I was placing out the chairs on the library floor, when Zipporah rushed in. There was a teenage girl by her side, with matching dark curls and a small protruding baby bump.
“Nina,” Natalia beamed. “This is my daughter, Natalia. I’ve found her. She’s back.”
My eyes widened. Natalia blushed, wrapping her arm around Zipporah. I bounded forward towards them. As I wrapped Zipporah and Natalia into a tight embrace, I began to weep.
“Oh, Nina, it’s alright,” Zipporah insisted. “We’re all safe now. She’s back.”
Even when I heard the buzz of the automatic doors parting, I did not move. It was Natalia who wiggled out first, yet Zipporah still kept a firm hold of her hand.
“When I found out that I was pregnant, I needed to find my mother,” she explained. “My real mother.”
I breathed in a big gulp of air.
“Hey, am I interrupting something?” Timmy wanted to know, innocently.
We all spun around to face him. Slowly, Timmy’s eyes opened wider. His hand rose from his side to his mouth, as he shook his head, almost in disbelief. Zipporah nodded her head, in confirmation. With her free hand, she reached out for me, without looking.
“Zippy, this is the best!” Timmy gushed, staggering forward.
He extended his hand towards Natalia, who was shrinking into her mother’s side.
“Hello, Natalia,” Timmy greeted her. “My name is Timmy Clarke and I run the support group.”
“Hello,” Natalia responded quietly.
“It’s alright,” Zipporah assured.
She ushered her pregnant teenage daughter into a chair in the corner. While the others arrived and were told the news, I made sure that they were shielded from Natalia and Zipporah, to prevent her becoming overwhelmed by the attention and joy. Finally, the meeting got underway.
“I think Zipporah should take the news bear first.”
Timmy handed it over.
“It’s a bear that the person speaking holds so that we share it around the group,” he explained.
“Natalia, I never got to hold you. I never got to see your face for longer than a few seconds.”
Zipporah reached for her daughter’s hand.
“All I have ever wanted was this day.”
Natalia grinned back. I noticed that she didn’t say much. How she’d come to find her mother, I wasn’t aware.
“At the end of the day, they can’t take away that this is my daughter.”
We nodded to affirm her.
“I know that I’m not a perfect person, but that’s the truth.”
She wiped the corners of her eyes.
“When you think of yourself as a mother, Zipporah, what comes to your mind?” Timmy posed.
“Well,” Zipporah said, then took a moment to think, “I want to be a refuge as a mother. I want to be the sort of mother I never had.”
“It’s different being a parent to a baby as opposed to a teenager,” Dean pointed out.
“I wouldn’t even know where to start with a teenager.”
Mick sat back in his chair, folded his arms and laughed.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
At the end of the meeting, Mick and Todd started to pack up the chairs. Debbie approached Zipporah, tentatively resting her fingertips on her shoulder.
“If you’d like, I can check outside,” she offered, “to make sure that there’s nobody there.”
Zipporah seemed to startle a little. She turned around to face Debbie. Natalia wandered over towards the bookshelves, reaching out towards the items lined up. A smile came onto my lips, that she might have been finally getting a chance to read freely. This must have been both daunting and amazing for Natalia, to live in a whole new world to all that she’d ever known, so I strolled over to chat with her. She cupped her belly in her hand. It felt like history repeating. This time, things would be different.
Abbey Sim is the founder of Huldah Media. She is a creative writing, law and theology student who lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Abbey desires to explore themes of hope, love and longing through her storytelling. She is the author of 'Shadow' and 'From the Wild'.