Craig peered myopically at the computer screen. His glasses had slipped a little further down his nose, and the screen wasn’t clear, so he took his middle finger and gently pushed them back up to where he could see clearly. Since Craig hadn’t yet wanted to get bifocals as his eye doctor had suggested, pulling his glasses away from the bridge of his nose when he was reading, or working on the computer seemed to work quite well for him. Anyway, his dad had bifocals, and they only worked for him when he was reading. His father had a weaker pair of glasses that he wore when he was working on the computer; because he had to tilt his head back to far to place his vision in the bifocal segment. Craig was sure he had inherited his myopic eyes from his dad, because his eyes, at the age of 15, were almost as bad as his dad’s eyes were. His last eye exam had required another increase, from –12D up to –13D, and Craig only had another –2D to go before he had the same prescription as his father.
Craig was looking at pictures of young girls on a website devoted to finding adoptive parents for children. When Craig was 4, and his younger sister Sandy was 2, Craig’s parents had split up. Craig had last seen his sister Sandy when she was 3, and he was 5, because that was when his mother and Sandy had left the city without telling anyone where they were going. Craig had not even gotten a birthday card from his mom over the years, and he was sure she must be dead. He just could not imagine his own mother forgetting about him like that. So, about once a month Craig spent some time looking at the pictures of abandoned and forgotten children, hoping that he might find his sister Sandy. His dad had belittled him at first when he found out what Craig was doing, but he had realized that Craig was hurting, and was very vulnerable. So then he had taken the time to explain to Craig that it was quite likely that his mom was dead, because the reason for the failure of the marriage had been drug use on Craig’s mother’s part. And, a person who is a heavy drug user only thinks of himself or herself, so it wouldn’t be inconceivable if Sandy were in the hands of children’s aid.
Craig remembered Sandy as having had medium brown hair. But there on the screen in front of him was a pretty looking young lady with chestnut hair, and wearing glasses that looked to be almost as strong as Craig’s own glasses were. Craig went over to the wall, and looked at the only picture his dad still had of his mother. He compared it to the young lady in the expanded picture on the computer screen. This girl, who was going by the name Nichole, looked a lot like his mom.
"Dad, can you come here please?" Craig shouted.
"What now son?" David asked.
"Could this be Sandy in this picture? And wasn’t Sandy’s middle name Nichole?" Craig asked his dad.
"She does bear a striking resemblance to Lynn. And this girl’s name is Nichole Lynn. Your mom didn’t want to call your sister Sandy. Nichole Lynn is the name your mom wanted to choose. You might have actually found your sister Craig. Have you got a telephone number for the agency there?" David asked.
Craig gave his dad the number, and they called. They set up an appointment to see the childcare supervisor on Monday, and Craig was so excited he could hardly sleep for the next 2 nights.
After a lengthy discussion with Mrs. Young, the supervisor, and after she had gone over all of the paperwork that David had brought about Sandy, Mrs. Young grudgingly accepted that David was probably Nicole’s father. Apparently Nichole had entered the childcare system when she was 4. Her mother had died from a drug overdose, and no one in Seattle knew who she really was. There had been no personal effects left to identify Nichole’s parentage. She had spent the time from the age of 4 in the care of a foster family, but the death of the father had left the mother unable to care for the foster children remaining in her care. Now at age 13 Nichole was again up for adoption.
At this point someone should have suggested DNA testing to prove the issue beyond a doubt. But Mrs. Young was only to happy to have one of her charges out of the system, and David and Craig were only too happy to have their daughter and sister back again. So, Nichole went home with David and Craig.
It took a while, but soon Nikki was comfortable with her new dad, and she loved having an older brother. She had always been teased about her thick glasses, and her poor uncorrected eyesight, but with both her dad, and her brother having to wear thick glasses as well, Nikki accepted her glasses more readily now. And, David took her for an eye exam, where she was able to choose a nice stylish frame, with the thinnest plastic lenses that were available. Now her –13D prescription didn’t look nearly as awful on her as her thick old regular plastic –12D lenses in the bent wire frame had looked. Craig was excited that his sister’s eyes were exactly the same prescription as his were, although they each had a little bit of astigmatism that made it so they couldn’t swap glasses.
The next 3 years went by quickly. Nothing earthshaking happened in their lives, and they fell into a pleasant family routine. Nikki was interested in learning about her mom, so David filled the kids in on the early years of his relationship with Lynn. About once a year Craig and Nikki went for their eye exams, and every year their glasses prescription increased by at least –1D. By the age of 16 Nikki required about –1D stronger prescription than Craig did, and her astigmatism had increased a little more as well, so now Nikki was wearing glasses that were OD –17.25 x –1.00 x 80, and OS – 17.00 x –1.25 x 95. Nikki’s doctor had suggested that since her prescription was likely going to continue increasing for a few more years that she should probably become accustomed to wearing myodiscs, so now Nikki was getting used to her first pair of myodiscs. Their optician had ordered her lenses to be ground as a small bowl of the correct power within a larger bowl of around –9D or –10D. This made the lenses thin enough that Nikki was able to have rimless frames, and Craig thought they looked fabulous on Nikki. Actually, a number of the guys at school also thought that Nikki looked fantastic wearing her new glasses, because Nikki was always being asked out on dates by all of the better looking guys.
Craig was a little jealous, and he hated the fact that his sister was so popular, and so good looking. He almost wished that he had never found that website, but actually he knew that the problem was that he was in love with his sister. Although, at age 18, Craig was very good looking and popular with the girls himself. He had dated a number of girls at school, but he wasn’t willing to settle for just any girl. He wanted a girl with glasses as strong as his, or Nikki’s were, and even though more and more girls were willing to wear glasses now instead of contact lenses, glasses as strong as they each wore were just not very commonplace.
Craig was sitting in the recliner watching television, and Nikki and David were out shopping. The phone rang, and Craig answered it.
A pleasant sounding voice asked, "Is this Mr. David Jones?"
"Sorry, he isn’t in right now. Can I take a message?" Craig asked.
"Craig? Is that you Craig?"
"Yes, it is. May I ask who is calling?" Craig replied.
"It’s Sandy, your sister." Sandy replied.
Craig’s mind was racing. If this was his sister Sandy, then who the heck was Nikki?
"How can you be my sister Sandy? And why have you or mom never tried to contact dad or I before?" Craig asked.
"Hey Craig, don’t get an attitude with me. I didn’t even know you guys were alive. Mom told me that you were dead, and that we had no family, that is was just she and I. But she is dying, and she wanted me to try to reconnect with you and dad before she died." Sandy said.
"Give me your phone number then, and I will have dad call you back as soon as he and Nikki return." Craig replied.
Sandy gave Craig a phone number with an unfamiliar area code. Craig looked it up and found out that it was from Portland Oregon. So Dave had been correct when he had said that Lynn would likely have taken Sandy to the Northwest. Craig’s head was spinning. Nikki was not his sister. Now he could date Nikki. But would Nikki want to go out with him, or would she still see him as her brother? Would dad still want to keep Nikki living with them after he found out that Nikki was not his child? If mom died would Sandy come to live with them? As soon as Nikki and dad returned from the mall he would have to try to tell them the news in a way that would not freak Nikki out. No, wait a minute Craig thought. I had better tell dad in private, and then he can talk with Nikki. Craig knew he didn’t want to be the one to tell Nikki that she no longer had a place to live, and a loving family. And Craig prayed feverishly that his dad would want Nikki to stay living with them.
Craig had worked himself into a bundle of nerves by the time the front door opened and dad and Nikki walked in. Craig looked at Nikki with a completely different outlook. She was so beautiful she took his breath away. If dad kicked her out Craig would just die. No, if dad kicked her out Craig decided he was going to marry her.
"D’dad, I gotta talk to you!" Craig exclaimed, stuttering nervously.
"About what son?" Dave asked.
"It’s kinda private. Can we go for a walk together?" Craig questioned.
So, Dave agreed to go for a short walk with Craig while Nikki started supper. Nikki had taken over the cooking gradually. Dave had never asked her to do a thing, but Nikki had just started cooking one day. Now Craig did most of the cleaning, and all Dave had to do was go off to work, while the kids looked after the house.
"I had a phone call while you guys were gone dad. Some girl said she was Sandy, and mom is dying in a hospital in Portland, Oregon. We made a mistake. Nikki isn’t my sister dad!" Craig exclaimed.
"I had sort of suspected that a while ago Craig. Nikki looks a bit like your mom, but there are enough differences that I was wondering. But tell me more. So Sandy is still living with your mom?" Dave answered.
"Yes, and mom has cancer and is dying. Sandy said she wanted to see us, if we were willing to come to Portland. She gave me a phone number for you to call her back." Craig replied.
"Well I guess I had better book a flight for the 3 of us then." Dave answered.
"You mean that you will take Nikki along. Does that mean that Nikki can still live with us?" Craig asked with a note of joy in his voice.
"Craig, Nikki is now part of this family, even if she isn’t blood related. Nikki will always have a place in my house. No make that our house. And if Sandy wants to come back from Portland after your mom dies then Sandy will have a place in this house as well. Now we better get back home so that I can talk to Nikki and then call Sandy back." Dave replied.
Dave and Craig returned to the house. Dave and Nikki went off into his den, and while Craig would have died to know what was said, he was just relieved to know that Nikki was still part of the household. It was a good sign when Nikki and Dave came out from the den, both laughing and smiling. Dave then took the phone and placed a call to his real daughter.
"Your mom would like us to come out to see her before she dies. So I will ask for a week off work, and we will fly out Friday night. You and Nikki will have to take a week off school, but you are both top students, so it shouldn’t hurt you to be gone a week." Dave replied.
"Dad, no wait a minute. Should I still call you dad, or should I call you Dave?" Nikki asked.
"Nikki, you can call me whatever you feel the most comfortable with. I am happy to have you call me dad if you wish, because I will still always think of you as my daughter. And, yes, I know that will mean that I have 2 daughters, but you are the one I know the best." Dave replied.
"OK, Dad it is. Do you really want me to go with you dad?" Nikki asked.
"Of course I do. We are family. We have been family for 3 years, and it isn’t going to change now. I am going to see if I can get some reasonably priced airplane tickets now." Dave replied.
After Dave left the room Nikki turned to Craig, "Wow, your dad is really something isn’t he."
"Yes, he is a really nice guy." Craig replied.
"My heart sank when he told me that Sandy had called. All I could think of was that I would be out on the street, but then he said that this was my home, and as far as he was concerned I would always be his daughter." Nikki said with a smile that lit up her face.
"And now I can ask you out for a date." Craig said softly.
Nikki looked at him with a strange expression on her face. "Do you want to go out with me?"
"I have been in love with you ever since you came here to live. The only thing that has stopped me from making a move on you was that I thought you were my sister." Craig replied.
"I’m not sure I am ready to go out with a guy I have thought of as a brother the entire time I have known him. This will take me a little time to adjust to the idea." Nikki replied.
"Take as much time as you need. I will be here for you whenever you decide. I hope you will decide that you can look at me as a boyfriend, but if you can’t then I am sure we will always remain as close as we have been over the past 3 years." Craig said.
"You are sweet." Nikki replied.
Dave had phoned Sandy to tell her our flight number, and when we arrived at the airport Sandy was waiting for us. Craig wouldn’t have recognized her, as she was just another normal looking 16-year-old girl. But Dave spotted her immediately, probably because she looked a lot like Lynn did when she was younger.
Sandy was inquisitive about Nikki’s presence. When Dave explained that Craig had been searching for her for a number of years, and that Nikki was the person we thought Sandy might have been, Sandy was quite impressed. She liked the idea that we had been looking for her. Sandy had taken the bus to the airport to meet us, and she told us that we could take the bus to the downtown hotel that Dave had booked rooms for us at. But Dave wanted to take a taxi, so they all rode downtown in the cab. After checking in, Sandy wanted everyone to go to the hospital. Dad was willing, however Craig refused. This upset Sandy and Dave tried to talk him into going.
"I don’t know her. I don’t care for her, and anyway she didn’t even care enough for me to let us know she was still alive. She never even so much as sent me a birthday card. Why should I care if she lives or dies?" Craig asked.
"If you won’t do it for your mom, do it for me." Nikki said softly.
"Why should you care?" Craig said.
"Because if you don’t make peace with your mother before she dies you will always harbor a feeling of resentment against her. So if we ever get married I don’t want you to have any regrets about this." Nikki replied.
With this advice Craig went to the hospital with Dave and Sandy. Nikki stayed at the hotel. When they returned Dave asked Nikki if Sandy could use the other bed in her room.
"Sandy doesn’t have anywhere to stay Nikki. The landlord has locked her out of their room for not paying the rent. I will have to go and pay him tomorrow and retrieve as much of Sandy’s stuff as we can." Dave said.
"Of course she can use the other bed Dad. You are paying for it anyway." Nikki replied.
So Sandy and Nikki shared the one room, and Dave and Craig slept in the other. Lynn was taking a lot of pain medication, so she had not been as lucid as Craig had wished. He really wanted to know how she could have abandoned him, but he wasn’t able to get an answer. The following day they returned to the hospital. This time Nikki came along with them. Lynn was not on nearly as much morphine as she had been the previous evening, and she was determined to talk.
"Craig, I did not slink into the night as you implied yesterday. Your father and I decided to go our own way. We split up, and we each took custody of one child. When the divorce was final I left, mostly because I had been using drugs again, and I wanted to get away from there before your dad found out. I had always hoped I could see you again, and tell you that not a day went by without me thinking of you. I have struggled with drug use off and on, and now seeing you I am glad I did what I did. I am only sorry that I didn’t leave your sister with you and your dad. She has not had an easy life. And if I had contacted you, then it is unlikely that you would have met that lovely girl who will become your future wife." Lynn said.
Craig wondered how Lynn knew this. Sandy and Dave had not said a word about Nikki last night, and Craig was too angry with Lynn to have tried to tell her anything. Even today no one had told Lynn anything about Nikki, other than to introduce her as Craig’s girlfriend. They talked for a while until Lynn became too weak, but before she called for the nurse to give her more pain medication Craig gave her a hug and a kiss, and told her he forgave her.
The following morning the hospital phoned Dave to tell him that Lynn had passed away during the night. Dave booked the funeral, and afterwards they headed for the rooming house where Sandy’s belongings were being held for non-payment of rent. Dave paid the landlord, and he let them into the little apartment that Sandy and Lynn had shared. Sandy packed up her meager belongings, and Dave and Craig and Nikki went through Lynn’s stuff, throwing away almost everything. Sandy went into the bathroom, and came out wearing a pair of glasses that appeared to Craig to be about a –12D prescription.
"So I see you do wear glasses after all little sis." Craig said.
"I was wearing my contacts when I was locked out, so I couldn’t get in here to get my glasses. I am really glad to have them back, even though they are an old pair, and are really too weak for me. Even though I took them out last night my contacts were starting to hurt from wearing them for too long a stretch." Sandy replied.
"Well, I am sure that dad will buy you a new pair as soon as we get home." Craig replied.
The funeral wasn’t as much of a funeral as it was just a cremation. Dave left the ashes with the instructions to have them buried with Lynn’s parents, who were both buried there. They all flew back home to the 3-bedroom house, and Craig wondered if Sandy and Nikki would share a bedroom. Craig was pretty sure that he would be asked to switch rooms, because he had the larger of the rooms, and sure enough while they were driving home Dave made this suggestion. Of course Craig was only too happy to comply.
Sandy settled in quickly. As Craig had suggested he would, Dave took Sandy for an eye examination. Sandy had been used to wearing contact lenses, but for some reason she decided that she would now be willing to wear glasses, as Dave, Craig, and Nikki did. Sandy’s new prescription was around –13.50D, and was the lowest of the 4 of them. Sandy looked good wearing her new glasses, and when she registered for, and started school, everyone was accustomed to seeing her wearing glasses. Soon she had fit into the school life, and she was having no problem getting dates. Craig and Nikki were having a little trouble trying to start a relationship. Nikki just wasn’t sure that she could look at Craig as anything more than a brother, although they were spending more and more time together, and had gone on a couple of movie dates.
Craig was smart enough to take it very slowly in his relationship with Nikki. He had wanted to go to university in a different city; however he chose to remain living at home, and attend the local campus of the state university. It seemed to Craig that his relationship with Nikki was a lot better after he started university. And, Craig had also become very fond of his sister Sandy. He regretted not knowing her, and having her as his sister while he was growing up, and Sandy often told him that she would have loved growing up with him in her life. But Craig was silently thankful that his mother had left and taken Sandy with her, because Nikki would probably never have been in his life otherwise. Craig still often wondered how Lynn had known he was in love with Nikki. He had been there the entire time with his dad and Sandy, and no mention of his desire to marry Nikki had been made. But Lynn had seemed to know. Was this a premonition, or had Lynn been a little clairvoyant?
Craig had a year to go before he graduated. Sandy and Nikki had also decided to go to the local university, so for the last year Craig got to drive everyone to university. Nikki had experienced a couple of prescription increases, and her myodiscs were now in the –20D range. Craig and Sandy had apparently reached the end of their myopic progression. Nikki was a little worried about her poor eyesight, as she had been unable to pass the vision exam for her driver’s license due to her corrected vision being a little less than 20/40, but this didn’t bother Craig at all. He was perfectly willing to drive Nikki anywhere she wanted to go.
After Craig graduated a firm in the city hired him so he continued living at home. But he and Nikki picked a house that they wanted to buy, and they put in a low offer that miraculously was accepted. The house was priced low because it needed a great deal of work, so during Nikki’s last year at school Craig, Nikki and sometimes Sandy, worked on renovating the house and making it quite livable. As soon as Nikki graduated Craig asked her to marry him, and Nikki accepted.
Now Nikki and Craig live together in their own house. Nikki is heavy with child, and Craig still looks at her with longing in his eyes. This was one case of mistaken identity that worked out for the best.