By Sally Madison
Julie’s stomach had turned and churned with excitement, anticipation and dread the first time she had seen her. Julie’s heart broke, as she could only have imagined what Millie’s life had been like. She had seen the posters. She knew what Millie looked like, but she couldn’t see a likeness to herself. Each day for two weeks, Julie followed the circus train to each city and laid flowers near Millie. Julie had chosen calla lilies, not roses, because she did not want to seem romantic, only loving.
This day, they were in Schenectady, NY and a terrific thunderstorm was brewing, but the show must go on, so the crowds were very thin. Julie had just entered the tent with her bouquet for her mother, when Millie spotted her. Millie’s eyes lit up when she saw her own image, from years ago, walk into the tent. Julie was holding the flowers close to her heart, as she locked eyes with her mother. Julie walked straight to Millie’s stage. “It’s you,” said Millie softly. … “Is it you? …But who else could you be.” … Millie’s mind was racing… it couldn’t be. …How could it be? …How could she find me? …No-one knew …but here she is. …It must be.” Millie rose and waddled to the stairs of the station, and descended carefully, one step at a time. The others in the side show tent starred at Millie, who had never used the front stairs before. Face to face Millie’s eyes filled with tears, Julie’s eyes filled with tears. They locked arms, crying softly. Not speaking, they walked slowly to Millie’s car.
Once inside they hugged again. Millie didn’t know where to start, so Julie began the narrative. “I was on vacation on Mackinaw Island when I met the woman who arranged my adoption. During the time our friendship developed, she confessed her part in the adoption. She knew your name and where you were from.”
“I went to St. Louis and researched the records and all the people who would remember you 25 years ago. I found Grandmother Margret. She is elderly, but still tries to manage the school for the blind. Grandmother had no warning of my existence, so when I walked in, she was shocked, having mistaken me for you. She knew nothing of the circumstance, when you did not return home from school. She had made inquiries, but no one responded.
Julie lowered her eyes and knew that the pain would get worse. Holding Millie’s hand tightly, Julie continued, “I also know the man who fathered me.” Millie’s face became distorted and her eyes widened with anger, and pain.
“But how did you locate me?” Millie wanted to know.
“I was leaving Grandmother Margret’s house, when her maid approached me. Once we were out of Grandmother’s hearing range, she had seen the circus, and recognized you. The circus had left town before she had a chance to speak to you. I have been following the circus ever since.”