| Sally White--that was Lance's mother? Her name was familiar to him. He had heard it somewhere other than from the lady at the department of health and human services office. Yes, that was it. Once, when Lynn was drunk, she said her sister's name was Sally White. He thought he remembered her saying she'd had a son about his age...a son named Lance! Could he really be Autumn's cousin? Her parents were Jason and Lynn, and his, according to the birth certificate, were Sally and Jim. He did some checking and found that his mother's maiden name was White; his dad's last name had been Jacobs. And White had been Lynn's maiden name. Oh God, he thought. I can't believe how twisted this thing is. I raped my cousin! Incest is even more demented than...oh God, what have I done?
The two redheaded boys had seen Autumn through her window and finally decided to meet her.
"Hi!" One skipped into her room, abruptly rousing her from a nap. At first, she was quite frightened, but as she trained her eyes on his face, she calmed. They looked oddly familiar. She puzzled over this until an unexpected source of clarity arrived.
Lance stopped short when he saw the small boys in Autumn's room.
"Sorry," Sariah muttered as she bumped into him. She was walking behind Lance. She had turned to say something to Jamison, who was with them, and she did not see Lance stop. She peeked around him to see the young boys.
"Philip, Matthew!" Lance exclaimed, surprising everyone.
"Hi." They turned to him and spoke the word, then turned back to Autumn.
"Wait a minute," protective Jamison fearlessly marched into the room as if to do battle for his friend. "what's going on?" he asked, taking his place beside Autumn.
"Well, y'all know how I was born. My mama was sixteen. Several years later, she had twins. That was when I was fourteen. Matthew and Philip are my brothers. She named them after people in the Bible. They were born after she got religion. They're your cousins, too, Autumn...just like me!"
"No way!" Philip said.
"You're our cousin? How does that work?" Matthew looked terribly confused.
"Y'all know the gal I was with for a time."
"Which one?" Philip asked rather snidely. Lance felt a pang of guilt and pain, but he knew he deserved his brother's disdain.
"Lynn. she was Autumn's mom. And you know that Lynn was Sally, our mom's sister."
"this is just getting too weird," Sariah sighed as she turned to leave the room. So it wasn't a sister Lance was looking for...Autumn was his cousin! What a twisted life! And that lady who lived in the apartment across the hall from Jenni's place couldn't be his mom! She sure looked different, but maybe she changed her identity to get away from the murderous rage of his father. It had all started with his father, but Lance couldn't blame him for everything. He was learning to face the consequences of his choices...his awful choices, especially those that affected Autumn, Shalana and Anna. Maybe the best thing would just be to stay out of their lives. But then he remembered Jenni's reminders about God, and how He could turn the ashes of Lance's life into something beautiful.
Autumn was shocked! Could things get any more bizzarre? She was almost afraid to know the answer to that question.
"God, I just don't understand!" she cried in anguish.
"Why do You allow this stuff?" She felt guilty for beseeching God in such a manner, but she remembered her nurses reminding her that nothing was wrong with expressing her displeasure and asking God about what was going on as long as she didn't doubt His sovereignty. She knew God would do as He saw fit in His infinite wisdom. That didn't mean she understood or had to like what God did. Then a thought occurred to her; it was something to lift her plummetting spirit. All that God did was for her good, and no matter how she questioned, cried and railed, God would never abandon her.
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