Seasoning – Part 25
Helen stirred, roused awake by the aroma of savory vegetable soup and brewing tea. “Well, I must’ve been tired,” she told herself as she smoothed the wrinkles in her dress and tucked her hair into a soft twist. She sauntered slowly toward the kitchen taking time to notice how lovely the house looked; clean, everything in its place.
“I smelled that soup all the way in my room, Hannah. How nice of you to fix lunch. I’m famished.”
“I thought you might be Helen. You barely touched breakfast. Here. Have a nice cup of tea while I get you a bowl.”
Helen sat at the kitchen table, beautifully set with delicate hand-painted china, a tray of sandwiches, shiny silverware and neatly folded cloth napkins. “You are very good at this Hannah. Everything is perfection,” Helen smiled as she sipped her tea.
“I had a good teacher. My mother gets all the credit,” Hannah gushed as she placed two bowls of steaming soup on the table and sat down.
Helen wasted no time, scooping several spoonfuls of soup, dipping the edge of her sandwich in the broth before taking a bite.
Hannah joined her, hoping Helen had forgotten her promise to “catch up”. She hadn’t.
With a bite of bread still swirling on her tongue Helen garbled, “Well now, I am so glad to have this alone time with you Hannah. You know I’m not one to beat around the bush.”
Hannah stopped eating. She felt the blood rushing to her head.
“What I saw with my own two eyes this morning…”
“Helen, I can…”
“Shush Hannah, let me finish.” Helen reached for Hannah’s hand, patting it gently. “When Marjorie and others called to tell me about you and Henry; how well you two were getting along, I had to come.”
Helen grabbed Hannah’s hand and stood up, leading her out of the kitchen, through the parlor, down the hallway, into Henry’s room. She turned to Hannah, “I need you to see something.” She rummaged through the tiny drawer in the vanity, “You’ll understand soon. At least I think you will. When I spoke to Henry this morning I saw it in his eyes. That’s when I knew it was time.”
“Is this what you’re looking for Helen?” Hannah showed her the folded envelope.
“What? How did you? Where did you?
“Henry gave it to me this morning. It’s been such a strange week Helen. Strange dreams, flashbacks. Feeling as though Henry and I have known each other, or knew each other, realizing how impossible that is. And then…”
“The letter.” Helen smiled softly. She sat on the chest at the foot of the bed, patting the space next to her, motioning Hannah to join her. “Hannah dear, I believe Henry has been searching for you his entire life.”
Hannah looked into her eyes, tears streaming down her face. “I thought I was going crazy. Everything felt so familiar. Henry feels so…”
“I know dear. It’s unbelievable. I remember thinking Alice was losing her mind when she asked me to help her write the letter. She was so frail. I loved her like a sister you know, so I helped her write the words and hid the letter as she requested. I figured it would remain in that drawer forever. Still, I did wonder if it could be true.” Helen wrapped her arms around Hannah, “And I promised her this one last thing; that I would tell you this when the time came.”
Hannah looked up at Helen.
“Welcome home, dear, welcome home.”
This is the 25th installment of a story that began as a microfiction piece prompted by Jane Dougherty’s challenge. If you’d like to read previous chapters click HERE and scroll down to the story, Seasoning.