Anna thought it would all change when she turned sixteen, that they might gather her into the adult world and include her. Oh the birthday itself was great; they’d booked a hall and filled it with sparkle and the best DJ on the block. The whole night rocked and they didn’t come out of the attached kitchen once – they just kept feeding the food through the hatch. They were in attendance but invisible. Perfect, in other words.
The day after the party things started to slide. Her mother followed her everywhere.
‘Are you reporting back to Dad?’ Anna asked.
‘Don’t be silly,’ her mother said. ‘But, things are different now and you have to be aware that you can’t continue running around… I mean, your father and I want to talk to you but you need to behave yourself from now on.’
‘What are you yammering on about?’
‘Just be good. You know what I mean.’
Anna knew what she meant. Her heart sank at the thought of them following her around for the next few years. Did they think that as soon as she turned sixteen she’d turn into a ravenous sex-kitten overnight? What was wrong with them? They hadn’t bothered about this when she was a blossoming fourteen year old and having to get a new bra almost every week – she’d have expected them to go mad then but they didn’t. But then she wasn’t in the company of boys much. Now, it didn’t matter what she did or didn’t do or say they grounded her. She wondered what would happen if she ran away. There were places to go but not forever – she wasn’t stupid.
When the music slowed down she heard her mother knocking on the door.
‘Will you come downstairs honey? We want to talk to you.’
‘No,’ Anna threw her shoes at the door.
‘Don’t be silly Anna. It’s important… and you’re not in trouble but you need to hear what we’ve got to say.’
This would be interesting. She rubbed her stomach; it growled with hunger. She pressed the button and the room fell into silence, music falling into memory, and went downstairs. They sat in the kitchen with their music peeping in the pale background.
‘Okay, what’s so important? Is someone dying?’
Their faces paled and Anna spluttered.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. What’s wrong then? You’re scaring me.’
‘There’s something we should have told you but couldn’t but have to now before anything happens in your life,’ her mother blurted out.
‘Wait.’ Her father walked towards her and brought her to sit at the table with them. He kept his big hand on her shoulder, leaned down and kissed her hair. ‘Let me tell her, Janice. You’ll scare the wits out of her.’
‘Oh, is this where you tell me I’m adopted?’ Anna couldn’t keep the sneer from her voice but then she was sorry at the sight of their faces.
Oh Anna,’ her mother put her face in her hands and cried.
Anna was really scared now. She looked at her father, right into his fabulous brown eyes. He was serious but not broken like her mother.
‘Am I dying?’ she asked.
‘Honey, nobody’s dying. This is a long story but there’s something that we have to make you understand first, before we tell it.’
‘So tell me.’
‘You can’t ever get pregnant – it’s too dangerous.’