Lauren is confronted by her past.
“Lauren, could you come here for a moment?”
I put aside my book and walked in the direction of my mom’s voice.
“Do you know these people?”
I kept my face still through long practice and shook my head no.
“Honey, it’s Mama!” the emaciated woman with stringy hair cried.
The man with her clenched and unclenched his fists.
I looked up at Mom.
“It appears you’re mistaken. Please leave before I call the police!”
She closed the door and locked it. When she turned back toward me, I threw myself in her arms. She held me wordlessly for a long time.
“Why don’t we cuddle on the sofa?” she said at last.
Without letting go of her hand, I trailed her to the couch.
After she’d pulled a blanket over both of us and we’d sat contentedly for a while, she asked:
“Those are the people who took you, aren’t they?”
Unable to answer for the lump of fear in my throat, I could only nod yes.
“I knew I should have called the police while I had them here!” Mom said.
I clutched her convulsively at the thought.
“Don’t worry, when Dad gets home we’ll discuss what to do next.”
I calmed slightly, but every now and then I shivered with latent fear. Pleading a headache, I went to bed early.
Very much adoring my new family, even my pesky twin brothers was a given. I didn’t want to go back to my real family, which that sorry couple who came to the door was. Abuse, neglect and starvation was all they’d given me. Changing my name to Laura and my story to a kidnapping worked beautifully.
“What can I do now?” I asked.
“Come home with us, baby girl!” a man in the darkness whispered.