Word Count 443
By Joann Dickson
No one knows where Pandora came from – she just showed up in town one day with her two daughters, bought a rundown building on Main Street, and proceeded to fix it up. On the first floor she opened a bookstore called “Pandora’s Books” and on the second floor she remodeled the old apartment into a comfortable home for her family. Rumors were whispered around town – maybe she escaped an abusive marriage, maybe she was in the witness protection program, and so on. But she kept to herself, and her little girls and the bookstore flourished. Mary Simmons, a retired teacher, loved to come into the store and read to the children during story hour. She was a widow and had no grandchildren of her own. Mary and Pandora became friends, often chatting over a cup of tea after the shop had closed. Allison and Amy, Pandora’s daughters, loved to sit on the beanbag chairs and listen to Mary read their favorite stories. They had begun to call her Auntie Mary. Mary knew that Pandora’s husband had been killed in Afghanistan, and his life insurance money had enabled her to start up her business. One day Mary said, “It’s so sad that your husband won’t get to see your daughters grow up to be beautiful young women. My husband and I could never have children of our own. My students were my children. I wish….” “What do you wish, Mary?” asked Pandora. “There was a little girl, a long time ago…” replied Mary. “And you had to give her up for adoption?” Pandora prompted. “H-H-How do you know that?” stammered Mary. Pandora replied, “My adoptive parents gave me all the information I needed to find my birth mother. Since they are both gone now, I thought the time was right to find you, Mary. I wanted you to meet us as strangers, and get to know us without any strings attached. I was hoping that you would welcome us as friends, or even better, as part of your family.” Mary burst into tears. “I was young, and in those days, a single girl just couldn’t raise a child by herself. The day I gave you up was the hardest day of my life. I always hoped that someday I would find that little girl and see how she turned out. And now, my goodness! I found you and two granddaughters too! This is the happiest day of my life! Let’s go tell the girls so they can start calling me Grandma!” Mary and Pandora hugged, crying tears of happiness, and went to tell the girls the news.