My name is Hallie Armstrong and today is my sixteenth birthday. I was going to be named Mary Caroline Evans. Thatís what I found out today anyway.
My morning started out like most Friday mornings. I finally rolled out of bed, groggy, at 7:15 and made a mad dash for the shower. My little sister was already in the bathroom leisurely combing her blonde curls and singing every song from Over the Hedge.
Iíve tried the ďbang on the door and threaten her with a public reading of her diaryĒ method more times than I care to admit, so instead, I ran into the kitchen to knock out my usual lightening fast breakfast.
Already irritable, I padded down the hallway and overheard my mother talking to her boyfriend in a low, concerned tone.
ďDo you really think we should tell her? Iím not exactly looking for ways to make our relationship even worse, Tom.Ē
ďIf you want to heal your relationship, you could start by being honest with her.Ē
ďI think it would make her feel even more self-doubting.Ē
A hundred possibilities played out in my head. What information did they have that could make me even more insecure? And another thing, what kind of personal information was my mom sharing with this deadbeat?
You know, itís bad enough that he latches on to my mother like some sort of parasite; but for him to know something personal about me that, apparently, I donít even know yet! The rage within me was bubbling up. And who does she think she is? How dare she keep secrets from me! I decided that the first target of my fury would be Tom.
ďFirst of all, why are you even here? Youíre not a member of this family! You loaf around this house as if you owned it!Ē
ďAnd you! You know, Iíve tried my whole life to overlook the revolving door of boyfriends that have walked in and out of your life. Iíve tried to overlook the fact that youíre basically a welfare maven, scamming the system so you donít have to work. Iíve tried to put up with the fact that for the last three years, Iíve tucked your kids in bed on the nights you never came home.Ē
As my rant continued, I noticed momís fingers curling around the spine of what appeared to be a picture book. She tried to inconspicuously lean over our oak dinner table and drape her housecoat over this it; but I could tell that she clearly had something to hide. I made a mental note, and drew my tirade to a close.
Having eaten no breakfast, not showered, and clearly too late for the bus, I stomped back into my room, slammed the door and waited for the house to empty so that I could uncover the contents of this book. Minutes later I heard the front door slam. I peered out my window and saw mom and Tom getting into his rust bucket of a car. If I ever wanted to know what this life-changing secret was, now was my chance.
I sprinted down the hallway toward the kitchen. Knowing that mom wouldnít leave it in plain view, I opened every cabinet door I could find; but there was no sign of it. I searched for two hours and was about to give up when I saw the familiar red binding poking out of one of our couch cushions. I grabbed the book and made a beeline back to my bedroom where I would discover the most painful secret of my life.
The book she tried so hard to conceal was a beautiful picture book about the family that was to adopt me. They were Christians. She was a nurse; but couldnít wait to be a stay at home mom, and he was a real estate investor. They were active members of their church and both had college degrees.
For hours this afternoon my thoughts were plagued by an unpleasant blend of resentment and heartache; but as the day drew to a close, I realized that I had a choice to make. I could either live my life bitter at the hand I was dealt; or I could model my life after the Evanís family and look forward to an extraordinary future. I chose the latter, and what started as the worst birthday ever; became the most hopeful day of my life.
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