Thursday, January 7, 2010
Maree: Appearing first in OGW 10/8 and 11/19, Maree is becoming increasingly frustrated with her adoptive family.
Maree: A sort of clanging knocking -- the sound of metal being hammered into place – rises from the basement through the heating vent in the kitchen. Assuming that sound goes both ways, I realize that Bill – my adoptive father, down in the basement working on the furnace – can probably hear everything I say. I’m in a hurry to finish this conversation anyway, and it’s not just because I don’t want to upset him.
But I also really, really don’t want to upset him.
“Let’s just forget it,” I say, almost whispering.
“First you tell me what I ever did to you,” Renee says.
“Nothing! I mean nothing bad.”
“You come home and you call me Renee instead of Mom, and I’m supposed to forget it? Honestly, I don’t know who you are anymore.”
“I just want to forget it,” I say at first, but ‘Mom’ sticks in my throat, and I can’t get it out and call Renee that anymore, even though I guess I should. She wants me to.
“I mean, what’s wrong with calling you Renee, it’s your name.”
“I mean, I only raised you. Why should you call me Mom. I’m only your mother.”
“But you’re not my mother!” The banging in the basement stops suddenly, and I inhale sharply. Not fear, not fear, I won’t be afraid… but I am afraid. I’m quiet. Waiting for Bill to charge up the stairs, pulling his belt off as he comes. When that doesn’t happen, and the hammering resumes, I exhale. I didn’t even know I was holding my breath. I never know when I’m holding my breath, and that’s part of the problem. I’m always afraid. If Renee were my real mother, she would protect me.
My mother will protect me.
I want to – have to – believe that. My friend Aimee tells me I shouldn’t get my hopes up. She says she’s afraid for me. But my hopes aren’t up, I’m just being realistic. A mother, a real mother, protects. Renee is just Renee, and that’s why I can’t always go swimming with the other kids in summer and sometimes I don’t shower after gym at school so everyone calls me -- or at least thinks that -- I’m gross. At least they don’t call me – well, I don’t know what they’d call me, because I’ve never shown my bruises, strips of raised flesh from Bill’s belt.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” I say, defeated. I give Renee a hug. She doesn’t hug back at first, but then she does, and once again I haven’t been breathing because now I exhale.
Everything’s okay. But she’s not my mother. Now, more than ever, I’m determined that no matter what Aimee says to warn me, I don’t care. I’m going to find my birth mother, my real mother, and then, then everything will really be okay. I will be loved for real.
“I love you,” Renee says as if she read my mind. She kisses my forehead.
I step back, smiling, not breathing, and then I hurry upstairs just as Bill is coming up from the basement.