The room is dark. It’s a room that mother had often told me not to go in, not to peep at. She always said too many bad memories came with this haunted room. She also said that this room kept the stuff that she cared little for now, and stuff that I shouldn’t care about.
Why tell a child such things when you know it will only intrigue them more? My mother spoke in riddles, and the only time she would ever stop was when talking about this room. The message was always clear: Stay out. But what if...what if that was the riddle? What if, just like always, she had been speaking in riddles and stay out really meant go see for yourself. My mother was a confusing woman, sure, but we had the same brilliant mind.
She wanted me in here. If not, she would have at least locked the door.
So in I went. It was midday. The window's curtains were drawn and a little light seeped under the curtain. It lazily swept to the door, giving everything a weak outline. I slowly moved around. I couldn’t see much, only the outline of a few trophies, a bed, and a box on an antique looking chair next to the window.
With a big breath, I opened the curtains to let in some light. Dust exploded from the curtains, raining down like it was confetti streaming through the air of a parade. I coughed, disgusted. When was the last time anyone had been in here? It must have been a year, at least. My face scrunched up angrily at how irresponsible my mother was for leaving the room in such a condition, but when I turned around, my face dropped.
“Wow,” I said. My mouth fell open, and didn’t close. How could it? There sitting on the old bed were a simple pair of ballet slippers. With small, gentle steps, I went over to the bed, and sat down next to them. I looked at them, examining them. They were beautifully worn down, and the tips of them were rough. Once upon a time they must have been a beautiful cream color, but after sitting in the dark for so long in this pathetic room, they had lost some of their color, some of their life. But still, the value, and the useage of them was so clear. So dominant. These were the shoes of a ballerina. These had to have been the shoes of someone successful.
Why were they in this room?
My mother had never spoken of being a ballerina. My mother never even brought up dance at all. She never flinched at the words. She never even glanced back at that kind of stuff. Were these my grandmother’s? Possibly my aunt’s?
Now, with more curiosity inside of me than ever, I picked them up. I felt for a sign, a clue. Who’s shoes where these? Why were they here? As my fingers moved over the fabric, and felt the soft and hard parts of the shoe, tears welled in my eyes.
I don’t think I’d ever seen such beautiful shoes. Shoes don’t usually tell stories but these shoes screamed for reason, for purpose. It was almost heartbreaking.
Then the door creaked.
I almost hadn’t noticed it. I was the only one home, but then I’d felt it. My mother. I didn’t turn around, instead, I just glanced her way. I knew she was there, I could feel her eyes on my back. Either she was stunned, or she was mad.
“Lisa...” she said, her voice came out in a sigh. Stunned.
“Who’s shoes are these?” I asked, my voice quiet.
She didn’t say anything. Instead, she marched into the room and sat down across from me. She was silent for a long time, and she watched me look at the shoes and then back at her, before she smile. Her smile was soft, and I didn't trust it. She shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” I repeated. I gave her a dull look.
“Nope.” She popped her p.
I shifted on the bed and brought the shoes closer to my face. “But I thought,...”
“You thought right,” she said. “These are basically my past. These were my mother’s.”
“So they’re grandma’s?” I asked. I smiled at the thought of grandma being a ballerina.
“No, my real mother’s,” my mother said. The smile wiped off of my face. I stayed silent, waiting for her to tell clarify. What she was saying didn't click. “Honey,” she laughed, “I’m adopted!”
I flinched. “You’re what?” My voice was a whisper.
“Adopted!” My mother chirped. She let out a snort and then rolled over on the bed to laugh into it. “I never told you? It must have slipped my mind.”
My insides fired up as I watched my mother laugh. “Slipped your mind? How does something like this simply slip someone’s mind?” I hissed.
“Well, considering the only mother I ever knew is your grandmother, how could it not?” my mother argued, her voice light and happy. She stuck her tongue out at me, and I fumed. Her tone only made me angrier.
“Because this totally changes everything!” I yelled. I threw my arms out to emphasize my words.
“Do you love you grandma any less?” she asked.
“No,” I bit back.
“Then how does this change anything?”
“That isn’t the point!”
“Of course it is.” My mother was serious. Her lips were pulled into a line, and her eyes, while they raged, looked at me evenly. Her blue eyes boiled at the thought of this woman.
Suddenly, I understood. The look in my mother's eyes were so clear to read. I knew she wasn't speaking in puzzles now. Mother had met her, and it wasn’t what she had been hoping. My real grandmother was a disappointment. The raging feelings inside of me died down. “I’m sorry,” I said. I deflated on the bed and curled up into my mother. I hugged her, trying to comfort her. “How bad was she?”
My mother giggled as she kissed my head. She recognised my efforts and let out a tired sigh. “Total snob. She even asked for the slippers back.”
I let out a laugh too and threw the slippers down onto the bed, suddenly disinterested. “Well that’s too bad.”
“Yeah, too bad...”