I looked down at the white sheet of drawing paper that seemed to stare right back at me. Start your family-trees she had said.
Everyone had started moving about getting their crayons out. I could see all the commotion from the corner of my eyes. But I remained still, as if concentrating on the task, begging my heart to stop beating so fast. I was bargaining with my eyes to hold off on the tears.
Start your family-trees she had said.
Something about a family tree also being a foundation. Only two generations back. Only back to your grandparents she had said.
Simple enough I guess.
But how did I tell a class full of nine-year-olds that my family tree did not even go one generation back, let alone only two.
Whoever said honesty was the best policy has never had to tell a group of nine-year-olds about being left at a hospital door when a few days old.
Whoever said honesty was the best policy must not have had a horrendous secret to hide in the first place.
I remained still begging my heart to stop beating so fast.
I knew some would ignore me, some would become nicer. Either way everyone would change.
I always saw the words that went through people's minds when they found out.
Everyone thinks they can hide their thoughts, but the words cross people's eyes and I read every one of them.
Unwanted. Left behind. Unlucky. Sad. Alone. Futureless. Unloved.
I always wondered if they could read mine.
Unloved. Unwanted. Alone.
I heard some of the others as they went in front of the class. I could hear the nervousness in some, and the excitement in others. I heard their voices, but not their words. I heard my own heartbeat above it all. People talking behind me, more voices, no words.
I knew sooner or later my turn would come.
Do not cry I told myself.
Do not cry.
I heard my name in a haze. My turn. My turn.
The sound of my own heartbeat was deafening.
I felt my body turn, my legs move. I could hear the clicking of my own shoes on the ground, but like a noise from far away, I could not place it.
Before I knew it my feet had stopped. The sheet of drawing paper in my hands, and I turned to face my jury.
My body faced them, but my eyes could not look up. They were too ashamed. Too ashamed. My eyes, and theirs.
Somehow I forced myself to look up.
I do not remember looking or reading a single face.
My eyes were blurred by the tears that filled them.
I turned the sheet of paper, and looked down at my own tree, a dot in red and under it my name Lilly with a circle around it.
My eyes were blurred by the tears that filled them, but I forced myself to look up.
I looked at everyone, but I was not seeing them anymore.
I felt my lips moving, I heard my own voice.
I heard my own soul.
Well my tree is really not a tree yet, it's a seed. I guess all trees have to start somewhere, and this is where mine starts.
I heard the clicking of my shoes on the floor. I felt my body sliding back into my seat.
My heartbeats were still as loud but they were slowing down.
I looked down at my red dot in the middle of the white paper and wondered if one day it'll be on top of someone else's tree.