Stella woke a few hours later in her bed cuddling onto Shang. She held him so tightly as if he would leave her too if she let go. Her hands hurt as she released her grip and heard a knock at he door.
“Can I come in?” June asked as she poked her head through. Stella nodded, which made her head hurt. She had been crying for a long time.
“I know that you want to go with them,” June took a seat next to Stella on the bed. “But you are so close to finishing school. And we don’t want you to miss any of the fun. You and I will have a good time together. And April and May will be back in plenty of time to celebrate your birthday.”
But her two aunts were gone for, what seemed like, forever. Stella was having fun during her last week of elementary school, but she missed Auntie April and Auntie May. She had talked to them a few times over the phone, but every time she asked when they would be returning home the only response she got was, “we’ll be home soon sweet pea”.
In the meantime, Stella enjoyed spending time with Auntie June while April and May were in Riverview. There was no challenge that June thought was too dangerous, or any adventure too grand. June took Stella out into the ocean to try to surf, she took Stella to the skate park, and was never too busy to play catch in the park.
Before Stella knew it school had ended, and her birthday had arrived. Stella was so worried that April and May would miss the party that she refused to come out of her room. As much as June didn’t want to let it show, she too was worried.
Then at the last minute June got a text saying that April and May just landed at the airport and would soon be home. Stella was so excited to see them, she didn’t know which one of her aunts she wanted to hug first. Lucky for her, both April and May were right beside each other. June wasn’t far behind Stella as all four of them embraced in a group hug.
“Now go get your bathing suit on while May starts on the cake.” April told her niece.
Stella was giddy with excitement. She dressed as quickly as she could. In fact she was so fast that she was ready before anyone had time to set up. She was searching the house for her aunts when she heard them talking in their bedroom. Stella hid right outside the door so she could hear what they were saying.
“So, there was no threat at the funeral?” June questioned her sisters.
“None whatsoever,” May confirmed. “No threat in Appaloosa Plains either.”
“Good. What did Cindy and Ryan have to say?” June asked. “How are they doing?”
“Cindy is as good as can be expected.” April replied. “She lost her daughter and now her godmother. She had hoped that I could be the one to visit them now that Fay is gone.”
“Do you think that is wise?”
“We still don’t know.” May chimed in. “You know that spies are everywhere. But visiting them once in a while might be okay. I’m sure we can find some sort of excuse for April to go. After all, Cindy just wants to make sure that Stella is okay.”
Stella wanted to hear more, but the conversation was over when May realized that her cake was burning.
At the Birthday Party Stella had fun playing in the sprinklers while June chased her sisters with water guns. Stella fell down laughing when April dumped a big pale of water right on June’s head. Stella was enjoying her birthday party, but she couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation she had just heard. Who were these people June asked about? Why would they want April to visit them? And why would they ask about her?
But it was hard for Stella to focus on those burning questions when she had birthday candles burning in front of her. Plus, her aunts always cheered extra super loud.
“make a wish my sweet pea.” May cheered.
Stella glanced over at her aunts who were cheering. For weeks Stella has been planning out her wish. A birthday wish is a special wish, and she didn’t want to waist it.
I wish I knew who my parents are.