Chapter 8

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Cal presses a button and the image on the large, central screen pauses

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Cal presses a button and the image on the large, central screen pauses.

I can't stop staring at the woman in the centre of the monitor. It's my mother. There's no question about it; though she looks younger than she was when she died – maybe around nineteen.

I glare at Cal, the backs of my eyes burning.

"What is this?" I ask through gritted teeth.

Cal's gaze moves away from the monitor, and towards me. His cold eyes soften momentarily before he looks stony faced once more.

"I'm sorry for your loss," he says perfunctorily.

I don't say anything, but look back at the image of my mother.

I always wished I had taken after her in terms of looks. Even when she was older with tired skin and faint wrinkles I thought she was beautiful; tall and graceful with grey streaked strawberry blonde hair and curious green eyes. 

She looked nothing like me – I take after dad; short, and clumsy with dark hair that won't do as it's told.

I stare at her younger self in the paused image -  she looks radiant.

 "Do you know how your parents met?" asks Cal.

I glare back at him in response.

What is it to him?

"Please," he says "Just answer the question."

Part of me wants to leave. But I can't just walk away from this recording of my mother.

I need to see it.

I nod slowly.

"At a bowling alley," I mutter "The person behind the counter got their shoes mixed up."

A look of satisfaction creeps onto Cal's face.

He presses another button on the control desk; the image is zoomed out and the recording begins to play.

I raise my eyebrows in surprise.

It's a bowling alley.

I watch as my mother moves gracefully to the counter, gently slips off her bowling shoes and places them on the surface.

An attendant in a striped uniform and baseball cap reading: Castle Ten Pin Bowling takes them from her and swaps them with a pair of shoes in one of the cubby holes behind him. I can't see his face as he places a pair of men's shoes onto the table.

My heart flutters.  Is this a recording of my parents meeting for the first time?!

She looks confused a moment, then notices something and throws her head back in laughter. Further down the counter a dorky looking male, with dark hair and dark eyes is clasping a pair of stilettos.

It's my nineteen year old father.

He approaches. The sound is muted, so I can't hear what is being said, but I can tell my dad has just told one of his lame jokes; my mother's face lights up the way it always did when he tried to be funny.

They swap shoes.

Cal pauses the screen.

I look up at him weakly, not wanting the recording to stop.

"How do you have this?" I say "Why are you showing me it?"

He doesn't say anything, only goes back to the control desk and moves the joystick to the left.

The recording rewinds. He pushes the stick forwards and the monitor zooms in on the bowling alley attendant.

He is bent down over the cubby holes, and I start as I notice him swap the shoes around.

"Did he do that on purpose?" I ask, leaning forwards slightly.

Cal fast forwards the recording and I watch my parents meet again in triple time. Then he suddenly pauses and again zooms back in on the attendant.

My stomach drops, and I take a step backwards in cold shock.

His face is raised, watching my parents, and I can now see below the striped baseball cap.

I know exactly who he is.

This video must have been taken thirty years ago – but he looks the same as he is now; around seventeen years old, sharp eyes, blonde hair, smooth skin.

It's Cal.

It's Cal

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