Leaves crunched under the heavy step of the flat boot that Lindsay had donned for the day. The noise was mostly muffled by the damp earth underneath and would have probably gone unnoticed to anyone else, but she was hyperfocusing. She had been doing so since the decision had been made to visit. The piece of paper had been given to her in 2002 by a gruff gentleman that had done little more than shove it across a desk after the payment exchange had been made then made his way toward the nearest exit. They had met at one of the libraries on campus in order to make the transaction more legitimate, and because since she was still unsure if he had the information she was actually looking. But the private investigator had been able to give her information that lined up. From the description of the woman to her whereabouts for the missing years. She had driven by the address a handful of times but never made the turn in. But there was something about this weekend that had her frantically looking through all her home office drawers to locate the piece of paper she had tucked into a book of poetry.
The wind picked up and Lindsay shoved her cold hands into the pocket of her coat, fingertips pressed against the cool steel rectangle in there as she carefully made her way through the smattering of headstones at Fairview Cemetery. Lindsay had so many questions and absolutely no one to ask them to. How had she found her resting place here? Did she have a family that mourned her loss? Did she replace her original family with someone better? The questions continued to cycle through as she pulled a carton of cigarettes from her pocket and tucked one between her lips but not lighting it. She had tried to quit for good several times, but something always had her reaching into her glove compartment, desperate to grab at the menthol security blanket. Her breath quickened as she neared closer to the marker she had been looking for. From the corner of her eye, she spotted people milling about, no doubt visiting lost loved ones that had been noticably absent from the Thanksgiving celebration. To the onlooker, she was one of them, but in her hands she brought no flowers, no gift. Just a young woman now standing a few feet away from a slab of stone with the named "Ella Lane" etched deep into it. While she played a consistent game of chicken with the cigarette most days, she pulled the lighter from her pocket and flicked back the lid, finger rolling down the flint wheel and bringing the flame up to light.
Well, at least she continued to acknowledge her initials, even if it wasn't her actual name. Lindsay took a long drag of the cigarette as her eyes scanned the headstone. Just a name, and her dates of birth and death. For a woman who had been running from her identity, it left Lindsay questioning why she would keep her birthdate, why not change it as she had everything else? There was something smaller etched below the dates, and Lindsay squinted to get a better look. Not satisfied, she crouched down, cigarette still in her hand as she blew out a line of smoke as her free hand reached out to press her fingertips against the etching. Even with the cold of the weather, she suddenly felt warm all over. It wasn't with a fond familiarity, though. It was with anger.
She knew the coordinates well. In fact, just as they were etched into the stone, she had then etched into her side, small and dark against her fair skin above her ribs, a replica of her father's handwriting. It was the coordinates for their hometown. Sam, rarely sentimental, had always been adamant that his daughters remember that no matter where they found themselves, that they'd always know the way home. The wind had extingushed the once lit cigarette as it tumbled down to the damp earth and she stumbled to get back to her feet, instinctively taking a step back, her mind racing. The birthdate, the coordinates. This wasn't a coincidence. She turned and started to put distance between her and the location, her feet feeling like they weren't taking her fast enough away. There were more questions now, but she now had someone to ask.
Chest feeling tight, she got back to the car and slammed the door shut while taking in short, shaky breaths. Holidays were said to bring out the worst in people, and Lindsay had always been the first to say that she wasn't going to ascribe to the norm. Yet there she sat, unable to make herself start the car and drive away, or hit her father's name on the screen of her phone. She was a phone call away form slipping into that group. Fucking holidays. She'd be happy to see them be done with.