“Mum, it’s so unfair. All the other girls will be wearing them. I hate you.”
The words spat with venom, her hands flailing Kayle turned, marching out of the kitchen, stomping upstairs to her room, slamming the door. The sound of her throwing herself on her bed and pounding her arms and legs resonated throughout the house.
Her mother, Laura, turned off the potatoes steaming on the stovetop and slowly slumped into a chair at the kitchen table. The same table she had helped her daughter at as she struggled with long division and fractions. The same table that had hosted Kayle’s thirteenth birthday party, the same table that she sat at knitting cardigans and singing lullabies to the sleeping Kayle who she rocked at her feet. The same table at which she had washed and changed her as a baby when she had first come into their lives arriving at four weeks old, a temporary foster child, who had won our hearts and had not left, eventually she was adopted and was an only child.
She was a very sickly baby, in and out of hospital, it was over a year before Laura discovered Kayle had been born addicted to heroin. Her only link to her past was monthly visits by her birth mother, Cora, and although Laura welcomed her into their home and gave her minute details of Kayle’s progress the visits petered out by Kayle’s third birthday. Cora barely spoke, revealing little about her or her past.
As Laura reminisced, she wondered could she have made Cora feel more involved. It was Laura who could remember Kayle’s miraculous first step, her first beautiful word. Her eyes welled as she thought of these precious moments, she was so proud of her. She hadn’t anticipated this unruly brattish behaviour that marked the beginning of teenage rule in the house, she was deflated, expecting her home to be immune from pubescent tantrums, and she was hurt by the words and actions of her most beautiful gift.
How to go forward from this, were her views too old fashioned? “Oh Lord, help me now, I need your guidance, amen”, a barely audible prayer escaped Laura’s lips as she continued to mull over the problem. These hot pants that Kayle wanted to wear to youth club on Friday night were they really appropriate and was Laura an old fuddy duddy. Would Kayle’s life suddenly become as golden as these lamé high cut shorts? She didn’t want to suggest to her daughter that the world perceived girls’ attire as a statement of their willingness. Most of all she wanted Kayle protected, from predators, from unwelcome stares, from drunken teenage louts and she admitted to herself she wasn’t ready for half of Kayle’s butt to be on show for anyone, no matter what fashion and her peers dictated.
She went back into her thoughts and wondered when would be the right time to give Kayle the whole truth about Cora, her real mother. She had to be given information that she would need for adult life choices, as an ex-addict albeit without choice she would have a predisposition to addiction. Cora had died three years ago from an overdose of sleeping tablets, speed and cocaine and Laura had taken Kayle to the service, they were the only mourners and it was expediently delivered by a nameless priest, one more addict sent to the furnace. They had taken her ashes to the seaside and emptied the pot into the crashing waves whilst losing their footing and landing unceremoniously into the crashing waves. Laughing, the pot was lost and with it the memories Kayle seemed to have of her birth mother.
During Kayle’s life Laura had pieced together a jigsaw of Cora’s progression into the horrific existence she then had; Up to the age of fourteen she had been the model child, her dad was an Anglican minister and she had joined in with church life, enjoying choir and leading Sunday school for the under fives. She was invited to a party at a friend’s house but after the party had finished she had been brutally and repeatedly raped by boys she went to school with. The reason, because she had refused alcohol unlike the rest of the girls and resisted joining in “Spin the Bottle”. It was a punishment for non conformity. The boys didn’t get arrested or charged and she would have seen them each day at school so she didn’t return. From that moment she had quickly spiralled into a drug fed world, firstly prescription drugs, and later speed, E’s, finally arriving at her new saviour, H. Anything to obliterate the memory, her family had tried to understand but as time passed she stole from them and the parish and they left her to live as she then wanted. By the time she became pregnant with Kayle she was injecting into her chest and barely noticed her growing bump.
Laura sighed and turned her thoughts to Kayle once more, rising she went to press the button that would alert her daughter by means of a vibrating disc that Laura was coming up to her room. She would calmly sign out her messages of love and hope, she would sign Cora’s tale onto Kayle’s hand, whilst cradling her tiny frame and looking into her blank eyes, born deaf and blind with stunted growth, Kayle was her miracle child and no scrap of gold fabric was going to breach their relationship, a new way would be found.