Gen 1 Prologue:
World : Everything Island by Ruth Kay.
Custom pose list added to credits page
This Chapter is Rated PG 13. Language and minor adult subject matter
“Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.” Benjamin Franklin
It’s amazing how your entire life can change in the course of an instant. How a simple action can cause your entire world to unravel like an old sweater…
Quietly, I opened the door to my mother’s bedroom. Once I stepped inside I paused to listen to make sure I was alone. I heard nothing but the distant ticking of the clock in the hall way, and the neighbors dog barking in the yard.
She wouldn’t be happy for what I was about to do, but I was almost 20 and starting college soon, and I wanted to be like any other 20-year-old girl and have my driver’s license.
I felt a momentary stab of guilt, that I quickly swallowed. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was simply looking for my birth certificate so I could apply for a social security card, in the hopes that I would be able to get my driver’s license.
I looked around my mothers flawlessly tidy room and absently scratched my head. You should just ask her yourself instead of snooping through your mothers personal things, I thought. I frowned as I made my way over to the dresser. I had asked, many times, and the answer was always the same. “You know how I feel about you driving.” My mother would say giving me the pained look that only a mother could perfect.
And like every time, I would drop it, and let it go, I hated to see her sad, to drudge up memories that were just to painful.
Before I was born, my father died in a car accident, and when my mom was a young girl, she had lost her older brother the same way. It made sense that she worried about her only daughter getting behind the wheel, and until now, I had respected her feelings on the subject.
What she didn’t know, would pain her greatly. One of my best friends Angela had been teaching me how to drive, and I was more than ready for my own license…
I pulled open the top drawer and pulled out a manila folder and a wicker box filled with documents and magazines. I dumped it all on top of the dresser and rifled through it, smiling as I looked at what I assumed where my baby pictures.
Why wouldn’t these be in the album, I thought a frown creasing my face. I didn’t have many photo’s from my early childhood, and until this point had never seen a baby picture of myself. Why would she lie?
I picked up one of the pictures, smiling at the chubby faced infant in the photo. She looks so young, I thought stroking my mom’s face on the photo gently. I turned the picture around and saw my mothers handwriting.
Melissa, 6 months.
Melissa? I thought puzzled. Who the hell is Melissa?
I set down the photo and grabbed the next off the stack. A chubby armed toddler me was being held by my mother while my father looked at us proudly. My father? My eyes widened in shock. He died before I was born, or so I had been told. Why would she lie to me, and why did they call me Melissa instead of Madeline?
I rifled through the pile until I found a birth certificate, and held it in trembling hands.
Melissa Ann Drake, born December 13th 1972.
1972? I wanted to scream and cry at the same time. I felt my face grow warm, and then cold, like all the blood had drained from my face, leaving me feeling sick and weak. I dropped the birth certificate back down into the pile and shoved the box and envelope back into the drawer when I heard the front door open announcing my mother’s arrival.
I closed the bedroom door quietly my heart thumping quickly in my chest, not because I worried about being busted snooping, but because I had so many questions swirling in my head like debris from a tornado. Why had my mother lied to me, and who was Melissa? Because I clearly wasn’t born in 1972.
I descended the stairs weak kneed, and slightly light-headed. There is a rational explanation for all of this, I told myself. There has to be.
“You’re home early.” I said from the door way, keeping my face neutral despite my tumult thoughts.
My mom bended to take her heals off and rubbed her sore feet through her stockings and smiled at me.
“You scared me Madeline.” She smiled at me. “It was slow at the office, so I decided to head home early. What sounds good for dinner? We haven’t gone out in a while. Feel like accompanying your old mom out to dinner?” She smiled at me, her green eyes lighting up.
“I want to get my license mom.” I blurted. “I know it scares you since you lost dad and your brother in-car accidents, but I’m 19 almost 20, and I’m going away to college soon…” My voice trailed off.
“Oh Madeline.” My mom sighed looking frazzled. “You know how I feel about you driving, but I always knew this moment would come.” She sighed and looked down into her lap.
“Mom?” I asked worriedly when she was quiet as if lost in thought. She looked a million years away.
“Who is Melissa?” I asked. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to know.
My mother spun her head around to look at me, her face was pale, like she had aged 20 years in an instant.
“Where did you hear that name?” She whispered, her voice was rough and thick sounding like she was very near to tears.
“I went in your room to look for my birth certificate so I could apply for a social security card. You were always putting it off and changing the subject, so I figured I would take matters into my own hands. I saw the baby pictures. At first I thought it was me, until I saw the name Melissa on the back of them. Who is Melissa mom?” I asked.
My mom stood up suddenly, her back was rigid and stiff.
“Mom?” I asked feeling near to tears. “Your scaring me.”
I stood up. “Mom?”
She turned to face me, her face was pale, and her eyes glossy with unshed tears that tugged at my heartstrings.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked again, I was very worried now. I hadn’t ever seen my mom like this before, and it scared the hell out of me.
“I always knew this moment would come.” She murmured flicking away a tear on her cheek. “I don’t know why I ever thought I could hide the truth. Secrets have a way of revealing themselves no matter how hard you try to keep them buried.”
I had to hold the wall to keep myself steady. I felt like my legs were going to give out. I had a feeling that the truth was not going to be something I was ready to hear, and that it was going to change everything…
“I’ll make us some tea.” My mom straightened her back and smiled at me, even though the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.
That was my mother. When it came down to un-pleasantries she always brought out the food and drinks, I thought. Very proper indeed my mother was.
My mother set down a mug of tea in front of me, and sat down in the chair next to me. She wrapped her hands around the steaming mug and looked down into the dark liquid as if it revealed untold secrets. She was quite for a long time, and I could only make up theories in my head.
Theory one. My mom and dad had another daughter before I was born. Melissa, but for some unknown reason, she passed away leaving my parents grief-stricken.
Theory two. I was adopted or kidnapped. I chose not to entertain that theory. My mother and I looked too much alike, we clearly were related.
“Melissa is your mother, she was-is, my daughter.” Her eyes closed and her shoulders slumped in defeat. I watched a tear work its way down her cheek.
I pushed the mug away roughly the contents splashing out over the sides.
“Excuse me?” I threw my arms up. “You’re my grandmother?” I shouted, feeling like I was going to be sick. “And you never thought to tell me before now?”
I felt a small measure of guilt as I watched my mother-grandmother flinch at my harsh tone.
“Please let me explain.” She begged, reaching out to grasp my hands. I pulled my hands away quickly and stood up almost knocking over the chair in my haste to get away from her.
“Madeline…please.” Her tearful voice pleaded with me.
I had to get out of there. If I stayed in that house one more second I was going to fall apart. I slammed the front door and took off in a brisk run. The early spring air was chilly, but I could hardly feel the chill on my arms as I ran down the street towards one of my favorite spots. The lake.
I sat down on the hard wooden bench and stared out over the water. I felt something wet on my cheek. I reached a hand up to my face and wiped away a tear. One tear, is if I cried out all the others and had none left to give.
I closed my eyes, and let the emotions slam against me like a ship in a hurricane.
My whole entire life was a lie. My mother wasn’t really my mother at all, but my maternal grandmother. Why keep that such a secret? Children were raised by grandparents all the time for a variety of reasons, and yet they chose not to lie about it. Surely there was more to the story, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to hear any of it.
She had always told me she had me late in life, that she and my father had a rough time getting pregnant with me, and they finally got lucky in there late 30’s. Lies, all lies, I thought leaning forward to stare into the lake.
No wonder she didn’t want me ever seeing my birth certificate and social security card, she didn’t want to reveal her secret, I thought bitterly. I should have questioned this a long time ago.
I stood up on stiff legs and looked up at the pink and orange sky. The sun was setting. I rubbed my arms briskly, I had sat on that bench lost in thought for hours. I had no choice but to head home and face her whether I was ready too or not.
The lights were on when stopped in the driveway looking up at the house I had been raised in my entire life. She had always joked that she went to bed early like the old woman she was, but despite the late hour, she was waiting for me.
“I’m home.” I whispered from the doorway, looking in and seeing her head in her hands crying softly. The crushing weight of guilt settled on my shoulders and I felt myself soften somewhat towards her. She had only done what she thought was best, I thought sadly.
I pulled out the chair beside her and sat, not knowing what to say. My tongue felt thick and glued to the roof of my mouth.
She looked up her eyes streaked with tears that felt like an arrow aimed right at my heart. I hated to see her cry.
“I’m so glad your back–I was so worried.” She whispered. “You know, I never ment for you to find out like this…” Her voice trailed off.
“I’m sorry for lying to you all these years, but I did it to protect you, please understand that.” She said firmly reaching out for my hand, and wincing slightly when I pulled my hand away.
“Protect me from what? My real mother?” I felt my temper flare up, and I wondered why my real mother had given me up.
“Melissa was a spirited girl.” My mother began her eyes focused on the wall, as if she was instead seeing distant memories instead of the ugly wallpaper. “Your Grandfather and I were very busy with our careers back when Melissa was young.” She paused a look of pain crossing her features. “She was always getting into trouble one way or another. Your grandfather, especially laid into her, and that pushed her away. She ran away, and we were frantic.” She closed her eyes. “There is no worse feeling in the world then a mother who has no idea where her child is, at this point she was heavily into drugs and drinking. We feared the worst, and with every phone call or knock at our door we feared it was the police to tell us that Melissa was found dead. You can’t imagine the thoughts that would cross my mind.” She opened her eyes and looked at me.
“We had filed a police report on her, of course, but as the leads dried up, so did our hopes. Your grandfather, god rest his soul took to drinking his pain away, the loss of Melissa was so hard on him. He got behind the wheel and crashed into a tree and died.” She paused grief marring her features, for several minutes she was unable to speak.
Finally she took a deep breath then continued. “Then one day, out of the blue, I remember it like it was yesterday, I was sitting at the kitchen table looking through Melissa’s old baby pictures when Melissa strolled through the front door like she had never left. In her arms was a baby. You. Her daughter, my grandchild. I was overjoyed to see her again, that my baby girl was ok. She was way to skinny, and she didn’t look well. It was clear that drugs had ravaged her body, but there you were. So pink and healthy looking. She placed you in my arms, and asked for something to eat.”
Her eyes darkened. “Melissa told me little about the past two years of her life. She had lived on the streets, and had earned an income by prostitution.” She grimaced, a look of pure pain crossing her face.
“My mother was a prostitute?” I blurted feeling the blood drain from my face. “Does she even know who my dad is?” I couldn’t help it, I began to laugh. I laughed until tears started streaming down my face. “I’m the daughter of a whore, and god knows who my father is!” I laughed again, wiping away tears of laughter from my hazel eyes.
“This is why I wanted to protect you.” My grandmother said sadly. “You looked to be about one years old, and one thing I can say about Melissa is that you looked healthy, and well fed. I had put you in Melissa’s old crib, I dug out of the attic, and tended to Melissa. She was starving, and ate everything she was given without complaint. Her bedroom was the exact same as when she had left it. I tucked her in, so very grateful for my second chance. I woke up the next morning and she was gone, like I had imagined the entire thing. I ran into the spare bedroom so afraid she had taken you with, but there you were, looking up at me from your crib and smiled.” Her voice trailed off. “I may have lost my daughter for the second time, but I had a second shot at raising my granddaughter, and I was going to make sure you would never want for a thing.”
“You never thought to look for her?” I asked feeling the tears stream down my face.
“Of course I did, I hired a private investigator, I was desperate to have my Melissa back, so she could see her daughter grow up, but every lead once again turned up empty. Once someone is living on the streets, more often than not, it’s very hard to find them again. But I had you, and you needed my love and devotion, and you had it from the moment I saw you. You looked so much like Melissa…”
“So this is why you really didn’t want me to drive. You had no birth certificate, since I wasn’t your real daughter.” I said softly.
“This is true.” She whispered, looking much older, like the story had aged her 40 years. “Your birthday December 29th, is the day I saw you for the first time. I didn’t know anything else about you, except for your name Madeline. I’m so sorry Maddy. I should have told you the truth right from the beginning.” Her green eyes pleaded with me for forgiveness that I wasn’t yet ready to give.
I stood up and pushed in the chair. “I want to be alone.” I said firmly feeling the tears spring up behind my eyelids.
“I understand.” She said quietly looking down into her cold mug of tea. “Just know one thing Maddy, I love you. More than anything. I lied to protect you, and I pray that one day you can forgive me.”
My legs felt stiff as I stood there, and I held on to the back of the chair for support. “We’ll see.” I then whirled around and ran upstairs to my room, before the tears could fall…
I threw myself down on my peach lacy bedspread and let the tears fall. I am the daughter of a whore, how is that for the truth, I berated myself. See what happens when you want the truth? I cried into my pillow, the pillow muffling the sounds of my screams.