The Picture This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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     Perched on my bedside table sits my favorite picture, ripped in the corner. My mom and my birth mom sit with smiles glued to their lips, frozen in time,waiting for the camera to flash. My mom sits up straight with her hands clasped tightly between her legs, while my birth mom slouches, her round face housing a smile that isn’t sure if it is happy or trying to cover up sadness. My mom is like a tree holding strong against the wind, while my birth mom is a twig being blown about by the whipping air. The window behind them gives just enough light to bring their shadows out from hiding. The two women have similar characteristics: both have brown hair, both are grinning, and both wear red sweaters. They are about to share something else in their life: me.

When this picture was taken, my parents had just met Teckla, my birth mom, and Brittany, my birth sister, but would have to wait just one more day to finally meet me. I like to imagine what happened after that flash went off: three adults talking awkwardly about the weather until they were comfortable enough to discuss their hopes and dreams for a little girl still smaller than a Cabbage Patch doll. Maybe Teckla remembered when she, her mom, and her grandmother had chosen the people she was meeting now. I wonder if she ever wanted to scream, “You can’t take her away!” and call the whole adoption off.

In my picture I can’t help but focus on the crumpled tissue peeking from Teckla’s clasped fingers. Maybe she was weeping because she would miss me and knew she would have to wait 18 long years to see me again. Maybe because all this was just happening too fast. No matter what she was thinking, I’m sure she knew right away that these were the perfect parents for her precious little girl.

Sometimes I wonder what Teckla and Brittany’s lives are like. I envision them living in a shabby three-bedroom apartment with Teckla’s mother because they don’t have much money. I worry that Teckla is more of a big sister to Brittany than a mom. I worry that Teckla won’t make the right choices. Brittany might get average grades in school, but she doesn’t feel like she fits in. I worry that she gets bullied at school but acts fine at home. My biggest worry is that Brittany doesn’t know I’m alive, that Teckla never told her about me. If this is true, I wonder if Teckla may blurt out this secret in an argument, or if it will remain unknown until the day I meet them.

I could be wrong. Perhaps they are living in a wonderful house in the city. Maybe Teckla is married and she and Brittany are happy. Brittany could have many friends who love and care about her.

I think about what it’ll be like when I finally have the chance to meet them. If and when I walk up to their house, I’ll be shaking, my legs like Slinkies. My hands will be covered in a layer of sweat as I reach for the doorbell. Each footstep inside will click in time with my rapidly beating heart. When Teckla opens the door, her eyes will catch my gaze, causing tears to drench her flustered cheeks. Pools of salty water will pour from my eyes, and we’ll fall into each other’s arms laughing and crying. My parents will stand behind me with memorabilia in their hands.

One day we’ll take another photo that will sit not only on my desk, but in my heart: a picture of my parents, my birth mom, my birth sister, and me. I’ll be sitting on a couch next to Teckla, our matching brown eyes locked on each other, reluctant to part as they did 18 years before. Brittany will sit next to her mother, smiling at finally meeting her sister. My mother will sit on my other side, her arms blended into a mass of fingers and colors. She will reach for me as I grope for her. My father will take the picture, just as he did so many years before.

As I picture what their lives could be like, it is even more difficult to picture Teckla and Brittany in my life. They have taught me that you can love someone even if you only know a few things about them. They have helped me open up my heart and reach out to others who may not be as fortunate as I.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the September 2007 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.






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His-Bright-Green-Eyes... said...
Jul. 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm
This is very good. Terrific job!
 
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