It is a breezy March afternoon. I stare out at the scene before me as I note just how much the Season of Birth has made it's presence known. The lake is lined with a seemingly never-ending line of cherry blossom trees. The salmon pick petals are found in irregular clusters on the wayward branded of the trees. Daffodils are scattered across the landscape, their golden heads hanging low, staring at the ground below. The manicured lawn does it's job excellently in concealing the less eye-pleasing mud. Thin clouds of a creamy beige are reflected in the pale water of the lake. To complete this picturesque scene, a sky of an azure blue hangs overhead. My vision starts to blur as I get dragged into my past. Seline calls out for me. “Mia? Are you listening? Come inside this very minute,” there is anger in her voice. Seline, who is never angry. Seline who is my mother but I never call her one. I love this memory of us. I cling to the sweater I've been knitting for Jess, my daughter. I cling to the sweater, pretending it is my memory of me and Seline. I hold it close to my heart, pretending that if I leave it, it will fade away.
Seline had said that I was adopted. By now, the name of the agency, “Meet the children” has been committed to my memory. She had been told that my parents died in a car accident and so my relatives handed me over to the adoption agency. She tells me that I was very little when she adopted me. Just a baby i.e. a one year old. How weird will it sound when I tell my children that I was adopted and that my whole life I lived with someone else who wasn’t my real mother. But I will also tell them that Seline loved me more than a real mother would. Just so very much!
Today, Mom told us that she had been adopted. My fake grandma's name is Seline( don't tell Mom that I called our Grandma, fake. Please.)Well, she isn't related by blood to us but Mom gets extremely furious if by mistake, Bryce, my brother or I say that. She says Grandma Seline loved her very, very much. More than a real mother would. Mom loves Grandma Seline so much, more than she loves us, maybe. But, my sixth sense keeps indicating something. It keeps saying that there is more to the picture that has been shown to us. There is more to the truth of Grandma Seline.
Bryce has been given a new project today. He has to prepare an Art Journal. I love Art and so I know just the right things to use for the prompts that he has been given. After lunch, I’ve decided to climb up the attic: I’ll take out some old books, magazines and some wilted flowers. Oh, there is just so much to do! Today is Grandma Seline ’s fifth death anniversary. And so, Mom has prepared her favorite dishes: she has cooked some peas and cauliflower . Vegetables? Disgusting. While sitting at the lunch table, I pretend to eat the peas , while in real, I’m throwing them in my lap. I’ll bargain these with Bryce in exchange of his homework. How perfect!
Jess is just so very much like Seline. Where the blues of her eyes is exactly the same as that of Seline’s, her nose is pointy in the same way too. Unlike Seline, Jess detests vegetables but I was quite impressed by her disciplinary act at the lunch table today. Not only did she finish an entire plate of vegetables, she also offered to help me with the dishes. Naughty girl, something is definitely cooking in her mind.
My hands are shaky and my palms, sweaty. My vision is blurry with the never-ending tears. My heart is beating furiously against my chest and my brain is confused. I don’t even have the slightest idea of what to do with the pamphlet lying in front if me. On the pamphlet is a baby picture. The baby looks so much like me. But that is not me, of course. The baby has green eyes while I’ve blue. Amongst the quick calculations, my mind reaches a conclusion. The conclusion might not make sense but it is an exact interpretation of what the pamphlet in front of me says. There in black, bold letters is written “CHILD ABDUCTION." There in front of me is the same baby picture Mom has shown me and Bryce over a trillion times now. The very same picture Grandma Seline had given to her, saying that these were the very clothes, she received her in. The very same dimples, the very same eyes, the very same footies, the bib…. I feel choked as a sudden realization comes running into my mind. Mom had been kidnapped. And the kidnapper was none other than Grandma Seline, of course.
Jess has been up in the attic for almost an hour now. Usually, when she climbs up the attic, there is a lot of noise and disturbance . So much so that our neighbors next door get fed up and come running into our house, complaining. Something is just not right. Though my baby girl is only ten, she is immensely active and nothing stops her from working fast. My heart and mind start wandering in all the wrong directions. They start to assume things that they shouldn’t. What if something has happened to Jess? I shrug away the thought and ascend the attic.
My mind is mad. My body is mad. And I am mad: at life, at Grandma Seline and Mom. The question seems obvious but I can’t help but say it out aloud. How did you not know it , Mom? “Know what, sweetie?” Mom is here. Mom. Mom. Mom.
I’m standing still with my back towards Mom. “What’s the matter, Jess? What did I not know?” There is a certain edge to Mom’s voice. “C'mon. You’re worrying me up. What did I not know?” Gathering my wits together, I turn around. Mom’s expressions change. Maybe from worrying up a bit more. Maybe from seeing my puffy eyes. Maybe from seeing my runny nose. Or maybe from the weird pamphlet in my hand. “Did you really not know, Mommy?” I manage to say, my voice is barely a whisper.
Mommy. She called me Mommy just now. She never calls me Mommy: only when she is in trouble. Only when she feels pity for me. The last time she called me that was when Seline died. “What’s the matter, sweetheart?” But instead of answering my question, she embraces me into a hug. The tears that had been held back after seeing me, now flow like a waterfall. Whoooosh. “Mommy. She lied to you. Grandma Seline lied to you.” I become furious. How dare she talk about her like that. But she senses my anger, and her grip on me tightens. “Mommy you had not been adopted by Grandma Seline,” she continues. “She kidnapped you.”