Home Sweet Home
Flashback: Every day, mom would have me sit at the table in the kitchen, then she would go through her rigid schedule about what I should learn. I had writing, history, geography, English, science, math, and art. I would sit and pay attention and try to learn as much as I could. I loved hearing stories and reading, as this meant that I could enter my own world. I also liked doing art as I could express myself through colors and art. Dancing made me feel like I was a bird. Mom was a good teacher, and it was only when I got older, I thought about why I was not good enough to go to a normal school.
As we sat in the car, the lady and man were talking and talking. I found out that their names were Mary and Andrew. As they talked and talked, I thought about the chaos that day. The police barging in and arresting my parents. I thought about the press and all the pictures that were taken. Then the awful experience I had at the police station. A tear rowed down my eyes when I remembered the embarrassing and pain at the doctors. Now I was in a car with a man and woman I could not remember. I decided right there that I would have to use all my strength and take control where I could. I would not call this man and woman my parents. They may have given birth to me, but they were not my parents. My parents were now in some cell and I decided right there that I would run away back to them as soon as they came out. In the meantime, I would let this woman and man take care of me. I would not call them mom or dad, but call them Mary and Andrew. I glanced at them as they sat in front of the car and closed my eyes. If they were my birth parents, why could I not remember their faces?
We were now in a small town out of the cities, and the car pulled into a driveway where a small house was. The streets were full of people waiting for me to come home as well as the press. Mary seemed to be in a panic and asked why they were there. Andrew was wise enough to answer that they were waiting for this day for 9 years. Mary was in a panic and was going on about how intrusive this was for her and did the press not think about that they needed quiet time with me?
Andrew turned off the car and said, “This is not about us. Ariel’s life was torn for the second time in her life. She is not used to so many people and I would imagine the whole idea of losing the only people she remembers is a trauma. We must think about Ariel. The police told us that she does not remember us. Imagine the turmoil she is in now”
Mary shrugged her shoulders and said that she was my mother. She asked me if I was happy that I was now there where I belonged, with my real parents and real family. I did not respond but looked at Andrew thinking that at least he understood the situation. This was a sign of hope.
The car was in the garage, and we went to the back door. I stood in the kitchen clutching onto Mr. Teddy. Mary asked where was the teddy she bought me? I whimpered that I must have lost him. There was silence then and Mary tried to take Mr. Teddy and tell me it will only remind me of the time I was kidnapped, and we should all move on. I could feel my heart pound harder as I held on to Mr. Teddy with all I could and shouted that he was mine and always would be. The tug of war over the teddy bear ended and I could see that Mary was disappointed. I picked the teddy bear I got from my parents in jail and not the teddy bear she got me. None of us could see the significance of this.
Mary just hugged me and said she could hug me all day. She was waiting for this day for 9 years. While she hugged me, I felt that my body went limp. I put my hands around her and closed my eyes and tried to remember getting hugs like this when I was a toddler. It would have helped if I could remember Mary and Andrew. It would help if I could remember this house. It would help if I could remember getting hugs. However, my memory was blank. This house and people were total strangers for me.
Now I had to be their daughter!
Andrew broke the awkward situation and told me that he would show me the house. It was a nice house and I could not complain about living here, as it had everything a family would need. I was taken to my bedroom and I just stood in the middle looking around it. My bedroom at my home was plain and not as decorated as much. This bedroom was a princess bedroom with a canopy bed and a white carpet. There was a dresser and desk as well as a box full of toys. There was also a dollhouse. It was a Victorian one and much bigger than the one I had. This was a dream bedroom for any girl. At the same time, it was hard to understand that it was now my bedroom.
The rest of the day went somewhat quiet. Andrew told us that we should just relax and let our minds and bodies get used to the big changes. This meant he had to tell Mary to be quiet every time she wanted to tell me how much she missed me and how hard it was for her. It meant that he had to tell her to give me some space and let me relax.
I sat on the sofa all day and looked at cartoons. Otherwise, I did not know what to do. I was a guest here and I did not consider it was home. I could not go outside, as the press was camped outside. This meant that I was just confined to the sofa and the TV. The cartoons were an escape, as for short moments of time, I could laugh at them and forget the situation I was in.
Once in a while, I would sneak to the window and peek through the curtains. There were so many vans with and people with cameras, they were so scary. What did they want of me? I knew if they could they would ask the same sort of questions that the policewoman asked. I bet they wanted me to say that I was hurt and abused. They could not know that I am not interesting. We were just a family like everyone else.
Then I noticed the pictures in this house. They were so many pictures of this toddler girl. I could see that she was me, and it was proof that I once lived here. It was also a reason why mom and dad never had baby pictures of me. Why was I not mad at them? They kidnapped me! They took me away from people that loved me. If I was not kidnapped, then I would not feel alone now. This being said, I could not hate them. They were my family. They were my parents. This confused me so much. The parents that I loved so much were actually criminals and kidnappers.
The news came on and showed me being led into the police station. There was also footage with mom and dad being led into the police station. Mom was crying as she was being led in cuffs. This made me cry as well. The news said someone recognized me at Church, and days later the police found me. The newscaster said that mom and dad admitted that I was kidnapped and in fact Ariel. Just as the news was about to say what would happen, Mary turned off the TV and said I did not need to hear it.
I did need too!
I did not say a word to her. My silence was my protest. I was afraid if I spoke, that I would say so much and could never stop. There were so many things going through my head. I was getting a headache. Would things ever be the same again?
Neighbors kept on coming to the door with some food. The real reason was that they wanted a glimpse of me. They would stand in front of me and tell Mary and Andrew how big I got, and they could see I had the same eyes. Then they would ask how I was treated. They really wanted to know if I was locked in a basement or abused and hurt. I did not answer them. I just sat on the sofa and stayed quiet. I was really waiting for them to go. The problem was that as soon as one went, another one came. I felt like I was on exhibition. I noticed not one of them seemed to care how I was now. None asked how I felt now.
I got tired of it and told Mary that I was tired and would go to bed early.
Flashback: Every evening, we would sit and watch TV. While we were doing this, I would sit on the floor in front of mom, and she would brush my hair. It would hurt at the start because I had long dark hair, but it was also a time of the day I would love. Nothing was said as she brushed my hair. I would just feel the brush going through my hair. It was at these times, I felt wanted and loved. Brushing my hair made me feel like I was the most important person in her life. I doubted that other girls had a mom that loved them so much!
The next day I woke up, my hair was in a mess! There were clothes at the end of my bed. It was a spring dress. I only wore dresses when I went to Church. I looked around to see if I could find my clothes, but ended putting this dress on. I felt like I was 6 years old!
I heard Mary stand at the door and shout at the press. She was begging the media that was camped outside the house to leave us in peace. She shouted at them to leave us alone and that we needed peace. Then Andrew closed the door and tried to calm his wife down. He told her they were using the press for 9 years so people would not forget me, and now the press wanted more. The door was closed and the press had no intention of going. We were once again trapped in the house. It actually didn’t bother me, as I was never allowed out much anyhow.
I was called down for breakfast. Mary thought that my dress was so pretty on me. I said nothing and just sat down. I wondered why we didn’t say a quick prayer. I remembered that Mary and Andrew did not pray last night when I went to bed. My thoughts were disrupted when Mary put a bowl of cornflakes before me. I told her politely that I did not like cornflakes, and could I just have some toast. This made Mary laugh and said that toast was not good for a growing girl. She told me to eat the cornflakes. I looked at the cornflakes and lost control of myself. My life was turned upside down and there were limits to what I could accept. I pushed the bowl away from me and left the table.
I could hear Mary and Andrew discuss what was the matter with me. In the family room, I could see that Andrew got today’s newspaper. I was on the front page. The picture showed how scared I was. Inside there was an article about my parents. I quickly took the newspaper up to my bedroom and hid it under the mattress in my bed.
Mary came up to my room shortly after and told me how rude it was to leave the table like that. I said nothing and just looked at Mr. Teddy.
“Will we go to Church?” I asked
“We do not go to Church” Mary answered, with a hint of pride in her voice.
“Don’t we ever pray?” I asked
“You will not be forced to do that here, as we do not believe in God or Religion.”
“But I want to”
Mary did not hear what I said, she just told me that I should go down to the kitchen and finish my breakfast, otherwise it would be a long time until Lunch. I did not argue with her. I just said I needed to be alone.
When she left the room, I opened the newspaper and read about my parents. They could not have children so they kidnapped me. They did not understand why they did it. They were both devastated that they could not have children and out of craziness, they kidnapped me. They knew how hurt my birth parents were and thought about giving me back. However, as time went, they could see that I did not remember my birth family, and they were my parents. It would be evil if they returned me. The article said that there was no evidence that I was hurt and harmed, and my parents told how much they loved me. There was even a quote from Dad asking how I was now. He said I must be in some sort of trauma.
There was a picture of mom and Dad’s marriage picture. I just stared at it and wanted so much to give them a hug. The article said they could face 6 to 25 years in prison. This made me think I would never see them again. As I held onto Mr. Teddy, I cried on my pillow. It was the worse crying session I had in my life. A lot had happened and it was now my mind had enough and there was only one thing to do and that was to cry.
I must have cried for an hour when I noticed a special light shown through the window. I slowly got up and peeked out the window. The press was still camped there and when someone saw me, they all started taking pictures of me. This did not bother me, as I saw Gabriel standing there as well. He was the boy I met at the police station. He still had that robe on that looked like he was an altar boy. I could see him looking straight at me. Then I heard a voice in my head. It was him telling me to stay strong! He also said to look at my pillow. I did this and there was an apple on my pillow. I was confused and when I looked out the window again, Gabriel was gone.
The apple was the best apple I ever ate. When I was done, it was like I ate a Christmas dinner, which meant I felt so stuffed. I held on to Mr. Teddy and went on my knees and prayed to God. I prayed for my parents that they were not suffering in jail and that they would not be in jail for a lifetime. I also prayed for Mary and Andrew that they would learn to get to know who I was and love me. Finally, I prayed that God was watching over me and helping where he could. I asked him to give me the strength to get used to all that was happening.
Flashback: Mom could see that I was not paying attention to one of her classes. She asked me if I had a problem. I told her that I had no friends. I was told it was too dangerous to go out, as somehow the sun was dangerous for me. I did not go to a normal school. I didn’t even go to Sunday school. I knew no one my age. I asked her if I would ever have a friend my age. I did not expect mom to break down in tears. She had no answers for me. It ended up that we each cried in each other’s arms. Mom was saying sorry. I did not understand why she thought it was her fault. In the end, I tried to console her by saying I may not have had many friends, but I had the best family!
The rest of the day went and as I was getting ready for bed, Mary came into say goodnight to me.
She sat at my bedside and said, “This is hard for us all. It is extremely hard for me. I always thought it was my fault that you were kidnapped. There was not one day that went by when I did not look for you or think of you. Others said you were dead. Some even accused me of killing you. It was hard for 9 years that you were gone. Every day that went by, there was less hope of finding you. I was so afraid that you would forget me. This happened, and here we are united again. However, we are united as strangers. The question is what do we do?”
I did not know the answer.
“We must be a family again,” Mary continued, “You must accept that we are you are your parents and accept being our daughter. You must forget the two that kidnapped you and understand what they have done was very bad. If we can just start over, I am sure things would work out”
Mary kissed me goodnight and went. I thought of what she said and tried to think if that was the real answer. Should I look at mom and dad as evil people? I could not sleep. It was like my head was in a mess.
When everyone was asleep, I sneaked downstairs and turned on the news channel. There was once again a piece about my parents. It was the same that the newspaper said. I looked at the footage of my parents in jail. They looked so sad and so afraid. I know Mary said they were evil, but I could not see this in them. They were my parents. They loved me and took care of me. I loved them and missed them!
The next day, I woke up as the sun was shining on my bed. I thought that was a sign that things would be better. However, something was odd. For the first time in years, I could feel that I wet the bed. I lifted the blanket over my face and cried. My mind was shouting and asking why?