The Unwanted Child
All the girls in the six to nine age group were gently roused from their sleep, an hour earlier than usual, and then given their baths. Next they stood in line in the playroom, wearing their Sunday dresses and with their hair freshly brushed and plaited. One or two may have grumbled a little at first, but none of them really minded the slight change to their routines. After all, they knew the famous couple were coming to the orphanage.
The man was a successful playwright who had staged productions all over Ireland and further afield in London, Paris and New York. His wife was an actress who appeared in some of these plays, and had recently starred in two Hollywood films. They lived in a big mansion with its own spacious grounds in Wicklow, the county much renowned as the "Garden of Ireland". They also owned a mews flat in Dublin 4, and a holiday home in the United States. The only thing missing from their otherwise perfect marriage was a child. Which, of course, was the reason for their visit.
Therefore, the girls knew they had to look their best if one of them was to have a chance of a new and privileged life. Presently, a car pulled up outside and the couple could be heard being greeted at the front door, followed by brief introductions. Then they came into the room, preceded by Reverend Mother and three other nuns. The girls gasped in wonder at the sheer glamour of the couple. They looked taller and even more good-looking than they did in magazines and on screen, their skins flawless and beautifully tanned.
They chatted pleasantly with each girl in turn, never hurrying or talking down to them and, indeed, making each one feel that they were special. But there was one they lingered with a little longer than the rest, and that was eight years old Rosie. They were enchanted by her radiant smile and sparkling blue eyes. They fell almost instantly in love with her.
The inspections complete, the girls were returned to their rooms to await the decision, as the couple joined Reverend Mother in her office to inform her of their choice and sign the relevant papers. But before the door had even closed behind them, in their hearts they had already chosen Rosie.
Sadly, however, their enthusiasm soon waned on hearing of her troubled family history. Her father had been a violent criminal who died as he had lived, and her mother was a fallen woman and alcoholic. She was found dead on the kitchen floor of her ill-kept house as Rosie, then only four, sat patiently beside her, waiting for her mother to "wake up". The only family she had left was her teenage brother, who had had his own brushes with authority and fled to England, where he was now detained in a young offenders' institution. On learning these facts, and selfishly thinking only of their public standing, the couple declined to pursue their interest in Rosie as their adopted daughter.
And yet Rosie, from past experience, already knew after a certain amount of time had elapsed. She'd been overlooked many times before by potential adoptive parents in much the same way. She didn't cry, though. She used up all her tears after the first few rejections and simply had none left. She hoped once again that her brother would mend his ways and come for her.
From her window, she watched briefly as the couple departed in their car with one of her best friends, Maeve. She and the other girls would miss Maeve, but she was happy her friend had been chosen. Even if she might never see her again.
Then the bell tolled to announce breakfast, and she shrugged off her disappointment as she skipped downstairs to rejoin the others. She was truly a lovely little girl with no hint of badness in her but, alas, still very much the unwanted child.
(c) Eddie Larkin 2012. All Rights Reserved.