Andie stood at the library counter checking out a huge pile of books.
“You sure read a lot,” said Miss M, the children’s librarian. Her delicate, spotted hands waved each book under the computer scanner recording their withdrawal. “And you’re growing so tall.”
Andie smiled. I couldn’t resist.
“You should have seen how she started out.”
Miss M looked up, but said nothing.
“When this girl was born,” I put my arm around Andie’s shoulder. “She weighed just over a pound and a half.”
Miss M looked down at the pile of books. She said something I didn’t hear.
“Pardon me?” I asked.
“Me, too,” she said, then looked at me through her wire-rimmed glasses.
“You, too?” I asked, thinking she must have misunderstood.
“Yes, me too.”
“No, I said she was born at a pound and a half.”
“Yes,” she said quietly. “So was I.”
She went back to scanning the books, and I tried to think of a polite way to ask how the hell was she alive if she’d been born that little so long ago.
“To what, um, do you attribute your survival?” My cheeks burned.
“Well, my mother always said it was because they put the two of us in together,” she slid the pile of books across the counter and got a faraway look in her eyes. “Yes, there just happened to be another baby born, just my size, at the same time.”
I placed my hands on top of the pile of books.
“Did the other baby survive?” I asked.
“I believe so,” she said.
Questions swirled in my head, but another patron had stepped to the desk and a nod from Miss M told me our conversation was over.
Driving home I imagined the rest of the story. A phone call from across the country – Were you born prematurely in such and such hospital on such and such date? Arrangements would be made…
But it seems that story will have to live in my imagination, for on every visit back to the library since, Miss M never made mention of it again.
This photo, taken in 1995, hangs on the bulletin board in my office. It’s titled The Rescuing Hug, but I’ve come to call it, Miss M and Her Long Lost Companion.
What would you call this photo?