A Nice Guy: Part 4
Hardwood floor. His mother awoke to the lovely song of the local bird population. She rolled over and looked at the alarm clock, which flashed 5:05 a.m. in red letters. She tried to put her fluffy blankets back over her head. She rolled a couple of times and eventually lost the battle between her need for a morning of peaceful rest and her regrettable decision to drink two cups of lavender tea before going to bed five very short hours before.
Her bright pink toenails shimmered with specks of glitter as they hit the floor. She regretted not replacing her slippers after Brody had chewed the soles off of them right after her son had adopted him.
She pondered for a moment if her mother and father would be proud of the way her son was turning out. She felt many times like she had betrayed them. They had such high hopes the day that they adopted her, and they have said many times that they thanked God for the opportunity to raise a child, which they had tried for years to have on their own and failed. She’s tried to push these talks out of her mind often, but eventually, the silence of the day would make these thoughts haunt the very deepest and darkest dungeons of her soul.
Rose made her way to the bathroom. She passed her son’s room, and for a brief second thought about knocking on the door. As she placed hand on the door to knock, she had a change of heart. She muttered to herself that just for today he needed to sleep. Taking a mental note of the fact that they both could use some quiet time to think about where their lives were going.
She decided to draw herself a bath, flipping on her favorite radio station 105.8, The Rattlesnake. It seemed like it took forever to turn the knob, as her son had it flipped to some weird music that turned her stomach. She wasn’t quite sure what the lyrics to the song were, something about a monkey and feeding the monkey gingerbread before beating it to death with a hammer. She shook her head and turned off the radio.
She opened the window. A rush of happiness overtook her as the cool spring air caressed her face. She giggled; this action was uncharacteristic, but the moments of naturally occurring happiness were so rare these days that she was slightly overwhelmed by this simple moment of joy.
She lit a candle, which she felt smelled just like her mother’s homemade sugar cookies. She had many happy memories of baking with her mother as a child. They would bake sugar cookies together and Rose would have the privilege of making a huge mess of the kitchen table with her very favorite things: the vanilla frosting and sprinkles. She always thought the silvery glitter on the bed of white frosting often reminded her of freshly fallen snow.
Even in her 30s, Rose often seemed to miss her mother. She loved both of her parents dearly; she had a happy childhood and was raised in a loving home for the majority of her life. A warm tear trickle down her face as she began to wonder if her only child had happy memories with her.
She thought back to taking him to the playground. As a toddler he wasn’t even driven to tears when, at age 4, he fell off the jungle gym and broke his arm. The end of his broken limb was slanted at a weird angle and losing blood at a steady drip. She took him to the doctor and he sat still when the doctor sawed through his bright green cast, which he proudly declared to the doctor that Barney and Friends had signed for him while he was at the toy store. The doctor was so impressed that he was able to sit still and be good the whole time, and he gave the youngster a stuffed purple Barney toy. The doctor pulled the little boy’s mother aside and told her that even most of the older ones are frightened by the noise of the buzzsaw and the sound of the fiberglass cracking to release the injured limb. The little boy would go on to proudly declare he was a dinosaur, pointing to his many pale white scales made of dead human skin. Rose put on her loudest and most scary dinosaur roar and her child tried his best to make a louder and scarier dinosaur noise. After all, he was a T-Rex he said, and those were the scariest dinosaurs in all of the jungle. She was impressed with the complete lack of fear and apprehension.
When Rose was a child, she was easily frightened. She would often hide under the covers and shake when there was a thunderstorm. Her father eventually bought her a little orange kitten that they thought would give her company during these times, but instead trembled intensely under the covers with her. She would eventually learn to read, and she read the kitten a few her favorite children’s books.
As she lay in the bathtub, allowing the steaming water to take away her troubles, she couldn’t help but think about the first day she met her parents. Rose had met her parents for the first time in an orphanage outside Detroit when she was 3 years old. The people that ran the orphanage would make the children put on their Sunday best and plaster huge, seemingly unnatural, smiles on their faces.
Rose had to put her hair up in pigtails and wear shiny, white Mary Jane shoes. She was also coaxed into a dress that appeared to be made from a material that was a knockoff of chiffon of Pepto-Bismol pink, with the promise of parents.
Sadly, during most of this despicable event, children were put on display, stared at, and examined curiously, much in the same way as the saddest polar bears cubs you could ever hope to see at the zoo, which one would assume had seen its better days a few decades ago.
One memory that always seemed to particularly disturb the woman in question was a memory that took place when she was 4 years old, and the young child was introduced to a couple she remembered well, even to this day.
A man in a starched navy blue colored business suit and his wife who was wearing a sky blue colored dress and pillbox hat to match.
The family was visiting the orphanage that day in hopes of expanding their family; they had a pretty little blonde girl around Rose’s age tagging along behind them. Like many kids at the orphanage, Rose was acutely aware that it was important to make a good impression on all of the prospective family members. Rose smiled at the little girl and gave the newcomer her yellow balloon that she had gotten from the clown that was often at the orphanage in the attempt to create the illusion of happy times.
The toddler angrily gave her potential future playmate her balloon, which was colored a cheerful shade of yellow. The little child with the wavy blonde hair kicked the little orphan girl in the leg and popped the balloon. That moment of destruction of the little sunshine colored orb would serve as the perfect metaphor for the switch that was flipped in the mind of the youngster. That day would forever be imprinted in her mind. The little girl would then become this distraught mother. Of course, this was due to the woman living without any real loving connections in her formative years. The natural need a mother has to make her child feel safe and happy was, to say the least much, more intense.
The real reason that recalling that horrible day in her childhood was so difficult for Rose was because of what the prospective parents had said. When the man’s child had popped her balloon, the little orphan girl could not hold back her tears. As the orphan girl’s face turned red and little droplets of saltwater fell from her cheeks onto the bright pink chiffon, the mother of the little girl with the blonde hair looked at the orphan with a look which can only be described as pure disgust. The woman smiled, turned to her husband, and as she was still watching the little orphan out of the corner of her eye she said, “well, honey, this is what I warned you about. A lot of these kids have problems and are depressed. They wind up in Willowbrook. I’m not going to visit a member of our family while they sit in a straitjacket and are covered in pureed beef and week-old carrots. I told you before, I want to try to have another baby of our own. I don’t want someone else’s baby, I just want my own. I don’t care what the doctor said, Juliet deserves to have a baby brother or sister, and someday she will have a sibling, but the parents of these kids didn’t want them so why would I?”
The little orphan girl could feel the oatmeal she had for breakfast welling up into her throat. Her porcelain face became hot and red again, distorting what would for sure be the world’s most adorable freckles on her cheeks.
She had failed that day during that unfortunate encounter with the strangers, who the little girl felt she was so desperate to convince that she was worthy of the simplest things a child could ask for, to convince them that she was worthy of love and a home. One might very well find themselves asking if it was possible that the insecurities, which this strange woman was tormented by, were the reasons behind her severe lack of empathy, but the answer is no.
A couple of months after that traumatic day, which would be forever etched in the child’s memory, the unusual woman, her timid husband, and their balloon-murdering daughter had returned to that place to finish the mission they had set out on: to expand their family. The forlorn little orphan girl leaned against the side of the old, decrepit building with the brightly colored purple paint, which always seemed to be coming off in rather large chunks. This is one of the reasons the orphanage would be forced to close its doors forever just a few short years later, due in large to unsafe living conditions, along with quite a few violations of child labor laws.
When the young girl noticed that the unpleasant strangers arrived at the orphanage once again, Rose could not help but wonder why the family had changed their mind and listened a little too intently to the families exchange as they walked through the environment, which was way too zoo-like to honestly be called an orphanage.