Time After Time
appear in a single photo. I can practically hear the words my mother said every time Brooke or I asked about her: “She only met you once.” Then Mom would show Brooke and me a photograph of the three of us at the zoo. When we’d press her for more information, she’d say that she and her mother had a falling out and that she didn’t want to talk about it.
    Maggie catches me staring at the pictures and crosses the room to pick up a silver frame. “Here. You’ll like this one. It’s new,” she says as she hands it to me.
    Maggie has a tiny infant me folded up in one arm, and Brooke is by her side, holding Maggie’s other hand. I stare at her. She looks happy. And then I notice the giraffes in the background.
    “We went to the zoo,” she says.
    I squint at the photo, realizing that it’s the same picture we have back home.
    She taps her fingernail against the glass. “I hadn’t met the baby before. You remember that you two have the same name, right?” She shakes her head in disbelief like she always does when she thinks about it.
    Maggie settles in to her usual chair and leans forward, like she wants to get a closer look at me, and I feel myself move away from her, my back sinking further into the couch cushions. Something’s not right about this. “You went to San Francisco?”
    She adjusts her scarf around her shoulders. “Anna was actually the one who encouraged me to go,” she says, and my stomach drops. “But it might not have been a good idea. My daughter and I got into a fight while I was there and…” Her eyes lock on mine and she looks at me wearing a sad smile. “Let’s just say I’m not so sure when I’ll be going back again.”
    I take a deep breath and try not to look panicked about what she just said. The only reason Brooke and I have a picture of the two of us at the zoo with our grandmother—the only reason we ever met Maggie—is that Anna told her to visit?
    “So.” She leans back into her chair. “I hear you left town so quickly because of a family emergency. Is everything okay?”
    I nod vacantly.
    “Good. So are you back here for school, then?” Her word choice is deliberate, and the generic reference to “school” isn’t lost on me. Anna told me over the summer that Maggie found out I was really going to Westlake the whole time.
    I avoid the school thing entirely. “I need to go back to San Francisco,” I say, intentionally avoiding this perfect opportunity to come clean. “But I’m planning to come back. To visit.” That is, if Anna wants me to.
    Maggie doesn’t say another word, but she doesn’t take her eyes off me, either. She’s waiting me out, and I know I’m supposed to tell her everything because Anna promised her I would when I returned. I check out the photographs again and feel sick to my stomach. Does she have any idea who I am?
    I take a deep breath and open my mouth to speak. “There’s—” I start to say, at the same time that she says, “Well—” We both stop in midsentence.
    “Were you going to say something?” she asks.
    “It’s okay. You go first.”
    I wait for her to talk. To tell me she found my red notebook in its hiding place upstairs and pieced everything together. To call me out with such direct questions, I won’t have a choice but to tell her everything. It will come out sloppy and rushed, possibly as a single run-on sentence with very few breaths in between, but the words will be out there and I won’t be able to take them back. And my grandmother will become the fifth person in the world to know who I am and what I can do.
    “I was just going to ask if you needed a place to stay when you visit. Your room is still available. If you want it.”
    I suck in some air, feeling disappointment that I didn’t expect. “Yeah. Sure,” I say. “That’d be great.”
    “Good. I haven’t rented it out yet. I’d certainly prefer it to go to…” She pauses. Say the words. Say, “my grandson.” Tell me you know who I am.

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