People do sometimes ask me if I remember my mother - my real mother. Yeh I do, even though I only saw her the few times when I was growing up.
I always think of her as ‘Kelly’, not Mum. Kelly Tollerton, her name was. I don’t have her name, of course. I was adopted by my mum and dad - well, into the Clarkson family - when I was four. Kelly must have been, what, still in her 20s when she last came round to see me. Younger than I am now, anyway. I remember she had a round face, brown hair tied in a ponytail. A nothing voice. Pale blue eyes. I’ve got brown eyes, I do.
I must have been about seven when I last saw her. My care workers had arranged for her to see me. I remember I didn’t know what to say to her, this woman that was in our front room, that they said was my real mother. Angie was my adopted mum, I know, but that’s who I called Mum.
I thought this woman Kelly was going to take me away, so I clung to Mum. She only stayed awhile, and she never looked me in the face all the while she was talking. All the while, looking here and there but not at me. I was glad, in a way. Yeh I know I do that myself; I’ve been told I do that, not looking you straight in the eye when I talk. I have to make a conscious effort - but it’s genetic, like.
No, I probably wouldn’t recognise Kelly if I saw her again. Funny thing, mind, I can remember her smell. Sometimes I smell it when I go into Boots, one of those generic brands... I don’t know if I like it or hate it. It just gives me an uneasy feeling, like. Like half-remembering a dream.
I used to have a recurring dream of her. Her being very tall - like a mountain, getting narrower at the top. In fact, she is a person and a mountain, in this dream. I’m forever trying to reach her, but I can’t, even though I can see her in front of me, like, and I’ve been walking for miles. All around me on this barren plain, which is also, funny enough, a kitchen floor, there are plates. Those earthenware dinner plates with the brown flowers round the edge. In this dream they look as if they should have food on them, but when I get to one it’s always empty. Then sometimes I look down at myself, and I’m covered in brown flowers as well, a brown flowery design. Then the plain becomes a long flat sea, and I am still walking, trying to find the mountain, and I’m shivering.
Actually, sometimes I still have that dream.