Walking A Mile
Copyright 2010 by Summer Sargent
Have you noticed the way beautiful red rose petals wrap around themselves to almost protect the precious pollen inside and how when they bloom and the ruby red petals have done their job they fall in a dainty fashion, each one like a ballet dancer in the air, until they hit the ground.
Ironic really that the flower seems to bring a magic to anyone it is around, yet me, I don’t. My name is Rose. Rose Richards and I am fifteen years old recently my life has come crashing down around me but I will explain that later, for now I will tell you about myself. I am the normal average teenage girl I like to go out with my friends and go to parties and I hate my mum, she just doesn’t get that I want to go out and have fun like a teenager should. It’s like the time when all my friends were going to get their hair done, I went in with long blonde hair and came out with a short brown bob, and my mum went mad! Or the time when my friends went to the shop to get their ears pierced and I can home with my belly button pierced, my mum grounded me for three weeks because of that! Three weeks! Now don’t get me wrong, I love my mum loads but sometimes I just have this feeling that we aren’t on the same page even with simple stuff like room colours, I wanted to paint my room blue to match my eyes but mum said ‘no, you’re not having a blue room, you can have pink’. I mean come on, who has a pink room at fifteen years old? I suppose I should start to tell my story before I get off the subject, it all started in the early part of April.
‘Mum, Mum! Why do I have to go?’ I shouted down the stairs of our three bedroom detached house in Windsor. It’s only mum and I that live in it but we have a spare bedroom for friends and family.
‘Yes Rose, you have to come’ she shouted back up as she ironed our dresses for the next day ‘your auntie will be expecting to see you there’ she said as if she was trying to make me feel guilty.
‘Fine, I’ll come but you better buy me a drink at the reception!’ I called down and hear my mum laugh, her full hearted laugh that soothes me like a baby with a dummy.
I came downstairs in my velour pink tracksuit with diamantes spelling my name on my bum; the furry material flattered my hourglass figure. ‘Why is Auntie Lucy marrying him again?’ I asked coldly.
‘Because Rose, they are in love’ my mum replied trying hard to iron out the wrinkles in my dress. ‘Also because she is getting old and wrinkled like your dress so she thinks no one will love her, therefore sinking her nails into this one and pushing him down the aisle so he will forever be hers’ I stopped and my mum looked her and had a twinkle in her eye and we both started laughing.
‘I can’t believe you said that!’I managed to say trying to catch my breath.
Mum laughed, ‘well there is a lot to learn about the art of sarcastic comments’ and she smiled, her famous full teeth smile that could calm down a suicidal desperate man on the edge of a building. It made me smile too.
‘Is it ok if I go out for a little while mum?’ I asked even though I knew what the answer was going to be.
‘If you like, just be in before it gets dark.’ She replied in a quiet tone. I searched her face, taken back that she has agreed I could go out with others that are my own age, she looked at me ‘go on then before I change my mind’ that was enough for me, I put on my suede ugg boots and headed out the door.
The weather sun was out not hot but it was there for the flowers and birds to acknowledge, there were only a few clouds in the sky they looked like little lambs floating in the sky. As I walked into the park down the road from me I saw a group of people, must have been the same age as me, they all had a can of stongbow and a few had a cigarette on their hands. I walked past with my head down my newly died brown hair although cut in a stylish bob, the sweeping fringe shielded my face, I had past them and I started to pick up the pace I was home free, that was until I heard someone shout to me as I walked off ‘Oi! You! What do you think you’re doing in our park?’ and with that there must have been three or four surrounding me all smelt like alcohol and smoke, I try to push past them but I couldn’t they had me well and truly cornered. They all started shouting at me and I felt helpless, until I heard a voice say ‘leave her alone you idiots’ and the group scattered, I didn’t realise it but I was kneeling on the floor and as I looked up I saw an outstretched hand that gestured to help me up, I took hold of it and came face to face with my rescuer. He was taller than me but not by much about four inches, his eyes were a deep brown and his styled hair was the same colour.
‘Are you ok?’ he asked, his voice was deep and friendly.
‘Yeah...I’m fine...I just...’ I broke off and realised I was now shaking like a leaf; he sat me down on a bench.
‘My name is Jordan, Jordan James’ he said offering his hand once again but for a different reason.
‘I’m Rose Richards’ I replied slowly and cautiously, I noticed that it was dark now and I remembered what mum had said ‘I have to go home’ I said the sudden realisation of what had just happened and how worried mum would be getting now.
‘I’ll walk you back’ he offered and I sensed he was genuinely worried about me, I thought for a second, surely mum would take comfort in the fact I didn’t walk home alone so I agreed and we walked back to my house. We talked and I found out that Jordan only lived a few streets away from me. As we turned the corner I saw mum hands on hip and a look on her face that would scare the devil himself.
‘Where have you been?’ mum exploded when we were inside, her face began to turned red and her eyes looked as though they were about to jump out of their sockets.
‘I’m sorry mum’ I said in a small apologetic tone, my head was down I didn’t dare look in her eyes.
‘Sorry? You’re sorry? Oh well that’s fine, all is well with the world again because Rose is sorry!’ She was yelling now ‘No. Sorry doesn’t cut it this time Rose! Go to your room.’
‘Now Rose!’ My shouted sharply.
As I stomped up the stairs to my room, I thought of what had happened to me and I turned around and shouted down ‘I hate you!’ and slammed my door shut. That night I heard mum crying in her room, I wanted to go in and lie next to her and say I’m sorry and that it was a stupid thing to say and have my mum to turn and say the same thing to me and say she over reacted because she knew I was a sensible girl and I wouldn’t get into any trouble. That wasn’t going to happen. Instead mum and I were going to be stubborn and we were both doomed to cry ourselves to sleep because of the stupid argument we had had.
The next morning I woke to the sound of my piercing alarm clock at seven ‘o’clock, I stretched remembered what had happened last night and with that I got up slowly and trudged downstairs to where mum was making breakfast, I looked at her for a second and sat down at the kitchen table. I saw our dresses hanging on the dining room door and it struck me that today was Aunt Lucy’s wedding. I made myself a bowl of co-co pops and sat in front of the television and ate whilst mum went upstairs to prepare for her sister’s big day, I had only met Lucy’s soon to be husband a couple of times and on each occasion he never really impressed me. He was dull and the only things he was actually capable of saying seemed to be yes and no, forget being about to make a conversation it was hard enough trying to continue one that had stared but it wasn’t just his uninteresting personality he was not the most attractive of men. He had blue eyes and a large nose and forehead, he smiled like he has something up his rear end and his teeth and unorganised and yellow not only that he had a huge mole on his cheek that was hairy and I can’t stop staring at it when I see it. I suppose aside from all those things he is a very lovely man.
I finished my breakfast and went in the shower, I wondered if I would enjoy today as I knew there was no way of getting out of going. I let my mind wander about how many different things could go wrong with today, it could rain, the food would be awful, the bride fell coming down the aisle, the groom never turns up or even the bride never turns up. Whilst I let myself daydream about the catastrophes that would keep me entertained throughout this boring ceremony my mum had placed my dress and shoes on my bed neatly, I came out of the shower and put my dress on with my shoes and looked in the mirror to examine what I looked like. My long orange and yellow dress clung to curves and my white satin three inch heels made me look like a tall model, I went down stairs and heard the engine of the car turning on so I locked the front door and got into the car next to mum who looked stunning in a cream dress and red heels, she didn’t wear a hat because they don’t suit her instead she wore a slide in clip with a red feather and beads on to match her shoes. On the way to the church the car was silent.
The small church was cool as I went to take my seat, I looked around at everyone to see if I could talk to anyone whilst I was here but they were all older than me. Mum and I looked the most dressed up and put together people in there and everyone knew it, they all looked at us as we took our seats some with a look of jealousy others with a look of shock maybe because they thought we were too dressed up or not dressed properly for a wedding but in any case we looked good but I couldn’t tell mum that because we hadn’t spoke since last night. As I was about to break the silence and tell mum she looked nice the music started and everyone stood up, this was it, was my day dream going to come true? I watched in anticipation as my Aunt Lucy walked down the aisle her long white silk dress showing all of her lumps and bumps in her figure, she didn’t wear a veil but a small pearl tiara to complete her look and accessorise her pinned back auburn hair like mums.
The vicar began, and so my boredom set in.
At the reception, everyone looked tired but as they entered the hall that had been poorly decorated with cheap white balloons and white crepe paper they seemed to liven up. Seats were being filled and I noticed more children here but they were all younger than me, I sat with my mum and other members of our family like Great Aunt June and Uncle Steven and his two young children which were three and five years old, also a few other members which are distant. Mum spoke to them and her I noticed her eyes didn’t have that usual spark but a darkened streak of worry. I got up and went to toilet, I looked in the mirror and applied some lipstick and went back to join the table but as I let the toilet I looked at how boring it was to go back so I went to the bar instead and ordered a vodka and coke, the barman was in his early forties and eyed me suspiciously, he asked me ‘how old are you?’
‘Eighteen’ I lied.
‘You don’t look it’ he didn’t look convinced.
I sighed ‘I’m at my Aunt’s wedding reception and I have left my ID at home’ I said as if it always happens to me.
‘Ok’ he said, still not convinced but he was getting paid and it was a private function so he wouldn’t get in trouble.
I took the drink and went to the back door to sit down, it was getting dark out and I heard a familiar voice behind me ‘Hello’ it said as I turned around I saw Jordan.
‘Hello, what are you doing here?’ I asked.
‘The groom is my uncle’ he said in a matter of fact tone.
‘Oh right, well the bride is my aunt’ I told him, his face dropped and my heart sunk a little.
‘Really is she?’ he asked me.
‘Yeah she is’ I said in the same tone he had done before, this made him laugh.
‘So what are you drinking?’
‘Vodka and coke’
‘Are you sure you should be drinking that?’ He asked worried and I noticed he had a pint in his hand.
‘Why are you asking me that? When you have a pint in your hand’ I laughed and he said nothing but just smiled and sighed.
‘Cheers’ he raised his glass and I raised mine too.
Later that night, after talking to Jordan I went to the small room with a cheap sign saying ‘toilets’ hammered to the door and bumped into Aunt June who smiled at me, she said ‘You look very nice Rose’
‘Thank you Aunt June’ I said and smiled showing my perfectly straight teeth thanks to two years of wearing braces.
‘Yes, Roxanne looks beautiful too’ she complimented my mum and I couldn’t help but agree.
‘She does’ I said with a big smile.
‘It must be hard for her sometimes though at big family events like this’ she shook her head and I didn’t understand.
‘What do you mean?’ I asked.
‘You know because you’re not real family’ she said bluntly and my stomach tightened.
‘What do you mean by that?’ I asked, my voice shaking.
‘I mean since you were adopted.’
Have you ever felt like you were falling? Well that’s how I felt at that moment like I was falling so fast and so far that I wouldn’t be able to get back, my heart broke and I couldn’t breathe.
‘Well, see you in there’ and with that Aunt June disappeared.
I stood there looking in the mirror and staring at myself. How can this be? Why would she tell a lie like that? I splashed my face with water and dabbed it with tissue, I stood up straight and pushed all my feelings to my feet. I walked out of the toilets and looked at my mum, I needed a drink. I ordered my vodka and coke from the barman and as I waited, I studied my mum her big dark brown eyes and fair skin kissed with freckles, not like my light blue eyes and clear olive skin and her beautiful auburn hair and my natural blonde hair nothing alike. Maybe it was as true as the stars in the sky, I mean as looks went we were nothing alike. I downed my drink and smashed my glass causing everyone to look at me including mum. Our eyes met and it was then that she knew I had found out because the streak of worry in her eyes had now turned into a flash of pain.
I woke up with a huge headache the next morning and I couldn’t remember half the night but what I did remember was Aunt June telling me I was adopted, I lied in bed for a minute and thought about it. I got up and went downstairs mum had left a note on the kitchen table saying she went food shopping she would be back later, I thought this was very convenient so I decided I would try and find out about what is really going on while she is out. I ran upstairs to get changed and threw some jeans on and a dark blue sweatshirt and looked around the house, I picked up photo albums and went through them and I noticed that there are only pictures of me age three and onwards, in fact there are no baby photos of me at all. However, there was one picture of a baby that I had never noticed before and I took it out and just as I was about to turn it over to read what was written behind it I heard the front door open and I jumped up, mum looked at me and saw I had the photo albums out she closed the front door and I out the photo of the baby in my jeans so she couldn’t see.
‘What are you doing sweetheart?’ mum asked looking worried.
‘Nothing, I just got bored so I thought I would have a look at some pictures’ I said trying to sound convincing, mum looked at me.
‘Let’s put the photos away now and I’ll make some lunch.’ Mum took the album and put it on the top shelf of the cupboard. ‘Did you have fun last night at the reception, you drank a fair bit but because it was your aunt’s wedding I’ll let it go.’
I looked at her, looked in her eyes and opened my mouth but nothing came out. I wanted to tell her I found out I was adopted and because of that I can’t remember a thing but instead I just shrugged. I tried to search in her eyes to see if she knew what happened but she tried not to make eye contact, at twelve ‘o’ clock mum and I sat in silence once again and ate lunch.
‘I’m popping out for a while ok Rose?’ Mum called up the stairs to me. ‘Ok’ I shouted back.
‘Be good, I shan’t be long’ and with that I heard the front door close and the car pull away with mum in it.
I pulled out the photo of the baby and turned it around on the back it said ‘my dearest baby Paul, I will love you forever’ I wondered who it was and whose baby it was and then I realised I recognised the writing it was mums. Was Paul mums baby? I needed to know, I went into mums room looked in her wardrobes and didn’t find anything, so I looked under her bed and found an old suitcase I hadn’t seen before I pulled it out by its black leather handle it had a thick layer of dust sitting on it like the thick layer of snow of the top of Mount Everest, I blew some of the dust off and could see words underneath so I wiped away the rest and saw the words ‘Baby Paul’s stuff – Attic’ I opened it and inside there were old toys and dummies and baby clothes and a framed picture of mum carrying the baby. I wanted to know more so I closed the bag back up and pushed it away again, the bag said it was meant for the attic so there must be other things up there.
I opened the attic door and stairs came down anticipating my footsteps to climb up the truth, I put my left foot on the first step and it creaked ‘come on Rose you can do this’ I said aloud willing myself to walk up, then my right foot on the second and I kept going until I reached the entrance. My hand went in first frantically trying to find the light switch I kept my eyes to the floor as I was scared to look into the darkness of the room until I found it and the light came on and I saw a our Christmas decorations and old teddies of mine from years ago and some old furniture and in the corner hidden away I saw an old wooden trunk, I went closer to it but saw it had a padlock on it, I looked around and saw a hammer I got it and hit the lock as hard as I could and it broke. I opened the trunk and there were photos of mum and baby Paul and there were documents, there was a birth certificate it said:
NAME OF CHILD: Paul Lewis Richards
DATE OF BIRTH: August 4th 1991
MOTHER’S NAME: Roxanne Louise Richards
I started to cry as I read it, mum had a baby but what happened to it? As my tears fell down my face I found another two documents one a death certificate of baby Paul when he was just eighteen months old, he died from cot death and then the other document was for the of adoption me when I was two years old. My heart stopped and so did my tears; it wasn’t until I heard mum say ‘When did you find out?’ that the tears started again.
Mum looked down at me and I could see tears in her hurt brown eyes, she took the photo from my hand and closed her eyes causing a single tear fall down her cheek leaving a line in her foundation revealing her flesh underneath. ‘Mum?’ I said quietly, unsure whether to disturb her or not.
She opened her eyes as though she has been asleep, in a trance ‘why did you come up here?’ she said.
‘I came up here because I found out I was adopted at the wedding and I wanted to find some evidence, some truth behind the lie.’ I pleaded with her.
‘Why didn’t you talk to me Rose?’ she seemed so hurt which caused me to feel so alone.
‘I’m sorry mum...Roxanne...’ I mustered; her eyes were filled with pain when I said her name, she dropped down to my level and looked in my eyes. ‘I am your mum, Rose and I always will be’ she took my hand and I still had my adoption papers in it, she took them off me and threw them to one side. Her eyes burned me and she watched me pick them back up.
‘Why didn’t you tell me I was adopted?’ I asked, beginning to realise that I was the victim in all of this, my life that I didn’t even know the truth in any of it. ‘What difference would it have made Rose? I am still your mother if not by birth then by right, you are not born with the title of a mother Rose you must earn it!’ she looked at me with anger and pain and frustration now.
‘What right do you have to be my mother? You didn’t tell me one of the most important things about me! I had to find out by some women I have met twice that has to stir things up in families!’ I was shouting now, my head was feeling light and I felt like I was having some sort of outer body experience.
‘Rose! Enough!’ Mum shouted back, her eyes squaring up to mine, although they were in a boxing ring jumping around ready to attack.
‘So what made you pick me? Hmmm, was it the adorable blonde hair or the sparkly blue eyes or was it the look of me that made you think, yes she is stupid enough not to find out one day!’ I felt hot and clammy, my heart was racing I didn’t fully understand the whole situation but I knew I had been lied to. ‘No...You reminded me of Paul...’ mum trailed off and I felt a pang of guilt build up in a stomach, I looked at mum her eyes had become softer and her breathe lighter.
‘I’m sorry mum...I didn’t realise...’ I felt so bad, but why? This isn’t my fault; I wanted to know the truth.
‘He died, of cot death when he was one years old...’ a solitary tear ran down her cheek.
That night whilst mum slept, I left with a packed bag filled with jeans and jumpers and underwear to find my real mum, my birth mum. I got on the illuminated dirty bus to London; I found an address earlier that day off the internet. My chest was tight and I tried to breathe but it was hard, I was shaking with nerves and my hands were sweaty. Was I doing the right thing? What about when mum wakes up and find me gone? I couldn’t think about that now, I pushed all thoughts to the back of my head and just stared blankly out of the window. I had only ever been to London a few times with mum to Covent Garden’s shopping and for a posh lunch, I had defiantly never caught the bus on my own at night in London before and as the scenes changed I became more and more scared. As the bus pulled over to where I needed to get off, my mind wandered about all the things I had heard about on the news that had happened in London, the stabbings and murders and rapes and kidnaps, I wanted to go home, but where was my home now?
I walked around the side of a tall dirty building of flats and walked up the stairs until I reached the fourth floor, I walked along the open ledged walkway looking for 34a; I passed 33b and next was 34a. My heart jumped up to my throat and I felt dizzy and scared, I am going to meet my real mum. I knocked on the door, tap, tap, tap.
‘Who’s there?’ I heard a women’s voice shout. She opened the door and in front of me was a middle aged woman with short blonde hair, I could barely see her blue eyes under the smudged eye makeup that she wore, her clothes were too small for her and were dirty and her tights ripped under the short denim skirt that cut off the blood flow to her legs. She stank of alcohol.
‘Who are you?’ she asked slurring her words, I was taken back her breath and also the way she spoke.
‘My name is Rose.’ I said hopefully
‘So? What do you want?’ she asked, I wondered what to say for a moment whilst I was looking at what I had come from.
‘I’m your daughter’ I blurted out, her face was shocked and I could see through the drink she knew what I had just said.
‘Rose? The baby I gave away?’ she spat out, her words like a viper hissing at its prey, I looked at her and she gaze back.
‘Yes, I’m your baby. I travelled to find you.’ I tried to make her understand.
‘Why did you come here today?’
‘To meet you, to meet my mum’ I told her.
‘Ha! Why call me your mum? I am not your mum, I didn’t want you then and I don’t want you now Rose’ She spoke to me close to my face, the smell of drink was choking me and then she took a step back ‘go away, I don’t want to see you. I gave you up, don’t you get it? I didn’t want you then and I didn’t love you then, so what makes you think I want you now? I will never love you or want you.’ she laughed and closed the door in my face. I stood there and realised what a terrible mistake I had made. I began to cry.
I walked down the streets of London totally oblivious to what was going on around me, my vision blurred from the tears and my heart broken from the pain. I waited at a bus stop for a bus to take me home; I lied on the bus bench and waited, I closed my eyes and after a few minutes I heard a voice above me it was deep and gravelly it shouted at me ‘Give me your money and your phone and anything else valuable’ I panicked and opened my eyes and looked around me, I called for help ‘HELP! PLEASE HELP ME!’ but no one came, and the man got angry ‘shut up’ he shouted in my face. He held me against the wall with a knife, I could hear his breathe was heavy from running and following me and the pure adrenaline of what he was doing and I gave him my stuff and began to cry.
‘Thank you beautiful girl’ he said to me in an accent that I couldn’t quite work out and grabbed my face, he stared into my eyes and I could see nothing but emptiness he pushed his face against mine and kissed my full heart shaped lips. I tried to push him off me; I hit him and tried to scream but it was no use I was helpless. After he got what he want he ran off with my phone, money and every last ounce there was of me left.
I wanted to go home. I remember watching that film ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ when I younger with my mum and I remembered the girl in that tapping her heels three times and repeating there is no place like home, I wondered if that would work, I slumped to the floor and closed my eyes. I held my knees close to me and gently rocked back and forth. The rain started coming down and I felt numb. Numb with coldness, numb with pain and numb with loneliness. The night passed me and so did people different people some going to the clubs or stumbling home and others just walking for one reason or another. I heard sirens of police cars pass me, I missed mum and I wish I was at home with her right now giving her a cuddle while watching Eastenders, the smell of lavender on her clothes and jasmine from her perfume. I could smell it now, so clearly. I felt arms around and I didn’t know what to do, my eyes flung open to see what was only to be described as a miracle. Mum.
On the way home sitting in the car next to mum with the heating on full and a blanket around me, I looked up at her. Her hair was messy from the rain that she endured to find me and her cheeks red from the elements harsh treatment. ‘How did you know where I was?’ I asked
‘I found your laptop on your bed, it was open to an address so I thought that would be where you were heading, and I was right’ she said, and looked at me. ‘Yes...’
‘What was she like?’ she asked and I knew who she meant.
‘She doesn’t want to know me.’ I said and I felt ok with that but for some reason started to cry, mum pulled over and she hugged me tightly.
‘Its ok baby, its ok’ she comforted me in a way only a mother knows how to do ‘she is missing out on knowing such an amazing young women, do you know that? She is missing out on one of the most amazing things she would have ever been able to do and that is being your mum’ she started to rock me gently in her arms, I could hear her heart beat as my head nuzzled her breast of that of a new born baby, I was comforted by it.
‘I’m sorry’ I muffled through tears.
‘Its ok baby, you needed to do this and I understand’ she said and began to cry. We both sat crying in each other’s grasp for a few minutes and mum pulled away and looked at me, she wiped my eyes and pulled the blanket around me more and then pulled away.
A few weeks down the line and everything was back to normal, mum and I went out more than we use to just going to the cinema or shopping, things like that and we are able to talk about anything we like. We have more of an open relationship and she has come to terms with the fact I am growing up and need to have experiences of my own, so she is giving me more freedom. As for Jordan and I we are good friends and I have told him everything about what happened and he has been amazing. We are becoming very close and are like brother and sister which is great. I think the one things amongst many lessons I have learnt from this experience is that you are not born with the title of a mother or a father but that you have to earn it by being there for your children throughout their life and by loving them uncontrollably and going out of your way to make them happy even if you are not only that but by giving them trust in you and trusting them. I never understood that before, but now I do and I can happily and wholeheartedly say that my real mum had been with me the whole time.
My name is Summer Louise Sargent and I am 16 years
old. I have always had a passion for reading and writing.
I live in Wales and I enjoy taking walks and being inspired by the
beautiful scenery. I hope to one day publish many novels and
(Unless you type the author's name
in the subject line of the message
we won't know where to send it.)