She didn't get home from work until close to midnight. When her Celica pulled into the drive, her two cats ran out to meet her. There was a party going on next door, but that felt good, it would lessen the loneliness of her empty house.
After unloading six bags of groceries, she clutched her keys in her right hand, sucked in her breath, then headed straight for the mailbox. The grass felt dewy on her sandaled feet. The night air was cool and whisked her hair across her face. Her premonition that this was the day, the night, rode her shoulder and snickered in her ear, "Maybe, maybe not, maybe, maybe not." With shaking hands she used the key to open mailbox eleven. She slid her hand in and around the stack of mail; several envelopes and a magazine.
Walking back to the house she wished this moment didn't have to be lived. She felt a little cheap, a little desperate, and more than a little like she was asking for the moon and only deserved a handful of dust. It had taken so long. She had waited and waited while the lab put her off, "this takes time," and "it's a day by day thing," and "we are very busy you will have to call back later." When the man on the phone in Cincinnati told her that, she began to prepare herself, "this plan is going to fail."
By the time she laid the mail on the kitchen counter it had singed her hand. After ditching the groceries on the floor, her hands trembled as she flipped through the stack. There it was, a plain business envelope from the genetics lab marked "confidential." It's white rectangle glowed in her fingers as she paced the dark rooms of her home, afraid to finally know. Finally, she stopped in the bathroom before the mirror and ripped the envelope open above the sink. She looked down at the thin sheets of paper and recalled all of the hope and fear of the last two months. Here was her answer, either the confirmation she had waited thirteen years for, or not.
Page one of the document was a chart of numbers that meant nothing to her. A doctor had signed at the bottom under a paragraph of gibberish, and then the doctor's signature had been notarized. A legal document.
"Just give me the yes or no!" she practically shouted. She forced her eyes onto page two. More columns of numbers and percentages. Her own name. Her daughter's name. The alleged grandfather's name. She skipped down and there it was in black and white: "The alleged paternal grandfather, John P. Jameson, cannot be excluded as the biological paternal grandfather of the child named...the probability of grandparentage is 98.68%."
An hour later she was still crying. Her whole body shook with sobs as she realized the implications; a dead man was now a father because his father's DNA has passed the genetic matching tests. A Family Reconstruction, the lab called it.
She felt like screaming in jubilation, but stopped short because she was only halfway across the bridge. Next, getting the petition to the judge. She needed one judge who believed in grandparent DNA proving paternity and who would sign the paternity affidavit. Then hustling the affadavit to Vital Records so the birth certificate could be changed. Then, the insurance company; the sum of money waiting for her daughter. A victory? She couldn't take it in. She was used to fighting, but not to winning.
She looked outside at the branches of a tree waving in the dark. Part of her yelled at him, at the ashes he blew in her face. She felt like stomping on his grave, "it's done--you are a Father!--your taunts that I'll never get a cent of your money are worthless."
But then, she remembers her daughter and she feels ashamed for hating him. He has lost out forever on knowing his daughter. She bows her head and tears stream again as she whispers, "Without you, our beautiful girl would never have been, and for this gift, I love you and hope you are safe."
Part one: BC and AD
Part two: The Dead Badge of Courage
Part three: The Quest for DNA