Daughters of Time

It was just another ordinary day until the phone rang. ‘Jerry, can you get that?’ I called from the kitchen. Standing at the sink, my hands in thick green and yellow rubber gloves, the evening’s dishes piled on the bench waiting their turn for emersion. As I looked at my reflection in the window, I was reminded that I must get my hair cut. Lost in thought I continued my tasks. The kitchen is my domain, I do it all. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, and washing up. I long for the day for the promised renovations. Oh, for my dream kitchen. Marble benchtops, new appliances, especially a dishwasher, gleaming white cupboards that stay shut and huge drawers that slide open and close with ease

            ‘It’s for you.’ Jerry called from the hallway.

            ‘Ok, I’m coming. I wonder who is calling on the landline?’

            ‘They wouldn’t speak to me. Asked for Patricia. Who calls you that now?’

            ‘Hello, Trish speaking.’

The voice was deep. ‘My name is Victor Brown. Is this Patricia Brooks?’

            ‘Yes. That’s me, was me. I’m now Owens.’ Feeling curious I was also nervous.

            ‘Do you have any reason to think someone may be looking for you?’ I plopped on the stool near the phone. Leaning back against the bookcase. Holding the receiver, I gripped it so hard, I closed my eyes retreating into that safe place of darkness, another world.

Suddenly I was on a bullet train speeding through what seemed like a wormhole into my past. It was going so fast, the darkness engulfed me. Images were flashing past like a vintage animated film flip. Were these stations, where was I going? Panic took hold, I felt anxious and out of control, I was terrified. We were not slowing or stopping. How do I get off? I saw scenes through the windows on my right, the people looked familiar. The house was my house, then I saw Jerry standing at the door waving. Was he saying goodbye? I saw my familiar classroom crowded with children sitting purposefully at their desks. I smiled remembering the masks they were making for Halloween. That was a fun day.

My boys, my children were standing in a group, which must be Joe’s graduation from Uni. I was so proud of him for finishing his Law degree. The images were showing my boys at different ages. Scenes from my life were rushing past, I was going backwards. Our wedding suddenly appeared. I felt sad as both Mum and Dad are longer with us. They look so happy. Is my memory playing tricks?  Why am I seeing these images? Am I dying?

Turning my head to the left there were more images, strangers. I wonder who she is?  A beautiful and elegant woman wearing a blue designer suit was surrounded by a group of businessmen. The discussion appeared intense; she was holding her own. The same woman, although younger was at a University graduation. I wonder if it was Joe’s. A wedding came into view, it was not mine. This was a huge affair, more like a society wedding. Beautiful grounds, flowering shrubs, and the harbour in the background. Hundreds of guests milling around. The scene changed to children of different ages, playing. It looks like a family holiday. Everyone is laughing. There is a chubby, healthy baby. A man, possibly the father was playing, the mother started feeding. The baby was dressed in pink, must be a girl.

Looking again at the window on my right I saw another baby. She was also dressed in pink. Was this the same baby? Was this me or my baby? I felt clammy, my head was thumping, a hollow feeling permeated through my whole body. A warm feeling started to rise throughout, spreading to my throat, cheeks, ears. I was overwhelmed. Delving into distant memories I felt the pains, I heard screams, I listen to the cry. I was feeling uncomfortable, uneasy, a sense of defencelessness and powerlessness took over my whole being. I was out of control. Memories of the hardest decision of my life started to cloud my mind. Could this possibly be her? The baby girl that left my life nearly 30 years ago. Suddenly I felt excited, overwhelming relief, anxious as I held my breath in anticipation that it was true. Were our lives converging?

The train stopped abruptly. Walking quickly towards the door I knew I had to meet her. My arm was seized, a firm hand encircling my upper arm. I tried to pull away, but the grip was strong. ‘Next stop’ the authoritative voice rang in my ear. ‘But I need to get off here.’ I pleaded. The doors closed and I was left staring out the window as the baby faded into the distance. A familiar feeling of loss and sadness returned. I plonked down on the seat. I was confused, unhappy. I wanted to cry but managed to suppress the urge, swallowing hard to conceal my emotions.

The train picked up speed. It seemed to be going faster, the light was fading, it was getting darker. Where is it taking me? I thought of hell, the fire, the fallen. Perhaps this was God’s punishment. I don’t deserve happiness. It was my sin that created a life. It was my choice to surrender it. Well, not entirely my choice. My parents were persuasive. If only I lived in another era, it may have been so different.

Scenes continued to pass by the windows. I saw myself screaming, crying, blood everywhere. Uncertain what I was seeing, I twisted my head, trying to see more. A small, bloodied head appeared, then a body, then a cry. Is this my birth? Or is this me giving birth?  I remember certain details so vividly. Tears welled in my eyes; I could not control them. The crumpled tissue was inadequate to wipe away the torrent. I cried loudly turning into uncontrollable sobbing. Sometimes choices are made for you, or you make choices that you live to regret. I saw my life before me. My graduation as a teacher, friends from college, school friends, myself as a baby. My mother was beautiful, seeing her playing with me, singing to me. She looks so happy. I love her dearly.

The train lurched to a stop. I had to hang on to avoid falling off the seat. I heard the authoritative voice again. ‘Last stop. All disembark.’

            ‘Is this my stop?’ Feeling unsure if I should get off. What if I can’t get back?

            ‘Last stop. All disembark.’ The automatic voice resounded.  

Taking a cautious step from the train, I trod onto a platform of rubble. Walking through the rubble I was conscious of my soft fashionable shoes being inadequate and they were scratched from the uneven rubble. Feeling scared, an overwhelming sadness I can’t explain overtook me, it felt like a heavy cloak weighing down on my shoulders. Where am I? This looks like a bomb site. Sirens were blaring, people were rushing past. A young man stopped.     ‘You’d better get to the shelter Mam.’ And then he was gone.

            Suddenly I felt myself being cradled by warm soft arms. I was crying, I was cold, wet, uncomfortable. The person holding me was singing as she rocked back and forth. Darkness descended as the surrounding sounds grew louder, deafening. I was shaking but the arms continued to hold me tight. I felt safe in a strange sort of way. There was blood everywhere. My world went black, it was as though I had sunk into a void, my head was spinning. Then I felt another arm holding me. It was warm and gentle. ‘I will take care of her, don’t worry. She will have a good life.’ This voice was familiar. My mother.

            I didn’t understand what was happening. Was I dreaming? I saw the train approaching and ran to catch it. Where would it take me? Looking back, I saw two women, one was lying on the ground bleeding. She handed a baby to the other woman. Feeling breathless, I closed my eyes to catch my breath. Reflecting on the scene before me I realised my birth mother had handed me over to another mother, to survive. I too was adopted.

‘Trish, wake up. Are you alright? You are still on the phone.’ Jerry was shaking my shoulder.

            ‘Oh yes. Hello. Sorry about that. You were saying.’ I felt strange, remote. Did I have an out of body experience? Was I dreaming? Were there suppressed memories surfacing?

The deep male voice continued ‘As I was saying. Do you know anyone who may be looking for you?’

I hesitated, taking in a deep breath before responding

            ‘Yes, I do. In fact, there may be more than one.’ My heart was thumping as I thought of the possibilities. Was I excited or were these feelings of apprehension? I saw the future before me. He continued in a slow methodical tone

            ‘Well, I have been contacted by a young woman who I believe may be your daughter.’ I stood still, I wanted to scream with delight, acknowledging the call that I had always hoped would come. Jerry was beside me, supporting me.

            ‘Oh, thank you. I always hoped she would come looking for me. What do I do now?’ I could feel the trembling in my voice. Tears welled up they freely flowed like a waterfall; I didn’t know I had that much water in me. All the emotions that had been suppressed for years surfaced. My stomach turned, butterflies flitted into every angle, I felt hot and cold simultaneously. Hearing a distant voice, I returned to the caller, I couldn’t remember his name.

            ‘Patricia, I will call you tomorrow after I have spoken with her, her name is Joyce.’

Placing the receiver, I turned to Jerry. His face was contorted with emotion. We hugged tightly, as I placed my head on his shoulder. Feeling safe, I became lost in a well of emotion. Turning towards Jerry and speaking in a tremulous voice. ‘Her name is Joyce, not my favourite name, but then I did not have a say. I wonder what she is like. Will we recognise each other?’ Will we like each other?

            A phone call can change your life, mine was about to be changed forever.

4 thoughts on “Daughters of Time

  1. This certainly reminded me of tales I had been told over the years from various people in my life, certainly is a way to recall parts of life that had vanished.

  2. The tension you build in this story is contagious! The everyday scene at the sink is a perfect way of relaxing the reader (many of whom would identify with your thoughts!) before the drama hits. Such a great (writing) strategy, the quiet before the storm; this reinforces the truth of how life can move from ordinary to extraordinary in the space of a phone call.

  3. Heⅼlo, the wһole thing iѕ going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s аctually good, қeep
    up writing.

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