Today I wore orange socks. I brushed my hair until all the knots got out, well almost. One clump underneath where I can’t reach feels like Mazie Rabbit’s fur balls. But my orange socks glow in the dark, and since I can’t wear shoes, my socks matter. Someone donated socks to Westfield Nursing Home. All neon shades. Even ninety-five- year-old Mr. Rosenbaum wears his neon lime green socks.
I’m not who people expect me to be.
I am small. And built wrong. I’m like the doll that skipped over some important stations on the factory belt. Before I read the Bible, I imagined some angel on the people making assembly line must’ve been daydreaming. He forgot to give me arms and legs before attaching hands and feet. I’m sure my birth mother expected a normal baby. When she saw me, she probably wished I could be returned—she scooted out of that hospital so fast and so far, no one could find her. As if I never happened.
But not everything stinks. I can’t walk, but I can zoom around in my electric wheel chair. I can blog on my laptop. I can talk, yell, sing, and sign my name. Lee, short for Annalee. I like the name chosen by the nurse who found me alone and wailing in the hospital bassinet. I’m almost independent. Don’t need a mom or dad to baby me. But I could use a hug now and then. Lindsy won’t hug me. She won’t hug anyone or touch anyone or look at anyone. At least she looks at me. Some people won’t even look.
About My Roommate…
The first day my roommate moved in to Westfield Nursing Home, I made the mistake most people make when they first meet her. I said hi before she said hi.
“Hi, Lindsy. I’m Lee.”
“Don’t say, hi Lindsy, don’t say hi Lindsy.” Her voice amplified to just short of screaming. “Don’t say hi Lindsy!”
Her mom stroked her hair. “Va bene. Lei è il tuo amico. She won’t say your name first again.” Of course, I wanted to say her name again, but I didn’t.
Then she turned to me. “I’m sorry. Lindsy likes to say hi first once she knows your name. Lindsy, this is Lee. She’ll be your roommate. I’m going to get your suitcase. Be right back.”
“Hi, Lee. I’m Lindsy De Luca. I was born in Italy. We moved here when I was three.” Her eyes wandered in opposite directions, so I focused on her nose. And her short crooked bangs. I’ve got the same haircut.
“Hi, Lindsy. Thanks for the info.”
“You’re very small.”
After Lindsy’s mother left, she moaned for a bit like a sad puppy and rocked like she was listening to music I couldn’t hear. I’m sure Mrs. De Luca didn’t expect a baby like Lindsy, but at least she kept her. Did my mother think I was too deformed to have feelings or a brain? I bet she’d be surprised to find out I graduated high school.
Lindsy was dressed in typical something-is-wrong-with-me clothes…her mom must’ve dressed her. What normal twenty-something woman chooses to wear cotton candy pink sweat suits with Hello Kitty dancing on her chest?
I’ve got mail…
People magazine, and a letter in a purple envelope. From Boston, Massachusetts. I don’t know anyone in Boston. I don’t know anyone outside Westfield, period.
“Must be my invitation to the Academy Awards.”
Lindsy tilts her head and squints.
“Kidding, just kidding.”
I peel the envelope open and get a paper cut. A birthday card? Five months late?
Until recently, I thought you were dead. I’d like to meet you next Saturday.
Your Brother, Danny Hayes
My breath catches, and I make an odd hiccup noise. I tuck the card back in the envelope and lay it down. Then I pick it up, open it, and read it again. Three times.
My first question is to God: “Do I really have a brother?” then…“Does he know what I look like? What does he expect? What about my parents?” My mind rattles off so many questions I don’t notice Lindsy pointing.
“Your juice spilt. Now the floor is sticky.”
I pray: “Lord, please let him like me.”
I expected Danny to get that eye-bulging look I’m used to. But some expectations are wrong. Danny hugs me. “You have a brother now.”
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