Standing on the C-train, I’m looking out the window, trying to pinpoint what stop I need to be closest to the bookstore, (I had accidentally left my book, The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, on the floor of the taxi we took from the airport to the temporary hotel), when she taps me on the arm. “Excuse me,” she says, and asks a woman’s name, something with multiple syllables I don’t exactly catch. “I’m sorry, no. You’re mistaken.” I reply, shaking my head. She’s somewhere in her fifties, well dressed, slightly expensive. The top of her head comes up to my chin. “I’m sorry,” her voice catches, “for a moment.. you reminded me of my.. my daughter.” Suddenly, she’s crying. I reach forward, take her in my arms, and let her lean into my body as she crumples. What else is there to do?
We stood like a statue of women welded together until the train slowed into the next stop. “Are you alright?” She nodded into my chest, took a deep breath, shakily stepped back, and thanked me. “Would you like to go for coffee?” I asked, “Talk about it?”
I bought her a dark hot chocolate and sat with her in an oversized chair, our knees touching. “She was the sweetest thing in my life. We had the same colour hair, but her voice was her father’s, do you understand that?” I said that I did, and she continued, “I was wonderfully young, around your age. Such a nightmare. I felt so stupid. We searched the whole place, got security to shut down the doors, check the parking lot. Didn’t matter.” Her story was sad, terrible, simple, and not unexpected, considering how we met. About twenty years ago, she said, her nine year old daughter was snatched from a Lethbridge grocery store.
“This is only the third time I’ve ever mistaken someone for her, you know, and the other two people wouldn’t give me the time of day.” I put an arm around her and she rest against it, warming her tiny hands on her cup, and we sat, silent, with our heads together. “I’m glad you found me,” I said. “Me too.”