There was mainly junk in the pile of mail Jared left on the front porch along with a few pieces of actual mail. I saved a few catalogs that might be worth flipping through someday but pretty much everything else went in to the recycling bin.
What I did nearly toss, that I will be forever grateful Jared saved, was a big brown envelope from the twin’s preschool. The envelope held a impassioned letter from a woman I have never met and a years worth of my children’s preschool projects and memories. I have probably read the letter at least a half dozen times already. It began with the writer explaining who she is and her connection to the children and then went on to explain why she felt like she needed to send me this package.
Her name is Samantha and based on what she said in the note, she has basically been a surrogate mother to the twins in my absence. In charge of them from 7am – 6:30pm Monday through Friday and bringing them home with her more than once or twice a week when the Nanny (or my husband) fails to show at the end of the day. The children have become so much more than just her students, they’re her heart (so she says). It sounds quite messy back home. And Samantha has been trying her best not to judge. Saying she understands mental illness, having a mother who has been in and out of hospitals most of her life, but that she doesn’t understand abandonment.
The stamp from the post office is from nearly 5 months ago. All this time Samantha must have been waiting for a response from me. She should have given up by now. Assuming she even still cares for the kids. If he ever got wind that she contacted me, well that’d be that right quick. But I suspect she was smart about covering her tracks. It’s no secret how he feels about me.
I’m not sure if I should respond but I sort of feel obliged to. But, what do I say? Would anyone believe my explanation for a lack of response thus far: “hey…you…sorry your very thoughtful package was sent to my neighbor’s instead of mine and we only just met today when he returned from a movie set and realized my mail was collecting in his office … and I go to group daily at the out patient ward, take all of my prescribed medications as directed and hope someday to be strong enough to mother those children you care for who probably wouldn’t recognize me in passing on the street… ” or is it easier to just let those people believe what he’s been telling the courts in my absence this selfish bitch just doesn’t care about her kids? Easier isn’t usually better, I’ve learned that much.
I fanned the kids artwork out on the kitchen table and lit a cigarette. A christmas tree made of green pom-pom balls glued to a paper plate, squished from being in the package but extra soft to the touch, caught my eye. I ran my pointer finger over the poms. Tried to imagine little fingers holding each pom down while the glue set in. Then reaching for another. Probably from a styrofoam bowl filled to the edges with colorful poms. Bypassing the reds, yellows and blues to find another green. Sticky fingers, with jagged finger nails. Tiny knuckles. Minuscule wrists. Maybe?
I have forgotten what their hands look like.
I set the christmas tree back down very quickly. Stubbed out my cigarette. Tried not to vomit.
I sorted through the pile: a thumbprint turkey, a bunny made from a dixie cup and felt, a self-portrait. Pages from coloring books haphazardly filled in. Dittos for beginning writers. The letters G, Q and Z. Then, mixed in between everything else, was a small rubber banded stack of pictures. The twins. Fifteen pictures or more. They were hardly happy. Unsmiling in most. Withdrawn in group shots. Faking it for the camera in costumes. They looked very sad. And my heart, felt nothing. I stared at the photographs with less empathy than a person half watching the news.
These children aren’t mine. They belong to someone else. Someone else who died long before I ever set foot inside Evermore. They’re carbon copies of him. And bare no resemblance to me. I don’t know them anymore, if I ever did. They’re practically grown. Gone are the pudgy cheeks I used to nuzzle. The big baby bellies I used to tickle. Their hair is straight and mussed. No strawberry blond spit curls. I don’t recognize that shirt. Or those pants. Or that belt. Or that shirt either. Or the shorts. Definitely not those shoes. What do they eat? Do they like milk? Are they right handed or left? Do they have a lisp? Or speak clearly. Do they laugh at all? Are they kind? Have they ever said my name aloud?
I took my arm and swung it low across the pile on the table. My arm acted like a snow plow coming for that pile of memories, pushing it forward off the edge of the table so it would scatter across the floor.
I side stepped the artwork like it was feces and ran out my front door. Letting the screen door slam behind me. I stomped down my front porch steps, across my lawn and down the driveway to the very edge of my property and kept on walking all the way up Wonderland. I was determined to get as far away from those memories as I possibly could. I was feeling something inside I have been avoiding for way too long. I had faces to accompany my fears. And I felt like I was going to vomit up my internal organs.
Samantha’s package was likely sent with the best of intentions. I am sure of that. But it has awoken a beast inside me. Something untamed and rabid. Too bad I’ve been declawed.