As far back as I can remember, I’ve always known there was something a little different about me. I’ve always been a bit of a loner; I didn’t even fit in with the other children at home.
For me, home was an orphanage in Enfield, a small town northwest of Dublin, Ireland, where I had lived my whole life. I was brought to the orphanage by the local police when I was little more than eleven months old. Apparently, my parents and I had been involved in a late-night house fire which left me the sole survivor, and the police had no choice but to bring me to the orphanage because they didn’t know the names or whereabouts of any of my other relatives.
Growing up I knew very little of my parents. The only reason I even knew their names (Neta and Donald) was because the police were able to sort through county records and find the deed to their house with their names and signatures on it, as well as a copy of their marriage certificate. In fact, the only reason the police knew my full name (Jayde Alyssa Newsome) and date of birth (January 10th) was because they were able to find the hospital’s records of my birth.
I often felt sad and lonely because I didn’t know my parents. In fact, if the truth is told, I felt responsible for their deaths. Though my life at the orphanage wasn’t troubled, instead of playing with the other children I would often wander off by myself to imagine what my life would be like if my parents hadn’t died.
As the other children and I got older, all my peers began to view me as odd because I spent so much time by myself, and this didn’t improve when I got to elementary school. From then on I was known not by my name, but as “the smart girl” who didn’t wear the same clothes all the popular kids wore. All the other kids just kept their distance and laughed silently about my “odd” behavior, too-short jeans, and worn-out sneakers. One person in particular always seemed to start the antics against me, and ironically it was the person I’d known for the longest; Corey O’Doherty.
Corey was also an orphan; in fact he and I grew up together. Corey had been left on the front steps of the orphanage anonymously when he was less than a month old. Though Corey and I were never the best of friends, we had always been cordial to each other. He and I didn’t really play together, but he didn’t pick on me either. But as we grew older Corey started treating me badly at school because I wasn’t in the “cool crowd” and he didn’t want to be seen as a friend of someone so “un-cool”. When we got back to the orphanage every afternoon, however, Corey was a completely different person than he had been at school.
For years I let this go on and said nothing, but that all changed one November afternoon when Corey and I were 10 years old. On the playground at school, a short, blonde-haired girl named Gloria, one of Corey’s friends, had walked up to me with an angry look on her face and accused me of trying to kiss Corey, her "boyfriend". I’d told her that was not true and I didn’t know what she was talking about, but she didn’t believe me.
She'd shoved me in the chest, which shocked me. This was such a ridiculous and childish thing to be angry about, much less to be willing to fight over, especially considering we were only 10 years old. Nevertheless, Gloria was indeed very angry about it and I became frightened. I’d started looking around for an exit to no avail, and the swarm of children that surrounded the two of us started screaming things like, “Fight!” and “Get her Gloria!”
She shoved me again, this time so hard that I fell to the ground, stunned. I asked Corey, who was standing nearby watching, to tell her the truth, but he simply smirked and said, “This is what you get for trying to kiss me, you freak.”
At this, all the children in the crowd started laughing, and Gloria started kicking me while I was still on the ground. I threw my arms up in front of my face instinctively, and screamed as I received several blows to the forearms and shins from her white sneakers. Though the sun had been shining brightly just moments before, thunder now rumbled in the distance, but none of the other children seemed to notice.
Within moments Gloria had me lying on the ground, trying fruitlessly to crawl out of harm’s way; receiving several blows to my back and sides from all of her surrounding friends who had jumped in the fight. I felt like I might pass out soon, and I cried and prayed for it all to be over soon as the approaching storm grew louder. Just when it began to seem that the girls would never stop and that I would surely die, a frightened male voice had called out from the back of the crowd, “It’s the teachers! Run!”
The pain finally ended. Everyone who had been participating in or standing around the fight ran quickly away so as not to be caught too close to the scene of the crime. I could barely move, I just lay there on the ground crying until a teacher arrived and helped me up, dusting all the dirt off my face and clothes. When the teacher asked me what had happened I didn’t answer her and started limping back towards the schoolhouse, stepping inside just as the first drop of rain fell from the darkened sky.
I went to the bathroom and washed all the dirt and tears off my face, and carried on the rest of my school day as if nothing had happened. Before I left school that afternoon, however, I was called to the principal’s office. The principal wanted to know what had happened, and I’d told him that I’d simply tripped on the playground. Though he didn’t believe me at first, I convinced the principal I was telling the truth, and I left his office and started walking home. I felt guilty that I’d just lied but certain that I’d just saved myself from another beating from Gloria, in the immediate future anyway.
The storm that had started on the playground earlier had stopped and the sun had regained its perch by the time I began my walk home that day, though in some spots the sky still looked dark and threatening. I remember wondering to myself why all the kids at school hated me so much as I walked home, staring down at the road and kicking nearby rocks to see how far they’d roll. My heart grew even heavier than it had during the fight, as though it were a tree whose branches were sagging from the weight of a recent snow.
I felt utterly alone and rejected, and I didn’t understand why, out of everyone the other students could’ve picked on, it had to be me; it always had to be me. The only possible response I could come up with was what I had been hearing from those same children my whole life: I was a freak.
After thinking this way for several minutes, I realized I was getting close to home; I could see the break in the tree line ahead to my left that was the beginning of the orphanage grounds, so I wiped away the tears that had started pouring from my eyes and tried to regain my composure. I didn’t want Ms. Fitzpatrick, the orphanage director, to see me like this. She’d been there for me my entire life. She'd done a lot for me, and I felt I owed it to her to put on a smile and pretend everything was okay. I didn’t want to burden her; she already had enough to deal with at the orphanage. That was why I hadn’t asked her for new clothes when the children at school had started picking on me about my jeans being too short.
As I stepped into the orphanage’s yard, however, I could tell that Ms. Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be falling for the whole “nothing happened” act that day. She was standing on the wooden front steps of the orphanage with her arms crossed, and she was tapping her left foot impatiently. Just looking at her made me wary of what was coming, for surely her appearance meant this couldn’t be good. Her curly auburn hair and her dress and apron were swaying slightly in the light breeze, and her lips were bunched together in a pale pink line. Her eyes were fixed directly on me as I made my way across the yard, unable to mask my limp and the physical pain it caused me each time I took a step.
I soon found out that Corey had come running home and told yet another lie on me, telling Ms. Fitzpatrick that I’d called Gloria ugly names and pulled her hair, which had been the cause of the fight. I didn’t understand why Corey would do such a thing, and I felt tears welling up in my eyes.
Corey had never tried to cause me problems at the orphanage before; it felt like he’d betrayed me, like there was some boundary line in our part-time friendship that he had just crossed. I felt the overwhelming sensations of sadness and depression sweep over me, but for the first time they were accompanied by something more: anger. I felt my face get hot as I stared at Corey, enraged. I insisted to Ms. Fitzpatrick that Corey was lying and that I hadn’t started the fight, but of course Corey denied it, throwing out even more wild accusations as he did so.
Finally, for the first time in my life, I had had enough. The melting pot of all my pent-up anger, fear, and hurt had finally reached its boiling point, and I felt like a time-bomb that was about to explode. I started screaming at both Ms. Fitzpatrick and Corey. I told Corey I was tired of him picking on me and telling lies on me, and I told Ms. Fitzpatrick how the fight at school had actually started, angry tears rolling down my cheeks as I did so. Ms. Fitzpatrick asked Corey if I was telling the truth, and he whole-heartedly denied it, throwing out more wild accusations about me that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
Ms. Fitzpatrick told Corey that she didn’t believe him, but I didn’t hear her. And Ms. Fitzpatrick didn’t see the change happening in my eyes. Unknown to me, my normally royal blue eyes were now growing lighter. They grew lighter and lighter until all the blue had faded from them, and the entire center of my eye, pupil and all, were a misty whitish-grey color; it was as if a great fog had set in on my eyes.
I became unaware of my surroundings and saw nothing but the image of Corey’s chubby, sandy-haired and green-eyed laughing face from earlier in the day. And I felt nothing but an uncontrollable rage that was taking over me, consuming me. Something was about to happen; I could feel it.