Finding X, A Short Story by Kayla L. Mathys


finding x cover

***Though certain names, details, and scenes have been edited or added, this story was written using Chat GPT 3.***

Dorothy stood on the rooftop of her apartment building, gazing at the sprawling city of Seattle. The autumn breeze whispered through her hair, carrying a sense of restlessness that matched the turmoil within her heart. She had spent her entire life wondering about the father she had never known, and today, she made a decision that would change her life forever. 

Clutched within her hands was a letter, crinkled and yellowed from the decades it had spent buried at the bottom of an old shoebox that had been shoved in the very back of a barely-used closet. 

The letter was from her father.

the letter written by Dorothy's father
After finding this letter from her father, Dorothy decides to track him down.

Dear Sandy,

I want to say congratulations, but I know that wouldn’t be enough. I can imagine you scoffed as you read that line, didn’t you? And now you have that cute little frown on your face because you’ve always hated how much I see you. But I can’t stop. I won’t. I know you better than I know myself, and I know I always will. You have no reason to believe me, but it’s true…

I’m getting carried away, I know. I just needed you to know that you’re always in my thoughts, even now. And so is our baby girl. I heard you named her Dorothy, after your great-grandmother, the woman you so admire. Did you think I would forget that?

I also heard you haven’t returned home in months. You moved to California with Randall and haven’t been seen since, though I don’t believe the rest of the gossip about you that’s been circling around… I hope it’s not true.

I also hope that if you should ever find yourself in New York City, you’ll come to me. I would like to meet our Dorothy if you’ll let me. I know I can’t give you the life you might have wanted for us, but I’d still like to be a part of it, for however long you and our Dorothy will have me. And if either of you should ever need anything, you know I can help. 

I’ll love you always,


The letter was stamped with an address in New York City, and even though she knew it might be crazy, Dorothy decided she would embark on a journey across the country to find the answers she’d been seeking her whole life. 

Her mother, Sandra, had always been tight-lipped about her father's identity. She would offer vague hints and change the subject whenever Dorothy pressed her for details. Either that or she would concoct imaginative stories based on fairytales. Such as when she told Dorothy that her father was a prince from a faraway land who didn’t even know her name but still had a shoe she’d left behind in her hurry to get back before her parents realized she was gone. 

When Dorothy was a teenager, she’d been suspicious of every man who entered her mother’s orbit, wondering whether or not they could secretly be her father. But her suspicions were never confirmed. Her mother had taken her secret to the grave.

At some point, Dorothy had become comfortable with the uncertainty. In recent years, she had hardly wondered about him at all. She assumed that her father hadn’t really wanted to be one, and therefore adopted the mentality of her grandmother, who when Dorothy had inquired whether she knew who her father was, had replied,

“I have my suspicions of course, but only your mother truly knows, and I’ve made peace with that. Besides, I can’t imagine it would do anyone any good to go looking for confirmation now, would it?”

But the time for ambiguity was over. Dorothy wanted to know, and she was determined to uncover the truth—even if it meant leaving everything she knew behind.

quote: Dorothy wanted to know, and she was determined to uncover the truth—even if it meant leaving everything she knew behind.

She sold her bike and put her mother’s house in the capable hands of her best friend, Jade, who was going to fulfill her mother’s dying wish for the house by using it to host the yoga and art retreat she was conducting. Then, with a small suitcase and a pocketful of hope, Dorothy boarded a bus bound for the East Coast. 

Days turned into weeks as Dorothy journeyed across the vast expanse of America. She marveled at the ever-changing landscapes, from the misty mountains of Montana to the endless plains of Nebraska. Along the way, she encountered a colorful array of characters, each with their own stories and dreams. Their tales served as a reminder that everyone had their own journey, their own secrets waiting to be unearthed.

quote: everyone had their own journey, their own secrets waiting to be unearthed.
Dorothy sets out on a journey across the country, and meets many interesting people along the way.

Finally, the bustling city greeted her with a whirlwind of noise and lights, an overwhelming contrast to the serene Pacific Northwest she had left behind. Dorothy navigated the maze of streets, her eyes scanning each face in the crowd, searching for a connection, a hint of familiarity. All she had was the address and a single letter, X, to go on. 

Luckily, her job at the magazine afforded her plenty of resources to do some digging. Her boss was even giving her a huge break by allowing her to chase down the story and write about it. If she nailed this, not only would she finally connect with her father but she would also get to establish herself in her career. 

She rented a small apartment in Brooklyn, determined to make New York her base of operations. Armed with a tattered photograph of her mother as a teenager, the address from the letter, and the first letter of what she assumed to be her father’s name, Dorothy set out to find the man who had played a part in her existence.

After a few days of internet research and phone calls, she was able to find out that the address belonged to a modest apartment building on the Upper West Side and was owned by a man named Xavier Yamasaki. When Dorothy heard the name, she felt a tingle race up her spine and knew it was him. 

Certain she had found her father, Dorothy immediately grabbed her phone and headed out. Dorothy's heart raced as she climbed the stairs to the fourth floor apartment, anticipation and fear warring within her. She knocked on the door, and after what felt like an eternity, it swung open to reveal a man in his late fifties, his eyes widening in surprise.

"Dorothy?" he stammered, his voice tinged with disbelief.

"Yes," she replied, her voice barely above a whisper. "I'm Dorothy. I... I think you might be my father."

Tears welled in his eyes as he embraced her tightly, an emotional dam breaking within him. He led her into his apartment, where a worn leather armchair sat near a window overlooking the city. They settled into the room, and he began to recount a story Dorothy had yearned to hear her entire life.

quote: Tears welled in his eyes as he embraced her tightly, an emotional dam breaking within him
Dorothy finally reunites with her father.

As the first-born son of a very traditional Japanese-American family, his fate had been carved for him before he was even born. His parents had determined who he would marry and how he would spend his life, and he’d been powerless to challenge them. He had spent years regretting his choices, wishing he’d had the courage to stand up to his parents, but he never stopped loving her mother, even though she made it clear she wanted nothing to do with him.

“She was angry,” Xavier, her father, said with a solemn look in his eyes. “And she had a right to be. It wasn’t fair to her, to any of us involved.”

He explained that the woman his parents had forced him to marry was a good woman, a faithful and devoted wife and mother to their two sons. However, his wife had eventually divorced him after raising their two boys to adulthood.

“She knew I would never love her in the same way as I loved your mother,” he said.

He’d fought to stay in this apartment, refusing to leave it just in case Dorothy or Sandra ever came to find him. He’d been holding out hope for this moment for years, just like Dorothy had.

Days turned into weeks as Dorothy and Xavier forged a fragile bond, bridging the years of separation. They walked through Central Park, sharing stories and laughter, slowly stitching together the fragments of their fractured past. Dorothy discovered a shared love of music, and Xavier taught her to play the guitar, the strings serving as a melodic thread connecting them.

As the winter snowflakes danced outside their window, Dorothy's heart began to heal. She had found her father, and in him, a missing piece of herself. But she also realized that the journey was not just about finding answers; it was about discovering who she was, independent of her longing for the past.

With the coming of spring, Dorothy made her peace with New York and bid farewell to her father. The journey had brought her to a place of understanding, and now it was time to return to Seattle, to the life she had put on hold. She knew her father would always be a part of her, but she had her own path to forge.

As she arrived in Seattle, she felt confident in what her future held for her. She stepped onto the familiar streets, her heart filled with a newfound sense of purpose. Dorothy had found her father, but more importantly, she had found herself. 

And armed with the lessons learned on her journey, she was ready to embrace the road ahead.

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