Written by: Kevin (KS) Sharbaugh
Chapter Four: Recognition and Recollection
"Hi, I'm Gadget!" the blond mouse greeted cheerfully, standing to shake Samantha's hand, "and this is my sister Doohickey. We were told by a traveler named Dennis that you bore an amazing resemblance to our mother."
As she took Gadget's hand Samantha was briefly as speechless as Dee. The eyes she met were the identical shade of blue as the ones she saw every morning in her mirror. "I remember him," Samantha finally stated as she took a seat at the table, "He stopped here just about nine days ago, said I reminded him of someone that had saved his life."
"That was our mother," Gadget unnecessarily pointed out, "Unfortunately I never got a chance to know her because she left shortly after I was born, she had to return to her hometown to care for her aging mother and keep her ex in-laws from getting custody of our brother. I grew up never knowing what my mother looked like and when one of the last people to see her alive mentioned meeting someone who looked just like her I figured this was my chance to see her... well, someone that looked like her so I knew what she looked like."
"I guess that's why your sister came along," Samantha reasoned.
"Precisely," Gadget confirmed. Both turned their gaze towards Dee who had yet to regain her power of speech and was still just staring at Samantha. "So, does she look like Mom?" Gadget asked her dumbfounded sibling.
Dee wanted to speak, but her conflicting thoughts made coherent speech unlikely. Should she answer Gadget with ‘Yes, she looks exactly like Mom' or turn to Samantha with the simple question ‘Mom?'. "Sh-" Dee managed as she looked back and forth between the two mice with which she was seated. "This is impossible!" were the first real words she finally forced out, "She looks exactly like her!"
There were no words to match the thrill that struck Samantha. Not only is it possible that these visitors were connected to her previous life they could actually be her life, her own children! However, the thrill was quickly set upon by one of the constants of the new life that she knew. Gadget and Doohickey could very well be her own blood but there were no memories, nothing. Part of her wanted to weep in frustration. But she wasn't going to give up, there were questions she could ask, had to ask. "As I recall, Dennis said your mother was lost during a flood. Were you ever able to find her body?" Samantha asked, remembering that it was one she had wanted to ask the traveler.
"I'm told that it wasn't," Gadget responded, "Dee was the one who was there when it happened... Well, not right there but she was in the general area that the flood took place and her brother was part of the search party that went looking for her, actually he's my brother too, half-brother technically, like Dee, only Dee isn't a my half-brother, she's my half-sister, we have the same mother but different fathers. Not that Dee and her brother have different fathers, just that I have a different father than they do."
"Several people in our area were lost during the flooding," Dee clarified, once Gadget's over-clarification had come to a long overdue end, "Only about a fifth were ever accounted for, our... mother, wasn't among them." It seemed so bizarre to refer to her mother in the third person like that when so much of her emotions told her she was sitting right there next to her.
"How long ago was that?" Samantha asked, continuing to search for any connection with her own situation.
Dee quickly did the math, "Five years."
Five years! Samantha's heart practically skipped a beat. Terry, as well, took note of the similarity. And there was no overlooking the obvious physical connections... one young lady with the exact same eyes and the other with identical fur coloring. He couldn't help but feel a sense of elation at the possibility that his love was almost certainly within reach of regaining not just her life but her family. But there was something else, something he was not willing to admit to himself. Hidden in the back of Terrence Greystone's mind was a feeling that loomed larger by the second, a feeling that could easily be overlooked as mere concern. In reality it was less concern than fear. He might have seen this sensation for what it truly was, had his thoughts not been suddenly pulled away from the matter at hand.
"Everybody!" a male chipmunk shouted, leaning into the hall from the stairwell, "Someone's missing! The Dirkson's little girl!"
The reaction of the few outsiders passing through was muted. Either they assumed they wouldn't know ‘the Dirkson's little girl' if they stepped on her or knew so little of the local terrain that they feared they would wind up missing. Two visitors, though, leapt to the call. Gadget acted out of her genuine concern for others and her duty as a Rescue Ranger while her sister acted on her instincts as a mother. For the locals, however, this situation had become uncomfortably routine. They hoped, each time, that if they rallied more quickly they had a greater chance of locating the missing person or, at the very least, catch sight of what or who was responsible. But with each failure the sense of helplessness and despair grew larger.
Samantha also took to her feet as quickly as ever but was stopped by Terry. The sudden need for action caused him to make a hasty decision, one he likely would not have made had the time been available to weigh matters properly. "Someone has to stay behind to keep an eye on things here, please!" he told his love before turning to join the others in the search.
Frozen in place for a moment by indecision, Samantha resigned herself to ‘minding the store'. She didn't want to. The local community may not be the town of her birth, but it was all she knew and merely biding her time while her neighbors were in need was intolerable. She had to keep her mind off the matter. "Gadget and Doohickey," Samantha said to herself, having located a subject more likely to keep her mind preoccupied, "What kind of mother would name her children ‘Gadget' and ‘Doohickey'?" Emitting a little laugh at the apparent absurdity of it, she continued, "What's their brother's name? Thingamabob?" Something clicked in Samantha's mind. She slowly came to a halt as she pulled up a fragment of a memory. Not a distant memory, one she longed to become reacquainted with, but one more recent, as in the last five years. Saying the three names silently to herself she tried to recall where she had heard them before. She had it!
Quickly surveying the hall, Samantha deduced that the few who had remained behind were adequately preoccupied, most likely discussing the local emergency among themselves. She departed for her room, one of the larger chambers set aside for extended residency. Throwing open the door she frantically tried to remember where she'd placed the paper the Sisters had given her. During the days following her arrival, as she lapsed in and out of consciousness, the Sisters had listened intently to whatever she said in her sleep, hoping for a name of family or community... something that could lead them to those who might be missing her. But despite their vigilance, most of what ‘Samantha' said was either so slurred or alien that almost nothing could be made out... with the exception of three words that she kept repeating. Without the proper context the words alone were of no help whatsoever, but one of the Sisters jotted them down anyway in hopes that the weary stranger could make sense of them once she became more lucid.
Samantha nearly tore out the dresser drawer in her frenzy to retrieve the slip of paper. Much to the Sister's dismay, Samantha herself was unable to shed any light on what the words were supposed to mean to her. There! She found the paper. Withdrawing the folded sheet she opened it and read the words:
Biscuits, cheese, berries
What?! Samantha thought to herself, That's my handwriting! "Wrong drawer," she growled as she tossed aside the old shopping list. Why did I keep that thing anyway? she wondered, opening the next drawer. "Got it!" Opening the folded sheet, Samantha was greeted by the distinguished writing of one who had spent many hours copying scripture and dispatching correspondence to neighboring chapters. There were the words, followed by an embellished question mark:
Thingamabob, gadget, doohickey?
Gadget and doohickey. Not words, Samantha concluded, Not words, but names. The names of my children! She almost could not believe her incredible fortune. She was still unable to recall any specific memories of them but the coincidence was too great, she must be their lost mother! The realization made her feel lightheaded, though the next brought her sufficiently back to earth, I named my daughters Gadget and Doohickey?
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