Afternoon finally arrived. Sitting in the passenger seat for hours with a guy that I just met really wasn’t my cup of tea. I was exhausted and annoyed at the same time, even though I wasn’t the one who had been driving. David stopped the car in front of a small farmhouse.
“What are you doing?” I said. “I said keep driving. I don’t want to get hurt. I can leave if you want me to. I don’t need help.”
“Mildred, that was a bit rude, but I will let you have it this time. I’ve been driving all day. I’m tired. I need a break.”
“But we can’t just stay parked in front of a farmhouse. We need to stop in a forest or something.”
“Yeah, see … um … well. This is where my parents live. I haven’t seen them for ages.”
I screamed. He was trying to make me easy to find. I was now in trouble. I could see it. I couldn’t meet his parents. What the hell should I say or do? I needed to go. But I couldn’t. David had the doors locked.
“Mildred, settle down please. My parents can help you. Especially my father. He is a cop.”
“Oh gosh. You are an idiot. A COP! Really? Far out I can’t trust you. Let me out. I’ll walk the rest of the way,” I yelled at his face.
David starting patting me on the shoulder as if I were a dog.
“Mildred, he is a retired policeman. You will be fine. Just follow my lead. I will do all the talking. Trust me,” he said calmly.
He stopped patting me. I looked into his eyes. He wasn’t lying. But I had to trust him. Plus, what else was I to do?
“Fine. But you will pay if something goes wrong,” I said under my breath.
We stepped out of the car. Butterflies filled my stomach. My heart pounded. We made our way to the front door.
A short old man and lady welcomed us at the door.
“David,” screamed the old lady as she hugged David. “Where have you been? What happened to you?”
“Lots of things, Mother,” David said, shaking his father’s hand.
I took a few steps back, blushing.
David’s parents looked at me.
“And who is this beautiful lady, David. Please introduce us,” his mother said sweetly with some excitement in her face.
“This is … um …”
“Well, surely you know her name, son. What is the matter with my boy?” his father said.
“Mum, Dad, we need to talk. You need to promise me something.”
“Oh gosh. You haven’t changed one bit, you rude boy. Introduce us,” his father snapped.
Silence. I had no idea what to do, but I couldn’t tell his parents the truth.
“I’m Nancy Wilfred. And this is my husband, John. Since my son cannot tell us your name, could you?” David’s mom asked sweetly, shaking my hand.
David looked at me. We were both stuck. I felt like hitting him over the head with a limb and making a run for it.
“Well, you see …” I said.
“You’re a criminal, aren’t you? Running away from another country? David, I can’t believe you would bring such a woman home,” Nancy said to me and David, frowning.
“Mum, please stop. I will tell you. Just promise you won’t tell anyone else. It is important. But it might take some time.”
His father raged, “I can’t believe after ten years my son turns up at my front door and can’t explain himself. Spill all the information right now or you might as well leave.”
David instructed that we all were to go inside. I felt like a burning sun. We sat in the lounge room.
“Mum, Dad, this is Mildred Shortstreet.”
“No, it can’t be. Isn’t that the girl that was on the news the other night? We have heard a lot about her. She has red hair, not blonde,” his mother said, with her eyebrow furrowed.
“No, this is her. She’s running away, and she’s alone. I’m helping her,” David said hesitantly.
Nancy’s eyes started to fill with tears. John looked surprised and eyed me before glancing back at David quickly.
I couldn’t help but start crying too. I was completely lost. I didn’t know what to do.
“What are we going to do? Why are you running away Mildred? You could be sent to a mental institution,” Nancy said.
“Mum, please don’t tell anyone,” David said. “It’s a long story. How much of Mildred’s story do you know?”
“I only know the part about her running away. Oh, son. You have never made me a happy woman. I’m sorry …” she said, wiping away the tears.
“She was separated from her twin sister and drugged. Her parents were criminals.”
This time Nancy was crying harder than before. So was I. While John hugged Nancy, David held me tight. There was nothing I could do or say. I couldn’t breathe properly.
“Dad, do you still have that police site where you can find people’s databases and things like that?”
“I have the password, codes, and everything. They never took my badge from me.”
“Could we wipe Mildred’s history and change her name?”
Through my tears, I could see John making a wide-eyed expression on his face at David.
“That could take hours. I couldn’t just do it for free,” John said.
“I’ll do anything to help Mildred,” David said quickly.
I stopped crying. My eyes were sore, however. Nancy stood up from her chair to grab some tissues for me and her. I didn’t thank her. I just nodded my head.
“To get a name change, Mildred will have to work for it,” John said. “She might as well just be part of our family. You marry her. She works for us. Gets employed somewhere. And you must stay here with us and catch up for lost time.”
David began to laugh. Those options were a bit out there. I couldn’t possibly marry David after knowing him for only a couple of days.
“Son, what is so funny?” John said. “You want the name change or not?”
“I do. But marriage –”
“She seems like a wonderful girl,” John said. “You will never find anyone else quite like her. If you want to help her, I suggest you keep her identity safe and do all that I tell you to do. If you don’t, the plan won’t work and she could get into more trouble. Is this clear enough for you? If it isn’t, I can’t explain it again to you. It’ll make my poor brain explode.”
David looked at me. I nodded to tell him that I agreed. I was still speechless. So was Nancy.
For the next few hours, I just lay on the couch, looking at the ceiling while David and his mother talked about me and John worked. I didn’t have the guts to explain myself. And I had told my story to David well, so I knew he could do a good job.
“David, Mildred, and Nancy, please come over here for a moment. I have to explain something to you all,” John said.
We all walked over to John.
“Now, Mildred, I have changed your name to Greta Shorts. I know it is a horrible name, but this was the first one to come up on the random name generator and I really didn’t want to be at it all day. I have wiped your history and changed your identity. To become Greta Wilfred, you must marry my son. Your identity states that you are engaged to him and that you are a top chef around the world.”
“Wait,” David said, “Mildred can’t cook. Anything else incredibly wrong there?”
“You wanted my help so I am giving it to you,” John said, frowning. “That was rude of you to say that she couldn’t cook. How would you know? And no, I haven’t added anything else. I changed her birthday to today, however. Mildred, you are now twenty and you were brought up in the foster system. You did your education online. I have made a fake education account that says you passed.”
I looked at David and his father. They were both smiling happily. Then I glanced over at Nancy. I could tell that she was confused but convinced at the same time that her husband had done the right thing. David didn’t say another word.
“Thanks, John,” I said with a deep breath.
“No problems, Greta. We will have to train you up well. You will go into the cooking industry and get employed within the next month, so we don’t have a lot of time. I’ve organised a wedding for next week.”
No one replied. David’s father kept explaining what was to happen and how it was to happen in order for my identity to be kept safe. He printed out an I.D. for me and set up a personal bank account.