I don't know why I feel so nervous. I see them every week of every summer break. Maybe it's because this is the first time I have come alone. Gran would have come, but this is something I have to do myself. I have to explain to them, even if they never understand. Where to start? Merlin, there are too many things to say. The memory of my fifth birthday stands out clearly, so I start there. I remember going home after seeing you two. I was so scared I couldn't sleep all night. Don't misunderstand, I wasn't scared of you. I have never been scared of you. There was a man here then, and his grin terrified me. I thought he was a vampire, and I couldn't be comforted until I saw you for myself, and saw you were okay.
I've always loved you. I never knew you as Mum and Dad, so I guess I can't love you as Mum and Dad. But I do love you all the same. I'm not sure what you are to me, but you are the best listeners I have ever met. You've taught me to appreciate what I have, even if it isn't much, because there are those who can't appreciate anything. You have also taught me that love isn't something you earn, its something you give.
But even though I love you, I can't do this anymore. I can't wait for you to get better. I can't put everything on hold, waiting for a family. I'm in the same position you were in when I was a baby. I can back out, and hope everything is okay, or I can fight for a chance at something more. Maybe I do have a little of you in me, because I am going to fight. I just thought you should know, even if you don't understand. Maybe I thought it would make it easier to let go if I told you. Maybe dreams don't want to die silently. I don't know.
I wont be coming around much for a while. I have a lot of work to do, and my remedial classes start soon. Gran will get here shortly, so I am going to go now. But if you are in there, somewhere, I love you. I will always love you. Mum, Dad, goodbye. I turn to walk away, and as the door shuts behind me, I shiver. It never sounded so hollow before. I don't realize I am crying until the sharp taste of tears fills my mouth. It tastes like rain, and goodbyes.
Appropriately enough, when I walk outside, it is raining. The Knight Bus arrives, and I climb on board, pay my fee, and press my head against the glass. It feels cool and soothing against my skin, and I begin to cry again. I don't cry often, or easily, but somehow it feels as if a lifetime of hopes are draining out of me slowly, leaving me an empty vessel. I only wonder what I will be refilled with, if not hope. And yet, as I feel all these false dreams and false hopes slowly clear out, I feel myself thinking more clearly than I can ever remember. Perhaps I have lived on dreams so long, I let life pass me by.
I stop several blocks from my house. Its raining, and still tastes of cold, bitter tears, but it feels cleansing. Like my soul is being cleaned, and repaired. Maybe the old saying is right. Maybe tears do have a healing property. I stick my tongue out, and taste the rain and my tears. This time, it tastes like strength, and life. I think I am changing, and I can't be sad about it. Maybe the ugly duckling is really a swan after all.