Ryven > A Chance Encounter

A Chance Encounter

"Mom? Dad?" A young man in his mid thirties pushed aside the back porch door. He slid his sunglasses back off his face and squinted into the dim light.

"We're in the kitchen, Mark!" His father called out. The man let out a breath and ran a hand through his tousled dark brown hair. His movements dislodged the sunglasses and he scrambled to catch them before they fell onto the floor. He looked at the eyewear for a moment, remembering.

"Mark?" Mark jolted back to the present and followed the sound of his mother's voice. His father was reading the paper; the comics section. His mother was sipping a tall iced tea and watching some sort of design program on the small kitchen television. They both looked up with welcoming smiles as he entered the room.

"Mark! What a nice surprise it is to see you tod-" His mother stopped short, quickly noting her son's ashen face.

"My God, what happened?" his father asked, paper forgotten.

Mark took a deep breath to calm himself. He sat on one of the tall seats across the island from his parents. His father folded his hands on the countertop, expression serious. His mother switched off the TV and scooted her chair closer to the counter, expression concerned.

"It's not Beth, is it?" his father pressed. Mark shook his head and laughed ruefully. No, it wasn't his girlfriend.

"Beth's fine," Mark told his parents. He stared at the dark sunglasses he'd placed on the counter, examining his warped reflection as he decided how best to continue. After a moment he decided there was no real easy way to put it and just spoke, letting the words and pent up emotions out. "I saw The Squirt today." He looked up. "Turned around, saw this woman and just knew it was her."

He closed his eyes to his parents' stunned reactions and heard his father swear "Oh. My. God." His mother burst into tears and clung to her husband's shoulder even as he clutched her.

"How? When? What is she doing? Is she ok? She didn't join one of those crazy cult groups did she? What happened?" His father demanded to know, asking questions in rapid fire succession.

"Why did she run away?" Mark's mother half sobbed.

Mark was shaken. He had known that his news would bring a powerful reaction, how could it not? He himself was still in a bit of a dazed shock and he'd been there. But his parents were very strong people; rocks of sanity and strength in chaos. It was therefore unnerving for their son to see them in such a state. They rarely cried. In fact, the last time had been years ago, when... Mark shook himself and quickly began explaining.

"I was in the city earlier. I decided to grab a quick cup of coffee. "The closest place is this little Cyber Café type deal on Fifth." He looked at his parents and saw his father's clear blue eyes willing him to continue with his story. Mark scrubbed a hand across his face and continued, the words spilling forth. "God, dad. I thought I was seeing things, but it was her. She was casually standing in the corner of the café, watching everyone and pretending to drink a Latte. You wouldn't believe how she was dressed, like some sort of goth-superhero-executive. The sunglasses and leather threw me for a second but she looked so much like mom I had to go up and see." Mark shook his head at the memory and gave a little heartfelt laugh. "She was so damned surprised to see me."

"What happened?" Mark's mother asked, her voice almost under control now. The question wasn't just about what happened next in the café. The question encompassed what had been plaguing the family for years.

Finally, they had an answer. Mark took a deep breath and began fiddling with the sunglasses on the counter. They were a present from his girlfriend and cost entirely too much, but right now Mark was remembering the dark shades which had initially hid his sister's eyes from his own in the café.

"She says she was recruited," He explained.

"By whom?" His father asked. Mark shrugged.

"She couldn't say exactly for whom, but its special ops work, that much was obvious even if she didn't tell me. She was told that she had to break ties with her friends and family to protect us."

"From whom?" His mother asked sadly.

"She said 'The enemies of freedom,'" Mark shrugged again and twirled the sunglasses in his hands, watching his reflection warp and twist.

"Oh, Dan! You don't think she's fighting terrorists, do you?" Mark's mother asked her equally fearful husband.

"I don't know, Amy." He looked over at Mark for additional information, softly stroking his wife's nearly jet black hair.

"I actually asked that. She just said that she was fighting for the truth and that what she was doing was very important for the future of all of us,"

"That's my girl!" His father said triumphantly through his tears as he hit the countertop with a fist. His other arm squeezed his wife closer. Mark smiled and again reflected on the unexpected meeting.

His sister's intense words and tone had startled him. As a little girl, and as a teenager before she'd left, she'd been intense but quiet and somewhat mild. The woman he'd spoken with earlier had been equally quiet, but she was almost ferocious in her intensity. Instead of a thoughtful child, her entire demeanor was like that of a tempered weapon. It had been frightening until she'd removed her sunglasses and he'd seen his little sister, The Squirt, in her eyes.

"God. And then what?" His mother prompted.

"And then her cell phone rang, and she had to leave. I followed her towards the door and she said some things to me. She said she'd been keeping track of us and that she misses us, but can't come back. She says that her work is dangerous and tiring, but that it needs to be done and she needs to do it." Here Mark paused, a genuine smile escaping. "She said I should marry Beth. But anyway, she stopped me just before the door and said not to look her up. That she was too deep undercover sometimes and to go looking would bring us trouble. And then she told me not to follow her, or I'd get caught in the crossfire and shot." Mark watched his mother's eyes widen and winced a bit. He hadn't intended to share that part of the conversation.

"What did you do?" His father asked.

"Nothing. I didn't follow," Mark quickly continued, "But the time she was lost in the crowd, I was already thinking of the fastest way to get here, and Mom?"


"She wanted you to know," Mark smiled again and reached over to cover his mother's hand with his own. "She said to tell you that she's found someone and that despite everything, she's happy so don't worry."

"God, as if we'd stop worrying," his father scoffed good-naturedly as his mother began sniffing again.

"Will we ever see her again?" Mark's mother asked, voice nearly breaking again.

"I don't think so," Mark said sadly as he withdrew his hand with a sigh. "She said this was a chance encounter, and shouldn't have happened in the first place." The corner of his lips twitched upwards and he looked down at the dark shades in his hands once again. "I'm glad it did though."


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