TITLE: The Mistake
Cal's mother explains she's not really her mother:
“Katherine couldn’t kill you, Cal.”
Deep sadness creeps into her face. She caresses my cheek with a delicacy I haven’t felt from her in years. Tears well in her eyes. She turns away from me.
“Mom, what is it? Why couldn’t she be the one who—”
She interrupts without looking at me.
“Katherine is your mother.”
Nothing is real…
One of the bitter joys of practicing law is the daily supply of surprise. Surprises erupt like dandelion seeds in the spring, floating all around you, infiltrating your nose and mouth if you so much as breathe.
But never has a surprise walloped me like this before.
My mother’s mouth is moving but I hear nothing. Tears are running down her cheeks but I don’t see them. I’m sitting on the seat of my sister’s Lexus, carrying a baby, but I’m weightless, floating somewhere in spacetime, but not here. Not on Earth. Not on a Sunday afternoon in front of a mysterious little house that undoubtedly contains the mysteries of the universe.
Then reality rushes back into me like three point one four million freight trains. Facts, figures, numbers, letters, face muscles, tics, hand gestures, laughter, agony—everything coalesces into the tiny space between my mother and myself.
I wave my hands to clear it all away.
“Mother,” I say, and maybe I shouted it because I feel the soundwaves reverberate. “Stop. What did you say?”
She wipes her eyes. Licks her lips. Kneads her hands. “I said Katherine is your mother.”
“How can it… I don’t believe you.”
“That’s up to you, but there are tests you can—”
“What’s in the house?”
“She was living here when you were born.”
“She and Daddy…”
“You were born four months after Nancy.”
“But Nancy’s a year older than me.”
"We lied about that."