published by Inge Hulsker at Shakespir
copyright 2015 Inge Hulsker
cover image courtesy of Sanja Gjenero, rgbstock.com
‘Welcome to the Ramidez Hotel. How can I help you?’
‘Good afternoon. I have a reservation. My name is Sarah Haynes.’
‘Mrs Haynes … Room 314. Your husband checked in earlier today. Here is your key.’
‘What?’ Sarah can feel the heat rising in her face. ‘Who?’
‘Your husband, Mr Haynes, arrived about an hour ago.’
She can only think of one person who would pretend to be that. What is that jerk thinking? Does he really think she will go to that hotel room now? She turns on her heels and practically runs out of the lobby.
‘Mrs Haynes?’ the receptionist calls after her. But Sarah speeds up and heads straight for the taxi stand. She bites her lip. She will no longer let him drive her crazy. If Mark wants that hotel room, he can have it. But how did he know she had a reservation here? What else does he know? Sarah gets into a taxi.
‘Where to, miss?’
‘To the airport, please.’ She tries to pull herself together, but it’s no use. The buildings and trees zoom by in tear stained stripes. Unbelievable how Mark keeps showing up. How dare he push her like that? He should just disappear, out of her life. She clenches her jaw. Great, now she’s running away again. That’s it, enough is enough.
‘Excuse me,’ she tells the taxi driver. ‘Could you please take me back to the hotel?’
A few months ago she nervously knocked on Marks door for the first time. But the wine, the nice dinners and their connection soon made her feel more comfortable than ever. As if she had known him for years. One morning Sarah woke up with his arm around her.
‘Good morning,’ he whispered.
Sarah smiled at him. ‘It’s nice waking up next to you.’ She snuggled against his chest.
They didn’t get up until hours later. At breakfast Mark said: ‘I have to tell you something.’
‘What is it?’ Sarah asked, taking a bite of her omelet.
‘I did not find you by coincidence. But through my dad.’
‘Do I know your dad?’
‘Well, he is your dad too.’
Sarah dropped her fork on her plate. ‘What?! Are you suggesting you’re my half brother?’
‘You’re full of it. That makes no sense. What do you mean ‘your dad too’? How would that even be possible?’
‘I’ve only gotten to know him recently. He left my mom for another woman. Your mother. En then you were born.’
‘If you really are my half brother, why didn’t you say something earlier?’
He shrugged. ‘It doesn’t make any difference.’
‘Of course it does! We are brother and sister. We can’t date, we can’t … Oh shit, I slept with my brother. Yuk!’
Sarah jumped up.
‘Half brother,’ Mark corrected. ‘It’s not that big of a deal. We didn’t grow up as family.’
‘That doesn’t matter. We have the same father. We share DNA! I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.’
‘Oh well, now you know.’
‘Yes, now, after the fact. You didn’t think it important enough to tell me before we …’
‘… fell in love?’
‘Love? No way. That’s what I though, but now I know it’s a family bond we have. You knew that. How could you take advantage of my like that?’
‘Take advantage of you? Now you’re overreacting. Dad warned me about that.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean? Your dad doesn’t know me at all.’
‘You mean our dad. No, he doesn’t know you, but he knew your mother.’
‘This is ridiculous. I don’t have to stand here and listen to you insult my mother and me, while you are the bad guy. This family reunion is over. Don’t call me.’
She grabbed her things and stormed out of his apartment.
The next morning there was an e-mail waiting in Sarah’s inbox:
I’m sorry yesterday ended so dramatically. I think our night was very special and I’m sure we both felt we have something meaningful. I hope you have cooled off today and we can continue what we were doing. Don’t forget that your mother and you are the reason my mother and I where left alone. You and I can assure some pieces of our family puzzle can form a whole again. We only have each other in the future.
Sarah had read the e-mail a few times, but with every read she got more angry. He made it sound like she owed him something! She deleted the e-mail and shut down the computer. Not much later her phone rang. She saw it was Mark and let it ring. But he called again and again. At the end of the afternoon, after he’d called at least twenty times, she answered.
‘Mark, listen. I think what you did to me is unforgivable. We never had a family bond. I don’t want to see you again. Or hear you. Goodbye.’
After she hung up she sat down on the couch. Her hands were shaking. She took a few deep breaths, threw her phone aside and put on her running shoes. Enough is enough. Don’t waste any more thoughts on him.
Once back from her run, she almost ran into Mark in from of the building.
‘What are you doing here?’ she exclaimed.
But she wouldn’t let him finish. ‘I told you I don’t want to see you anymore.’ She walked past him into the building. Once upstairs she noticed a lot of missed calls, all from him. She also found six emails. All begging her to take him back. She removed them all and took a shower.
In the next few weeks the emails and phone calls kept coming. Sarah ignored them all. She deleted the emails without reading them. The times Mark suddenly showed up, she would not listen to him and walked away as soon as possible. It turned out to be the start of much more. She started to receive credit cards and merchandise she did not order. She already canceled several social media accounts, but the surprises kept coming. A friend informed her of a website in her name. When she looked it up, she found a page full of pictures of her, with lines like ‘looking for an exciting night?’. With her phone number. Whether anyone actually visited the website, she wasn’t sure. She had stopped answering her phone a long time ago, unless she saw who it was. Lately that would often be her new boyfriend Danny. It was nice to find someone she could really trust. She soon told him all about Mark. Danny was very protective and she was glad she could share her fears.
‘You have to report him to the police,’ he said.
‘No, I won’t do that,’ she insisted. ‘I can’t do that. My mom and I are the reason Mark had a difficult life. There’s no point in dragging all that up again. I just want to ignore him. He’ll get tired of it soon enough.’
Sarah changed her phone number and email address and only gave it to family members and friends she trusted. Too bad for any other people, but at least Mark would no longer bother her. Of course he still knew where she lived. Moving was not planned yet, but now that she and Danny were doing so well, they would surely start living together at some point.
One evening the doorbell rang. Immediately Sarah’s heart was in her throat. Apparently someone had already gotten into the building. She walked to the front door without making a sound and looked through the peep hole. Outside the door was the neighbor. With a sigh of relieve she opened the door.
‘Hi. This package was delivered for you.’
‘Thanks.’ As soon as she closed the door, she held the package as far from her body as possible, with outstretched arms, like it was a bomb about to explode. After staring at it for a while, she decided to open it up. The big box was full of little styrofoam balls. She dug around in it until her hand hit something. It was a framed old picture of a boy and his parents. She recognized her dad. The little boy must be Mark. If she looked closely, she recognized the dimples in his smiling cheeks. She stared at the face of Marks mother. The woman who was left with a young child, because Sarah was about to be born.
She of all people knew what Mark had been through. She too had lost her dad to another woman. Marks childhood was so similar to hers. There was no denying it. If anyone should feel sympathy for him, it would be her. She opened up her old email account and addressed an email to Mark. She wrote about her childhood. How it was to grow up without a father. How sorry she was that he had to go through the same thing. Then she repeated that what he had done now, was unforgivable. As soon as she started thinking about his recent antics, she felt the anger bubble up again. She typed without stopping, without thinking. Everything she had felt and thought in the past couple of weeks just flowed from her fingers. Before she could think twice, she hit send.
Now two weeks have past and Sarah is standing in front of room 314. She will tell Mark how she feels once and for all. She thought he had stopped. Ever since her latest email she didn’t receive any more deliveries or phone calls. But now it turns out she was wrong. He has probably been invisible lately because he has been planning this action. For a second she considers knocking on the door, but decides against it. She uses the key and swings the door open. She freezes on the threshold. This is not what she expected. Candlelight illuminates the room. Soft violin music sounds. Across from her is Danny with a bunch of roses.
‘What are you doing here?’ Sarah asks.
He takes a box with a ring our of his pocket and gets down on one knee. ‘Dear Sarah, will you marry me?’