I stare at the woman I’ve heard so much about, the woman who raised my mother. The same woman who my mother said was probably devastated when she disappeared. How did she find me? How did she even know to look for me? A mixture of doubt and fascination runs through me.
Her deep green irises are shining and her lips quiver as she tries to keep her tears at bay. I turn back to the headmaster, a million questions running through my mind. Questions I doubt he has the answers to.
“How-“ I clear my throat before starting over, “How did you find me?” It’s the easiest question I can ask right now. Even though I’ve spoken the words to her, it’s the headmaster who responds.
“Ms. St’Clair has been looking for you for the past six years. It started off as looking for your mother after the patefaction, but she found your mother listed as missing and you shipped to an institution. It took some time to nail down which institute since a lot of information was lost with the influx of children.”
I turn to face her, not wanting the information from him but from her own lips. “Why were you looking for mom?” Her eyes darted to the headmaster but before he can answer I raise a hand, signalling for him to be quiet, my eyes still focused on her. I’m being completely rude, and it might cost me a trip to the white room, but I don’t care.
“No, I need to hear this from her. Why were you looking for mom? After twelve years you only just decided to look for her?”
Leaning forward in her chair, she took a deep breath. “Well, to answer your first question, I came looking for her because of the patefaction, I had to make sure she was safe. To answer your second question, it didn’t take me an entire twelve years. Over the years I’ve sent what I thought to be the best hunters to find her, but I underestimated her abilities. Somehow she always sensed when they were close and moved to a different location before they could even make it to the front door. Let’s not mention how well she hid you.”
My mother never kept the truth from me. She always explained why we were moving, always saying they were getting close to finding her, closer to figuring me out. She just never mentioned the person looking was Tilly. “Okay, makes sense. What I don’t get is why you’re here now.”
At this point my rude-o-meter is way off the charts but I try not to think about it too hard. I know she’s my grandmother and all but it’s just hard to wrap my head around. Six years ago I could have given them her name, it would have saved me from the institution, but something held me back. It’s not something I can change nor do I want to. I wouldn’t have met Farrah if I did.
“Well, I came to take you home of course.” I almost get whiplash with how quickly my head jerks in her direction. I must have heard wrong. There’s no way she expects me to just up and leave. I mean I could, but do I want to? I’m not sure- “Genesis dear, did you hear what I said? I’m going to take you to come live with your grandfather and myself. He doesn’t know I’ve found you yet, wanted to keep it as a surprise since he thought I wouldn’t be able to do it.” She turns her body completely in the seat, her hand outstretched for my own.
I look at her hand and toward the headmaster. Surely there’s some rule somewhere that will stop her from taking me, bringing the small bubble of hope crashing down. I know what I want to say, what I should say.
But when I open my mouth that isn’t what comes out. Instead I find myself saying, “Can I think about it?” Both adults in the room openly gape at me. Tilly because I’m sure she thinks my mom bad mouthed her in some way which is causing my hesitance and headmaster because he knows just how not great the institute is.
Tilly composes herself some before asking, “May I ask why?” The hurt look on her face has me quickly explaining myself. “It’s Farrah, I can’t leave her. She’s my best friend and the closest thing I’ve had to family in a long time. She has no one here but me, I’m afraid of what she’ll go through without me here.”
Tilly releases an audible breath and looks to headmaster. “ I’ll be taking this Farrah with me as well.”
“What?” I say, at the same time headmaster Winthrop says, “Mrs. St’Clair, I’m afraid that’s not possible.” Tilly just looks him in the eye and demands, “And why is that?”
“There’s protocol to follow and unfortunately it’ll take weeks before the councillium will even get back to me, another week before the meeting is set and then everything has to be reviewed. Of course, this being your granddaughter you are free to take her into your care without all of that red tape but Ms. Carter is a different story altogether.” Just like that all hope gets deflated.
“Are you done? Because I can have the three remaining members of the councillium on the phone in less than a minute to authorize this.”
Headmasters eyes bulge out the sockets, “Three re-“
“Yes, three, as I’m the fourth.” She produces an elaborate pin that has the councillium’s emblem on it. “I take it I don’t need to tell you to keep your mouth shut about it?” He shakes his head quickly before giving a slight bow.
No one knows who the members of the councillium are. Only the councillium and their spouses. If one member has to step down or passes away, the remaining members gather and select the person who will replace the lost member. They won’t even have a say in who replaces them.
“Now that that’s settled, go, get your friend and gather your things. Be ready within the hour, I should be done wrapping up the paper work for the both of you and getting authorization for Farrah.”
She doesn’t have to tell me twice. I dart out of my seat, knocking it to the floor in the process but I don’t bother to right it. This place can suck it for all I care. Now I just need to find Farrah and tell her the good news.