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Notes [Initially released November 10, 2015, last revised April 12, 2020]:
0 All characters are the product of the authors’ imaginations and are over eighteen if engaged in sexual activity.
0 We wrote this relatively short story/vignette a few years ago and have retouched it extensively.
0 Thanks to Skye4Life for initially editing this.
© Copyright 2015 by MindsMirror. All rights reserved.
~ Ryan ~
There’s a momentary lull in the grand room as we each look toward the isle where a group of young interns are heading down onto the floor of the House. My mind plays a trick on me making me think I see someone I recognize but I dismiss it as she disappears behind the taller people in the group.
What the heck? I wonder, as I try to stay focused on the conversation with my fellow Representatives.
I attempt to shake off the image for a moment as the conversation continues around me. That initial double take told me it wasn’t her, but —
It couldn’t be her, I convince myself remaining distracted.
My eyes search for her in the group below. I locate that doppelganger image a little further away and a chill runs up my spine.
Was that Page? I wonder, knowing it can’t be her, but —
“Excuse me, I think I’ve just seen someone. Sorry to cut this short; I’ll get back with you before the vote,” I offer as I break away from the group.
My curiosity compels me across the room in the direction I think I last saw her. Rationally, I’m sure it can’t be her, but the resemblance is so uncanny, I have to see if it may be. No one, including her, had communicated she’d be here visiting. Upon reaching the young woman, I am happily surprised to be correct. She’s standing there wearing a nice navy pantsuit and white blouse. It’s quite a shock, to say the least, because I hadn’t seen Page much over the last eight years.
“Page?” I question my eyes. “It is you,” I say taking her into my arms.
“Ryan, I know I should have called or e-mailed,” she says, as we release one another.
Page’s appearance is substantially different from the last time I’d seen her; she’s grown a little taller and lost any trace of baby fat in her face. Her long auburn hair is in a hair comb, pulled back from her forehead exposing her ears, each of which has a small simple diamond stud earring. She’s the epitome of a clean cut young woman, well on her way to becoming a beautiful adult.
“I haven’t seen you in over a year,” I remember having not gone to visit last Christmas.
A sadness of realization settles over me suddenly cognizant that we have become relatively estranged since our parents’ divorce. In fact, we’ve only seen one another a handful of times after our parents decided to split custody of us rather than fight over it and have us switch coasts.
The resulting arrangement is that Dad has custody of her and they live in California where he moved to start an import/export business. I only stayed with Mom in Virginia for a few months until I started college and have been on my own ever since. Our parents’ divorce had been fairly amenable. I found that especially true when comparing what some friends had been through. Mom and Dad split the equity in the house and resolved to continue putting funds into our college plans, so no child support would be needed.
I release Page and we stand looking at one another. She’s nine years younger than myself but has matured since last I’d seen her. The odd separation arrangement, our parents made, seems even stranger at this moment. Eight years ago, I’d barely given it a second thought. I do remember thinking that Mom had gotten the easier end of the deal. Dad would be raising Page alone for nine more years while letting her decide where she’d spend her summer.
“What are you doing here?” I ask as I slowly realize she’s in an outfit that is exactly like the page uniforms.
“I’m a page!” she says excitedly.
“I didn’t even know you were interested,” I say remembering forwarding the notice shortly after my election.
“Yeah, I’ve been sort of interested in government and one of my teachers recommended this opportunity to me. Her recommendation and my straight A’s got me into the program.”
“I can honestly say I’ve experienced a number of coincidences in my life but this one is a real doozy!” I express, as I try to convey how much this has caught me off guard. “Why haven’t I heard anything about you applying for it, much less that you’ve been accepted?” I ask.
“Well, I wasn’t sure I was going to do it and I didn’t want to disturb you or abuse your position.”
“I can’t imagine anyone turning it down and you’d never disturb me. Besides, how cool is it that my little sister, Page, is literally a ‘page’ for the US House of Representatives.”
“Yeah, well — that’s actually part of why I wasn’t sure about it,” she says and then laughs.
“Oh, sorry — you’ve probably already heard that joke a hundred times by now. I still can’t believe it. I was over escort ataşehir with a scrum of Representatives debating this vote, when I caught a glimpse of you. I had to do a double take because — well — you’ve matured so much.”
“Thanks,” she offers blushing.
“I’ve only been here eight months myself, you know?”
“Yes, Dad and I watched the election returns, plus you called us, remember?”
“Yeah — now I do. Let’s go outside to talk,” I say as the noise level of the large room seems to be affecting my ability to think clearly.
As we walk out of the main chamber, I simply can’t get over her being here. It’s all so implausible that we’d end up working together. The distance of our separation and my busy life had conspired to make it so I’d only seen Dad and Page on vacations or holiday breaks. Now, though, it feels like we’re being given an opportunity to reconnect.
“How long are you going to be here and where are you staying?” I ask when we reach a quiet corner.
“I’ll be here through the end of the school semester and I’m going to stay with some people here.”
“You could stay with me; I have a guest room.”
“I wouldn’t want to intrude.”
“It won’t be an intrusion; you’re welcome at my place any time, Page.”
“I don’t know. Won’t it feel — um — like awkward?”
I take her to mean with my social life, “Nah, I mean it shouldn’t be a problem. Natalie, my girlfriend, is usually only over on the weekends. We both have pretty hectic schedules and she’ll be cool with it. She’s frequently got visitors at her place, too.”
“It would be great to catch up.”
“Well, I’m not going to pressure you, but I’d love to have you stay. You should come for dinner tonight and at least see the place.”
“Yeah, okay I will,” she says distractedly looking at someone down the hall. “Sorry, I probably need to get back with the group; it’s my first day,” she says.
“Of course — of course, hope I didn’t get you in any trouble. I guess I need to get back too. I’ll find you later this evening,” I say, as we both start walking back.
“Definitely,” she replies.
We meet back up around 6:00 PM, gather her bags into my car and head over to my place. Along the way I show her the neighborhood my condo is in and how convenient things are from its location. Inside, I show her around and let her see the guest room. She’s not making any snap decisions, but I can tell she’s thinking it over.
For dinner, I prepare a simple dish she used to like when she’d been smaller. It’s something Mom had taught me to make for the times when I babysat for her. The spaghetti squash in a Mediterranean style tomato sauce is fairly quick to prepare. I also toss together a nice leafy salad with fresh summer tomato, cucumber, sprouts and sunflower seeds. Page isn’t vegan, but she’d always liked lots of vegetarian dishes and I want her to feel at home. After dinner, we retire to the living room and fall into conversation about various things trying to catch each other up.
She tells me, how she’s looking forward to being out on her own and how this will give her that ability. I let her know I will not try to set any rules for her, because I remember being sixteen and I won’t be around all the time anyway.
Somehow, I end up in my usual spiel about how I got on this course, explaining how the decline in funding for education affected my public college, which gets me rambling on about the dilapidated state of my seventy year old high school and all of the trailers that’d been added for the growing student population while I attended it.
She remembers coming to my school for some event, but apparently her experience with schools in California is almost the opposite of mine. From her descriptions, it’s clear they are way ahead on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). It’s surprising for her to hear that many of my classmates have experiences more similar to mine, even the ones that are from other nearby states. As she tells me more about her high school experience, I become even more perplexed. She’s been to several different schools across the state, for scholastic competitions, and they are all similar to hers, nearly all of them have modern sophisticated tools for education. I conclude that they’ve taken a route more similar to Europe and Japan, since those sound very reminiscent of experiences my classmates from those countries relayed to me.
As the evening wears on, I tell her a little about one particular friend, Gary, since he influenced my decision indirectly because he refused to believe me and my friends’ stories. His peculiar outlook on life drew me to him, actually he was kind of a conspiracy nut but I liked him. I joke about how, he came from a rather well-to-do family, so he’d attended private schools, but decided to kind of ‘slum it’ at our public university.
“So what actually made you run in the first place?” she asks finally.
“Well, it was Gary. I’d taken him to see kadıköy escort bayan my old high school during our senior year and he’d been shocked to see what was considered middle class. Shortly after that he convinced me I should take a chance and run for a practically unopposed seat that would come open right before I graduated. I won easily and did four years on the state senate. Then right before I turned twenty-five I decided to make a run for the US House of Representatives and somehow won.”
“Kind of neat how it all worked out.”
“Yeah, and now here you are! We’re back together in our nation’s capital.”
“Yep,” she says as she breaks into a contagious yawn. It’s clear I’ve talked way too much.
We are both tired but I don’t want to force her decision, so I ask, “So, you need a ride or –“
“Ryan, I’ve seen the other place and I would have been sharing a room with another page, so I’m going to accept your offer.”
“Great! I really enjoyed talking to you tonight and it’ll be fun getting to know you again.”
“Yeah, I think that’s going to be good.”
“So are you staying tonight too, right?”
“I think I will, it’s late and I don’t want you to have to drive.”
“It’s no problem either way. The guest bed already has clean sheets, I’ll just need to set out some towels.”
So she stays that very night and over the months that ensue, we fall into a sort of routine. When we are home together we catch up on bits and pieces of our lives. We don’t overlap as much as we might have liked, but she’s keeping up with her work and scholastic requirements and I’m busy with politics. Still it works out pretty well. She seems to get along with Natalie and she’s met some of my friends, although not Gary who’s being scarce.
We celebrate Page’s seventeenth birthday just before Thanksgiving. At the end of the semester she’s aged out of the program and will be heading back to California to finish high school. I accompany her home to stay with my Dad and her over Christmas. When I leave, I promise I’ll be back for her graduation, since she’s starting the last semester of her junior year. During my travel back to DC, I think how I’ll miss having her live with me; it all seems to have come to an end just a little too soon.
Nearly a year later
Reflecting on my loss in the election is consuming my days. I find things at home to stay busy pursuing but I can’t help feeling a little depressed. It’s taken a couple weeks to settle in but now that it has, I’m in some kind of a funk, that’s got me feeling like my time’s wasting away. There’s no acceptable reason for this because my life has been good so far. I don’t have a wife or kids to support, I’m generally thrifty, and I even payed off my condo earlier this month. Financially things are great but being rejected at the polls and living through the holiday period alone is making me feel pretty down on myself. I keep pondering just how quickly the two short years in office flew passed.
Maybe it’s an age thing, because since July 4th I’ve been telling myself that twenty-seven isn’t really old. Since the loss though, it seems like a daily occurrence. My looming unemployment in January seems to be coming all too quickly. Adversity is the mother of creativity or invention or something, and being honest with myself, everything has come pretty easy so far. A recovery plan is in order and there are several areas that might be interesting to explore.
After several days of stewing about what to do, I reach a decision and am going to go back to school for a law degree. I’m thinking or hoping I’ll meet someone of a like mind there, since Natalie and I broke up this summer as well. This evening I’m sitting at my desk using my computer to complete online applications for law school. Upon clicking ‘Submit’ for the second one, the doorbell startles me from my seat as it begins ringing repeatedly at nearly the same instant. Rushing to the door, I turn on the porch light and look through the peephole. I can’t imagine who it might be and I can’t really identify who is out there, so I open the door slowly, only to be shocked to see this hooded vagrant woman standing there in the cold.
I’m thinking I should close it when I suddenly recognize her, “What the hell? Page? Is that you?”
“Hey, Ryan. I didn’t know where else to go.”
“How’d you get here?”
“I took a bus.”
“Oh, jeez, come inside, out of the cold.”
Ushering her inside, I feel guilty for even having had her stand there a moment longer. I close the door, once she’s inside, and note she doesn’t even have a purse or backpack.
“Here, give me your coat. Have you eaten anything?”
Instead of giving me her coat, she’s grabbing me and clinging to me while sobbing. I hug her back but don’t understand what’s going on, why she’s here or what’s gone so horribly wrong. Our close embrace brings some funky odors to my nose — in fact, she smells — well — ripe; there’s a mixture of body escort bostancı odor, bad breath, musty rotting food and a hint of something I am sure I don’t want to know what it is. However, I simply continue patting her back as I sway gently rocking her as we stand in the entry hall for what must be fifteen minutes before the tears finally stop.
“Come on, give me your coat. Let’s get you something to eat.”
She accedes to my request this time and allows me to remove her long winter coat. Finally, with her out of it, I’m confronted with a completely different Page. In the year since we’ve seen one another; her appearance has changed into a totally different person. Beneath the coat I find all she’s worn is a short skirt, a shirt that exposes her midriff and some combat style boots with long black socks. There’s a piercing in her nose, one in her belly button and too many in her ears to count without being conspicuous. I try not to stare at her risqué ensemble and put her coat on a rack by the door.
Taking her hand, I lead her back to the kitchen. Her hand is frigid and she starts to shiver. So, I’m thinking soup and hot chocolate are the answer. I sit her at the bar and start the hot water on my little Keurig with a hot chocolate K-Cup. Retrieving some left over chicken and vegetable soup from the fridge, I put it in a bowl and heat it up in the microwave for a minute. While it’s heating I give her the cup of hot chocolate and sit across from her. I don’t want to restart the crying, but kind of need an idea of what the hell is going on.
Taking her free hand I ask, “Can you tell me what’s happening?”
She sets the hot chocolate down and squeezes my hand back. “We’ve had a fight.”
“You and Dad?”
“Yeah, him too.”
“I broke up with Carl and had a fight with Dad about school and life and oh — just about everything else. So, I just fucking left.”
Whoa, Page had never cussed but now she’s practically spit that ‘fucking’ out like she wants to hurt someone with it. I’m not sure who Carl is, so I leave that alone for now.
“What’s going on about school? I was going to come to your graduation in May.”
The timer on the microwave goes off and I get up to retrieve her bowl and a spoon from the drawer.
“I’m done,” she says dejectedly.
I turn around trying not to overreact while I place the bowl in front of her. She sips some more of the hot chocolate and begins eating the soup almost immediately, despite it being at least slightly hot.
“Hey, slow down, you’re going to burn your mouth.”
“I’m so hungry,” she says quickly, between mouthfuls.
“Does Dad know where you are?”
“No, and don’t you dare call him or tell him if he calls.”
“He’s going to worry.”
“I couldn’t give a flying fuck.”
There it is again… “Look, I’m not trying to tell you what to do –“
“I know, Ryan, you’re the best guy I know,” she cut me off.
“If I’m to help you, I think I need to know what’s going on, okay?”
“I’m not going back, so you can forget that. I only need a place to stay.”
“You know you can stay here, that isn’t the problem. Can you give me anything to know what might be coming next? Is Dad or this Carl following you? Am I going to have police here looking for you?”
“I’m an adult and I can make my own decisions. I just turned eighteen on Thanksgiving.”
“Okay, Page you aren’t telling me what you are dragging me into. I’m here for you, I promise. I just need a little more information.”
She’s taken aback by my bluntness. Maybe, I should have been less pushy, but she isn’t giving me much choice. Then suddenly, she’s heading for the door.
“Page, come on. You know I love you and care what happens,” I say, as I grab her gently by the hand.
She stops short. I’m not really restraining her from leaving. Perhaps it’s a show, I didn’t know this Page.
“Okay, I know I’m not being reasonable but I’m not going to tell you. You’re going to have to trust me, no one is following me and Dad certainly isn’t calling the police into this.”
“Alright, I trust you,” I say. “Look, you need to get showered. I’ll get you some clothes to change into, you finish eating.”
The mention of a shower puts a smile on her lips for the briefest of moments. Then she hops back up on the stool and begins eating again, as I head off to my room to find something she can wear. I’m like 6′ 2″ and she seems barely 5′ tall. I find a tee-shirt that will work in my drawer, but pants were going to be a problem. Her narrow little waist is the issue. My belt line has expanded after taking office and all my pants and shorts are 36″ waist now. Since I have to guess, I think she’s probably a 24″ waist although her hips are probably 34″. She is proportional and her bra size had been a 34-B when she’d stayed here a year ago. I’d gotten her bra mixed up with one of Natalie’s while doing laundry and it’d caused a commotion. I find a pair of shorts with a draw string and head into the bathroom, where I place the items on the counter.
Then I go back out to find her and she’s in the kitchen warming another bowl of soup. I certainly didn’t mind, she’d made me dinners on multiple occasions when she’d stayed here before.
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