I stood motionless and looked at the solid, dark brown wooden door. The house was painted white, and black on the wooden beams and window panes. It looked huge and expensive from the outside. I had to make my mind up whether to knock or press the bell. I turned to face the garden. I thought about going back to my car and drove home. Home. That was where I wanted to be; or was it where I would be after I knocked the door? I sighed and walked to the side where there was a wooden bench by the beautiful garden. I could see that the woman in the family loved the garden. The smell of white lilies reminded me of the florist down the road on Sixteenth Street. I sat on the sturdy looking wooden bench, trying to figure out what I would say if someone was to open the door. I wished I did not find out where she was so that I would not have three sleepless nights thinking of why she left me, whether she was looking for me or whether I should be angry.
I was abandoned at Bliss Home when I was barely four. They said they found me playing joyfully in the playground, innocently thinking that I was sent to school. After three years, I found out that my mother left me at the orphanage because she had to go and find my father who left us when I was two. I was devastated, knowing that my mother left me to strangers. Funny, I thought, how manipulative and contradictory adults could be when it comes to giving advice. Those at Bliss Home took good care of me and made me realise that I was still lucky to be able to enjoy life. Sister Lisa was one of those who managed to make me see that I should make the most of myself than being miserable, grieving my unfortunate life; thinking nobody loved me. I stayed there till I was 12, when I was then transferred to Rouston Public School. Well, Sister Lisa thought it was a good school. Spurred by Sister Lisa’s determination to give me ‘life’, I did my best in Rouston and would go back to Bliss Home during semester breaks or Christmas to be part of the family. Well, I was not sure whether I knew the meaning of that word, but Sister Lisa convinced me that I was part of them when my presence was usually welcomed by freshly baked apple pie and mince meat. Then we would all sit in our warm huge and rather aromatic dining hall. I could still smell Martha’s mouth-watering Yorkshire pudding and roast beef in the kitchen whenever I visited Bliss Home.
It was 8 years ago when I started digging files and tailing endless documents to find out who my biological parents were. Blessed, I found where my mother lived but was reluctant to go and see her. I knew it would shake her down to her knees and she would beg forgiveness for leaving me; that she was young and naive; that she would not have managed looking after me on her own. Even worst, my presence would stop her heart; that she would collapse unconsciously, leaving me feeling guilty instead. Sister Lisa was the one who insisted. At the end of the year, I eventually gave in but forbade her from calling Mom to inform that I was coming; in case I changed my mind. She gladly agreed and even packed me cheese and tomato sandwiches for the journey. I was skeptical when she said that Mom would be waiting for me. If mom knew where I was, why didn’t she come and find me?
My thoughts were interrupted by a butterfly flying right in front of my nose. I looked back at the house to see if anyone noticed my presence. Silence. I glanced at my watch but I forgot what time I arrived, so I did not know how long I was there. I stood up and walked back to the sandy path leading to the house. I stopped at the wooden door again wishing it was an automatic door so I did not have to decide. Spotting a shadow by the window on my left, my heart pumped. Somebody was at the window and was walking towards the door. I found it very hard to swallow a big lump in my throat as my heart thumped against my chest. I thought that I was the one who would be unconscious.
“Hi, can I help you?” asked the girl who was standing in front of me with a huge grin. I swallowed hard while admiring her curly blonde. Seeing that, I knew she must be Mom’s daughter. She looked 15, lean and has beautiful brown eyes. Pretty.
“Yess.. Ermm yeah.. I was looking for Mrs Collins. Hmm well, is this Mrs Collins’s house by any chance?”
“Ohh yeahh.. Hmm..Mom’s upstairs. And I think she’s expecting you. Aunt Lisa told mom this morning.” She smiled pleasantly holding the door. Despite the dazzling big smile, I could see the quizzical frowns on her forehead. I wondered whether it was because I frowned first. Obviously Sister Lisa must have had said something to Mom.
I waited. Looking for words, 1 folded my arms unintentionally and looked away at the lilies, biting my lower lips. I thought of saying that it was a big mistake and should just walk back to my car. After all, it had been 25 years since she left me. It would not change anything, would it?
“Owh well, you must be freezing. Please come in, she’ll be down in a minute”.
She opened the door and took my left hand, looked at me in the eyes as if to ask for permission and pulled me inside. As I dragged my feet down the hallway, I could see a family picture on the wall. Something stabbed me, right on my chest. Deep. I could feel the pain that I felt years ago when I found out I was left on my own, and was on the verge of tears. Again, I thought of walking back to the door but I brushed the thought away when I heard the footsteps. It happened so quickly, I was not sure whether I was actually there. My stomach tightened when I saw the hopeful look in her eyes.
“William, ohh it’s you. I’ve been waiting for you for what..like..30 years? I knew you would find me. See, it’s in your nature. Being curious, that is.”
Well, as if it was my mistake that she had to wait so long. I thought I was supposed to wait for her to find me, or at least she should have gone to Bliss Home to find out. Silence. I could not say anything looking at her fragile face. I noticed that her daughter was standing by the small coffee table, looking out of the window expressionlessly, pretending we were not there.
I looked at Mom pityingly and sighed. I was unsure of what to say. As if to wait for me to invite her in her own living room, she stood by the door and smiled awkwardly. Despite the quivered smile, I could still vaguely recognise those beautiful brown eyes when she smiled. Then, she looked down at her hands, which she clenched and unclenched nervously. I presumed that she was as uneasy as I was. After a moment, I cleared my throat and forced a weak smile. Seeing that, she ran towards me and hugged me. Sobbing. Tears welled in my eyes. I closed my eyes, afraid that anyone would see me, but I knew she was forgiven.