Winter 1990. London.
December 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
The clock was ticking.
Flurries fell from the night sky – they reminded her of a wistful memory of pirouettes and arabesques that she could execute with ease only a year ago. It was impossible for her to do them now. Nine months of pregnancy and a broken heart left her too incapacitated to even try again. Her slim figure was lost, her feet ached constantly, and disappointment shattered every mirror she stared into. If she looked up, the young woman would surely be able to see the outlines of each angry gray cloud in the shadowy above that covered the entire city. This was her stage now, and the frantic movements of her feet and legs were the new dance she’d had to learn in the life she was currently living – a life she couldn’t live. A life she wouldn’t live.
Step. Step. Stumble. Step. Step… A cry.
Half sobbing herself, the woman looked into the bundle she carried. The cloth was white as snow and the baby inside was as well; white as snow with flecks of thin brown hair peeking out from the top of the swaddle. Her closed eyes were baby blue, and with a little bit of regret, the woman realized she was never going to see them turn leafy green, or amber, or chocolate brown. The melanin hadn’t settled in the irises yet. Nothing about the child would settle if she remained under her care. It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair for either of them to be together. She, the mother, would long for a life she did not get to live in her youth. The child was only a child and would long for her mother. The sum of that equation was misery. Utter misery.
There was the orphanage, the red brick townhouse with the black front door settled right in between the tailor and the candy shop on Heretic Street. It was exactly where the woman at the hospital had described it. She walked up to it, gently rocking the baby in the swaddle. She spent a few moments staring at the silver plated number “52” on the dark wood, and it stared back.
The baby cried again, stealing the attention of the young woman that carried her. Soon it was wailing, no longer being rocked in a pair of arms, and no longer sleeping soundly. Her infantile features were scrunched up, undoubtedly unhappy at being cold. The lights in the orphanage turned on and the black front door opened promptly. The baby continued to wail, and a plump, matronly woman took it inside. It wasn’t her mother, so she continued to wail.
The child was brought to the office of Mr. Wammy at the top floor of the townhouse. Mr. Wammy and his associates frowned upon the red-faced infant in the matron’s arms. Her blue eyes contorted at the strangers and she whimpered, clearly afraid of the men in suits who looked at her with stern stares. They had never had to take in a baby before.
“Surely this is no place for a baby girl,” said associate number one.
“Surely she should be at a hospital,” said associate number two.
Mr. Wammy, with his great handlebar moustache, peeked at the little baby from behind his glasses. The matron awaited his verdict while the man calmly stroked the thin hair that protruded from the baby’s pale head. The blue eyes that stared back at him stared back curiously. Somewhere in those blue eyes was an innocent plea. Mr. Wammy cleared his throat with a great ‘humbug’ and faced his colleagues.
“Surely the child can be weaned to perfection here.”
Note: First part of a short story in progress loosely based on the Wammy Orphanage in Death Note.