Little could any of them have imagined the turn that destiny was about to take....from a very unlikely source.
* * *
~ How did I ever let myself get talked into this? ~ Mandy Riker was not having a much better afternoon than her mother. Organizing had never been her "cup of cocoa" as her mother jokingly called it, but this was ridiculous! ~ I'll kill Jase for this! "Head the clothing drive" he says. Suuure! ~
After searching the house from ceiling to floor she was about to pronounce the place a total loss for good material. Everything they had was either in use or something her mother would no doubt cling to for all eternity, purely on the basis of sentimental value.
With a sudden flash of brilliance Mandy remembered the spare room. She knew her mother sometimes kept things in there when she didn't know what else to do with them, and no one had occupied any real space in there....at least not in her lifetime, as far as she knew. ~ Think I'll start at the closet, and work my way to the boxes.~
Combing through the closet turned up some very interesting prospects for the drive, and she set them out on the floor of the room for her mother's approval. She was about to move on to one of the rather large boxes when something out of the corner of her eye caught her attention: a crack in the closet ceiling. Upon closer inspection, it proved to be a small door. ~ What in the world? ~
Mandy ran for a ladder, hoping her mother wouldn't come home before she found her way down again. She could just hear the lecture now. She made her way up, and fought with the door. ~ Nobody's been up here lately, I take it. YES! ~ The door gave way with a sudden swoosh. Mandy pulled herself though and looked around, gaping at what she was seeing.
The room was like a life-size doll house. Small chairs occupied by various stuffed animals ringed a little table, and a miniature coat rack sat off to the side, heaped with large outlandish clothes that reminded Mandy vaguely of her grandmother. A small chest sat in the opposite corner.
Moving slowly, Mandy crawled cautiously over to the chest. Gently, she ran her fingers across the all too familiar letter "A" that had been cut intricately into the top. "How did you get up here? I know I left you in my room an hour ago." Mandy's voice sounded strange to her own ears in the small, musty space.
She summoned all her courage and lifted the lid. The content was much like that of the other chest, that was in fact, sitting in Amanda's bedroom. The only difference was that she had never seen any of these things before. And the defiantly weren't hers. The picture were what bothered her most. True her mother had a passion for taking old fashioned pictures, she said they were more "alive" than holo pics, and had taken dozens of Amanda over the years, adding special touches and captions to preserve the memories.....but the subject of these pictures was a total stranger.
* * *
Will slowly guided his wife through the front door of their house. He was still disturbed by the scene in the transport lot, but Deanna had insisted that she was fine, just the victim of a bad day. Still, he worried.
"Mom, Dad! Is that you?" Mandy ran breathlessly into the hall, eyes wide.
"Amanda," Will said sternly, "your mom had a bad day, whatever it is can wait until she feels better."
"Dad, this really can't wait. Sorry Mom, but I need you to see something, NOW!" She pulled them into the room before they had another chance to protest. There on the table, was the chest, which Mandy had pulled down from the crawl space (with more than a little difficulty).
Seeing this seemed to brighten Deanna's mood considerably. "Your memory chest. Oh, we haven't gone through that in ages. But why the urgency, honey. It isn't as if we've never seen it before."
Mandy held her breath not knowing what the effect of her next words might be. "But, Mom," she said slowly and carefully, "it isn't mine.”