considering she had never before even been. Then, “Should we stop early enough to cook?”
“Oh …” Angel considered as she grabbed her purse. “No. I’ll just pick up a pizza on the way home. Pepperoni and bacon, extra cheese?” The girls nodded enthusiastically. Angel looked at them, crossly at first, then with a great smile on her lips. “I will eat every last slice if you two haven’t put a dent in that attic. Understood?”
“Yes, ma’am,” they chimed in unison. They watched their mother leave, then went to the kitchen to fix themselves a bowl of cereal; Miracle had Wheaties while Epiphany chose Grape Nuts. Yes, they were twins, but their tastes in many areas differed greatly.
After finishing breakfast and washing their bowls and spoons, the girls headed to the attic to begin their chore. It’s not that there was a lot of stuff up there, just that what was up there was in total disarray. They were expected to go through boxes and label the contents therein as well as keep a ledger of what each contained.
By twelve-thirty, the girls had been able to knock out about a third of the attic; they had decided to dust, sweep, and mop as they went to signal their progress. They stopped long enough to share a Cajun Roast Beef and Provolone on Rye with German mustard, then it was right back to work. At three o’clock, Epiphany called out to her sister, who was going through a trunk filled with old dresses. “Miracle, come see this.”
“What is it?” Miracle asked.
“I … I’m hoping you can tell me,” Epiphany responded.
It wasn’t her sister’s words that got her attention as much as the curiosity they carried, but it was enough to bring Miracle to Epiphany’s side. “What did you find?”
Epiphany pointed at a box simply labeled “Mama.” What the two found intriguing about this was the fact that Angel had never—ever—spoken about her mother, the twins’ grandmother. When growing up, every time they would ask a question about her, Angel would always change the subject. Here they were now, though, on the fringe of finding out why Grandma was kept such a secret to them.
“Ooooh,” Miracle said as she sat down next to her sister. “Open it up.”
Epiphany reached for the box lid, which had been folded into itself. She noticed her hand was a bit shaky and didn’t know why. She took a deep breath, grabbed the box, then pulled it onto her lap. She opened the top carefully, then she and her sister peeked in. “A scrapbook?” Epiphany asked as she brought it out.
“And some old photos,” Miracle said as she reached in and took them. She looked at the one on top, studied it, then showed it to her sister as she said, “Isn’t that Daddy? I mean, like, when he was way younger?”
“I think so,” Epiphany said as she purposefully took in the image of a young white man and a black woman dressed in traditional African garb, “but who is that black woman he’s with?”
Miracle turned the picture over and read the inscription. “James Sorenson and Emnet Abebe Sorenson, Ceremonial Wedding. Ethiopia, 1962.” She looked at Epiphany. “Daddy was married before?”
Epiphany laughed. “He must really have a thing for black women.” She paused, then said, “Wait a minute.” She studied the photo again. “He looks what? Twenty?”
“About that,” Miracle answered.
“That means he’s been lying about his age by ten years.” Epiphany thought about that some more, then added, “and Mom knows that. Why would they keep Daddy’s age a secret from us?”
“I don’t know,” Miracle answered. She looked at the next photo. This one showed James dressed in a tuxedo and Emnet once again dressed in the fashion of her homeland. This inscription she read aloud as well. “James and Emnet Sorenson, Wedding Day, Olathe, Kansas, 1963. So … What? He married this Emnet in Ethiopia first and then brought her to the states and married her here as well?”
“Looks to be,” Epiphany bağdat caddesi escort answered as she opened the scrapbook.
“Wait,” Miracle said as she went to the next picture. “Look at this.” It was a picture of James and Emnet, but Emnet was holding a child. She flipped it over. “Angel, one week old.” The sisters looked at one another, puzzlement etched across their faces. Miracle was first to speak. “Did Daddy and this woman adopt Mom, and then whatever happened to this Emnet, Daddy later married Mom?”
“I don’t know,” Epiphany answered suspiciously. She finally glanced down at the first page of the scrapbook. “Oh, look here. It’s Daddy and Emnet’s marriage license.”
“And look at this,” Miracle said as she held another picture up. It was another family photo, only in this one the girl appeared to be around seven or eight.
Epiphany looked over as she flipped a page, and upon looking back announced, “She wasn’t adopted. At least, I don’t think she was. Look.” She passed the book to Miracle, who studied Angel Sorenson’s birth certificate, complete with James’s and Emnet’s signatures.
“She could have been adopted at birth and Mom and Daddy signed the certificate to authenticate her being theirs,” Miracle offered.
They went through the remaining pictures and the scrapbook, the final page of which contained Emnet’s death certificate and what could be assumed to be her final photo, a picture taken with a Polaroid camera. “What do you think?” Epiphany asked her sister after some silence.
“I think we have a right to know,” Miracle responded. “Do you think Michael might know anything?” Michael was Epiphany and Miracle’s older brother who was currently in the jungles of Peru along the Amazon River where he, like his father before him, was bringing the Word of God to those who might not yet have received it.
“He’d probably be just as in the dark about this as we are,” Miracle said. “I think we should just wait until Mom gets home and ask her about it.” They returned the items to the box, then Epiphany checked her phone. “Four-forty. I didn’t realize time had gotten away from us like it did. Let’s call it a day so we can shower before Mom gets home.” They closed the box and brought it down into the house proper as it would be the bulk of their discussion at dinner.
“I’m home,” Angel announced as she made her way through the door. She found her daughters sitting in the very same place where she had left them earlier, albeit differently clad. “Have you two really been sitting there all day?”
“No, ma’am,” Miracle answered first. “We got almost half of it done. Want to go see?”
“After dinner,” Angel responded when she discerned her daughter had spoken the truth. “Come on before the pizza gets cold.”
Epiphany pulled each of them a soda from the fridge as Miracle grabbed paper plates. They sat, prayed over the food, then began to eat. Miracle nudged Epiphany, who reluctantly said, “Mom, who is Emnet?”
Angel coughed, gagged, and sputtered. Miracle jumped up and began slapping her mother on the back while Epiphany got her a bottle of water. After almost a minute, Angel calmed down enough to where she could speak, but her voice was strained, and her breathing labored. “Where … Where have you heard that name?”
“Go get it,” Miracle said to Epiphany. She sat in silence until her sister returned with the box, then said, “We found this while cleaning up today, Mom, and we really don’t know what to make of it. We’ve surmised what it means, but we feel we deserve to know the truth.”
“Oh, dear God,” Angel said as she placed her face in her hands. After a good minute’s silence, she looked at her daughters and said, “I had forgotten that box was up there. If I had considered it, even for a minute …”
“What?” Epiphany asked. “You would have continued to be untruthful to us?”
“It’s … It’s not that easy, girls. Sometimes … Well, sometimes people lie to protect the ones they love.”
“And yet, has it not always been you who has preached that the road to hell is paved with good intentions?” Miracle asked her mother. When Angel did not readily respond, she added, “We need answers, Mom. We deserve answers.”
“And we want them now,” Epiphany added.
Silence. A minute’s worth, perhaps, then, “Remember the old adage ‘Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it?'” The girls nodded in unison. “There’s another that goes, ‘Don’t ask a question unless you are prepared for every possibility of what the answer can be.’ Are you girls prepared for that?”
“Yes!” Miracle answered quickly.
“Of course,” Epiphany added.
“You answer the way you do because you are curious,” Angel retorted. “Too curious, if you ask me. You want immediate satisfaction without giving thought to how this could upend your world or this family’s as a whole. Repercussions, girls. Are you mature enough to accept what I have to say? Can you continue to live your lives as you have once you know my truth?”
Angel studied bahçelievler escort her daughters as they did her. In contrast to Angel, who had caramel-colored skin, light brown eyes with copper-colored flakes peppered throughout, and long, luxurious hair that carried just enough natural straightness to bespeak her status as biracial, Epiphany and Miracle were more very lightly pecan-tan colored with long, loose-curled hair and lips that were full, yet thinner than their mother’s. What also set them apart from Angel was their eyes. Where Epiphany’s were hazel green, Miracle’s were steel gray. It was into these eyes that Angel now looked as she continued. “You girls think about that.” She left the table, grabbed the box, and headed to her room, the room she shared with her husband. She wished he were here right now, but he wasn’t, so she had to find the best way possible to deal with something that she secretly knew would one day come back to haunt her. She opened the box and looked at the first picture, then the next, then the next …
After about thirty minutes, Epiphany and Miracle entered their parents’ room. Epiphany held out the plate of pizza and said, “I warmed it in the microwave for you, Mom.”
“And I put your drink on ice,” Miracle said as she passed the glass to her mother.
“Thank you, girls,” Angel said with a sincere smile. They were good girls. They always had been. Their lazy bone protruded every now and again, but for the most part they always did the right thing. Is that what this is about? Angel asked herself. Doing the right thing? She supposed that the right thing meant telling her daughters the truth, which is why she finally invited them to sit. “Come on. Both of you. Let’s discuss this box and what it means.”
“Actually, Mom, we talked it over and decided that if it was this painful for you then maybe we shouldn’t discuss it at all,” Epiphany said.
“The last thing we want to do is upset you,” Miracle added.
“No … No. It’s time you knew,” Angel said to them. “It’s going to take a while, though, as there is no quick way to tell this.” She pursed her lips and gnawed lightly at the insides of her cheeks before adding, “I guess the best jumping on point would be the tornado. Not the one that killed Mama, but the one that set everything else into motion.”
Angel Tells her Tale
“Down in the fruit cellar. Quick!” Even though Daddy was shouting, his words were so faint that they seemed to be coming from miles away. I heard him, though, and scrambled to get to the only place where we might find safe haven. I passed Daddy as I entered, then stopped dead center as I waited for him to join me. He entered, closed the door, bolted it, and started down the stairs when the door flew off its hinges.
The tornado was in close proximity to us, and as it drew nearer, a tendril of air snaked its way into the cellar and dislodged a wheelbarrow from the corner. “Angel!” Daddy shouted as he ran toward me. He pushed me to the ground, and a moment later the wheelbarrow crashed into him, slamming him into a support beam. I fought my way toward him even as the loud whine of pressurized air from the twister passed overhead, throwing debris all around. I reached Daddy and held onto his unconscious body for what seemed like an eternity, then the eerie silence that bespeaks the tornado’s passing gripped my ears and heart and mind like it was a living thing. As terrible as the fruit cellar looked, I knew the farm had to look even worse. Daddy was still unconscious. I made my way outside to assess the damage, but more importantly, to get Daddy the help he so desperately needed.
Jimmy Fellows from the next farm over was just pulling into our yard when I emerged. He sped up to where I was, then slammed on his brakes before jumping out of his Silverado. “You guys alright, Angel? Where’s your daddy?”
“Down in the cellar,” I told him. “He’s unconscious. Go get the paramedics.”
“Forget all that,” he said as he bowed out his chest. “I’m here now. I’ll take care of you.”
“Jimmy … Please,” I begged him. “He was hit in the head by a flying wheelbarrow. I don’t know what kind of damage that could have caused. Just get an ambulance.” He looked at me for all of fifteen seconds before hopping back into his truck and speeding off. I tried calling 9-1-1 as he did, but per my suspicion, the phone towers must have been damaged by the tornado. As I took a quick glance around me, I was glad that I talked Daddy into doubling his insurance last time it was up for renewal.
I made my way back to him even as my mind centered on Jimmy. He had been in love with me since the sixth grade, but I just never felt the same about him. He asked me out about a thousand times, and each time I told him no. Looks like he’d have gotten the point by now, right? I never doubted that he was infatuated with me, but I couldn’t help but wonder if it was truly because he felt something for Angel Sorenson or if he had some preconceived notion that PKs are bad. You know: bahçeşehir escort Preacher’s Kids? Yes, Daddy was a preacher—was being the optimal word there—but I’ll tell you more about that a little later. For now, though …
I reached Daddy to see he was still unconscious. I looked him over really well to see that his left leg was broken in at least two places and either his right clavicle was broken, or his shoulder was dislocated. I felt for a pulse and he had one, albeit weak. There was just a bit of bleeding at the back of his head and a large knot on his forehead, but nothing to be too concerned over. I was sure he would be fine once he received medical attention.
Twenty minutes later and the ambulance was there. After assessing Daddy, we went to the hospital where the doctor confirmed that Daddy’s left femur, tibia, and fibula were broken, his right clavical was broken and right shoulder dislocated, he had a concussion, and a severely sprained back. I held up pretty well when receiving the news simply because Mama and Daddy had raised me to put my faith in God and modern medicine, and I knew that neither would let me down. Not this time. Not again.
Jimmy Fellows was present to offer what support he thought I needed, as was his daddy, Jimmy, Sr. The tornado, it seems, bypassed their land completely. Jimmy, Sr. didn’t stay long. He said he was going to go out to our place and take pictures for the insurance claim. Jimmy, Jr. wanted to stay, but his Daddy told him that their farm had chores still needing doing, so he reluctantly went back home. “The church is behind you on this,” Jimmy, Sr. said to me before he left. “We’ll go ahead and fix up the house for you. Just pay us back when the insurance money gets here.” I told him we would, then hugged him good-bye.
After two days, Daddy finally came to and remained awake, although he was groggy at times because of the morphine that was being pumped into his system. Still, it was such a relief to know he pulled through. I hadn’t left his side, and knowing he would be okay allowed for me to finally let Mrs. Fellows and some of the other women from the church to watch after him while I went and bathed, changed clothes, etc. Sister Maisie allowed me to use her shower and let me borrow some of her clothing considering we had lost all ours. I even caught a four-hour power nap on her sofa before returning to the hospital, and when I did, I brought a razor so I could shave Daddy. He never liked facial hair, and he was a handsome man without it.
After the better part of a week, Daddy was allowed to come home. We both were surprised to see the amount of work his former flock had been able to accomplish in our absence. Okay, here is the “was,” the “former flock.” Daddy stepped down from the pulpit not long after Mama died, which was about three years prior. Peculiar thing about her death is that it came from a tornado as well. He didn’t hate God or even blame Him. He just said that he felt it was time to begin a new chapter in his life. We still attended church, and he would lead the occasional prayer. It’s just that his days behind the pulpit ended when Mama’s life did.
The congregation had rebuilt our former four-bedroom home into a more streamlined three-bedroom. It was smaller, yes, but quaint all the same. Mr. Fellows said they were going to add a garage where the fourth bedroom should have been before starting on the barn. I thought that would be a nice touch. Daddy did as well, and he thanked everyone personally when they came by after his release. He would be confined to a bed for some time to come, but at least there would be a nurse visiting every day to ensure his needs were met.
Yvonne was awesome. She was young and pretty and doted over Daddy, which he didn’t have a problem with, and she was very professional as well. I liked her immediately. It took a good bit of convincing Daddy that it was imperative that I learn how to care for him on the off chance that Yvonne or some other nurse could not make it over on a particular day, simply because it meant me seeing him naked. He was against it, but he understood the necessity of it, so Yvonne showed me things like how to change out IV drip bags and catheters, how to properly wipe Daddy after a bowel movement, how to change the sheets with minimal discomfort to him … In two weeks’ time I was almost as proficient at these things as she was.
By week four, the garage had been built, the yard clean-up had been complete, and the insurance had paid off big-time. Daddy entrusted Jimmy, Sr. to pick out new farming equipment for us, and since Jimmy, Sr’s. cousin owned the local International Harvester dealership, we got it at just ten percent above cost. We also got a new twin-cab Silverado, paid off the church for what they had done for us—Daddy was sure to pay tithes on the money—and we even replaced what livestock we had lost. Everything was going well, then it finally happened.
Yvonne called around five-thirty one morning to tell me she wouldn’t be in that day due to a family emergency. She told me that she had tried to get another nurse to take her place, but they were all booked up. She finished by telling me that she had all the confidence in the world that I could do the job seeing as to how I had been doing it mostly on my own under her supervision anyway. So, this was it. My first test. I had to hope I didn’t let Daddy down.
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