Three years too late, and I was standing in a field watching her run. The yellow grass laughed against my ankles. My foster sister was the same in the absence of me. She squealed and darted behind her new parents’ legs. Green was still her favorite color.
I almost hadn’t come. It had been three years since her new parents dropped contact with us. Leading up to the adoption, they made promises to keep us in her life. After all, we were her foster family. She had spent several scattered years with us. We were the ones who retrieved her from her cigarette scented apartment, the ones who held her during the court case. She had grown into our home. Her sweaty handprints kissed our windows. The toys on her bed seemed to watch us. She was a part of our family. Until she wasn’t.
Three years too late, and finally I could see her. I’m not an angry person. But that day, I held unforgiveness like a cherry pit in my mouth. Like a heartbeat under my tongue. Her new parents wanted us away from her long enough for her to forget us. To start over. I watched my sister run in silly stumbling strides and when her eyes caught on mine I prayed for a flicker. Some shift in her gaze. A recognition. But she just looked away and kept running. She didn’t remember me anymore. I was a hazy red creature, losing light. I was a flower pressed between the pages of time. And I was angry.
I couldn’t look at the parents. I couldn’t look at her. So I sank into the grass and watched the honeybees. I studied how they dipped into the clover. Buzzed, sipped. And lifted. I wondered if the bees could drink this toxic feeling out of me. If they could turn it into honey. Buzzed, sipped. And lifted. Did I really want her to recognize me? Would that make it any easier?
My dad and her dad were talking. Something about trees and tomato plants. I listened to their conversation in a disjointed way – everything in the context of the honeybees. My dad was smiling with fractured wings. Her dad was dripping honey all over the conversation. I sat in selfish silence. My sister ran and giggled.
Already, I wanted to write about it. It’s what I did, how I grounded myself. Pen to paper. Mind to art. But I was afraid to reduce her to a story. Confine her to my story. I tried to write about other things. But I kept coming back to this.
Months after the visit, I found myself sitting in my backyard, watching the honeybees again. The wind slithered against my sweater. I tried to untangle the scribbles in my mind. What could I have learned from this? I thought about her. Her new parents. The heaviness of my pen when it came to her.
I knew she was more than the role she played in my story. I knew she had her own story, something wild and loud and recklessly important. Something separate from me. I thought about her. I thought about her parents. I thought about my anger towards them. And I thought, perhaps I shouldn’t reduce her parents to my story.
A honey bee clambered to the edge of a clover.
I realized, we are all visitors in other people’s stories. All of us are side characters brimming with secret complexity. People are more than they ways in which they hurt me.
In a moment, light spilled everywhere. Something in me shifted.
The honey bee buzzed, sipped. And lifted.
That was my college essay, about my foster sister who was adopted when I was in eighth grade. Thanks to that shitty experience, I am now studying creative writing at Emerson College, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Things are well here.
yours in haste,
kelsey day is a young award winning poet who grew up in the blue mountains of north carolina. she has received recognition for a collection of short stories, as well as two novels she published at the ages of 11 and 13. today she is studying creative writing in boston, massachusetts.