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The little, white house was unassuming as it blended into the neighborhood of similarly styled houses: an urban utopia of sameness down to the mini-van in the driveway and the impeccably styled lawn. Ji Yeon pulled into #4284 and contemplated the house and it’s occupants. Would they be able to answer her questions?
Glancing into the rearview mirror, she quickly re-did her lipstick and contemplated her reflection. She knew from pictures that she looked like her mother, and as a child she used to imagine her mother looking back from the mirror, there to guide her and tell her she loved her. Shaking her head, she tossed the lipstick into her purse and prepared herself for the meeting she had in front of her.
Marching up the sidewalk, her black stilettos echoing hollowly through the quiet neighborhood, it only took her seconds to stand in front of the door. Taking a deep breath, she pressed the doorbell and waited.
The wait felt interminably long before she heard the chain rattle against the door. She was momentarily surprised to see a tiny, blonde woman on the other side of the threshold. The pictures she had of Kate Austen were of a slender woman with dark curly hair.
The woman’s eyes widened momentarily as she stared at Ji Yeon, and the hand that held the door open started to shake.
“No, ma’am,” Ji Yeon felt momentarily distracted as a wave of relief swept through her. This woman had known her mother. “I’m Ji Yeon, her daughter.”
“Of course you are,” she smiled weakly. “I’m sorry; it’s just that you look remarkably like your mother.”
“May I come in?”
“Oh,” the blonde’s cheeks reddened in embarrassment as she moved aside. “How can I help you, Ji Yeon?”
“I’m looking for Kate Austen or a man by the name of Aaron. I was told they lived here.”
“I’m Claire Littleton,” she said as she led the way through the sparsely furnished home toward the living room. “Aaron is my son, and he’s really not much older than you. He’s away finishing up his master’s degree at NYU. He’s studying to be an anthropologist.”
Ji Yeon sensed that Claire was nervous, and she wondered what that was about. “That’s great. I actually just finished up my time at university. Are you from Australia, Ms. Littleton?”
Claire’s smile brightened as she nodded. “Yes, though I’m sure my accent has faded after all these years. What did you study?”
“Geology,” Ji Yeon answered absently. She was tired of the chitchat and wanted to talk to someone who could help her. “Is Kate Austen here?”
“Normally she is,” Claire said, “but an old friend of ours called yesterday asking for Kate’s help on a family matter. I’m sure she’ll be back in a couple of days.”
“Oh.” She was disappointed. She had come all this way in search of answers.
“Perhaps, I can help you?” Claire reached across the space separating them and clasped Ji Yeon’s hand. Shivers raced up Ji Yeon’s back, and she felt a sudden connection to this woman.
“You knew my parents?”
“I did,” Claire smiled. “They were wonderful people, and they loved each other very much.”
“What happened to them?”
“I’m afraid that Claire isn’t the one to answer that question or any that you have.”
Ji Yeon and Claire turned in unison to see a tall, blond man standing in the doorway. She was surprised at his sudden appearance and wondered where he had come from.
“Do I know you?” Claire stood, her small frame shaking as she tried to shield Ji Yeon from the man.
“That doesn’t matter, Claire,” he said as he forced her to sit back down. Reaching forward, he yanked Ji Yeon to her feet. “What matters is that there’s someone who would like to speak with Ji Yeon. Someone who doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”