I asked again when I was twelve. I was still at the home then, but not for much longer. Head Mistress Danbury was still there too. She told the same story with a few new details that I would have been better off never knowing. To this day, I don’t know why Danbury decided it was necessary to share this one little detail with me….They had found me in a dumpster. In the trash.
This time I understood. Abandoned. Thrown away. Unwanted. It made sense. It was kind of the story of my life. Why else would I still be at Shadyview nearly eleven years later, when so many others had come and gone?I was a black mark on Head Mistress Danbury’s record. She prided herself on her 100% placement rate. Until me. For some reason, she could never get any of the perfect couples that walked hand and hand through Shadyview on sunny weekends, looking for the perfect child to complete their perfect picture, to take me home. There was a toughness about me, those people said. An unfriendliness. Couples wanted giggly little girls, I figured out. Not quiet, watchful girls with creepy–yes, I actually heard one of the husbands say that–eyes. Maybe that’s why she told me about the dumpster. Maybe she was angrier than she let on, because I messed up her perfect record.
Maybe I sound a bitter. I am. Or at least, I was…and still am, a little. I have to give them credit. They tried, they really did, with each and every one of us.
I made the mistake of sharing this new information, or at least this newly comprehended information at least, with my bunkmate, Essie, whom I though was a friend. Shadyview wasn’t much, but it was small. We all had our own separate rooms that we only had only share with one other person. Of course, I almost never had to share because there were never any kids my age at the home.
Essie had been Shadyview for a couple of months, ever since her parents died in a plane crash. I felt sorry for her, but at the same time jealous. She had known her parents for thirteen whole years. That was more of a chance than I ever had.
For some reason, we became fast friends. I never made friends with the other orphanage kids. Most of them weren’t there long enough to even get to know, really. But Essie was different. I thought we were somehow the same. We were older than most of the other kids.
She was one year older than me, and everyone knows that kids over eight almost never get adopted. We even looked a little alike. Though Essie’s red hair was a lot more blond than mine, and she had pretty blue eyes rather than the muddied brown that I have.
Because of Essie, the other kids actually started to like me. Since she had come, they had been more friendly. They stopped calling me names like “Little Orphan Annie” and the ever popular “Runt”–(I was small for my age). Even that reprieve made me feel totally in her debt. I felt like we were sisters. I thought that at last there would be someone who was stuck at Shadyview with me. Someone who might really become my friend.
I trusted Essie. As much as I could ever really trust anyone. Maybe those couples were right. Maybe I was/am unfriendly, too tough. I mean but am I really to blame for that? You can’t not be tough, when every day you get another demonstration of the fact that you are alone and no one truly wants you. Despite that, I trusted Essie. Trusting her was my mistake. I should have known better.
I almost cried when I told her. And I don’t cry. Ever. No. Really. Ever.
But the thought that my own parents didn’t want me. I mean, it’s not like they died. It’s not like they had no choice. They gave me up willingly. Worse, they threw me away. Literally. They didn’t even take long enough to give me a name and probably hadn’t given me a second thought since the night that they dropped me in the trash. Those thought almost did bring a tear to my eye; they almost made my voice break.
Luckily, it was at night, after lights out, when I told her. So Essie, laying below me, couldn’t see me. Things probably would have been much worse for everybody, if I had let myself break. That was the last night I spent at Shadyview. Here’s what happened….
© L. M. Davis, 2012. All Rights Reserved
Check back next week, same time, same place, for Part 3 of Bailey’s story.