Also, im going to start promoting. This awesome community is getting ignored!
Ladybugs were everywhere, our little good luck charm. Fluttering through the air as we ate our dinner, resting on the kitchen faucet, breeding in the windowsills of our bay window, amongst the ferns and the African violets.
Laurel told me not to hurt them, not to touch them for that matter. “They are here for a reason, and don’t deserve to die.”
She said that about everything that entered our small cottage. The spiders, that crawled on the sunshine yellow drywall, the bees that bred and built nest in the tall pots of daffodils in our front window.
I sat at the kitchen table and sucked on strawberries smothered with low fat whip cream. The thick, sweet coolness filled my mouth and I closed my eyes, indulging in the weightless treat. Then I bit down into the tartly strawberry and all my senses momentarily clashed together, in that mix of tastes. “Hmmm.” I moan.
“People don’t understand that animals and insects were here just as long as us, and have every right to go where ever they want. Even if that means entering someone’s house.” She was talking about bugs again, as a ladybug crawled on to her finger and fluttered its wings.
“Six spots,” she counted, “You know, that has nothing to do with a ladybugs age.”
I picked up the bowl of strawberries and set them alongside the rest of the fruit in the corner of the wooden counter. Then I took the tub of whip cream and snapped it on, placing it inside the refrigerator. “I’m going over to Lydia’s.” I said. “There’s a brat pack marathon going on TNT.”
Laurel smiled and the ladybug fluttered off her finger and rested on my cheek. “I think that’s her way of saying best of luck.” She beamed, and swiped her long white hair over her shoulder.
I brushed the ladybug away, and smiled at Laurel. It was impossible to act less then enchanted by her. What with this magical cottage that we lived in with it’s fairytale figures carved into the mantel of the fireplace and with the vines growing over the ceilings.
There was a well faucet that jutted out of the cracked adobe wall in the living room, its handle engraved in sharp roses that pressed into your hand if you tried to turn it and left an imprint that lasted all day. My bedroom window looked out over a pond with a bridge crossing over it’s left side, surrounded by water lilies and bullfrogs, as well as a towering mermaid statue.
Me and Lydia use to say that the mermaid use to be a real one, who turned to stone as a part of a deal made to a sea witch, in order to save the human in which she loved.
I looked out the window at the statue and back towards Laurel, still smiling at me, waiting for me to say something. She almost looked like a mermaid, the way her wavy white hair cascaded down her back and how the skin on her face was wrinkled like toes when you’re in the bathtub too long. Her ears were even slightly pointed in a griffin type way, far back on the sloping angles of her face. I stared into her seaweed green eyes and took a deep breath.
“Yes? What is it sweetie?”
I bit my lip and looked at my feet. Many times I had tried to ask her the big question that always seemed to eat away at the back of my mind. It should have been so simple, just opening my mouth and letting the words flow. But for some reason, it wasn’t.
The truth is, I had no idea who I was.
I knew Laurel wasn’t related to me at all; we didn’t resemble each other or even have the same personalities. She was my legal guardian, I knew because I had seen all the formal documents stating it so. But why she was, who my parents were, how I got here, even my real last name, all this was unknown to me.
I heard the worry in her voice and instantly felt bad. I could feel Laurel’s love when she spoke and when she looked at me. Why worry her with questions about things that couldn’t be changed?
“Nothing Laurel. Got to go, or I’ll be late.” I kissed her on the cheek due to the guilt that weighed heavily on my mind and rushed out the front French doors.
Across the dirt driveway surrounded by multicolored wildflowers and over the turquoise candy colored lawn, through the small butterfly wood with the rabbits and squirrels and purple magnolia trees, under the castle tree house supported by a tall sycamore, was Lydia’s house.
Lydia’s house was the opposite of my cottage. Where in my cottage there was only enough electricity to keep the refrigerator running and no television or radios, Lydia’s house was a modern palace. Its chrome colored exterior matched the metallic kitchen and designer living room with the bleached white carpets and geometric coffee table inside.
Lydia and me had been friends all our lives, being next-door neighbors we use to meet in the middle of the small group of trees between our houses that we called the “Butterfly Wood.”
Then the world was ours. We would go wading in my pond and chase birds from the wooden feeders hanging in the apple trees. We pretended we were fairy princesses ruling over our land of jasmine incense and dew covered flowers, with our subjects of red-breasted robins and scared to death bunny rabbits.
After that we would go over to Lydia’s and play in her long, rectangular shaped Olympic pool, jump on her bed while dying our mouth with suckers, watch Disney cartoons on the wide screen plasma TV and make our own movies with her dad’s high tech video camera.
However, we are no longer young, I thought, as I stared into my reflection in Lydia’s pool. Now a days our time was spent talking about boys by the pond while weaving flowers into our hair, walking down the road wearing sexy outfits and swaying our hips for whichever hotties walked past, and then come home and change into over sized t-shirts and sit around watching old 80’s movies and re-ruins of Saturday Night Live, laughing about all the guys that whistled at us.
“We grow up too fast.” I said to my face, blurred in the crystalline waters.
“There you are!” Lydia exclaimed as I walked through the kitchen door. She rushed into the kitchen; swiping pieces of her pixie short bleached blonde hair behind her ear. “The Breakfast Club is just about to begin!”
I smiled at her and scraped off my sneakers, laying them neatly on the mud carpet.
Lydia was dressed down in pink pajama pants depicting blue butterflies and a matching spaghetti strap tank. I followed her into the large living room, my feet immediately sinking into the thick wooly carpet.
She sprawled across a white leather couch and turned the volume up on the oddly shaped, silver remote control. The theme song for the TNT station came on and was then quickly followed by heavy 80’s rock music, announcing the beginning of “The Breakfast Club.”
I stood there, staring at the TV screen, still lost in my thoughts. Lydia looked up at me and raised her eyebrows. “Oh I’m sorry, I forgot to give you “permission” to sit down. You may sit.”
I smiled at her wryly and plopped down on the floor Indian style, leaning my back against the couch.
For an hour we sat like that, in almost complete silence, it was broken by Lydia laughing at Ally Sheene, describing how she did her therapist, more then once.
“Do you want popcorn?” She asked, between giggles. “That was my fav. Part of the movie, and now that I’ve seen it, the rest can go…well you know.”
She didn’t wait for my reply before swinging her feet, which smelled strongly of strawberries, in front of my face, and sauntering off to the kitchen.
I watched the screen, pulling my legs up close to my chest and resting my chin on my knees.
The boys on the screen were inching closer and closer to Molly Ringwald, asking if she was a virgin.
“Come on Claire, Just answer the question Claire.”
“It’s a simple question Claire.”
“Just answer the question.”
The rising look of distress on Molly Ringwald’s face grew to its peak. Her arms flung out as she screamed. “No! I never did it!”
Lydia walked out of the kitchen with a bowl of popcorn as Ally Sheene smiled slyly. “I never did it either, I’m not a nymphomaniac, I’m a compulsive liar.”
“Sure you are, you little you know what.” Lydia said, throwing a puff of popcorn at the television.
“Lydi, can’t you just swear? It won’t kill you!” The words came out harsher then I meant for them to, and I bit my lip as if I was biting them back.
Lydia looked at me, surprised. “What’s up with you today Natia?” She sounded more concerned then angry and my heart instantly went out to her.
I shook my head and sprawled onto the floor. Grabbing a pillow from the couch, I proceeded to bury my head into it.
“Come on, you can tell me.” She set down the bowl of popcorn and sprawled next to me, her hand gently rubbing my back.
“I’ve just been thinking too much, as usual.”
I sat up and pushed the pillow down into my lap. “Don’t you ever wonder who Laurel is?”
Lydia looked confused. “Laurel is Laurel…”
I sighed. “No, to me. I mean she’s obviously not my mother…”
“So, she adopted you. I though you always figured that. I mean, it seems so…of course!”
“Well if it seems, so ‘of course’, then why didn’t she ever tell me?”
“She probably figured you already knew. Did you ever even ask her?”
I shifted uncomftorbly. “No…”
“Well then she probably thought you didn’t care.”
I looked at my best friend in complete shock. “Care? Care! Who wouldn’t care? Shouldn’t a person care about who there real mother is, about where they really came from?”
Lydia cocked her head at me and smiled. “Yeah sure, but why now?’
I opened my mouth to argue but she held up her hand. “There will be time in the future to figure out who your real mother is, where you really came from, who you really are, all of that. Yet why waste your time worrying about it right now. You’ve got Laurel. A lot of kids dream about having a mother like her, and she loves you. What more could you ask for.”
I bowed my head, knowing she was right. But I wasn’t convinced. Didn’t I have a right to wonder about where I came from, and why I was with Laurel?
Lydia read the still questioning look on my face and reached forward to tweak my nose. “Man Natia, if you really think about it, you’re the luckiest girl I know.”
Lucky. I remembered the ladybug and Laurel’s warm smile. I remembered the mermaid fountain and her griffin type ears. I remembered nights when I was young and she would read to me for hours before I would fall asleep. I remembered times that I was sick and she would make me tomato soup and lots of ice cream to cure my sore throat. I remembered her hugs and her advice. I felt her love.
She loved me and she cared for me. And she had helped me morph into the woman I was becoming. If it wasn’t for her, I could have been a different person, a worse person, or a better person, who knew? I just knew that I loved myself for who I was and that I had her to thank for that.
There would come a time when I would have to discover who I really was, but that wasn’t something I had to worry about now. Now, I would sit here, surrounded by the love of my mother and my friend.
On the screen, Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson began making out in a janitor’s closet.
I felt the ladybug’s soft kiss on my cheek and heard Laurel’s words. . “I think that’s her way of saying best of luck.”