Jack had his daughter's name to go on. Maria Flores Garcia. He knew the address as well, but not much else. He felt some trepidation as he made his way up to the front door. There was no doorbell so he knocked loudly, three times with the knocker. He waited and wondered whether anyone would answer or if he had hit upon a dead end. But then the door opened and there stood a small Mexican lady before him. Her round face had a cheerful expression. She greeted him in rapid Spanish, but then, when he replied, switched to English. "Hello, handsome young man, what can I do for you?" she asked.
Jack felt his nervousness increased. "I-I am your donor," he said hesitantly. She gave him a quizzical look with her bright black eyes. He inwardly cursed his own foolishness. What evidence did he have that she was Maria's mother? She looked to be under forty… He showed her the document the lawyer had given to him. Her dark eyes widened and she put a hand to her smooth, brown face. Then she threw her arms around his waist, hugging him tight. "I knew you'd come, my sweet boy," she said, her voice trembling with emotion. "After you gave me Maria I knew you would do more right." She turned her face up to beam at him. Jack felt a powerful surge of affection for and at the same time a quiver in the realisation that this was Maria's mother… so sperm he had given had gone into her. They were joined by flesh and blood, but unlike her, he was so joined to an army of other women too… his head began to spin at the thought. She clasped his hands. "I'm Gabriela," she told him. "Maria's inside, she wants to see you." They walked into the hallway which was pleasantly cool after the blazing heat outside. "You are big and strong," Gabriela observed suddenly. "It's clear you make big, strong children." She pushed open the wooden door of the back room. They were in a room with large glass doors at the far end opening onto the garden and at the table sat none other than Maria!
Her hazel eyes widened as she saw Jack. "Honey, this is Jack…" said Gabriela, but Maria was already on her feet.
"Dad?" she breathed staring at Jack transfixed. She was a big girl, Jack noticed, not like her little mother. Her face was quite pale as she gazed at him. A gaze he knew to be so like his own. Her bottom lip trembled. He felt himself trembling too, seeing his daughter face to face for the first time. Why had it been so long? Couldn't he have tried to contact them all sooner?
"This is the kind man who helped me have you, sweetie…" faltered Gabriela. "When I wanted another baby…"
Maria rushed up to Jack and hugged him tight. He could feel her shaking with sobs. Wishing he knew what else to do, Jack stroked her hair and rubbed her back. Maria looked up at him, eyes, so like his own, shone with tears. "Dad? My dad?" she whispered.
"Yes!" he replied, glad of a question he could answer. He placed his hands on her shoulders, hoping this would reassure her. "You are my daughter too."
She gulped. Fresh tears sparkled in her eyes. "You must – don't – you must stay with me now…"
"Let's all sit down and talk," suggested Gabriela hastily.
They sat at the table, Maria inserting herself firmly in the seat right next to Jack. "Can you tell me why…" she began, her voice still unsteady. "Now mom, I know what you will tell me… but I've always wanted to ask Jack… why donate your sperm? Is it the money, or did you want to spread your amazing genes?" She was a very pretty child, even when she had been crying. Jack felt helpless. What kind of explanation would satisfy her?
Gabriela answered hastily; "Jack worked for Dr Davinia, right?"
"Right!" said Jack, eagerly jumping at the answer. "She employed me. Being a sperm donor was one of my duties."
"I went to her for a check up," said Gabriela. "She showed pictures of him and I actually saw him once," Gabriela now sounded troubled. "I was much younger then… and he didn't see me … he was so beautiful and she said he donated sperm and I could request it free of charge…" Jack turned to stare at her in amazement.
"Oh Mom!" wailed Maria. "I've waited my whole life to hear what Jack says. He's my father, not yours!"
"I worked for Davinia and she told me to give my sperm for her to give to women who wanted to be mothers…" said Jack, almost beginning to stutter in his agitation. "I'm sorry, I never actually met Gabriela till today," he pulled his apologetic face at Gabriela who now looked quite unhappy. "But I'm here for you now!" he added firmly. "I'm not going to leave. I may be late, but I'm answering to wish you made in your video." He knew as soon as the words left his mouth that they were rash. Now he felt bound by them. But Maria's face lit up from within and she flung her arms around him again. "Daddy," she cried, her face buried in his shirt. "We've so much to do, so much to say…"
"Do we ever have a lot to do?" said Jack. "Think of all your brothers and sisters! We're going to find them." Maria looked up at him, her face glowing with happiness. She put her hand in his. Her hands, long fingered, pale and slender, so like his own.
Gabriela gave a happy exclamation in Spanish. She jumped to her feet and placed a small brown hand on each of them. "That's the spirit! I told you it would be all right Maria, I told you!"
At this moment, Jack knew that he had made progress. The very first step in climbing a mountain.
How will Jack and Maria go about finding their colossal family?