‘This way, please,’ the mean man says after clearing his throat. We follow him into a large room to the side of the main entrance. ‘The child is here, ma’am.’
‘Welcome, my dear,’ Melody says, rising from her desk and coming to stand in front of me. She has a pleasant smile on her face, which makes me feel better. She was really nice to me the first time I met her in Cheryl’s office. I hope she’s nice all the time.
‘Thank you,’ I whisper, bowing my head.
Cheryl stays for a short time, but when she finally prepares to leave and says her goodbyes, my stomach churns and the butterflies return. I’m going to miss seeing her. I’m suddenly feeling unsure again about being left on my own in this big house.
Standing by the window, I feel sad as I watch her drive away. A short time later, Melody returns from seeing Cheryl to the door, and offers to escort me to my new bedroom. Scooping my bag off the floor and tucking it under my arm, I trail behind her. Silently, I count the white marble steps on the staircase as I go. When we reach the landing, she leads me down the long hallway until we come to a stop outside one of the doors. I can’t believe my eyes when she opens it to reveal the beauty within. My heart rate picks up the moment I step inside.
‘Wow. Is this really my room? Like, forever?’ I ask in disbelief, because I really can’t believe it.
‘Yes,’ she replies.
It’s so beautiful. Too beautiful for words. I’m so excited; I have to try hard to hold in my squeal. My bed is so big. It has a pretty pink cover and white lace canopy over the top. I have my very own princess bed. I take everything in as I slowly spin in a circle. I’m a princess, and my new home is a castle.
I can’t believe I’m rich.
Boy, I’d love to rub this in Ruby’s face if I could. She’s one of the mean girls from the orphanage. She was always horrible to me. She used to tip water on my mattress and then tell everyone I peed myself. Lying cow.
I gently place my suitcase on top of the covers of my new bed.
‘Get that filthy thing off there!’ Melody screeches, making me jump with fright. Quickly picking it back up, I clutch it to my chest before hesitantly turning to face her.
‘I’m sorry,’ I whisper, bowing my head again.
‘Come with me,’ she snaps as she walks towards the white door on the other side of the room.
My heart starts to race. I hope she’s not going to lock me in the cupboard. At one of the foster homes I stayed in a few years ago, I’d get locked in a cupboard for hours sometimes. It was so dark and scary.
I release the nervous breath I’m holding when she opens the door. It leads to a large white bathroom. ‘Give me that bag and take off your clothes,’ she orders.
I’m frozen with fright.
‘Take off your clothes, Jade.’
Her voice is stern so I do as I’m told. My hands are shaking as I undo the buttons on my favourite pink dress.
‘Everything,’ she adds when I’m down to my underwear. Once I remove my undies, I use both my hands to cover my private parts. Her face screws up as she picks my things off the floor with two fingers, like I have cooties or something. ‘I want you to take a bath and get dressed in your new clothes. When you’re done, come downstairs for lunch. You’ll find everything you need in the chest of drawers next to your bed.’
‘Where are you taking my things?’ I ask in a quiet voice.
‘These rags? They’re going in the trash, where they belong. You won’t be needing them anymore.’ With that she turns, leaving me alone.
No! Not my most treasured possessions. I successfully manage to fight back the tears that threaten to fall. Over the years I’ve become a master at it. Crying only seemed to get me in more trouble.
As upset as I was at the time, my measly possessions were soon forgotten as the weeks and months passed. I now had a wardrobe full of beautiful clothes and shoes. There were even pretty bows for me to wear in my hair. Life here was good.
M placed me into one of the most exclusive all-girl schools in the country. I’d attended over twenty different public schools in the previous five years. Although I was bright, I was behind on my school work because I’d been shuffled around so much. M hired private tutors to help me catch up. That’s what I call her. I found out the initials MM stood for Miss Melody, but she prefers just plain M.
It would be another seven years before I’d find out the true meaning behind those initials.
M sent me to elocution lessons. I thought there was nothing wrong with the way I spoke, but she disagreed. Apparently talking like you have a plum in your mouth is the way people communicate in her circle. To be honest, at the time I was just grateful she seemed to care. Boy, were those thoughts misguided. It was all just part of her devious, masterful plan.