Tell Your Story
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Tell Your Story

Surprise Surprise, it’s your Mum on the phone.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

In a taxi out of the city, I started to shake with nerves. I hadn’t felt 100% that day and noticed hives developing on my hands and arms. I knew why, an emergency doctor had prescribed me antibiotics the week previous, assuring me that I wouldn’t be allergic to these particular ones. Clearly he was wrong.

As the taxi pulled into the curb, a bear of a man appeared grinning, as he opened the door. He pulled me into him for an awkward hug that I didn’t quite return.

The taxi paid, he ushered me inside the video rental shop he managed at the time.

“Wow this is so weird,” he said appraisingly.

I remember doing the same to him, wondering if there were obvious similarities. This man was large, tall, and slightly swarthier than I. But his smile was enormous lighting up his entire face. His lilting southern Welsh accent washed over me, it was utterly charming.

“So, you are the other sister.” He looked at me closely, taking in my diminutive 5ft 4 ½ inch skinny self.

“How did you confirm that I am your sister?” I asked.

“I made a phone call. I knew about Natalie, but not you,” he answered.

We traded histories. I was taken into care aged 6 months, fostered, and then adopted just before my second birthday. David had been in care till he was 6, he blamed his mixed-race heritage and a reluctance from white adopters. He finally got a break with a couple in South Wales and had a happier later childhood. I confessed to not being happy with my adopted family.

“Kim didn’t think you would ever come looking”. He stated bluntly.

My head snaped to attention.

“Kim our mother? You are in touch with her?” It came out loud and aggressively, which made me flush and the hives itched furiously.

“Yeah, I found her through the Daily Mail a few years back! We have two more brothers you know.”

I was dumbfounded!

Backing up a few days, I had gone to Wales in search of my brother. A tall task looking for a David Evans in South Wales! Backing up a few months, I had been given details of this brother and a sister by social services. My sister's whereabouts were unknown, but David’s last known address was in Caerphilly. My mother’s surname had been somewhat unusual, Fernard. So, when my eyes fell on a David Fernard Evans in the telephone directory, I simply had to make the call.

So there we were brother and sister, batting life stories between us. He was married, with a little girl and he insisted that I go home with him to meet his family and have a take out with them.

I scratched at my arms that had become entirely swollen with hives, David noticed and I explained the penicillin allergy.

“Hah, me too,” he announced clearly chuffed with this bit of shared DNA.

“It could kill me, apparently, anaphylactic shock and all that jazz.” He said, matter-of-fact, and accompanied with his signature chuckle.

I assured him that hives were the worst of my reaction, but that it would eventually cover me all over and I could resemble the Michelin man.

I got to meet his little girl, an 18-month-old bundle of joy. David immediately disappeared to make a phone call and his wife, Mary, filled in the missing parts of David’s history! Several abusive children’s homes, hinting at lasting psychological scars. I found myself unburdening some of my own abusive childhood experiences to her.

“I am so angry with our mother for putting us through this!” I spat out just as I heard David calling my name down the hall.

In the kitchen, David thrust the phone into my hand.

“It’s Kim, talk to her!”

The phone dangled uselessly in my hand and I shook my head vehemently.

David insisted and put the phone firmly to my ear. I heard a plaintive “hello?” I realised I couldn’t avoid this. So I stopped fighting and put the phone to my ear. David nimbly disappeared and I was alone with the voice.

“Hello,” is all I could manage.

“Maria! I am so pleased that you’ve turned up. I really didn’t think you ever would.” A hard London accent reached me.

“Why?” I managed to ask.

“Well, your dad was asking to adopt you, did that not happen?”

“Nope, I got adopted elsewhere.”

“David wants to bring you to mine. I really wanna meet you.”

“Oh” escaped unbidden.

“We can chat.”

“I suppose…. I’ve never been to London.” Anger surged through me and I needed to escape. “I have to go.”

I put the phone down as she was saying goodbye.

I shook and I scratched and finally, tears came. I knew I would go to London and I would be asking questions and I would be getting answers.

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Everyone has a story to tell, probably many more than one. Tell Your Story is home for the best creative nonfiction and personal essays on Medium, stories from the heart that help us all understand a little bit more about ourselves and the world around us.

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Maria Barry

Maria Barry

A Reiki master, passionate about crystal and energy healing and teaching others to harness the power.

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