Kristin looked perplexed the next morning as Mary plopped down on the couch in her chambers, punctual as usual but without a big smile or cheerful greeting. After the victory for Robby in court, Kristin expected something different.
She tapped a couple of computer keys and saved the family law order she was drafting. She turned towards her friend. It had been just a few days since Robby’s successful hearing.
“What’s up? You look a bit glum.”
“Do you believe in coincidence?”
Kristin laughed. “I used to, before I went to law school, became a lawyer and then a judge. The law requires an explanation for everything: A relationship, a connection, a back story. So, I guess the answer is no. I don’t believe in coincidence any more than I believe in magic. Or, since nothing is all black or white, let’s say I mostly don’t believe in coincidence.”
Mary just stared at her. Not even a small smile.
“All right, Mary. I know you didn’t come to see me on a busy day to talk philosophy, psychology, whatever. What’s up? Have the kids got you down?”
“No. It’s about secrets, and maybe even lies, and not being able to trust.”
Kristin left her desk and sat down next to Mary.
“OK, let’s have it.”
“When you and Anders were at my parents’ house for dinner, I couldn’t help but notice how proud Anders looked when he talked about your father, his namesake, the ski jumping champion. He seemed sad to have never met him.
“So, I thought I’d Google his name, Anders Dahlen, along with the winter Olympics, ski jumping, Norway and so on, and try to bring up some stories about him. I thought I could get some pictures and stories to make a collage for him, maybe for Christmas. It’s one of my hobbies, making collages. I’ve run out of family members to give them to.”
Kristin stiffened. She knew where this was headed.
“And, yes, I was successful. Your father was very handsome. Anders looks like him. There was a lot of information, mostly in Norwegian but that was okay, and a few pictures of him. It was what I thought, until…”
“Until you read about my mother,” Kristin interrupted.
“It wasn’t reading about her. There wasn’t that much, and it was all in Norwegian.”
Kristin waited for her to finish.
“It was her name, Kristin.” Your mother’s name was Berit. How clever of you not to have mentioned that when you were telling my family your story. So now I ask you, is it just an incredible coincidence that Anders’ best friend is a girl named Berit? That they have the same birth date? That she lives close to you with her Florida family? Anders and Berit, the names of your deceased parents? What’s going on here?”
Kristin put her hands on her knees and leaned toward Mary, her expression both pleading and grave.
“Mary, you’re right to be confused. This is not a coincidence. On my part, I didn’t commit a lie, but it was a sin of omission; as bad as a lie. What do we ask of people who take an oath in court? The truth, the whole truth…”
“But you don’t understand, Kristin. I’m upset at myself for going where I shouldn’t have gone, for intruding into your personal life. But now I am confused. You know my background, Kristin. A psychologist can’t let go until the story makes sense.”
Kristin stood and turned away from Mary, rubbing her forehead.
“It’s not just my story,” Kristin said, turning back to her friend. “Berit’s parents are involved. Ron and Jackson. But, I’ve got an idea, Mary. Anders and I are having dinner with them Friday. Come to dinner with us…”
“I couldn’t. I shouldn’t,” Mary sputtered.
“Come to dinner Friday and we’ll tell you the rest of the story.”