A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

The Answer
by Harriet Morgan (Jan 2010)

      Staring into her own eyes in the mirror, nearly the same blue as Susan’s, her hair, nearly the same golden blond as Susan’s, even the nose and chin nearly the same. Why was Susan so beautiful and she so …, well, plain? Memories of those years of growing up in the same household began to crowd into her mind. Mary Jane was the smart one, Susan, two years younger, was the pretty one. Daddy had always called his younger daughter his “little princess”. Mary Jane was just plain Mary Jane.

      “Hank, The Hunk,” Mary Jane whispered to her image. He was in her class, top man on campus, and Mary Jane had fallen in love with him. Of course, she worshiped silently and from afar. When Susan had come to college as a freshman to share an apartment with Mary Jane, it never occurred to the older sister that Susan and Hank Palmer would “discover” one another. But they did, and two years later, with Mary Jane’s heart breaking, they were married. Now the Princess and her Prince were living in their own castle and raising their two and a half, perfect children.

      All she had ever wanted was to get married and be a mom. From the age of two, she had “mothered” Susan. As the girls grew older, her favorite game to play was house. She was always the mom and Susan and their dolls were her children. Outgrowing those games, she had loved baby sitting for family friends who had children. Mary Jane ached to have her own babies!

      As she sat looking into the mirror, Mary Jane wondered what to say to Howard. Tonight he would expect an answer to his question.

      Now, at the age of 32, Mary Jane, who had never dated and had never been kissed until six months ago when she had started dating Howard, had a big decision to make. To wed or not to wed, that was the question. Howard’s kisses were clumsy and usually their glasses got hung up or knocked off. Being in Howard’s arms wasn’t as thrilling as the brotherly hugs she received from Hank at family gatherings.

      What should I do? I’ve always wanted to have my own home and family and now I have the chance. But, Howard? He just isn’t my idea of the perfect husband. Frankly, I’m not in love with him. I sort of doubt that he’s really in love with me, but this may be my only chance. Who am I kidding, this IS my only chance. In 32 years this is my only chance! What to do, what to do? The funny thing is, I’m probably Howard’s only chance too.

      When the doorbell rang, and with a final glance into the mirror, Mary Jane stood up, straightened her shoulders and, having decided what her answer would be, walked to the door to Howard.

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