Chapter 6

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Sara

Her chest hurt. Her eyes burned with unshed tears. Sad? Angry? She was both. With her back pressed up against the wall, she watched as her little sister cried into the pillow on the sofa. Their mother was in the kitchen cursing under her breath and slamming a pan onto the stove. She had marched into the kitchen after she had opened the letter and read it aloud for them all to hear.

Cynthia,

I am Henry's sister. He told us your name and that he had married you and had two daughters. As you know, he came to visit his children here and died of a heart attack. We buried him in the family plot.

Sincerely,

Annette Fleming

Their father was dead. He had left on a trip a month earlier, and now he was never coming back. She'd never hear his laughter again. She'd never get any more treats when he arrived home from a long trip. He was dead.

That was the biggest shock. Or was it the comment about his children? He couldn't have been visiting his children. They lived here and not in some town faraway. That meant...he had other children. Why didn't they know about this? Why weren't they told?

Anger burned deep within her as her eyes followed the movements of her mother. Cynthia Sheldon was a small woman, but her temper overcame her lack of height. She was not one to back down from anything. Her temper would fly off in a heartbeat if she wasn't happy, and she was far from happy at that moment.

Did she know about her husband's other family? Was that why she was so angry? Or was it because she had lost her husband? Or because there was now going to be fewer coin to support them?

Sara never could tell what her mother was really thinking unless she blatantly stated what was on her mind. Granted that was often, but when it came to certain things, she kept them close to her chest and refused to reveal what really went through her mind and heart. Cynthia was an enigma.

With an angry thrust, Sara pushed away from the wall and moved toward the porch. Her legs, thin for an eleven-year-old, quickly got her to the large oak tree in the backyard. She scrambled up the thick limbs, mindfully keeping her dress in a modest position. Once she was hidden within the full leaves of the tree, she nestled in her favorite spot between four large limbs.

This spot was frequented by Sara many times each week, nearly every day. It was where she could escape the noise and find a little peace. She wouldn't hear her sister nagging, her grandfather yelling, or her mother snapping at everyone. Here was quite. The sounds of the leaves in the summer breeze and the chirp of birds were the only noises that reached other. Even the sounds of the rest of the world in her small town seemed distant and unrelated to her. She could imagine she lived somewhere else, be someone else.

The tears broke through her determination and flowed ceaselessly down her cheeks. Not once did she close her eyes. They stayed open and focused on the rustling leaves. So many secrets. What else had her family kept from her? What secrets lurked behind their smiles?

She wondered how her life would change now that her father was gone. It wasn't like her father was around much anyways. He made an appearance two or three times a year and stayed less than a month with each visit. She enjoyed seeing him as he always took her and her sister to the movies or the fair. He made them feel special.

Sara pictured her father. He was of average height with dark hair that had receded slightly A tinge of grey speckled his sideburns. His voice was gruff as was his laugh. The only thing Sara didn't like about her father was his temper when him and her mother got into an argument. They were more than arguments. The fights would get physical at times with either one giving the blows. Sara's grandfather sat back and enjoyed the exchange. It was disharmony in his family which he seemed to thrive off of.

Had her father acted that way with his other children? A sob caught in her throat. There were others before her and her sister. Her father had a secret past that they knew nothing of.

Now Sara was left with her angry mother and vindictive grandfather. With a rough swipe to her face, she wiped the tears from her face. No more tears. They were for those who could not do anything, but she would. She would find a way to get away from it all.

Sadness faded. Anger simmered. Bitterness took root. Her father had abandoned her. He had lied to her. He was not her father. 

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