Nowhere

She is hanging below me, clinging to a loose rope. I reach out. She’s too far away. She is too afraid to let go, and I am too afraid to lean out any further.
She’s helpless.
The rope creaked ominously. I look up instinctively, and in that second I see the rope snap high above us. My head snaps down in an instant. Just quick enough to see her fall.
I hear my own screams mixed in with hers.
“Megan…!”
***

Lauren's friend, Megan, died five years ago and Lauren has never really gottten over it. Finally she decides that it's time for her to face her fears. She goes back to the place Megan died, hoping to find it in herslef to move on. What she doesn't bargin on is what she discovers about her death. What really happened? And what has it got to do with Lauren? All the while she finds herself falling for boy she'd have ben better off running far away from...

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15. Shattered Glass

  I blink.

  No... Did he just say... no, he couldn’t have.

  “I’m not adopted.” Tyler’s face is pained, but I turn away from him and look at Luna. “Right?”

  Her face, more practiced, is calmer, so rather than answering me, she says, “Take a look,” and spins the computer screen to face me. Meaningless information like my address fades into a blur in the background along with long winded notes accompanying the information; only certain things jump out at me, clear as day.

 

  Name: Lauren Delilah Fanon (Real Name Unknown)

 

  Date Of Birth: Unknown (Approximate Date: 10th September 1995)

 

  Birth Parents: Withheld

 

  Date Of Adoption: 12th September 1995

 

 I stare blankly at the words that don’t make any sense to me. Real Name Unknown... Unknown... withheld... Adoption... And there it is clear as day. Adoption. There’s no denying the words in front of me, yet I want there to be. So badly I want someone to tell me that this is some sick joke.

 Luna meets my watering eyes and I know it’s not a joke.

  My voice cracks as I try to speak. “Are you- are you sure?”

  She nods. “I’m sorry Lauren, this is definitely yours.”

  My gaze lands back on the screen, but now I can’t concentrate on any of it. My brain refuses to process the information on the screen. Because I’m not adopted. My parents are my birth parents; they have to be... right?

  I bite my lip, holding in the tears threatening to spill as I take a step back, allowing myself to fall on the sofa once more.

  In a weird, retarded way, it makes sense; they adopted my when I was two days old, so there was no reason to ever doubt them. No one ever told me I looked like my parents, not like they always did with Megan - “Oh, don’t you look so like your mother – you have her eyes!”. Sure, I always thought I had my dad’s eyes, but now I think about it, his were more of a grey than blue, and my mum’s hair is the complete opposite to my own; light and thin. My parents were both tanned, and I remained pale all summer, they were quiet people – unlike my former, outgoing self, I only took on their habits after Megan.

  I shake my head and close my eyes, a pained grimace crossing my face. But they aren’t my mum and dad, are they? They never have been my parents.

  Pressing my lips into a thin line, I recall the snippet of text from the file; Birth Parents: Withheld.

  So I don’t even know who my real parents are. I have no parents to call my own. None.

  At some point later, I might wonder about what they were like, but my head is reeling too much to stay fixed on them.

  Vaguely I register Tyler sitting down next to me, wrapping his arms around me protectively.

  Real Name Unknown... Date Of Birth: Unknown... Nothing is true. I don’t know anything about myself. They don’t know anything about me. Even my name is a lie.

  I think this is the moment where I should cry and scream or I completely loose it, smashing whatever’s in sight, cursing the world for taking everything I know away from me. Shouting obscene things that Luna and Tyler don’t deserve. Going mental with the turn my life is taking.

  But I don’t. Instead I turn my head and bury it in Tyler’s t-shirt, clutching the material. No tears escape. I don’t have any to shed – not yet at least. I can cry later, as soon as I know everything – well, as soon as I know every part of the lie I’m living.

  So with that tiny hint of determination inside my chest I say, “Tell me everything. What else?”

  Tyler hesitates, pulling my head even closer to him, before repeating my request to Luna. Thankfully, she knows to speak loud enough that I can hear her, even in this cave I’ve created.

  “It doesn’t say who your birth parents are, nothing about your birth – there were no hospital records - only that they guess you might have been born two days before you were found on the 12th of September. The adoption was very quick. You were adopted the very same day they found you. There is a record of the adoption; Edward and Julie Fanon. Since you had no birth record, I assume your adoptive parents gave you that name.”

  I consider her words, but most of them wash straight over me. However one seems to stick; found. “What does it mean ‘found’? Where was I found?”

  Luna hesitates for a second before answering, seemingly frustrated. “I don’t know. Not all the information’s here - less than usual.”

  I bite my lip. Hard. With my ear against Tyler’s chest, I can hear the steady pounding of his heart, but even his is quicker than usual – I wonder what mine must sound like?

  My hands clench into fists while I’m still clinging to the t-shirt. I can feel my nails digging into my palms, but compared to the war happening inside my head, it’s nothing. So far, the tiny part of me that still wants to believe this isn’t true is starting to loose. Bombs are being thrown at it that it just can’t take. But it’s not quite given in.

  “I need to talk to my par- my adoptive parents.” I wince at the correction. Because in my head, the pictures of my ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ are hard wired into my brain under ‘family’ – it hasn’t got the memo that it changed.

  “Lauren, are you sure that’s a good-”

  I pull away sharply, glaring at Tyler, making his words freeze in his mouth. Anger sears through me – it’s a lot easier to deal with than pain. And confusion. Confusion is the worst because it messes with your head and slows down everything, manipulating the meaning until your head hurts. “Yes. I need to get this straight.”

  Under the force of my glare, Tyler looks uncomfortable, but he doesn’t back down. “You need to calm down first, or-”

  I cut him off once again. “Calm down? You want me to calm down?! I have just found out that I’ve been lied to my whole life, and you tell me to calm down!”

  He stands up, directly in front of, me, his eyes pleading with me. His height only serves to make me madder. “You can’t talk to your parents yet, just-”

 “Don’t you tell me what to do Tyler, or else you’ll be turning back into that jerk again,” My voice is low and dangerous, my anger seeping in to my words. I’m vividly reminded of the scene in the hospital when I told Tyler I hated him. I was so convinced that I would never even consider him in the same way again – then he goes breaking down my wall, yet here we are, exactly the same as last time. I shake my head angrily. “That jerk in the hospital, the one who was trying to kill me, the one who blamed me for my best friends death. You don’t know. I thought you got the message last time, thought you’d finally understood, but you just don’t know what’s going through my mind. I need to talk to my parents.

  Tyler’s face crumples and he looks crushed by my words, but right now, I’m too angry to care. He’s not changed one bit.

  I stare him down, waiting for him to hand over his phone. When a minute passes and he doesn’t, Luna interrupts the weighty silence. “You can use the home phone; it’s secure.”

  I nod sharply, turning away from Tyler, and taking the wireless phone Luna is holding out. I only meet her gaze briefly, but I can see that she understands. More than Tyler at least.

  Without a word I march out of the room and straight into the one Tyler and I shared.

  I start tapping out the numbers of the all too familiar number of the place I don’t know whether I can still call home. I notice that my fingers are shaking and I bite my lip, resisting the surge of emotion building up inside me, because, for now at least, the anger is what’s driving me, and without it I won't make it through this call. I don’t know what I’m going to say to them. Maybe I should have thought this through, but no. I can’t back out now. I need to know. This craving for knowledge drives me almost as much as the anger.

  The ringing tone only makes me tenser as I pray they pick up and don’t let it go to voicemail.

  My heart nearly stops when I hear a voice.

  “Hello? Julie Fanon speaking.”

  For a moment I’m too caught up in her voice to answer. She’s been crying – I can tell from her hoarse tone. What could she be crying about... surely not... me?

  “Hello?”

  “Hi M-” I catch myself and scold myself for being so stupid. This is still the same woman that lied to me.

  “Lauren?” Her hope and relief is almost too much. “Lauren, oh god, Lauren, is that you?”

  I wince at my name, and without thinking about it, I blurt out. “Yeah, but that’s not my real name, is it?”

  “What?” She’s too distracted to take any meaning from my words, and a tiny part of me feels relieved - the part that’s loosing the battle in my head. “Where are you? What happen? We’ve been worried sick, we were just told you’d gone off with some boy. The police said that your friend had just been in hospital, and we didn’t know what to think – it’s so terrible-”

  “Stop. I’m fine.” Then I add, “Well, mostly.”

  “Where are you? Are you with that boy?”

  “Yes, but-”

  “Lauren, what are you doing, running off with boys you hardly know? It’s ridiculous, I told the police it’s so unlike you. He hasn’t hurt you?”

  I shake my head in disbelief. All this and she’s worried about Tyler? He’s a git, but the least of my worries right now. But I remember that she knows none of what’s been going on. To her, I’m just her missing daughter.

  “No, Tyler’s seriously not-”

  She doesn’t let me finish because she’s yelling, but it’s not aimed at me. “Edward! Edward, it’s Lauren, she’s alright!” I hear some sort of commotion in the background that sounds like something being dropped on the hard floor. There’s a shout to which she answers, “She’s fine Ed, she’s fine.” The emotion is so thick in her voice that she’s almost in tears.

  I struggle to keep back my own tears. I need to say this. “Look, I-”

  But the woman’s sobs fade into the background as the phone is handed over to the person I thought I could call my dad. “Lauren? Lauren, is that you?”

  “Yes, it’s me.” I sigh. “I’m fine. You don’t have to worry-”

  “Don’t have to worry? You went missing and haven’t contacted us for days, and you say ‘don’t worry’?”

  “I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner, but I didn’t have as phone and-”

  “Do you know what you’re mother and I have been through? The police have turned up, asking questions, your mother is near breaking point.”

  “Yeah, I get it-” I’m starting to get frustrated. This is not how I want our conversation to go. I suppose he would blame me for not calling them sooner – but none of this is my fault. I’d call it theirs.

  “Don’t you start talking to me like that young lady, you’ve been missing-”

  “I get it!” I snap, louder than I’d intended. I don’t even think about what I’m saying, letting the words simply flow out. “Could you just stop interrupting me for one second, because while you’ve been worrying about some girl that’s not even your daughter, I’ve been through some pretty deep shit myself! Maybe there’s a reason I haven’t called you until now, but no, you won't just hear me through!” After my rant, I’m breathing heavily down the phone, yet still the anger is pulsing through my veins, seemingly endless.

  “Don’t speak to me like that, Lauren.” The words have no conviction behind them, rolling over me.

Trying to calm my rapid breathing and slow the pounding of my heart, all I can do is listen to the deadly silence on the other end of the line, waiting for his reply.

  It seems to take him a while to come up with a proper response. “I don’t know what-”

  It’s my turn to interrupt him. “You know exactly what I mean. Why did you never tell me I was adopted? You were going to keep it a secret my whole life? You think I’d never find out?”

  “How...?

  My laugh is short, sharp and humourless. “Does it really matter Dad?” I ask, sarcastically. “I just know.”

  “But...”

  My anger only increases at his inability to form a coherent sentence. “You adopted me when I was found, didn’t you? You just gave me a name that doesn’t belong to me, a birthday that’s not mine, parents that aren’t real – and you were never going to tell me?!”

  He seems to have regained the power of speech, even if it is barely more than a whisper. “You didn’t need to know... it was too traumatic – and what difference does it really make, you never new your birth parents and it was like you hadn’t existed. We brought you up – you’re our little girl.” Towards the end, he’s begging, but I just shake my head.

  “You should still have told me! This would never have happened if you had been honest with me.”

  “But you would have wanted to know Lauren, you would have wanted to know about your birth parents – but we don’t know. We can’t tell you anything. You would only have been disappointed.”

  “No. Now I’m disappointed. No-” I try to find the right word for my feelings, but none sums it up, so I just spit, “Angry. I’m so, so angry. Because everything I know about myself is a lie. My name isn’t even Lauren!”

  He’s shocked into silence on the other end of the phone; I can hear shameless sobbing in the background which does nothing to dispel my anger, slowly building. His silence is more telling than anything else, and hope is slowly dying in my chest.

  “How- how do you know all of this? How did you find out?”

  “And why should I tell you?” I bite back. “You never tell me anything.”

  A sigh crackles over the line. “We don’t know anything. We were going to adopt a baby and the same day, there you were. We took you in. We didn’t ask questions. We got our child and the authorities found you some where to go. We didn’t question what happened to your birth parents – for us, not knowing them was perfect. We could give you a name, a birthday, as if you were our own. Because you are, you are our daughter Lauren, you always will be.” From the sniffles, I can imagine he must be in tears.

  It takes a pause before I said anything else. “But I’m not yours really, am I? I’m some child you thought you’d take because you couldn’t have one of your own.” Although I know the words are terrible,, I’m not in a state where I consider the effect they have.

  “No... don’t you understand, your birth parents didn’t want you.” He begs, but I simply shake my head, as if I can just choose not to believe the words I know are true.

  “You don’t know that, because you never stuck around long enough to find out!”

  It’s obvious it’s taking a great effort to keep his voice steady. “We did what was best for you-”

  “No!” The scream bursts from me, “I wish everyone would stop deciding what’s best for me! I can’t control anything anymore! Nothing is mine. I can’t say or do anything, because there’s so much I don’t know. It’s like it’s hardly my life anymore.” I begin to choke over my own words, but these are angry tears that I can feel pickling the corners of my eyes. I still refuse show that weakness, even if there’s no one here to see me.

  “Please, just listen-“

  “I don’t want to hear it.”

  “Lauren-” But I don’t stop to listen to the rest of his sentence. I hit the end call button and the phone drops from my hand as if it burnt me.

  As I stare at it for a minute, anger still pulsing through my veins, somewhere inside, it finally clicks. This isn’t some sick joke – this is my life. All these lies make up this pathetic excuse for a life. I don’t even know if anything’s true anymore.

  At precisely the wrong moment, the phone starts ringing. I don’t need to look to know who it is; instead I snatch up the phone. In that second I see red; the anger consumes me, like the fire springing to life in my chest. With a scream of frustration I throw the device across the room at the opposite wall. It stops ringing the moment it makes contact with the wall, the plastic snapping and its innards flying in all directions. But it doesn’t satisfy my anger and I turn to the nearest breakable thing – the bedside table.

  I swipe my hand across its surface, sending a glass vase crashing to the ground at my feet. An alarm clock is ripped from the socket, wires frayed and sparking. An unlit candle tumbles to the ground, its china holder breaking with a satisfyingly loud crack.

  Thoughts run through my head, fast as lightening, and ten times more painful, but all of them flit away to be replaced by more words I don’t want to hear: your birth parents obviously didn’t want you; it was like you’d never existed; you’re our little girl; you were never meant to know; we gave you a new name; it doesn’t matter.

  “It doesn’t matter!” The words rip there way out of my throat in a howl of pain. I kick out at the table, not once thinking of the possessions of Luna’s I’m destroying. “It does matter. It does matter.” I repeat, but who am I trying to convince?

  As quick as it came, the anger ebbs away, like a toy whose battery has suddenly died, leaving them frozen. I swallow hard, feeling the first tears pushing themselves out of my eyes. “It does matter.” I repeat the words again, but this time, they’re barely a whisper. Slowly, I sink to the ground, still littered with the debris from my outburst. Glass cuts into my bare legs and through the thin material of the shorts, but, amongst the swirl of emotions, it barely registers. On the floor, I pull my legs up to my chest, wrapping my arms around them, and tucking my head into my body, making myself as small as possible; the opposite of a minute ago. In the small cave my body makes, my breathing sounds too fast, too loud, too harsh.

  And, just like that, reality has won the war raging in my mind. That tiny army of hope has been completely crushed, and all I can do is accept that this is really happening.

  My life is a lie. My real name isn’t Lauren. My birthday isn’t on the 12th of September. The people I thought were my parents lied to me. I don’t know who my real parents are. I was found. Dangerous people are after me, for something in my head.

  Everything is a mess.

  Because it’s not the facts that are the problem, those I can learn and digest and accept. But what plagues me most is the unknown; the questions that buzz in my head like a swarm of bees. What was my real name? When was I born? Why was there no record of me? Was I not born in a hospital? Who are my real parents? Why did they leave me? Where was I found? Was I just left? What’s in my head?

  My nails dig into my legs as the clutch onto them tighter, like they’re keeping me together. I can taste the salty tears on my lips as they continue to stream down my face. A silence has fallen outside of my bubble of pain and miseries, broken only by the choking noises I know are coming from me.

  The worst question of all appears in my mind, and no amount of shaking will get rid of it. Nothing I do can get rid of it – as if it’s superimposed itself into my brain.

  The government, my birth parents, the thing in my head, my abandonment – how is everything connected?

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