A Familiar Stranger
Within minutes, they reached a gap in the fence they all could fit through and crawled through the fence separating the prairie land from the road. After one person went through another was there to pass them their backpack from over the fence.
“I didn’t think you knew how to do anything physical,” Peter said to Brian as he handed off his backpack.
Brian growled, “Some of us actually help our parents around the house.” He snatched his backpack from Peter and marched away without looking back. Walking ahead of Caitlin towards her house, he felt a storm brewing in his mind. Caitlin rushed to catch up to him.
Peter’s yell to Brian, “Hey, wait up!” expressed both of their sentiment.
Through breath thin from rushing, Caitlin said, “You can’t let him get to you. It makes him think it’s working and he keeps it up.”
“I’m good at revenge if you want me to take care of him for you,” Andrea offered.
“Nah, it’s alright.” Brian slowed his pace so the girls could keep up with him. Nicholas and Eugene joined him on his right side.
Caitlin stopped walking and stared at a man approaching them. He seemed oddly familiar.
“I didn’t know your dad was back,” Eugene’s statement was more of an accusation than an exclamation of relief.
Caitlin slowed her pace to scrutinize the person approaching them. “That’s not my dad.”
The man in jeans and a plaid button down denim shirt walked confidently towards the group as though he was expecting them. As he got closer, he waved. Not knowing the correct response, Caitlin waved awkwardly. When he was six feet away, Caitlin understood why Eugene mistook the stranger to be her father. His dark wavy hair looked uncombed with the bangs curling around a cowlick above his left eyebrow. Like her father, he also had a crooked grin that people naturally returned.
Angelica’s quiet voice came from behind them. “If that’s not your dad then who is it?”
“I’m only going by pictures I’ve seen around the house.” Caitlin’s voice strained as she strained her eyes to understand what she was seeing in front of her. “It looks like my great grandfather Dan Adams.”
Andrea voice softened to sound like a bell moved by a summer breeze. “Are you sure? He looks too young to be a grandfather.”
“I’m not sure, but even down to the outfit he’s wearing he looks like the man in the picture on the family tree wall.”
The man close enough to see they were more curious than afraid quickened his pace. He walked directly towards Caitlin. “We thought you’d never get here. It’s good to see you Miss Love.”
Caitlin’s face paled at the use of her nickname. She turned to see her friend’s varying reaction to the new information. It went from Eugene’s curiously wide eyes to Selene’s mocking smirk.
“There’s no need to be worried,” he tried assuring them. “We haven’t had cattle rustlers in these parts for quite some time now. My guess is they’re off in Europe fighting the war.”
Nicholas pinched himself. “Are we dead? I’ve read that when people died they saw family members they hadn’t met.” He squeezed Brian’s arm. “Do you feel that?”
“If we’re dead, how can the rest of us see Caitlin’s family members and none of ours?” Selene rolled her eyes.
“Because I walked the fastest,” Dan answered.
As if on cue, a man that looked like an older version of Demetrius appeared over the horizon. “C’mon over here Mark,” waved the man over. “There’s some people I’d like you to meet.”
Marjorie’s cool voice addressed Nicholas’s question. “We’re not dead.”
“How can you be sure?” Peter’s voice shook.
“I can’t tell you how I know, but I know we’re not dead.”
“That’s good.” Dan joked, “Because I’m not ready to die quite yet.”
Author note: If you were able to have one person from your past guide you through a trial who would you choose? I am curious to know. Leave a note in the comments, or twitter or on facebook.