"Meli! Meli! I know you hear me, girl!"
Her sister rushed toward her for the first time in years. But Meli was less thrilled about the discovery. She wasn't proud of who or what she'd become and she certainly was in no shape for a visitor, even if it was family. Despite the crumpled and tattered clothing and the odor of the streets, Tunisa hugged her close.
"How did you find me anyway?"
She didn't receive an answer to the question. Her sister simply looked at her with a look she knew all too well. Something was very wrong. That's why she'd come.
"What is it, Tunisa?"
"Mom's not doing too well. She only wants to see you. That's all she's ever wanted."
Dutifully, Meli followed her sister in silence. There were a few department store shopping bags in the backseat of the new minivan. She figured her sister must have turned into a shopaholic, like so many others these days.
They eventually pulled up to a small blue two-bedroom house that sat on about an acre of unkempt land. Despite the yellowing lawn in need of some mowing, the house seemed welcoming. As they got out of the van, her sister handed her the bags.
"Go wash up and pick out what you like. They're all yours."
"Are you sure? You don't have to do me no favors, big sis."
"Just go on and get dressed girl. It's nothin'."
As Meli walked through the house she felt a sense of warmth - the furniture, the smells, the decor - everything was like the home from her dreams. Just like the home she used to know. This wasn't that place, but everything was here. She'd save the questions for later, as she really was looking forward to that shower.
The bathroom contained all of her favorite hair supplies and toiletries and the towels even contained her initials. Now things were getting strange, but she went ahead with the shower and put on a flowery, autumn-colored dress that flattered her shape. Her sister even remembered her size.
When she came out of the bathroom, Tunisa muttered something about leaving the rest of the clothing at the house for now. Thoughts of her mother ran through her mind. She felt guilty and ashamed for not keeping in touch all these years. Why was mom now requesting her?
She desperately wanted answers, but didn't know what to say. Was it even appropriate to question things? So much time had passed, she just didn't feel right having any kind of conversation outside of small talk.
Both her mom and Tunisa had tried to help when she lost her job and her home, but she was too embarrassed to accept help. She didn't want to be a burden or a charity case. Her skills were no longer useful. Computers had taken over everything she knew how to do, so she'd have to start over. Even fast food venues turned her down. They preferred the younger generation and she was far from that. She wasn't old, but she wasn't young either. After leaving behind everything and everyone she knew and loved, she had been too ashamed to keep in touch. How could she explain things?
They pulled up to her sister's home just down the road. Inside her mother was lying on a hospital-like bed flicking channels. She knew it. Her mother was ill and now she felt even worse for not staying in touch. She instantly went to her mother's bedside, but not before noticing the huge grin spreading across the woman's aging face. As they embraced, she said a prayer for her mother and apologized for not being around more.
Suddenly, she felt a chill and saw a flash of light. Her mother shouted something incoherent and began dancing around the room. Her sister looked on in astonishment. Apparently her mother hadn't moved her legs or spoken in years. The doctors never could make a diagnosis.
She now seemed to be cured.
All Tunisa could utter was "Thank you. That van and house you just came from are yours. I saved your furniture and had it built so you could be close to mom until she...but um, that might be a while now." The tears then flowed from her eyes.
It's never too late to keep in touch with your family. You never know how much you mean in someone's life.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network