This story is my submission for the Christmas Challenge. Happy reading!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Henrietta Young sat back in the waiting room with her eyes closed still trying to come to grips with the recent turn of events in her life.
At twenty one years of age, she was legally considered an adult, yet it was at times like these that she felt like a young vulnerable child all over again. A part of her was afraid of what was about to go down in a very short while.
Henny as she was called by her mother, always knew that she was different. Her mother had informed her when she was small that she had ‘special blood’. Years later when she was old enough to understand, she found out that meant that she possessed the rarest blood type that a human being could possess, AB negative. After she turned eighteen, she had given blood once and was then bombarded with requests to give once every other month. On her own she had decided to sign up on the ‘Be the Match’ bone marrow registry after her aunt Maddie died of cancer when she was nineteen. She had forgotten all about having registered at the sight until she received that fateful call a week ago, two years after having done so.
The Bone Marrow institute had informed her that she was a perfect match for a man that was suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS. She was told that the doctors had felt that it would be nearly impossible to find a match for him, but that by some miracle she was exactly that.
Henny had been somewhat skeptical about the following through with the procedure because her mother was scheduled to have knee surgery about the same time that they wanted her to come to Washington to donate. Sensing her reluctance, the Institute had asked if she would like to fly to Washington to discuss the procedure with the staff. They also explained that the donor wanted to meet her, not to pressure her to give but to thank her for taking that first step in registering. Meeting the donor was something that appealed to Henny and she reluctantly agreed. The Institute had then set up a meeting for her and the recipient so that any questions she had could be answered.
Henny now remembered the look on her mother’s face when she told her that she was flying to DC to meet the recipient, Mr. Henry McDermont II along with the doctors and staff from the Institute. She was not prepared for Vanessa Young’s shocked expression, nor the flood of tears that followed Henny’s announcement.
Henny sat down and listened as her mother talked through tears that Henry McDermont II was not just a recipient of her generosity, but was in fact her biological father.
Henny had been totally floored. Her mother NEVER talked about her biological father. Vanessa had always told Henny that discussing it was much too painful, and over the years Henny had given up trying to get information out of her mother. Questioning relatives hadn’t produced any more information, as her mother had been silent since the day she dropped out of college and returned to Petersburg.
Henny only knew what Vanessa Young had told her, that she had met him in college, that they had fallen in love and that in the end he had chosen his family over her once she had found out that she was pregnant. She wouldn’t even call his name nor tell Henny anything about the man. Her mother had only told her that her father was white and that his family was very wealthy. She had explained that her father hadn’t been strong enough to go against their wishes and that he had given her $300 in order for her to get an abortion. He then left her and never looked back.
Vanessa dropped out of college, returned to Petersburg and had her baby. An abortion was never even an option for her. She told Henny that it bothered her that her father could just leave her like he did, after he had professed to love her. Vanessa Young never married and raised Henny on her own. When Henny was two, she returned to night school and obtained her hard earned nursing degree.
Now, twenty two years later, Henny was now in a position to be her father’s savior. Her mother had asked her over and over what she was going to do, but Henny’s head hurt just thinking about it, and hadn’t given her mother a straight answer.
Henny had always wondered what her father looked like, and often wondered if she was anything like him. She had a light brown complexion with long chestnut brown hair. She didn’t think she looked biracial and to make things easier, she just called herself black. A part of her had always felt empty and alone. Her mother had done a wonderful job raising her, but Henny knew that her mother had never trusted another man with her heart after Henry McDermont. Henny never knew what it was like to have a father figure in her life.
Her grandfather had died when she was a baby and she could hardly remember him. Her mother was very cautious about the men that she would allow her daughter to interact with, which Henny later appreciated, but there was a void inside her that she couldn’t ignore.
Finally, after the Institute had called for her answer, Henrietta had agreed to a meeting with the recipient. She wasn’t sure what she was going to say to him and told her mother as much before she caught her flight out of Charlotte where she was attending college.
Now Henny sat in the waiting room of the Bone Marrow Institute and waited. Dr. Manson who had orchestrated the visit walked into the room with a man that Henny determined must be Henry McDermont. Looking at him, she was immediately pissed off. The man was gorgeous and except for a smidgeon of gray around the temples, no one would have guessed him to be forty one years of age or that he was sick with cancer. Her mother, on the other hand looked every bit her age after years of hard work and heartbreak.
“This is Henrietta Young” Dr. Manson said making introductions. He looked at Henrietta. “This is Henry McDermont.”
Henry McDermont smiled showing perfectly white teeth and extended his well manicured hand to her. She hesitated a moment before giving him a weak handshake. He looked at her curiously and gave her a smile. Henrietta could tell that this man was a charmer and immediately her defenses went up.
“Hello” Henny whispered, her mouth dry. So this was her father! She stared at him and he smiled back, his eyes roaming over her in appreciation. Henny held back a quick retort and clenched her teeth. He didn’t know! He had no idea that she was his daughter! He was looking at her like a man looks at a woman and she felt her stomach heave a bit. Then again, how was he supposed to know? After all, she wasn’t supposed to exist in his eyes!
“It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Young” he said smiling. “I understand from Dr. Manson that you had to leave college and I know this is nearing exam time with Christmas being right around the corner. I want you to know that I really appreciate you taking the time to at least consider the Institute’s request.”
Henny could just imagine why her mother fell for this man. He was a smooth talker, and yes an obvious heart breaker. Henny took a deep breath.
“No problem. I had sighed up for this two years ago, it’s just that I had plans for my month long holiday break and I will have to change them if I decide to do this.”
“I understand” Dr. Manson replied. “It’s just that we want to do this before Mr. McDermont’s condition gets any worse. Blood transfusions are helping him now, but once the situation becomes full blown, his chance of full recovery diminishes considerably. If we do it now, he has a greater chance for a full recovery.”
“I really do appreciate you coming to meet me” Henry was saying and she focused back on her father. “I realize that as a young woman, you have taken time from your schedule to consider making this donation and I want you to know just how much I appreciate it. The Insitute won’t allow me to reimburse you for your donation in any way, but if I could I would gladly pay you for your generousity.”
Henny smiled at him with her mouth by not her eyes. Did he think everything was about money? “I don’t want your money, Mr. McDermont” she said coolly. “I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do. God made me AB negative for a reason…to help someone who needed it. That’s why I’m doing this. I came here to meet you and to see what kind of person you really are.”
“Well then” Dr. Manson said grinning. “I’ll give you two a little time to get to know each other. I’ll return shortly.”
Henny watched as Dr. Manson walked out of the room and she could feel Henry’s eyes on her. She didn’t know where to even begin asking questions. She glanced at him sideways noting the small loop earrings that he had in his ears. She could feel his brown eyes watching her.
“You’re mighty quiet” Henry chuckled nervously.
Henny stared at him, her mouth dry. She had to get herself together and get on with it. She had always wanted to meet her father, now she was here and she could ask him anything she wanted to, but her mind was a complete blank.
“Tell me about yourself” Henny said finally. “Are you married? Do you have children? Are your parents still living?” She thought about the money his parents gave him to give to her mother for the abortion.
Henry chuckled. “I’m divorced. No I don’t have any children, which is unfortunate. I’m the last in the line of McDermonts it seems. My parents are very much alive. They live in Florida.”
“Why did you get divorced?” Henny asked.
“I wanted children and she didn’t. “ he explained. “I thought we could work it out…but she wanted out of the marriage.”
Henny stared at him a moment, not responding. Karma was a son of a bitch, wasn’t it?
“Do you remember your first love?” Henny asked him taking him totally by surprise.
Henry stared at her. “My first love?” he chuckled. “That was so long ago…when I was in college. Why do you ask?”
Henny stared at him. “Do you or don’t you remember?”
“I remember.” He replied surprised at the intensity that she asked the question.
Henry cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable. He thought that this young woman was a bit strange and wondered what this was all about. What was going through that mind of hers? She was looking at him strangely as if there was some secret between them.
He had never seen her before and she looked much younger than her twenty one years. It was obvious that she was black, and he thought that maybe she had a problem with white people. Maybe she was having second thoughts and wouldn’t give the donation. He had been surprised when the Institute told him that they had found a perfect match after telling him that finding a donor would be tricky since he was AB negative. He wasn’t as tired now because of the blood transfusion, but he knew that it wouldn’t be long before he was back on his back again and he hated the thought of it. He hoped that he could say something to convince her to go through with the donation.
“Are you feeling alright?” he asked finally, trying to figure her out. “You look a bit pale.”
“I’m fine” Henny said with a smile glued to her face. “Maybe I should tell you something about myself now.”
“That would be nice” he said relieved that she would now be the one talking.
“Well I’m a product of a single parent household” Henny began. “My mother met my father in college, but when she became pregnant, he didn’t want the responsibility.”
“That’s terrible” Henry said sympathetically.
“Yeah. However they were young, so it’s not surprising.” Henny said eying him. “Well it seems that his parents were against interracial relationships and they didn’t want a black grandchild. So my father gave my mother three hundred dollars to get an abortion and then he decided to transfer to another University.”
“Really?” Henry replied wondering why this story was nagging him. “Did your mother ever hear from him?”
“No. Out of sight, out of mind I guess” Henny replied. “He went on with his life, and she went on with hers.”
“Well you seem to have done alright for yourself” Henry replied. “You’re in college. You have a career planned out. You appear well adjusted.”
“A child always wonders though, if her father ever thinks about her…wonders if he thinks about her and if he wonders what happened to his first love. How can a man just forget about something like that?”
Henry stared at her a moment. “I couldn’t begin to answer that.” He replied slowly.
“Really?” she said staring at him.
Henry stared back at her confused. What was she getting at? He searched her face for answers, finding none.
“My mother named me Henrietta, after my father.” Henny stressed. “She couldn’t give me his last name, so she gave me his given name instead.”
Henry stared at her speechless, his mouth slightly ajar. She was looking at him strangely now as if he was supposed to ‘get’ whatever she was trying to tell him. What point was she trying to make? None of this was making any sense to him!
“My mother’s name is Vanessa Young. Sound familiar, Henry?” she said leaning forward in her chair.
Reality of the situation came crashing down on Henry McDermont like a frame house in a tornado!
“You..you can’t be Vanessa’s child” Henry stammered in shock. Vanessa from college…Vanessa, whom he had fallen in love with so long ago. Vanessa, who had given him her virginity and her his. Vanessa, who had been his first real love who came to him telling him that she was pregnant. He could still remember going to his parents telling them that he had wanted to marry her, and their response.
They had threatened to take away the life he had always known…threatened to disown him and cut him off if he went through with it. Henry had never worked a day in his life. His future had been cut out for him the day he was born. He was a McDermont, heir to a fortune that his parent’s controlled. He had been overcome with fear by their threat and had caved in almost immediately.
He remember shedding tears as he came to the deeply religious Vanessa with the money his parents had given him. She had looked at him in disbelief, hurt that he would even suggest such a thing. He then told her that he was being transferred at the end of the semester and that he couldn’t see her anymore. He knew then that he was being a total wimp about the situation, but he had been afraid. He knew no other life than the one he was accustomed to, and he chose that over Vanessa.
“I am Vanessa Young’s child…and yours.” Henny replied. “I guess you’re glad that she didn’t use that $300 for the purpose for which it was given, huh?”
Henry continued to stare at her in disbelief. This woman…this girl before him was his own flesh and blood. He stared at her and could see her resemblance to his mother and it almost took his breath away. He felt that he was in some sort of weird dream. Now his life was in the hands of the child that he had rejected, the child that wasn’t supposed to exist.
“You knew…all this time you knew!” he said slowly wondering now if she came here to flaunt the power she now possessed. He stared down at his hands that were folded in front of him.
“I didn’t know.” Henny replied. “I never even know your name. My mother never talked about you. I’ve asked questions over the years and she only told me that you two were college sweethearts and that your parents disapproved of the relationship. She told me that you paid her to get an abortion but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She did tell me that you were white, but other than that, she never told me anything else…not even your name.”
“How is your mother?” he asked looking up at her.
“You have no right to ask about my mother” Henny replied sharply.
“I know” he replied quietly. “You may not believe me, but I have thought about her over the years…I didn’t know that she had kept you.”
He looked up at Henny. “So…did you come here now to tell me to my face that you hate me and that you’re not going to make the donation? I can understand you anger, I guess.”
“I’m not angry” Henny replied. “I’m going to give the donation because it’s the right thing to do. I just wish that you could have been strong and had done the right thing yourself twenty two years ago.”
Henry looked surprised. “I’d think you’d want revenge…for your mother at least…that you’d want me to grovel and beg for mercy or something.”
“I don’t do revenge. It doesn’t serve any purpose for me. I needed a father and I never had one. Helping you toward your demise won’t change that or make me feel any better, but maybe the good feeling I get from doing the right thing will help me.” Henny admitted. “I’ve always wondered about you, now my questions have been answered. I know what you look like, and after this you can go back to your life and I can go back to mine.”
“Henrietta” she said interrupting him. “My name is Henrietta”
“Henrietta” he said clearing his throat. “I don’t know what to say. I don’t know if I could be as generous if I was in your position.”
“If our positions were reversed, I would be your daughter” she declared. “No one would have kept me from the person I loved or the child we created in that love.”
“Touche” he murmured.
“Just say ‘Thank you’ and pay it forward. You can’t change the past.” She said standing up. “Be grateful that my mother used that $300 to pay for her prenatal visits.”
Just then Dr. Manson came back into the room. He saw Henrietta standing and wondered what was going on.
“Well have you two become better acquainted?” he asked curiously.
“Yes” Henrietta said smiling. “Do you still want to schedule the harvesting of my bone marrow on December 15th?”
“Yes.” Dr. Manson replied smiling. “You’ll be home in plenty of time for Christmas.”
He looked at Henry. “You should be home by Christmas also. This young woman has given you the best Christmas gift possible. She’s given you a second chance at life itself!”
“I know” Henry said, unable to meet Henrietta’s gaze.
“Thank you, again…Henrietta” Henry said not knowing what else to say to her.
“You’re welcome, Mr. McDermont and Merry Christmas” she replied sincerely before turning to Dr. Manson.
“Merry Christmas, Dr. Manson” she said shaking his hand.
“Merry Christmas to you, Henrietta” he replied sincerely. “I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.”
“I’ll be here” she replied.
Henrietta looked back at Henry and gave him a slight smile before turning and walking out the door without saying another word.
I will add pix and a banner a little later.