“Hmm?” I glanced up, preoccupied, though not with the drawing in front of me, as I should have been.
My mother shifted from the dishes she was washing and turned with a hand on her hip. “I said, are you okay?”
“Oh. Yeah, I’m fine. Why?”
She gave me her best don’t-play-that-game-with-me look.
“You’re barely drawing.”
“So I… think… a lot. So what?”
“Amara. You’re not just thinking. You’re dwelling.”
I just gave her a look, then went back to my drawing.
She didn’t let it go. “You know… it would be okay if you talked to me about… whatever is on your mind.”
I sighed. I almost laughed at the idea of telling her the things I was thinking about. “Mother.” I paused. “Mother.” I couldn’t figure out what to say. She waited patiently, expectantly. I took a deep breath. “Mother,” I started again, “it’s not that I don’t want to talk to you about… things. It’s just that… I’m not sure you would… understand.”
My Mother let out a small laugh. “I’m sorry,” she said, seeing the look on my face. “I’m sorry, I am; but Amara, really. What could you possibly have on your mind that I wouldn’t understand?”
She was right. Life here was simple and predictable. Everyone was open with each other; there was nothing that seemed like it needed to be kept secret. The idea that I was thinking thoughts and not sharing them with her – or anyone – was probably a completely foreign one to my Mother.
I hadn’t thought about it before that.
“I’m – I don’t mean to – insult you,” I said carefully. “I just… have a lot to think about… and I don’t really think that anyone… would be able to understand.” I watched her for a reaction.
She looked at me for a long minute, not saying a word, barely even breathing from what I could see. Then she dried her hands on her apron and left the kitchen to walk down the hall toward the bedrooms. She returned fairly quickly, holding something in her hands clasped in front of her.
I waited patiently.
She looked down at her clinched hands for a long time before looking up at me.
“Please… please don’t be… angry with me. For not showing this to you sooner. It never… felt like the right time. It does now.”
I nodded. I knew exactly what she was talking about.
“This… this note… was in the basket with you. When you were – brought – to us.”
I nodded again. She looked back down at her hands, as if she was reconsidering her decision. Finally she spoke again.
“This has… has always helped me… get through the times when… when I’m not quite sure… you know, what to do.”
I didn’t know, but she was holding a folded piece of paper out to me, so I took it without a word.
We held each other’s eyes for another moment, and then she gave a final nod and went back to the sink, where she washed dishes without raising her head again, even once.
I took a deep breath and looked down at the white piece of paper in my hand. It was folded just once, in half, and part of me was afraid to open it. Whatever was written on it was going to be valuable to me, otherwise my Mother wouldn’t have made such a production out of giving it to me.
Slowly, I opened it up.
We who have brought her to you are the Immortals.
Her name is to be Amara Carys.
You are to tell your Community her Birth Mother died in childbirth,
and that You are to be her Adoptive Parents.
Your Community will not understand her,
You will not understand her,
And it will be some time before she understands herself.
At times it may seem that she does not need you,
but she will need you, and you will need her.
Above all, let her be herself.
I read the words several times, turning them over in my mind, trying to digest them. I looked up; my Mother was still standing quietly at the sink. Now she was drying the dishes she had washed.
“What does it mean?” I asked when I found my voice.
“I thought maybe you would know.”
“Well I don’t.”
My Mother set the towel down and looked at me for a moment. “It gave us our instructions. You know how rare an Adoption is. We wouldn’t have known what to tell people; we wouldn’t have known anything about you. This note… answered the questions we would have had. But it… it also created questions we never would have thought to have.”
I nodded. It had for me too.
“The most important thing about it, though… is the last line. It’s the answer to… everything. So I just… come back to it. Whenever I’m unsure, I read it and remind myself… I was never meant to understand you. I was meant to be your Mother; I was meant to take care of you and raise you and love you…” She smiled tenderly. “But I was never meant to understand you. No one was.”