Friends and Enemies
Things were getting better at my new home. My parents were now in prison for kidnapping me. I missed them so much, but I did my best to be as happy as I could. I would be brave and wait for the 6 years until they were released. I have learned over the last few weeks not to feel sorry for myself. I suppose others had a much worse life than I had. Sure Mary was still strange and demanding and tested my patience, but then I had Andrew. I was teased at school, but I had Wendy as my best friend! Mr. Teddy was still missing, but I had hope that I would find him one day. Compared to a few weeks ago, I was happy. I considered myself a survivor because my life was torn apart.
I was over the moon that Wendy was now my best friend. We were together in school and she often visited me after school. We would play games, draw or just chat. I did tell her about my parents in jail, and what it was like living with them. We also talked about what it was like when my life was turned upside down. She was a great listener and hugged me when I felt a tear coming.
Wendy also told me about her life. Her life has been hard too. Her Dad was arrested because he beat her up all the time. Once she was even in the hospital after he beat her. Now she just lived with her mum, who was always stressed as she had an important job at the bank. Wendy said she was often alone because her mom worked so much. She was also teased at school. I did not understand why. Why would someone tease and bully someone so nice?
Mary shocked me once when she suggested that Wendy come on a sleepover. I already told Wendy that I wet the bed, so that was no problem. So the sleepover was planned and it was like every day was so long waiting for the day. At last, the day came, when she was to stay for the weekend. This was my first sleepover in my life and it was the best experience of my life. It was like I suddenly had a sister. Mary was also nice and was like the perfect mother. I don’t think I ever smiled so much in those few days. We didn’t sleep that much, as we chatted and whispered to each other all night. I think we knew everything about each other. In fact, we made a vow at the end, as we both held a candle that we would be soul sisters for life. We would always be best friends!
When Wendy went, it was like the house was empty. I was walking around like a zombie wondering what I should do. There was no one to speak with. After a weekend full of talking and activities, it was like the house was now a graveyard. I tried to use my time by looking for Mr. Teddy. He was now missing for weeks. He must have been somewhere. I searched every inch. Maybe it was Gabriel that took him.
I decided to go down to Andrew. He was in his office doing some work on his computer. I walked around showing him that I was bored. This must have been either too obvious or he thought I was a bad actress because he started laughing. He asked me if I was bored and what I wanted to do. I walked over to him and tried to show him my best puppy eyes. I told him that I heard that my parents were in jail for 6 years. Andrew nodded and said the fact that they did not harm me meant the sentence was not that bad. I could have discussed if the verdict was long or not. It just seemed to me that 6 years was a life term. I told him that I wanted to visit them. It was as if Andrew understood this and he told me that we should plan a day and see when they could be visited.
Mary must have been eavesdropping at the door, because she came in and started shouting, “I told you that you have to forget these people. They are kidnappers! They stole you from us!”
I told Mary that I still considered them my parents and that I still loved them and missed them. This made her upset and asked if I loved her and Andrew.
“I am beginning to know you and Andrew, and I do like you and I am happy you are taking care of me,” I explained, “but I consider the people in prison as my parents as they took care of me all my life. I am beginning to love you and Andrew, but I love and miss my parents!”
“We are your parents!” Mary shouted, “I do not understand why you are not grateful that we gave birth to you and we have always loved you and spent every minute thinking of you and looking for you. Do you still blame me that I was stupid enough to look away for a few minutes, while these evil people kidnapped you?”
“No!” I replied as tears were rolling down my cheeks. ” I cannot blame you for something I forget. My parents are not evil, We were so happy until the police came. I never even had a chance to say goodbye to them! I am just asking to see them, so they know I am in a good home and I can say goodbye.”
I also wanted to ask them why they kidnapped me but didn’t mention that.
Mary’s answer was a decisive no. She reminded me that she even let Wendy visit so this must have shown me she was not the wicked witch of the west. She warned me to forget my parents.
I was now in tears. I ran up to my room and put some clothes in a bag, and ran out the front door as Mary was shouting and asking where I was going and I was to come back again.
I did not come back.
I ran and ran and I didn’t know where I was going. All I knew that I did not want to go back. I was running away from all the confusion and chaos. I thought my life was getting better, but it’s like Mary wanted to control everything I did. I came to the Church and knelt down and started praying. I really needed God now! I really needed help now!
Flashback: We did not go out a lot, but today mom and dad took me to the beach! It was a bit cloudy, and not many were there, but I was so happy. I quickly got changed to my swimsuit and ran to the water and splashed around. Mom and Dad were in the water and we splashed water at each other. I couldn’t stop laughing as it was so fun. After that, we had a picnic and then sunbathed. I did not want to go home. I wanted to put up a tent and live at the beach. Mom explained that good times like this cannot be experienced all the time. It was something that we had to look forward to. This was the only time we were at the beach.
I looked at the cross and prayed for help. As I was kneeling, I suddenly noticed Wendy kneeling beside me. How did she know I was there? We didn’t say a word. She just prayed with me. This was good, as I knew that if I spoke, I would possibly break down and cry. She just knelt beside me and prayed. This made me happy as she knew my limits and still helped me in this little way. After a while I told her about the argument with Mary and that I had no choice but to run away. This made Wendy a bit sad, as she asked what would she do without me? I did not think about that.
Now I felt lost, I did not know what to do. I could not run away as I would also miss Wendy. I have lost my patience with Mary, I sat there while giving Wendy a hug. We cried as we hugged and tried thinking of a solution. Wendy could have come with me, but the thought made her afraid. We both sat in despair and could not see any solution
Gabriel suddenly stood before us. Wendy told him that it was good to see him again.
“So you want to run away?” he asked, “At times, everyone wants to run away from something. Let’s say if you did run away to the big city. You are too young to get a job and you have no money. So what would you do? How would you eat? What will happen if it’s rainy or if it’s very cold? These are the easiest problems you would have. You are 11 years old. You would end up with people hurting you and using you. It is good that you are praying for guidance, but try and listen to what God is saying to you.”
" It does not seem like God is listening to me!”
“God does hear your prayers,” Gabriel said, “God always gives 3 answers to prayers...1.) “Yes!” 2.) “Not Yet”, 3.) “I have something better in mind”. God’s no is not a rejection, it’s a re-direction”
This gave me something to think about. Gabriel was right. It was wrong to run away. Wendy would miss me and it would be the second time Mary and Andrew lost me. I had to go home and I had to accept that these two people are my parents.
Gabriel disappeared as usual. This gave me the opportunity for me to ask Wendy how she knew him. She told me that Gabriel visited her when she was having a hard time with her Dad. He consoled her when she was beaten up and cheered her up and gave her strength when the police arrested him and she felt guilty about that. Then she showed me a cross around her neck. It was the same cross that I had! This cheered me up as I showed her that I had the same cross. Then we discussed who could he be? Could he be an invisible friend, or maybe a guardian angel?
I went home and silently walked in. I said a short prayer as I slowly went up to Mary and whispered that I was sorry. I did not get any hugs. She was mad! She asked me how I dared to run out of the house like that? Did I not care that they worried about me? Did I have no respect for them? She kept asking questions and it did not matter if I answered or not. She just screamed and yelled. In the end, I just stopped answering. I was trying my best to understand her and I knew it hurt her that I did not remember her or considered her a mother. I knew that it hurt her when I asked to see my parents in jail. I knew it hurt her when I stormed out of the house. I understood why she was mad. The problem was if she understood the way I felt.
Mary told me that I was grounded, so I went up to my room and just sat in the corner. I felt like I was in jail now. I knew what I did was wrong. I was just sad that no one knew why it was wrong. I knew that I had to use this time to think. It would be best if I could accept Mary and Andrew as my parents, and accept that I was kidnapped, and despite the fact that they treated me well, it was still wrong. It was like I knew what I should do, and I knew if I did this, I would be happy. The big question is how I would do it.
I got the newspaper clippings of my parents that I hidden under my mattress. A tear rolled down my chin again as I saw my parents. Were they suffering now?
Before I could think, all hell broke loose when Mary came into my bedroom and caught me with the newspaper clippings. She took the newspaper clippings from my hand and tore them in pieces. It was like she was stabbing me in the heart, taking the last reminder of my old life. I gathered the newspaper clippings and tried putting them together like a puzzle. I was hysteric and cried at the top of my lungs, How could she destroy the clippings. They were memories!
Mary gave me a speech again about how my parents were now in jail for something they have done wrong. They kidnapped a child and left that child’s family in despair. She warned me that it was about time that I accepted the facts and accepted that I have parents that are good and still love me. It is not their problem that I have forgotten them! She warned me that I had the time to adjust. If I could not accept them as parents, I was to respect them as parents. Then she rushed out and left me there with a newspaper in so many pieces, it could never be put together. Luckily I could see a piece of a newspaper where I could see moms and dad’s face. I quickly put this in one of my school books.
Then I got on my knees as I held the cross and prayed that God was with me, as well as my parents in jail and Mary and Andrew. I did not see any solution, but I was sure that God would show us the way.
Flashback: Mom and I visited a playground. She bought me some dark sunglasses and said I should wear them. I didn’t quite like them as they made everything so gray. I preferred seeing the grass, sky, trees, and flowers in their true color. However, mom insisted that I wore them. It was fun in the playground. It was like an amusement park, especially for someone that was hardly let out. I liked the swings and the monkey bars the best. However, my fun time was cut short when Mom took my hand and said that we had to walk quickly. She looked over her shoulder several times. I looked behind and could only see an old woman looking at us. I asked mom why we had to go so quickly and told her that I was having fun. She just whispered that the park was too public.
After a shower, I went down to the family room. I was still mad at Mary, so I was going to give her a piece of my mind. As I came down the steps, I seen her head buried in her hands. She was crying so hard. Her face was so red and tears were everywhere. I decided I would leave her there. She did not want me to console her. After all, she was still mad at me.
When I came into my room I saw Mr. Teddy on my bed. I wondered how he got there. There was only Mary and me in the house. Andrew was visiting a friend and Mary was sobbing. I quickly gave Mr. Teddy a hug and promised that things would get better. I didn’t want to think about how Mr. Teddy got there, I was just happy that he was back. I was in a great mood as I put a nightdress and the pull-ups on. I said my prayers and smuggled in my bed.
This was a night where I had a smile on my face as I was falling asleep.
I heard Mary come in. I kept my eyes closed and pretended to sleep. She sat on the side of my bed,
" You are an angel.” she whispered, ” I know you do not know this, but I love you and you are the best thing that ever happened to me. We have lost so many years as mom and daughter. Oh if you knew how hard it was when you were gone. I kept dreading every time the doorbell rang. I did not want to hear that you were dead or sold to someone in the Middle East. There are so many things I missed. Your birthdays... your first school day... buying new clothes for you and so on. Now you are back, but it has been hard. You do not remember me and I do not know you. We are mother and daughter, but we are also strangers. The question is what now?”
It was hard pretending to sleep, as I wanted to hug her and cry with her. Then I felt my her hand on my hand, the one that was holding Mr. Teddy.
" I am so sorry that I took your teddy away. I know how much he means to you. I took him and hid him out of desperation and jealousy that you considered another woman your mother. I know you are asleep and cannot hear me. I hope one day you can see how much I love you.!”
Mary went and I was just silent trying to understand all that she said. She stole Mr. Teddy, so I should be angry at her. I should be raging mad. Still, I understood that she has been having a difficult time. I decided I would not create drama out of Mr. Teddy. After all, he was back where he belonged and mum Mary made a mistake when she took him,
When I went downstairs for breakfast, I asked politely if I could try cornflakes today. I wanted Mary and Andrew to see that I was trying.
“Ariel... of course, you can eat cornflakes” Andrew whispered
I asked why they looked so sad.
Mary answered, “I was just on the phone with Wendy’s mother. She feels its best that Wendy starts immediately at a boarding school. I am so sorry that your friend is leaving”
I was speechless. My best friend was now far away.
What would I do now?