Say Goodbye to Macy
by B. C. Bamber
Part 1 appears|
in this issue.
As soon as the cold winter air hit him he realised that the encounter he’d just had with that little girl, the interior of the room, everything about it was exactly the same as his dream. His heart raced and his mind spun with all kinds of thoughts and questions. What was this all about? It must be that this girl was in need of help and that somehow the universe, or God or something had reached out to him.
He looked round at the building, noticing the net curtains were twitching. They were waiting for him to leave. He turned back and left immediately. He was so unnerved he could hardly concentrate on driving. He was, quite out of the blue, thinking that maybe he should adopt this girl. Someone or something wanted him to. That was clear.
It was also clear that he needed to change his opinions and his beliefs about this sort of thing. It had been proven without a doubt that sometimes the supernatural does occur. That in some circumstances, only the unusual, unexpected explanation would account for the strange events he’d been witness to.
It was a week before he managed to get in to see someone at Social Services. He felt sure this was right for him. This was the missing piece in his life. As he arrived his heart raced and he was hot in the face.
It was quite cool out, so he stopped and stood in the middle of the car park to compose himself a little, and let the breeze cool his face. He took a swig of his drink and then walked into the building. Then he reminded himself not to mention the dream to the staff here. It would not go down well.
He was ushered through the waiting area to an office. Two women were seated on the other side of a desk, which was empty except for a folder and some forms. He was guided through the application process and they filled in details into the form as he answered questions. As expected when they got to marital status he hit a problem.
‘We don’t normally allow single males to adopt, Mr Weller. Perhaps you can come back when you’re married,’ the younger woman said. It seemed such a ridiculous thing to say, and left him a little speechless. He found his words after a second or two.
‘So you have no single men on your books at all, that have either adopted or are waiting to adopt?’ he asked.
‘Mm, we have one or two,’ she replied.
‘Well, there you are then. Look: the fact is I have a little girl in mind. I met her at a children’s home in the course of my work as an audiologist. It seemed to me that she was such a friendly little girl, but perhaps too old to be adopted by couples who prefer to adopt babies. I could offer a good home. I have a good income and I am close to my extended family.’
‘Where is this child and what is her name?’ the older woman asked.
‘Her name is Macy and she is at the children’s home on Canterbury Street.’
‘I know it. Just wait here a second.’ The two women got up and left the room. He could see them engaged in a heated discussion in the next room through the glass. Then one of them moved away and returned quickly. They re-entered and took their seats.
This time they sat the other way around. The older woman put a folder on the desk, and opened it. Simon looked at the paperwork, trying to read up-side-down. He couldn’t see much except for a name and some badly written notes that he couldn’t decipher. The name was ‘Ellen Michela Richards’. It meant nothing to him.
‘This is Macy’s file. She has been in the adoption system for a long time.’
‘Perhaps I could meet her properly?’
‘Maybe. Once your application is assessed. But this is no guarantee that your application will be successful.’
‘I see.’ He pushed himself back in his chair, his back aching a little.
‘We’ll be in touch, Mr Weller.’ They all stood up and shook hands and he left. He felt happy with the meeting; it had gone well in the end, but only after he’d mentioned Macy. He suspected that they were keen to get her off their books. As he had said, older children don’t get adopted very often.
That evening he took himself off to bed early as usual. He turned to his clock and looked at the time. It was twelve minutes to ten. He groaned to himself. It was far too early. He switched on the radio for a while, trying to kill some time and distract himself from thinking about Macy and the dream and what it all meant. He wasn’t tired enough to sleep just yet.
Ellen Richards. Was that the girl’s mother’s name? He had known an Ellen once. He met her in a club. She was a pretty but troubled girl. He remembered her because he had slept with her and then she got up and left his parents’ house at four in morning.
He’d kept her number and so he rung her the next morning to ask if she was all right. She answered and he managed to get the truth out of her, that she had an on-off boyfriend.
He asked around and found out where she lived and that she had drug problems, and her boyfriend was a heroin addict. After that he felt sure that he didn’t want to know her any more than he had already and was happy to let that night pass into history.
An hour passed and he moved in and out of sleep, just dozing with the radio on in the background. About midnight, a thought crept from the back of his mind and slowly leaked into his consciousness, as if it needed time to build up momentum.
The strange disconnected elements needed time to connect and reignite old memories, which had long been neglected, so much so that they were mere dots. Single minute entities barely able to survive among his other myriad of memories. His training as an audiologist. His arguments with his ex. His first sale, his first mortgage.
Then it arrived in his head suddenly, like a heart attack. He had the most significant epiphany of his entire life: the woman he’d spent the night with all those years ago was called Ellen Richards, and that the timing was right for that little girl to be his daughter.
He sat up and threw off his bed linen and stood up and paced up and down the room, not sure what to do. He felt like ringing Social Services there and then. He grabbed his phone and toggled through to his parents’ number, wanting to ring them and tell them. He changed his mind and sat down on the bed, putting the phone down next to him.
He sat and thought about how Macy could have ended up there. How Ellen was doing a lot of drugs and the rest and would have given Macy away. Or she could have had Macy taken from her by Social Services in the first place. Maybe she’d had custody for the first couple of years and then lost her?
Those awkward women at Social Services would obstruct him; he was sure of it. DNA, he thought. That can’t be denied. He went downstairs and switched on his computer. It whirred into life, but not fast enough for him. He sat in his underwear, feeling a little cold and silly while he waited.
He immediately went to the search engine and typed ‘DNA services’ into the search box. He found a private DNA company offering DNA services to the public and noted its telephone number. Then he dug a little deeper, to see if he could order a profile on someone who hadn’t given consent.
He couldn’t see the answer straight away, noticing that it took six months to get results back. He decided to look instead for family lawyers. He rubbed his face with tiredness and stress. All this time he could have been caring for her and instead he — well, her mother — had abandoned her to the care system. If he was right. If his memory had served him correctly and fairly, he had a daughter. A nine-year old daughter.
The computer whirred defiantly while he waited. He wanted the answers now. Not tomorrow or in six months time.
The following day was Saturday and he was up early, having slept for less than four hours. He hovered his hand over the phone, unsure whether to ring his Mum or not. Then he remembered that he kept old diaries and phone books in his filing cabinet upstairs in the spare room. He could check it and find out whether he had a record of the woman’s name and number, hoping that he could find her full name in his old records. He’d only known her for a few hours, so the chances were slim. But he had to check.
He bounded up the stairs and opened the diary dated from eight years earlier. He would have been only eighteen and she was a little older; twenty, maybe. He reached into the drawer and fingered through the edges of each book, until he found his 2002 diary. He opened it up, with his arm resting on sides of the drawer, too impatient to remove it completely from the filing cabinet.
What time of year had it been? He began at January, picking up each page with his finger tip, leafing through each page quickly, pausing only to look at occasional entries. He then realised that it must have been around October, because he’d passed up a Halloween party to go to out with Craig and Hazzard, a strange party animal who always seemed to be on a high or crashing from one. He couldn’t even remember his real name. It was Hazzard who had got him some information about her the following day. He’d known her from the party circuit and also knew her boyfriend.
She had been a gorgeous young woman, and looked just like Macy. She was fun, but feisty. Always on the edges of life, experiencing new things. Troubled and heavily into drugs. Anything went with her. Heroin, speed, E’s. Anything that was on offer. She was on E the night she had stayed at his parents’ house.
The entry was in October. Her number. It was next to a note he’d made, although he didn’t remember writing it. It said ‘Ellen R’s number — SCORE!’ He laughed to himself out loud and wondered whether he should ring it, see if it was still in service.
Simon decided to approach Social Services and make the claim that Macy was his daughter. It was now just a matter of time before he would know for sure. It would be some time before he could answer this question, that had somehow made its way to him, through his dreams.
The formalities took a few weeks; the DNA confirmation came through a few weeks after that. A letter confirmed he was her father. It was time to tell his family. He then arranged to pick her up. Within hours, he would have a daughter, he would have saved from a life in care. A daughter he could shape and mould into someone new. Someone without fear and self-doubt, because she would have a home and a father who loved her. She would have grandparents, money and nice things. A future.
He had an hour to go as the butterflies in his stomach kept him jittery and unable to concentrate on work. An hour before he would set off to meet her he sat in front of the television, while he waited. He’d told no one that he’d had visionary experiences, some kind of premonition. A kind of communication with her, or God or something. He didn’t want to jinx it. He didn’t want to open up the possibility that he would be accused of being unwell or strange and lose this momentum.
As they pulled up she was dressed nicely and stood quiet and still outside the door, with a social worker on one side and a bag of her things on the other. All around her were the other kids, with nursery nurses running round after them. They’d obviously come out to see her off. Simon had already prepared her room, buying new furniture and a little television, and some bits and pieces he thought she’d like.
He didn’t know anything about her. Her likes and dislikes. Her clothing sizes. Nothing. Just this image of her left over from his dream and his visit weeks earlier. He climbed out of the car and the kids were brought to order and they all stopped running around. They all got into a line, the big boys at one end, the older girls holding hands with the very young kids.
Simon had to resist running over to her and hugging her. The Social Worker smiled from ear to ear. He walked slowly over to Macy as she stood still, her large brown eyes following him as he approached. He said a cordial hello to the Social Worker, then knelt down.
‘Hi Macy,’ he said. ‘I’m your Dad,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry it took so long to come and collect you. No one knew you were here,’ he said.
‘Don’t worry,’ she said quietly.
‘Come on then, let’s get you home,’ he said and he stood up, then gently placed his hand on her back and led her away. The Social Worker wiped her tears away and waved goodbye to Macy.
‘Say goodbye to Macy,’ one of the nurses said, in a loud voice. They all said goodbye at the same time, and she turned and said goodbye and waved. Simon looked back once they were in the car. The Social Worker and one of the nurses waited until they’d gone out of sight.
Simon had already arranged for the whole family to meet him at his parent’s house, for the announcement of a surprise. His two brothers, their wives and his parents were waiting, as Simon made sure he was a little late.
He climbed out of the car and walked the few yards to the door, pressed down on the handle and walked in then through to the lounge. Macy followed him, hidden by Simon’s larger frame. Everyone was standing or sitting in the living room, looking at him a little bemused. He then beckoned her forward and placed his hands on her shoulders and said, ‘Everyone this is Macy. Macy is my daughter. Macy, these are your uncles and aunties and this is your Gramp and Gran.’
Silence followed for what seemed like minutes. Then the room erupted and she was beckoned into her grandmother’s arms, as questions began to fly. Simon felt so happy he struggled to maintain his usual cool exterior. It was quite a time. A time of happy shocks to make up lost ground. This day would be something none of them would ever forget; these strange events would be etched into their minds forever.
Copyright © 2013 by B. C. Bamber