“Some days grief hits you like a brick. You cry and cry until your eyes are swollen and your temple throbs. You blame the loss entirely on yourself and feel like death is the only way out. You push your hair out of your face and try to catch your breath. Shoulders hunched and fingers shaking, you want to scream because maybe that will catch someone’s attention. The last resort doesn’t need to be played out. Someone finds them in this distressed state and offers comfort. I was not of these. I can remember hearing my family in various rooms around my own and wanting them to hear my pain and come running. I wanted to be rocked and reassured like a normal child. Instead I would roll onto my side clutching my stomach in hopes of not vomiting. Eventually I drifted off into a dreamless slumber and awoke the next morning not refreshed but content for the time being,” explained Sofie. “That is what crying myself to sleep was like.”
“I see, and Sofie, why did you blame yourself?” questioned Dr. June, Sofie’s counselor.
“I asked you politely to call me by my name, Sofia,” Sofie said carefully glaring into the woman’s eyes. “And to answer your question, I blamed myself because they did.”
Dr. June looked uncomfortable under Sofie’s gaze. “That’s all for today.”
Sofie stood wordlessly and walked to the door never even sparing a glance at the clock Dr. June pointed to. As she pushed the heavy, wooden door open Dr. June called, “Same time next week.”
Relieved to be out of the stuffy room and away from Dr. June Sofie ran from the building. Sofie didn’t like Dr. June for a number of reasons but only two really made senses to her. She felt that the hollowness of the doctor’s understanding was matched only by the hospitality of her office. It was full of cheap, mismatched furniture and next to no organization. Papers and books littered nearly every surface of the office; lots layered with dust others just thrown in piles. The walls were cluttered with framed photographs of various people separating certificates which hung loosely on crooked nails.
Sofie thought Dr. June was a fraud and the untidiness of her office only deepened this suspicion. She had always thought that a person of such schooling and in such a demanding position would have some level of neatness.
To some Sofie was too judgmental, to others she was morbid and unstable, but the only true problem was loneliness. No one stopped to consider everything that had happened to her, from the time of birth life had been a never-ending struggle. She was born early and started out with medical problems her parents couldn’t afford to treat, had been tossed between mother and father until both left her in the care of the state. She had since been beaten, ignored, verbally abused, and worse. Everyone who was supposed to love her never bothered and those who were supposed to care only did it for money.
Each new move had been the same as the last. She arrived at the curb of a shabby house where she was to live for the next five or six months, the foster parents would come out and greet her and her social worker, Mrs. Whim, with phony smiles and promises of good care. Then Mrs. Whim would depart and Sofie was left to her own devises which normally meant thriving among the other foster children currently living there. After adjusting the car returned to take her elsewhere. This vicious cycle had another four years until it could end. Sofie couldn’t wait for the familiar to tire of her so she could find bliss in the unknown.
Sofie headed down the street towards “home.” Old towering buildings masked by peeling paint and boarded windows lined the road. People hustled and bustled down the sidewalk alongside her. Some riding bikes, others on foot, all avoiding the buzzing traffic two feet away. The sun shone hard overhead but the air was drafty and cool. Sofie had about a mile left to travel before reaching her street. She didn’t like public transportation; weird people rode city buses. At home dinner would be about to be put on the table, kids running to the kitchen from various places to get first grabs on food before someone ate their favorite. No one would save any food for Sofie, and she would surely hear about being late from her foster mother. It didn’t matter, Sofie wasn’t allowed to miss a visit with Dr. June called ahead and received permission. Sofie figured she had two months left with her current family until another came into the picture. With Sofie there was so much chaos and instability. The only thing she could really rely on was the clock. It only changed twice a year after all. Each time she moved Sofie had to prove to a new set of people that she could be relied on to get where she needed to be at the appropriate time. There were far worse consequences if her foster family had to drive her everywhere to make sure she went; it put them in a bad mood. Sometimes they would leave Sofie with large bruises; other times shove her in a small space and forget they locked her there. Each punishment ended up as cruel and painful as the last.
With these thoughts tracing circles in her mind Sofie turned the corner and saw an ambulance accompanied by three police cars parked in her yard. She ran the remainder of the way home and to the porch steps where she was stopped by a young police officer. Out of breath and worried something awful had happened Sofie’s temper was short.
“I’m sorry ma’am, you’re gonna have to stand back there.”
“I live here.” gasped Sofie. “What’s going on?”
“Um….,” replied the cop debating whether Sofie had spoken the truth. Impatient for his response she ducked beneath his arm and ran inside. The cop’s protests sounded behind her as he tried to hold back a drawing crowd and keep Sofie from inside. Soon his voice was out of earshot and Sofie was busy looking for someone to tell her what was happening.
Inside the T.V Room all her foster brothers and sisters sat quietly in various places. “What happened?” At first no response came to Sofie’s inquiry but then Jacob spoke up. “Rachel,” he said pausing “She tried to...She tried to kill herself.” Jacob and Rachel had been the best of friends since Rachel moved in the previous month. Jacob’s face was grim and his eyes were focused on his fingers which he had curled in his lap. It had hurt him to know so much was racing through Rachel’s mind that she hadn’t bothered sharing with him.
“Is she gonna be ok?” Sofie questioned further not noticing the tears welling up in Jacob’s eyes. His voice was shaky as he tried to control it. “I.....I didn’t f..find her in ttime.” Silence swept through the room as Jacob stood to leave trying with all his might to hide the redness in his eyes, and the tears running down his cheeks. No one said a word but some looked at Sofie angrily for bringing tears into Jacob’s eyes. Feeling guilty she went to bed early.
The next week came in silence. The morning period for Rachel was widely spread, she had been kind to everyone and some felt guilty about the way they treated her. Jacob took it the worst and was moved from the house.
Wednesday morning the car arrived to take Sofie. Mrs. Whim stepped out and rang the door bell. Sofie’s foster father answered only to be served with papers the second Mrs. Whim’s hand could fit through the slow widening crack. In the next room it took all she had to be patient and wait for her name to be called. Finally, after agonizing minutes of small talk Sofie was sent to gather her things. She couldn’t contain her smiles in the gloomy house; she was being taken a month and a half early! It never occurred to her that it might have something to do with Rachel’s suicide.
Mrs. Whim gave Sofie’s foster father one last smile before driving off. For the past eight years, since Sofie had become a ward of the state, Mrs. Whim had been her social worker. At the time Mrs. Whim had been 22 and called Miss Scant. Now 30 she was married and had several other charges. Mrs. Whim never forgot to take care of Sofie though, her very first case.
“What’s the next family’s name?” Sofie asked, partly starting conversation and partly curious. A smirk flashed a crossed Mrs. Whim’s face. “You know her,” she simply replied.
“She’s a single woman,” said Mrs. Whim, thoroughly enjoying her power.
“Single?” repeated Sofie.
Sofie couldn’t think of any single, middle aged woman she knew that fostered children. “Not yo…”
Mrs. Whim cut her off before she could finish the question.
“No, it’s not me. I’m not single silly, and I know you aren’t calling me middle aged,” she said jokingly.
Then Sofie knew. There were only two women who were in her life whether or not she wanted them to be, Mrs. Whim and Dr. June. Unpleased by this Sofie turned and looked out the window. Inside her head there was so much yelling she thought it would explode. “Dr. June? Why her? Why HER? Of all the people in this state they chose HER!” Apparently Mrs. Whim hadn’t noticed the look of anger on Sofie’s face because she continued her game. “Give up yet?” “It’s Dr. June,” Sofie said killing the taunting. “Right you are!” And with that they parked outside a cream colored house. Rushing out the front door was a woman Sofie didn’t recognize at first but then realized it was ‘her’. Wearing a powder blue blouse and black slacks, Dr. June walked as quickly as she could without tripping in her high healed shoes. All smiles Dr. June shook Mrs. Whim’s hand then Sofie’s. Everything went as it normally did except with a few changes. Dr. June’s smiles weren’t phony, nor were her promises of good care, and when Mrs. Whim departed Dr. June gave Sofie a tour of her house.
The house was larger and nicer than Sofie had ever seen more or less been about to live in. It was so different from Dr. June’s office she could hardly believe the same person inhabited both. First through the door was the T.V room. A soft off white paint covered the clean walls and offered a frame for beautiful paintings. A dark blue couch was snuggled against a far wall opposite a plasma television set. Next to the couch was a matching La-Z-Boy. The beige carpet was covered partially by an oriental, blue rug. The room was so well color coordinated Sofie couldn’t begin to imagine the next.
“And next is the kitchen,” commented Dr. June grabbing Sofie’s hand to lead her along. “This is a very beautiful house, Dr. June,” said Sofie with admiration. “Oh please, call me Molly; you’re not my patient anymore.” And with that they toured the rest of the house. Every room turned out to be as elegant as the T.V room, all except the last room. Molly pushed the white oak door open to reveal bare walls and an empty room. “What’s this room for,” questioned Sofie. “This is your room,” answered Molly. The look of disappointment must have shown on Sofie’s face because Molly quickly added, “I wanted to wait until you got here so we could decorate how you like. I’m taking off tomorrow, we could go shopping for furniture and bedding if you like.”
The next day they went out and soon after the only thing left to add to the room was the lived in look which could only come after time. Sofie was grateful for Molly’s kindness but was wary of her intentions. Sofie didn’t know if it was because Molly really did like her or just wanted Sofie to be content that she bought so much. Either way it made Sofie uncomfortable and a lot of arguing occurred. Mrs. Whim would come out and settle the dispute and a few days later they were back at it again but when Mrs. Whim asked if Sofie wanted to leave or if Molly wanted her to move both replied ‘no’. After time they adjusted and Sofie wasn’t so concerned with Molly’s reasoning because she saw that Molly spent just as much on herself. Sofie enjoyed the freedom and quiet that Molly’s residence held when there was no arguing and Molly loved the challenge Sofie presented on a daily bases. In time it was a mother daughter relationship and Molly sat Sofie down to ‘talk.’ Used to this Sofie obliged not realizing just how serious the conversation was about to get.
“Mrs. Whim called today,” began Molly. “She said it was almost time for you to leave.” Even though Sofie hadn’t liked Molly to begin with she was now quite fond of her and for once didn’t like the idea of moving. “I was hoping that you would want to stay....there is an,” Molly paused looking for the correct word. “option”
“What’s that?” Sofie eagerly asked.
“With your consent of course…adoption.”
Sofie never thought anyone would want to adopt her. After all she was just some kid whose parents didn’t want her. The shock on her face went away as Molly started to ramble on “Of course if you don’t want me to I understand, I just thought that maybe you’d want to stay. It’s ok, completely your option. I really don’t mind if you want to go. We can start back up our sessions and you can look for someone else you like b…” Sofie cut her off smiling. “Yes.” Molly looked astonished, as though she hadn’t expected this answer at all. “Yes?” Sofie shook her head in reply. Molly called Mrs. Whim to tell her and the next day Mrs. Whim began the process. Soon after Sofie was legally Molly’s daughter.
For once someone loved her when they didn’t have to and finally someone cared without gaining profit.
© ©2005 Sarah Leger