A Sudden Change
We progressed slowly up the walk and Beatrice held on tightly to my hand. As the lead caretaker answered the door, she spilled her ruse and I stared into blank space.
“I found him on the side of the road. I asked if he was lost, but he wouldn’t tell me anything. I’ve never seen him around town before,” Beatrice carried on in such a convincing way that I would have believed her if it hadn’t been myself she was talking about. I simply fixed my eyes upon the floor and zipped my lips. My mind was racing… were my parents involved in some illegal business? Why did everyone have to lie and act so suspicious all of a sudden? Why had I really been hidden away in that mansion all my life? Perhaps I was thinking too hard about it all. Surely, I’d read too many fables and fairytales… but, some were biographies and Bible stories…
“Come, child! Tell us your name,” the older woman said, yanking me out of my thoughts and back to the present. I looked at Beatrice. The expression on her face let me know it was alright to say it because no one on the outside had ever heard my name before. I didn’t exist.
“If you won’t tell me your name, at least tell Ms. Gertrude,” she smiled.
I glanced back at the old woman. My name wouldn’t sound right coming out of anyone else’s mouth, I surmised. I’d heard only six people say it before, and I would never hear them say it again. It just wouldn’t be the same. My name was a memory. Hearing my name called aloud would only serve to remind me of everything that was once connected to it. My heart began to beat faster. My eyebrows furrowed. I looked Ms. Gertrude straight in the eye and said, “I don’t have one.”
“What, young man?” she asked, quite taken aback.
“I don’t have a name,” I repeated.
“Why certainly, that can’t be true,” she said kindly, kneeling down. “Where are your parents?”
“I don’t have any parents,” I said nonchalantly.
“I’m sorry to hear that…” she said in a low voice. “Might I ask what happened to them?”
“I don’t have any,” I said again.
“How did you get here in London?” she asked with a look of concern. “Did you grow up here?”
I shrugged and looked to the ground again.
She pursed her lips and shook her head. Then, she stood up and said a few more words to Beatrice.
“Don’t worry, lad. We will take care of you here,” she smiled, looking at me again,
“You’ll open up soon, and then we’ll find you a nice, loving family.”
I did not make eye contact.
“I pray the best for you, young man,” Beatrice said, taking my hands and gazing into my eyes one last time. She pulled me into a hug and whispered, “Ms. Gertrude will take great care of you.”