Friday, February 11, 2011
Red Writing Hood - The World Shifted
This week's prompt asked you to begin your piece with the words, "I could never have imagined" and end it with "Then the whole world shifted."
I could never have imagined what that one phone call would mean, which seems like a crazy claim considering I had been imagining it my whole life. As long as I could remember the writer inside me had constructed every possible sane and slightly insane outcome. The dreamer inside me had accepted each of those outcomes in a dramatic fashion reserved for future red carpet appearances. Yet with all those years of careful study under my belt, I stared at the phone ringing and felt ill prepared for whatever was about to happen. A mere 24 hours earlier my search for my birth family had been completed. Years of wondering about what really happened, whose eyes did I share, who could I blame for the premature gray in my hair; it was all down to answering the ringing phone.
A random stab in the dark at a library archive had given me the answer that calling government offices never did. Finding information on a closed adoption in the 70s had proved more difficult than the whole "was there a second shooter on the grassy knoll" question. Add to that a stack of paperwork with blacked out names and locations and I might as well walked up to NASA with a snorkle and fins and announced my intention to board the next shuttle for the moon. Paperwork that contained facts that couldn't be right. In handwriting and type it detailed a sad story of twin girls that were born to a family and then shut away because we cried a lot. Cried for food. Cried because our diapers needed to changed. Cried for love. Cried for someone to listen. Nobody did for months.
My mind had decided that this story had to be one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure". Somebody had written it wrong. I called the librarian of the very small town I was born in and asked if there had been a birth announcement printed back then for twins. I can almost imagine the little old librarian adjusting her glasses and racing to the exciting task of a mystery buried in her beloved papers. Within an hour she called me back with their names. I had my birth last name and it was so unusual that with a little googling I had tracked down an aunt, my grandmother and an unknown sister. I had talked in length to these three people who were preparing me to talk to the fourth. My birth mother. The one who had listened to the cries and done nothing.
The phone was ringing and to answer it was sending a knife of betrayal through my heart, but I had to answer it. I had to confirm or deny the stories I had heard. I kept picturing my adopted family in front of me. Every one of my cries had been answered by them. Ever since my adoption I had never cried alone. I had been warned by the people who really knew her, that she was crazy. She was never a mother. As my finger hovered over the button that would accept and connect the call, I could have never prepared myself for the sound of her voice. I didn't just push the button, I stabbed it on in a desperate act of courage.
"This is your birth mother (outrageous uncalled for laughter) They all lied to you. You know that right? You'll listen to me, right?"
As the sound of her laughter faded into an echo, I realized that upon hearing her voice that I felt nothing. I had no desire to hear another word and I needed no explanations anymore. It was that moment when I realized that I no longer cared. I felt that I could live my own life even without a past. It was then the whole world shifted.