I would be lying if I said I was satisfied with my life right now. To be exact, I don’t think I’ve ever been content in the slightest. Instead I’ve been on autopilot, doing what's expected of me, trying my best to follow social norms, but I just don’t fit in and I’ve known this to be so for a long time. I don’t belong here.
“Vicky.” I grimace at the sudden sound of my name. I was so lost in thought that I forgot about that person next to me. I quickly fixed my furrowed brows to turn over & look at him with false hope in my eyes. Remember, look dreamy in the eyes and slightly pouty in the lips. And don’t forget, my voice is to sound as sweet as nectar. The art of lying, I’ve mastered it from a young age. My blunt behavior had to be corrected by my doting parents so I could thrive in the world. Someone as brutally honest as I was would never be accepted by the rest of society.
“Stefan,” I cooed. Internally I shoved my fist into my mouth. I stroked his shaven head and drew circles on his bare chest. He loves when I’m extremely flirtatious in all settings, loves it more when I pretend to be his mother behind closed doors. Stefan has a mommy complex.
I was raised in an ordinary family that did nearly everything together. Compared to everyone else, they were the most compassionate people I have ever met. And they showed a lot of patience with me who was so flawed. A child who later became Victoria Bird was originally a nameless girl.
“Vicky, you’ll be late for work,” said Stefan. He was right. I was going to be late, but part of me didn’t care. I was once so optimistic about this profession, but after that event in time, I lost interest in trying to make a change. The pursuit of it revolved around honoring my parents. I too, wanted to alter someone’s life for the better. Then my resolve shifted.
I had gone from foster home to the next known as a problematic child. Every fight was instigated and finished by my own hands. The difference was clear as day between the other children and I. As a child who could not feel; I grew interested in the emotions of other kids my age. They were transparent and adults easily wore masks. I could take advantage of the children around me, keep them quiet as I continued to investigate what brought on happiness, terror, & love to mention a few. Children allowed me time while adults didn’t have the patience. As it became apparent that I would no longer be welcomed within the homes of families, the last places that would accept me were group homes. By then I had simmered down, coming to the conclusion that emotions are useless for existence. However, the Birds proved me wrong.
By the time I was twelve, I had spent the last seven years in Mother Mary’s Group Home. I had witnessed some kids go home, some of the same kids come back, others adopted, or they moved onto another foster home. Only I remained along with another kid named Charles Richards. Though I wasn’t keen on playing with other kids, I’d entertain Charles because he was different. He was like almost any other child at Mother Mary’s, but he felt just as lost as I was. Somehow, during our time together we had become comrades.
The day I left Charles behind, is the day I was taken in by the Birds. I was suggested as a potential adoptee by a staff member named Tracy Adams. She was oddly sweet, but I always had an inkling that Ms. Adams wasn’t the woman she appeared to be. She became someone I favored because she was at least always honest with me and could easily bribe me with treats. Charles & I always preferred Ms. Adams over the other staff members.
During my first meeting with the Birds it was Ms. Adams who quickly introduced us. It was also her who distracted Charles while I became acquainted with my potential new parents. Bless Charles for he was dense but such a pure soul.
“Elise,” Patricia Bird grabbed my hands. She wanted to obviously get my attention as I was too busy looking after Charles who was being escorted into a different room by Ms. Adams.
“Yes,” I said politely. I tried to not show any annoyance towards the sudden skinship.
“Elise, we’ve been looking into adoption for some time now and Tracy brought you up,” Patricia beamed.
“Tracy mentioned that you’re quite a special kid and that we’d be missing out if we didn’t have you in our lives,” Robert Bird jumped in. I didn’t realize it then, but Robert had a permanent smug face.
“We want to learn more about you,” Patricia’s smile was soft.
I told them then and there that they were wasting their time with me. And insisted that they adopt Charles instead as he was closer to normal than I was. However, the Birds were persistent and insisted that they could teach me to be normal.
“And why would I want to be normal?” I asked as we sat outside for lunch. Patricia handed me a cold turkey sandwich, lemonade, & two chocolate chip cookies.
“Because emotions are a necessity. Standing out in the wrong way can bring the wrong kind of attention your way,” said Robert.
I had been transparent in that I could never possibly love them and they assured me that I didn’t need to. I just needed to be their daughter. I agreed to the adoption mainly because I wanted to see more sooner rather than later. Another six years in care didn’t seem like the right decision.
Before crawling out of bed I kissed Stefan’s thick lips. It’s possible that I’m a horrible kisser, but I doubt that given the way that Stefan responds. A sound of pleasure always escapes his mouth assuring me that I’m doing it right. I smile back even though I find the act repulsive. There are a lot of unpleasant things that occur in order to maintain a relationship. My siblings always asked why I attempted to maintain relationships despite finding them to be gross. The immediate answer, I wanted to replicate what the Birds had. They always seemed to be genuinely the happiest when together. It could have been a possibility for me. Love may exist for me if I found the right partner, but I eventually found that to be a waste of my time. The pursuit of love was no longer worth my efforts. Instead I pursued wherever money could be because wealth meant a relaxed lifestyle. Something I had picked up from my eldest sister who only dated well-established men.
While Jen Bird spent her days shopping, working out, and lazing around the mansions of boyfriends past. I was more intrigued by the many places she had traveled to and the many different foods she had eaten. The world intrigued me and it felt beyond my reach. It’s odd to acknowledge but I’ve always been looking for something I could never put into words. I thought that maybe once I found out what it was my restless mind would finally settle.
Mornings consist of drinking coffee, large omelets, and tending to Charlie. If I have more time, I’ll look out at the city from our balcony with Charlie in my lap purring as I stroke his fur. Then it’s time to move on and get ready. This is when Charlie usually takes the opportunity to wreak havoc. He may be doing so now since I got up late.
As soon as I leave the room, I grab Charlie by the nape of his neck. He is once again clawing at the newly purchased sofa. This little black mongrel has such a persistent personality that I find pleasant. I never knew that cats could be so straight laced. Other animals can be true to themselves.
“Tiny Mongrel,” I hold his face close to mine. I look into his brown eyes as if we have an understanding. Sometimes I think he understands me more than those who surround me. “That couch is worth more than your life.”
Charlie meows in complaint. He has all the confidence to talk back to his master. I place him down on his scratching post and pat his head. The cat of course hisses at me and plops down, resting his head on his paws. For my own amusement I throw a pillow at him. He’s shaken enough to jump off the scratching post and hiss at me. I return that hiss. This is our relationship; two animals who usually waste time antagonizing the other.
After showering I shove a waffle into the toaster. I then turned on the news, never looking at the screen but listening intently as I drank a cup of water. Stefan emerges from the bedroom half naked. He’s tall with a slender muscular body; built like a basketball player. Deep brown skin, hazel eyes, and sharp features. Everything about him was well defined except for his eyes. They were soft. Not entirely charismatic, but there was a lot of kindness in those eyes.
Stefan grabbed me by the waist and led me to the bedroom. He likes to assist me in getting ready whenever I’m late. Punctuality is very important to him. I am a bit so-so when it comes to being on time anywhere.
“Victoria, don’t forget about our reservations tonight,” he said without eye contact. Stefan seemed a bit shier than usual. Before leaving he patted me on the bum and wished me a good day at work. What could tonight possibly be about?