~~Ivan had gone to work early once again the next morning and wouldn’t be home until late that night, meaning Hailo had to drop Elizabeth off and pick her up from school, which she didn’t mind at all. She found it hard to think about anything but her discovery that she had made on Selene, but more importantly on Cypher. Ivan had told her not to get too involved and not to make too many assumptions. Her thoughts trailed off into what had happened last night.
“Hailo, I know this is important to you. I know how much you and Clara want to find Cypher, but this is not for certain. All we know is, this could possibly be something that leads us back to her. I want you to find her, but…,” Ivan said, cupping Hailo’s tear stained cheek, “There are limits and boundaries to how far you can take this. If you do, in fact, find Cypher and she wants nothing to do with us, leave her be.”
The thought of Cypher rejecting Hailo and her family tore her to shreds from the inside out. For so long, they have been searching for her and given up a lot to find her, especially Clara. Hailo simply nodded to her husband, not wanting to take the chance of saying something that might make Ivan too worried or impatient with Hailo. She reached down and took the necklace back into her hand then stood. Ivan stayed seated and watched as Hailo roamed from the living room area, down the hall, and into Elizabeth’s room. Hailo placed the necklace on Elizabeth’s nightstand and watched her daughter for a moment, thinking over about Selene and Cypher.
“How am I going to get Cypher to realize this? ‘Hi, my name is Hailo Amelie Greene, and I just thought you should know that you are my older sister’? No,” Hailo thought, “You can’t just spring this on somebody…”
“Hailo,” she heard a familiar voice whisper, snapping her from her thoughts roughly.
“Hm? What, Ivan?” Hailo asked.
Ivan beckoned to Hailo, turning to his side and nodding towards the hallway. He has a faint, soft smile and spoke in a low tone that made Hailo’s heart melt, “Come to bed. There is no use stressing yourself all night.”
She reached out and took Ivan’s hand. He led her out of Elizabeth’s room and to the room next to Elizabeth’s, Hailo and Ivan’s room. She blinked as she entered the dark room. Her eyes had to adjust to the very low lighting. Ivan slipped from his shirt and pants, being left in his boxer shorts only, and looked in his closet. He pulled a pair of grey sweat pants and a white T-shirt from his closet and put them on. Hailo grabbed a night gown from the closet and dressed in it quickly. She was utterly exhausted, emotionally and physically, and wanted nothing more than to sleep. Ivan was already in bed, waiting for his wife to join him. Hailo climbed into bed next to Ivan, welcoming the relieving comfort of their bed. Ivan draped his arm around her stomach and settled in for the night. “Goodnight. I love you,” Ivan mumbled.
“I love you too, honey. Goodnight,” Hailo mumbled back. She welcomed sleep as an old friend, allowing it to grasp her and pull her into rest, which was much needed.
Hailo kept her hands firmly on the steering wheel, heading to the elementary school to pick Elizabeth up. Hailo had told her daughter nothing of her relation to Selene or Cypher; she didn’t want her to know until she was certain. She drove into the school parking lot and got out, approaching the school with a calm mind. The heat of the summer that would soon come radiated down over them.
It was three thirty before Hailo saw Elizabeth skipping out of the school with a grin happily spread across her face from ear to ear. Next to her was the little bald girl, Selene, who seemed to be quite shy at first. “Momma! This is Selene,” Elizabeth chirped.
“Oh? Hello, Selene, it is so nice to meet you,” Hailo said with more of a sweet tone than she actually meant.
Selene looked up at Hailo with a shy eye then lowered her gaze to the ground as if to hide. “Hi,” she said.
“Our necklaces match, momma!” Elizabeth squeaked.
Hailo’s heart dropped instantly. “Oh really?” she shuddered terribly.
Elizabeth and Selene stood closer to each other and placed their necklaces together, each of the two puzzle pieces fitting perfectly with the other. ‘Family’ was engraved across the connected necklaces. Hailo plastered on the best fake smile she could muster and acted as if she didn’t know anything. “That is so lovely, you two!” she exclaimed. Selene smiled; it seemed as if she was starting to become more comfortable around Hailo.
“Excuse me?” a voice hummed out from behind her.
Hailo spun around and stared at a woman behind her with long smooth brown hair, paled skin, and large chocolate brown eyes, similar to Selene’s eyes. She wore a normal black T-shirt and a pair of jeans. The woman looked at Selene then back to Hailo. “Selene, do you know this woman?” she asked.
“Yes, momma. She is Elizabeth’s momma,” Selene said.
The woman nodded and put a smile on. She held out her hand, introducing herself first, “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Cypher Keaton.”
Hailo’s throat tightened. Hearing her name basically confirmed it for her. This was Cypher, her older sister. She was hesitant to answer; her words were lost for a moment. Hailo didn’t know exactly what to say. She shook Cypher’s hand and replied a bit hoarsely, “I’m Hailo Greene. It’s nice to meet you too.”
Selene leaned over to Elizabeth and whispered something in her ear; Elizabeth giggled and nodded in response. “Momma, can Elizabeth come to my birthday party?” Selene asked with a big grin.
“Of course she can, but that isn’t for another three weeks, Selene. And you need to make sure it is okay with Mrs. Greene first,” Cypher said. She looked down at Selene and smiled, “We are having a pool party for Selene’s eighth birthday. You and your daughter should come.”
“That sounds like a great idea,” Hailo said.
“Here is my card. Contact me if you need to,” Cypher said and pushed Selene in front of her as she turned away. “Come on, Selene. I’ll see you later, Elizabeth, Hailo.”
“Goodbye,” Hailo called back to Cypher as she walked away.
“Bye-bye, Selene!!” Elizabeth yelled.
Elizabeth and Hailo got to the car. Elizabeth opened the car door and climbed into the backseat. Hailo placed her hand on the handle of the car door and froze. She needed a moment to let what just happened sink in. Looking down at Cypher’s card, she sighed. Hailo opened the car door and climbed into the driver’s seat, turned the key, and began to drive home.
“I met her, Ivan,” Hailo exclaimed.
“You…what?” Ivan said, dumbfounded.
Hailo had waited until Ivan got home and Elizabeth was in bed to talk to him about her encounter. Seeing her sister had frazzled her quite a bit, making her shake. Hailo paced across the living room, biting her thumb in thought. Ivan watched as his wife paced, becoming more and more concerned with her odd behavior. He stood and caught Hailo. Ivan held a firm grip on her shoulders, looking her in the eye. “How did you meet her?” he asked.
“Elizabeth and Selene. Selene was with Elizabeth when I went to pick her up, and Cypher came to pick Selene up. I know it is her, Ivan. Her name is Cypher Keaton,” Hailo mumbled to Ivan, staring him in the eyes. Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks from her overly stressed mind.
Ivan sighed. His head hung down. “So…what now? We, I mean you, can’t just spring this on her.”
“I want to see Cypher again. I have her card, I have her number. If we can’t meet as sisters just yet, then I want to meet as friends. I want to know what her life was like and what has happened over the past thirty years,” Hailo choked out.
“Just don’t take this too far,” he said. Ivan snaked his arms around Hailo’s waist, just wanting to hold her. She rested her head forward under his chin. Her stomach was the only thing separating the two.
The café was small and seemingly family owned. Few people sat in the shop, many on their computers or phones, others talked with a friend or family member quietly. The strong aroma of coffee thickened the silent air. Small tables with few chairs were scattered across the café as well as outside. Hailo had asked Cypher here to visit and talk, trying to learn a little more about Cypher. Hailo took her own words to heart. ‘If we can’t meet as sisters just yet, then I want to meet as friends.’ She scanned over everyone in the café. This being a weekend, more people were in there than normal. Ivan took Elizabeth out for the day. He knew Hailo needed to do this; he wouldn’t be able to stop her anyway. Soon, Cypher entered the small café. She grinned as soon as she saw Hailo sitting at the table. Hailo stood and greeted her sister with a soft smile, “Hello, Cypher. It is so nice to see you again.”
“It’s nice to see you again as well, Hailo. You look incredible,” Cypher said.
“Thank you. You do too,” Hailo offered the compliment back.
The both of the them sat down across from each other, an awkward silence passing between them. Cypher looked up to Hailo and smiled. “How far are you?” she asked to break the silence.
“Hm?” Hailo questioned then shook her head with a laugh, “Oh sorry. Nearly 9 months. He’s due next week actually.”
“He? So, it is a boy. How nice.”
“Tell me about yourself, Cypher,” Hailo edged on, desperately trying to act normal.
“Oh, well, I am thirty three years old. I am adopted. I’m not married. I do not need a man weighing me down. I can care for my daughter and myself just fine on my own,” Cypher began, “Selene is my daughter, but of course you know that. I live with a roommate though. She’s a college student.”
Hailo couldn’t help but smile. Cypher seemed to be doing just fine in life. This thought warmed Hailo to her core, however, the fact that she couldn’t tell Cypher who she really was and who her real family was. Cypher believed she was adopted when she was taken….ripped away from her mother, father, and younger sister.