Alaska, 2003 — She was the only one still awake. Amanda Edwards burrowed herself deeper under her thick blankets, gray eyes buried in her book. Outside, snowflakes danced as they fell, further covering the ground.
I really should go to bed, she thought. She turned another page. Eh, whatever. It’s my day off tomorrow anyway. Or today, if it’s already past midnight.
She’d just yawned and turned another page when the bedroom door opened and her fifteen-year-old brother Ben peeked inside, his blue eyes wide with fright.
“Mandie, you gotta come and see this,” he said.
“See what?” she asked.
“Just come here.”
She sighed, set aside her book and grabbed her robe. She slipped her feet into her slippers and followed him, saying, “Why did you come to get me? Why couldn’t you have gotten Mom and…” Her voice trailed off when she turned the corner into the living room and Ben’s flashlight shone on the window.
There was a partial handprint pressed against it, but that wasn’t what alarmed her. It was the blood.
“Ben,” Amanda started, voice surprisingly level. “Go get Dad. Now.”
He bolted and she stood completely still, staring at the bloody handprint. The most likely explanation was that someone was injured and likely lost. But if that were so, then why hadn’t they knocked on the door? Unless…
Unless they didn’t have the strength and are now dead due to hypothermia, she thought.
She glanced back towards her parents’ room, where her dad was just coming out, bundled up to go outside in the cold. Ben followed him until they reached her and then he stopped, refusing to go further.
Amanda watched as their dad opened the door and disappeared into the night. Her curiosity piqued, she approached the doorway, leaned outside, and found her theory had been right.
He didn’t know whether to be worried or relieved when he woke up. On the one hand, he was inside a nice, warm house. On the other hand-
Am I in danger?
Steve Keller’s green eyes darted around the empty room-oh wait. It wasn’t empty. A young woman with chestnut brown hair sat in a chair across from him, reading a book about…fish?
Well, this is awkward, he thought. He shifted and she raised her head. “Hi,” she said, setting the book down on the coffee table and standing up.
“Um…hi,” Steve replied. He was sure his light brown hair looked like a rat’s nest from yesterday’s events and raised a hand to try and pat it down. “You’re not a serial killer, are you?”
She burst into laughter and shook her head. “No,” she said between giggles. “I’m Amanda.”
He smiled and said, “I’m Steve.”
Anchorage, Alaska, 2018 — “And that, kids, is how Mom and I met,” Steve finished. He replaced the cap on the milk jug and set it back on the table. Twelve-year-old Danny and ten-year-old Mia stared at him with wide eyes.
“I think you scared them a little, honey,” Amanda said. “That is, with the way you presented the first part. Specifically, the handprint.”
“Aw, they weren’t scared,” Steve said, scooping some lasagna onto his fork. He glanced at the kids. “You guys weren’t scared, right?”
They shook their heads. “It’s just a really weird way to meet,” Danny said, his gray eyes flickering between his parents.
“Yeah,” Mia stretched her head, mussing her brown hair. Green eyes curious, she asked, “Dad, how did you think you would meet Mom?”
“Well, not like that, that’s for sure,” Steve replied. “I thought we’d meet like most couples do, like at church or the store.”
Mia looked at Amanda. “What about you, Mom?”
“Well, I thought the same as your dad. Church, store, maybe we’d be introduced by mutual friends,” Amanda said. She poked at the food on her plate. “I definitely wasn’t expecting to meet him while he was half-dead on my family’s doorstep.”
“Pfft, I wasn’t even close to being half-dead.”
“Honey, you were suffering from a gunshot wound and hypothermia. It’s a miracle you even survived.”
He shrugged. “Okay, so there is that.” He smiled at her and added, “Still, it wasn’t how I imagined it. Meeting you, that is.”
She smiled back. “Same here, hon.”
© 2018 H.S. Kylian
(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)