Just Like Him

November 4, 2010
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Rough fingers brushing against her skin, threading in her blonde hair. Cool lips pressing softly to her forehead. The woman who had once, not so long ago, really, been Thalia Uno opened her eyes. A man peered down at her. "Sweetheart," he began, running a thumb along her face, "we need to get going."

She nodded, stretched, rolled over. "What time is it?" Thalia asked.

"Almost two o'clock," her husband replied.

The woman climbed out of her bed, padding into the bathroom on socked feet to be greeted by matted blonde hair and dark-circled eyes. As had happened the last few mornings. "I'll go get Noelle ready," she heard the man say.

Thalia stepped into the warm spray of the shower.


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An engine humming as wheels rolled along a road, windows revealing the passing scenery. The man glanced over, noticing that her eyes had taken on that glazed look again. She looked fine, normal even. Hair lightly curled, black skirt laid perfectly upon thin knees.

The baby giggled. Because she did not know where they were headed; she only knew that they were in the car, something she liked. Because she did not know what that day meant.

Thalia's head whipped around at the sound and the man's hands clenched on the steering wheel instinctively. A light ghost of a smile played across her pale face as she reached a hand towards her daughter, her Noelle. She would never leave her.

Thalia would be a better parent than her father was.


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A plastic plaque upon a wall. A warm baby in her arms, dressed in a black velvet dress, purchased solely for this day. Thalia stared at the name on the wall, the wall of a building she passed by every day. She should have prayed more often that nothing would land her there.

Her husband had already entered the room. She could not deny that it would be hard for him, but it would be so much harder for her. Because sitting there, in the back of her busy, busy head was the knowledge that she should've made the effort. That it was her duty and she failed. That she should've known more.

Thalia traced her fingers along the letters. Closing her eyes, memorizing the feel against her fingertips. Nigel Montgomery Uno.


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A woman crying on an ugly floral couch. A man lying in a box. He had been her father. Was her father. She didn't know which. Just like she didn't really know him. Thalia clutched her baby closer to her chest, like a security blanket, a life preserver. And she looked down at the man who should've meant the world to her.

There was no montage of happy memories. No jokes she'd miss. Nothing, just a man who she had lived with. A man who had made her, shaped her. Her husband had to tear her away from the casket because she was hyperventilating so badly.

The people looked at her, shaking heads and streaming tears. "Poor girl," they whispered. "She just started a family and then this." She let them think that was the reason.

Thalia wondered about the reason behind her mother's tears, the ones that stained the floral couch.


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A hallway full of running children. And a grown woman not nearly well enough equipped to handle what she had been given. She took a few shaky breaths. Jostling the baby up and down in her grasp.

It's not your fault, Thalia told herself. Her father had been empty as long as she could remember. She doubted if her mother ever really knew him. However, this notion didn't make her feel much better. Because he was dead and she would never know him.

Thalia finally cried.


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An old woman sitting on a bench. Whispering the words, "You look just like him." The blonde head whipped in a circle and eyebrows shot up in confusion. Thalia wiped a shaking hand beneath a brown eye.

"Excuse me?"

The old woman smiled and at first Thalia wanted to smack it right off her face. But then, the woman noticed the pain in the older woman's brown eyes. The old woman folded her wrinkled hands in her lap, letting a sigh escape withered lips. "I used to know your father. A long, long time ago."

Thalia would have laughed. "No one knew my father. At least, not really," she replied.

She figured that would be the end of that and turned away with the swish of her skirt. "We did."

"Who's we?" the young woman asked still skeptical. And then she met the other woman's eyes again. Thalia was certain that she had never seen such grief anywhere in her life. She knew her eyes showed confusion, but not grief and her mother's pain couldn't begin to rival that which was written on this woman's face.

The old woman patted the spot next to her on the bench and hesitantly, Thalia obliged, placing the baby carefully in her lap. "Your father was never supposed to grow up. He didn't really know how." The stranger took the blonde's hand. "We were his family. His life."

Thalia didn't know what to say. Propping her chin lightly upon her daughter's head, clasping the old woman's hand more tightly in hers, she silently urged her to continue. The stories were fantastic. Nearly whimsical at best and terrifyingly realistic at worst. She could picture it. Her father, a child, young, bright, gleaming, whole. And this strange woman, a child, young, blonde (like her), brave, tireless. Her father had had a whole life ahead of him with this woman, who was now old, dulled, but it had been snatched from him. Thalia believed every word that left the lips of her father's old friend.

Thalia knew it was too late, but she finally understood.


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A spindly hand pressing lightly to her face. Whispering the words, "You look just like him," yet again. They sit, the pair, looking so similar it's a wonder there's no relation, in a comfortable silence. Filled with new understanding and old remembrance.

"What's your name?" The old woman asked.

The blonde girl replied, "Thalia. Like the Muse of Comedy."

Her father's friend nodded, approving. "Very Nigel."

It almost pained Thalia to hear someone speak about her father like that. Like they knew him well enough to know what he would do, what he would name his children. She had never met anyone like that. "What's yours?"

"Rachel."

The woman gasped slightly, remembering the only time she had asked her father to tell her a story. A story about her middle name. Rachel. She recalled her father's answer, quiet, stony, "She was someone I think I used to know a long, long time ago."

Thalia looked at this old woman who had changed her life forever. A woman she had a piece of locked right in the middle of her identity. Her brown eyes, his brown eyes, fluttered close. "I think he loved you."

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