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The doorbell rings.
Jackie takes out one pink earbud and answers the door. “Can I help you?” she asks through her glossed lips, absentmindedly tucking a golden strand of hair behind her ear.
The woman on her doorstep smiles nervously, revealing bleached teeth. She has luscious auburn hair with blonde roots starting to show through, and is wearing false eyelashes. “Hello, Jacquelyn,” she says in a faintly raspy voice. “My name is Lorraine.”
Jackie looks at her suspiciously. “It's Jackie, and how do you know my name?”
Her deep green eyes have a funny look in them, unreadable. “May I come inside?” She fiddles with her purse anxiously.
“My parents aren't home,” Jackie replies.“I'm not supposed to have strangers in the house when they aren't around.”
For some reason, Lorraine winces as if Jackie's insulted her, but quickly she regains her composure. “Do you think your parents would mind if we just chatted out here on your porch for a bit?”
Jackie hesitates. Lorraine adds quickly, “I'm an old friend of the family. I'd really like to talk with you.”
Jackie plays with the fringes of her cheerleading skirt for a moment as she thinks. Finally she shrugs and steps out onto the porch. There are two wicker rocking chairs swaying complacently beside each other, and they each take a seat in one.
“So, Jackie...” Lorraine begins.
A small gust of wind blows gently across the yard. At the same instant, both women automatically smooth their hair. Jackie glances at Lorraine in surprise and returns her hands to her lap. “How did you say you knew me?” she asks.
Lorraine smiles with impossibly-brilliant teeth. “Oh, just an old friend of your parents,” she answers vaguely. “I haven't seen you since you were very young.” She hesitates, then adds quietly: “I'm familiar with your... history. I'm very sorry you had to go through that.”
Jackie's emerald-colored eyes dim with the dark memory. “How do you know about that?” Her voice smolders with suppressed emotion.
“It's such a shame,” Lorraine continues, as if she hasn't heard her. “It seems the worst things always happen to those who deserve the best.” She pauses and continues: “But I see you've managed to tough it out. You're a strong girl, Jackie. Growing out without your parents is no easy feat. I––”
Jackie cuts her off sharply. “I have parents, lady. And I love them. I don't know what you've heard, but we're no different from any other family. In fact, we're a great family. So get your facts straight.”
The silence hangs awkwardly between them. Jackie's eyes flash with rebellion; Lorraine's are lowered meekly. Neither speaks.
Finally Lorraine breaks the silence, her voice soft. “I'm sure you and your parents love each other very much, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I only meant...” She stops for a moment, then continues quietly: “I'm just saying that it must have been hard for you. Without your real parents.”
“My real parents are the people who have made sacrifices to raise me,” Jackie answers fiercely. “The years they've spent loving me are worth more to me than the nine months some sl** carried me before dumping me the first chance she got.” She stands abruptly. “I think you should be going now. It was nice talking with you.” Her eyes are cold.
Lorraine's porcelain smile has crumbled, and she sits in her chair looking very small and childlike. She speaks quietly: “I'm very sorry, Jacqueline–– Jackie. It was wrong for me to come to your house, to speak to you. I thought...” Her voice trails off, and she stands slowly. “I'll be on my way now. I...” She swallows, mustering a weak half-smile. “I hope we'll see each other again some day.”
Jackie doesn't respond. Her silence is icy.
Lorraine turns and walks briskly down the path. Once she glances back, a wistful expression in her damp eyes. For a moment their eyes lock, and they are the exact same shade of emerald green. There is no sound; each can only see the other. Their gazes tangle together like knotted string.
Lorraine climbs slowly into her car and drives away.