The memory retracted into itself and I was left shaking my head. I recognized it, but couldn’t put a finger on the exact occurrence. It was familiar, important, and I knew my focus should’ve been on trying to go back home safely, but I was almost entirely taken over by the brief flicker of memory.
It was only until I battled with wanting to know, but not wanting to feel the happenstance until I finally reached home, that the memory began to return to me.
The minute the door was locked behind me, I began to strip and rush into the warmth of the shower, but the warm water wouldn’t come. I shivered underneath the cold shower, this time having discovered exactly which old enemy had come to claim me for the day. I fought it off until I was dressed.
I clutched my chest through the thick velvet fabric of my dress, as the memory pierced my heart, shard by shard. I tried harder, hoping to get them to relent on the merciless assault of the past but in vain. I was forced to relive the first time I had felt so entirely helpless; the world had tilted on its axis and I had clumsily fallen away from what was my life to the life of some stranger, in an alternate universe.
On a similarly rainy day, a woman had buttoned up my pretty blue coat. I must have been six or seven, a birthday coming up soon. Yes, the birthday was why we were going out in the first place. New papa wanted to buy me presents before I turned older because he was…I didn’t know, busy? He was going somewhere of importance and didn’t want to be left out of the celebration. The woman – my mother – braided my hair especially for the occasion, even if she never really bothered with those things before.
I was all dolled up, and ready to go. We were driving to another city, he told us, so I could become accustomed to seeing new things because we would be traveling a lot soon. I was excited yet nervous, but completely open to the idea of going to new places.
I was the poster child of curiosity and wonder, both hands and nosed pressed to the window, gazing out at the new sights. There was so much to see and my eyes took in everything greedily. Mother never left our city, which meant neither did I, but new papa had been new papa for a month and we were already doing different things. He sometimes had a way of looking at me that made me look was abashedly, but was usually a pleasant man. I was mostly glad for his presence, despite my mother being more preoccupied than before. It used to be just us two, but now there were three of us.
New Papa had driven us to a place with large buildings when he had asked my mother to take the steering wheel and go buy things, while he dealt with something that had come up. She had agreed and off we went. I asked all sorts of questions, most of which she answered but she seemed distracted. Years later, I understood that it was distractedness but focus. She was concentrating on what she was doing. She took us somewhere far away, I remember because of my constant pestering. Would things have been different if I hadn’t asked so many questions?
She had me get out of the car in front of this rickety little bookstore, while she found parking.
“I’ll be back in a minute.”
I watched her turn the corner not knowing it would be the last time I would ever lay my eyes on the woman I called mother.
It took twenty minutes of me standing there for the manager of the bookstore to realize I had been abandoned. He gave me a worn out copy of a collection of fairy tales, and went behind the counter to call someone; the police. He was calling the police on me! Panicking, I slowly put down the book, and sprinted outside. I could hear him calling for me, but I didn’t look back. I could almost hear the sirens in the distance and pushed my legs to carry me away faster. I didn’t want to go to jail.
One can run only so much, and I took shelter near a dumpster. It was facing the wrong way, with its lid jutting outside, rather than up against the wall. I sat underneath the lid, eyes stinging from the stench of garbage. The rain had seeped through my pretty blue coat and turned my bones into icicles.
Years later, as the reminiscence of abandonment hit me, I faintly acknowledged that nothing I owned was blue.