A forensic anthropologist finds her new project a bit too familiar
Lacy picked up the light green assignment page. She shook her head wondering why everyone thought the month of March had to include green in everything from napkins in the cafeteria to her assignment logs.
At the lab door she gave an even bigger sigh, shamrocks and leprechauns danced on the window. Gritting her teeth, she pushed the door open and to her disgust, green party balls and crepe paper hung from the light cords.
Gingerly she picked up her lab coat, to discover it too sprouted green shamrocks on the lapels. They came off in her hand with a quick rip and floated down to the once empty trash can.
Her station must have been too cluttered to encourage any additional greenness. Her lips spread to a smile, “Clutter had its purpose.”
She stood in from of the metal rack where the skulls of the unknown dead lay in their plastic trays and found the one that matched her assignment sheet. She had sole charge of discovering the likeness of this human. She read its origin and all the information the doctors could extract.
Matching the colored pegs to the skull to depict the length of the nose, slope of the forehead, and depth of the eyes, was something thing she’d studied and had a knack for.
DNA codes attached to the file revealed the ethnic background of the subject. They gave her a probability of skin color. From the deep coffee, almost black, to the palest translucent pink and white of an albino. She ran her fingers along with the colored stickers on the clay tubs. Then stopped on one she thought might be close to the tinge of a Native American. Lacy traced the tab and pressed her hand alongside it. The color matched her own skin almost perfectly.
Other markers revealed the woman to be in her mid to late twenties and could be either American Indian or like herself Mexican with Mestizo thrown in.
She smoothed the clay expertly across the forehead and cheeks. Without looking at the entire face she worked long into the night. By the time it was the end of her shift, much of the face had been covered with clay and was ready for the finishing stage tomorrow. She cut the lights and headed home.
The next night she arrived early to get a good jump on the assignment. The day crew wished her a happy St. Patrick's Day and wondered how she liked working the night shift on this illustrious green party night. Lacy smiled and thought someone had to do their job while they partied.
The clay-covered skull sat ready for the final touches. Her expert finger smoothed the soft material to cover the pegs. A highbrow appeared and a nose. There she paused. The pegs indicated the nose to be thinner than what she'd thought, but she pressed on doing what had been presented to her. More clay built up the cheeks and chin. The sculpture had no expression, only the blank look of a dead person.
She found a wig of straight black hair to cover the skull with thick fringe over the forehead. Adding light brown eyes to look back at her from under black-winged eyebrows, she tilted the head a bit. The face seemed somewhat familiar. That wasn't possible. She applied eyelashes and gave the lips a little more natural color. She must have met this woman or passed her on the street. Again, she pushed the thought away. This woman had been dead for over five years. She wasn't even living here back then.
Lacy rubbed the clay from her hands and turned to the sink to wash. After scrubbing the mortar from her nails, she rinsed her hands and pulled a towel to dry them.
She glanced at the mirror above the sink. Her eyes froze at the reflection. She knew where she'd seen the woman before. It was staring back at her this very instant and every morning in her mirror.
Across the room, the face so identical to hers stared back at her from its stand. The eyes and expression seemed to beg for her to find and tell her story. The likeness felt eerie, a memory of feelings she couldn't explain, thinking she had an imaginary friend long after she was old enough to know better.
Could she have had a twin all these years and never knew it? Being adopted she’d wondered about her biological family, but a twin?
Tears leaked from the corners of her eyes. Silently she promised the skull staring at her, to find out what happened to this woman. She folded the sheet with the woman’s DNA into her bag.