Butterfly, p.12
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       Butterfly, p.12

         Part #1 of Orphans series by V. C. Andrews
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  "What do you mean?" I asked, my heart stopping.

  "I can't take care of Celine and give you the proper home life you deserve at the same time," he said. "It's better for everyone if you have another opportunity."

  "Another opportunity?" He couldn't be saying what I thought he was.

  "It won't be pleasant for you here, Janet, and I don't think Celine will make any improvements if she sees you and believes she's failed again. Not that I think she has. I think you've done splendidly, and anyone in a normal family situation would be proud of you. I'm proud of you. I am. But I'm also very afraid for you.

  "The truth is," he said, gazing toward the window again, "I'm even afraid for myself?'

  He smiled at me. It was a brave smile.

  "I hate to lose you. You're a delightful young lady and a pleasure to have around. This place is not going to be the same," he said. "I want you to know you mean a lot to me, Janet. You brought some real light into my life and into our home. Now it's my turn to bring light into yours:'

  "You're giving me back?" I finally asked, choking back the tears.

  "I don't want to, but that's what's best. I've got to devote all my time to getting Celine well. I owe her that, Janet, surely you understand. There won't be anyone to look after you properly and I'm afraid Celine won't be any sort of mother to anyone.

  "You've already seen what your grandparents are like. They're absorbed now in their own little crisis with Daniel. I swear he does what he does just to torment them. No," Sanford said, "this is not a happy little family at the moment and certainly no place in which to nurture a child. You deserve better."

  "It's all my fault," I cried. "Because I got my period at the worst time."

  "No, no, no," Sanford cajoled. "I see now that it was a blessing. I mean, just suppose you went to that audition and weren't chosen. She would have had the same reaction, and if you were chosen, you would have some other test in due time, a test that you wouldn't pass to her satisfaction. You never could because you can't be her. I think she's realized that; she's facing it and that's why she's . . having her problems. The truth is, Janet, Celine may have to be institutionalized. This is so painful for me. I'm sorry," he said. "Please, don't blame yourself. Try see to what has to be done. I'm sure that it won't be long before another, healthier, couple scoops you up."

  He kissed me on the forehead and left. I sat there, stunned, gazing around my beautiful room. Just as fast as it had been given to me, it was going to be taken away. I wished I had never been brought here, I thought. It was worse to have seen this and lost it than never to have seen it at all. How many mommies and daddies would I lose? How many times would I have to say good-bye?

  I was angry, raging inside, my emotions tossing and turning like waves in a hurricane. I felt betrayed. I was never really given the chance to love them.

  At dinner Sanford told me he had made arrangements and that the child protection service wanted me to go to a group foster home where I would stay until I was adopted again.

  "They said it was very nice and you would have lots of new friends."

  "I made lots of new friends here," I said.

  He nodded, his eyes sad.

  "I'm sorry, Janet. It breaks my heart. It really does," he said and turned away, but not before I saw the tears in his eyes.

  I believed him, but it didn't make any of it easier. In fact, it made it harder.

  There was a flurry of activity the following morning. A special-duty nurse arrived to help with Celine, and soon after, the Westfalls visited. Celine's mother gave me little more than a passing glance before she went upstairs to see Celine. Afterward, Sanford and his father-in-law went into Sanford's office to discuss the events at the glass factory. When they were leaving, my grandmother looked in at me in the living room, turned to Sanford, and said, "Celine wasted precious energy to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."

  I wasn't sure what it all meant, but I sensed that she was blaming me.

  Later in the day, Sanford sent Mildred up to my room to help me pack my things. I still had not seen Celine because she hadn't come out of her room and her door was always shut, but I couldn't leave without at least speaking to her one more time. I went to the door and knocked. The nurse opened it.

  "I have to say goodbye," I told her. She wasn't going to let me in, but Sanford had come up for me and told her it was okay. She stepped aside and I entered.

  Celine was in her wheelchair at the window, just gazing out at the front yard. I put my hand on hers and she turned very slowly.

  "I'm sorry, Celine. I wanted you to be my mother. I wanted to dance for you."

  She simply stared at me as if I were a total stranger.

  "I hope you get better real soon. Thank you for trying to make me a prima ballerina."

  She blinked.

  "It's time," Sanford said from the doorway.

  I nodded, leaned over, and kissed Celine on the cheek.

  "Good-bye," I whispered.

  As I turned, she seized my hand.

  "Are there a lot of people out there? Is it a big audience?" she asked,

  "What?"

  She smiled.

  "I'm just warming up. Tell Madame Malisorf I'll be right there and tell her I'm ready. Tell her I've already begun to hear the music. She likes that. Will you tell her?"

  "Yes, Celine, of course." I had no idea what she was talking about.

  "Thank you," she said and turned back to the window.

  For a moment I thought I did hear the music. I remembered what she had told me when we had first met. "When you're good, and you will be good, you will lose yourself in the music, Janet. It will carry you off..

  It was carrying me off now.

  I looked back at her once and then left her home forever.

  Epilogue

  When we drove away from the house, I did not look back. I felt as if I was leaving a storybook and the covers were being closed behind me. I didn't want to see my story end. I wanted to remember it forever as it was: bright, warm, full of the magic of flowers and birds, rabbits and squirrels, a fantasy house, my land of Oz.

  I sat in the rear of the big car. In the trunk were two suitcases full of my new clothes, shoes, and ballet costumes, as well as my wonderful pointe shoes. At first I didn't want to take anything. I wanted to leave with little more than I had when I had arrived. Then I thought, if I didn't have these things, I would surely wake up one morning and think I had dreamed it all, all the faces, all the voices, even my birthday party.

  "I hope you'll keep up with your dancing," Sanford said. "You really were getting very good."

  I didn't say anything. I sat quietly and gazed out the side window watching the scenery drift by. It felt as if the world were on a ribbon that unraveled and floated behind us. Every once in a while, Sanford would say something else. I saw him gazing at me in the rearview mirror. His eyes were full of sadness and guilt.

  "I hope Celine gets better," I told him

  "Thank you." And again I saw tears in his eyes.

  We were going to the group foster home, a place called The Lakewood House. Sanford explained that it was run by a couple, Gordon and Louise Tooey, who used to run it as a tourist rooming house. It was a little under a two-hour drive.

  "It will only be temporary for you, I'm sure," he said.

  On the way he wanted to stop to get me something to eat, but I told him I wasn't hungry. The faster we got there and I started my new life, the better, I thought. At the moment I truly felt in limbo.

  Sanford followed written directions but he got lost once and had to pull into a garage for new directions. Finally we were on the road that led to the group house.

  "There it is," Sanford declared.

  Ahead of us was a very large, gray two-story house. It had as much if not more grounds than Sanford and Celine's home. I saw four young girls walking together toward what looked like a ball field. Two teenage boys were mowing grass and a tall, muscular man with a shock of dark brown hair and
a chiseled face was shouting at some other children who were raking up the cut grass.

  "Looks nice," Sanford commented.

  After we parked he got out my suitcases. A tall brunette with shoulder-length hair pinned back burst out of the front entrance. She looked about fifty and I thought her best feature was her startling blue eyes.

  "This must be Janet. I've been expecting you all day, sweetheart," she declared, coming right up to me. "What a pretty little girl you are."

  "Yes, she is," Sanford said sadly.

  "Welcome to The Lakewood House, honey. My name is Louise. show you to your room. Right now, she has a room all to herself;' she told Sanford, "but we're expecting new children soon."

  He smiled and nodded.

  "Gordon!" Louise shouted. "Gordon."

  "What is it?" he called back.

  "The new girl's arrived."

  "Wonderful. I gotta look after these kids, they never get the lawn right," he said. He looked very grouchy to me.

  "Gordon takes pride in how we keep up the place," Louise explained. "All of us help, but you'll see. It's fun," she said. "Come on in. Please," she added, putting her hand on my shoulder and guiding me up the stairs to the front door.

  There was a small entryway and then a large room filled with old furniture.

  "The Lakewood was one of the most desirable tourist houses in its day," Louise told Sanford. She went on to explain how the resort business had died and how she and her husband, Gordon, had decided to use the property as a group foster home. She didn't have any children of her own, "but I always consider my wards my own," she added.

  We went upstairs and stopped at a room that was half the size of my mom at the Delorice residence.

  "I just cleaned it thoroughly. The girls share the bathroom across the hall," Louise explained. "Cooperation is the key word here," she told Sanford. "It prepares them for life."

  Sanford smiled again. He set my suitcases down.

  "Well," Louise said, looking at him and then at me. "Why don't I give you two time to say good-bye and then I'll show Janet around the house."

  "Thank you," Sanford said.

  She left us and I sat on what was to be my bunk. He stood there silently for a moment.

  "Oh, I wanted you to have some money," he began, and dug into his pocket to produce a billfold and pulled out some large bills. I started to shake my head. "No, please, take it and hide it," he insisted. "First chance you get, put it in the bank. Having a little money of your own will give you some independence, Janet." He forced the money into my hand. "You won't be here long," he said, looking around. "You're a very talented, beautiful child."

  I didn't know what to say to him.

  "Well, maybeI'll look in on you from time to time. Would you like that?"

  I shook my head and he looked surprised.

  "You wouldn't? Why not?"

  "When you get old, you lose your memory," I said, "so you won't remember what you can't have anymore."

  He stared at me and smiled.

  "Who told you that?"

  I shrugged. "Nobody. I thought it up one day."

  "You're probably right. It's nature's way. But I hope you don't forget me, Janet. I won't forget you."

  "Celine's already forgotten me," I said.

  "She's just mixed you up with memories of herself," he said.

  "Then it's better she forgets?'

  He looked like he was going to cry. All he had ever done before was kiss me softly on the forehead and hold my hand crossing streets. He went to his knees this time and embraced me, holding me to him for a moment.

  "I wanted a daughter like you, more than anything," he whispered. Then he kissed me on the cheek and stood up quickly, turned, and walked out of the room. I listened to his footsteps descending the stairway.

  For a long moment I just sat there staring at the floor. Finally I went to the window and looked down and saw his car disappear down the road. I started to cry, the first tear exploding in a hot drop to trickle down my cheek, when suddenly a beautiful butterfly landed on the windowsill. It lingered for a moment and then lifted into the wind. I watched it flutter away and I thought, someday, that will be me.

 


 

  V. C. Andrews, Butterfly

  (Series: Orphans # 1)

 

 


 

 
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