Friday, July 8, 2011
On the porch with Summer
Hi, this is Felicity. I decided that today was the day I was going to talk to our neighbour Summer about what I saw. I was pretty nervous. I didn't want to upset her or make her think I was spying on her or anything. But I also feel like not talking to her was making a rift form between us. She seemed more distant from me than she used to be, and it happened really abruptly that day, so I'm sure it was the cause. I wanted to sort things out before the problem got worse.
I saw her out on the deck, and I went across to talk to her. I sat on the chair next to her without being invited, and she looked nervous, but she couldn't exactly tell me to go away without being really rude. So she just tolerated me, and waited to see what would happen.
I took a deep breath and said, "Summer, I wanted to talk to you about a couple of days ago."
She shrugged and looked out into the yard, watching the birds.
I went on, "I want you to know that it doesn't matter to me if there's stuff that's... different... about you. We can still be friends. You can trust me. Whatever it is, I don't mind. Neither do my sisters."
"Sometimes I'm a cat," Summer said, sounding semi-sarcastic, but glancing up at me through her lashes, waiting for me to react. If I'd scoffed or acted freaked out, I'm pretty sure she would have passed it off as a weird joke.
"I figured. Cat-you reminds me of regular-you. It's okay. Really." I smiled reassuringly. "Have you always been able to turn into a cat? Can you control it?"
She nodded. "Yes. To both. I have to change at least every once in awhile, but I can decide when. Kiwi and Maia can change too."
"No, she's... different. When Kiwi is a cat, she looks like a little tiger. Maia has spots; she's like a cheetah."
"That's really neat!" I said enthusiastically.
Summer shrugged. "You don't think it's weird?"
"No, it's great. I wish I could do that!"
She shook her head. "You shouldn't. It's caused a lot of trouble for us. Did you know me and Kiwi have been adopted twice?"
I was surprised. "No, how did that happen?"
Summer looked out into the yard again, and it was hard to hear her. "We weren't always in the same family. Kiwi was adopted from China when she was a toddler. I'm not from overseas; I was born in Toronto. I was in foster care when I was a baby, and a family adopted me pretty quickly. Neither family kept us, though. It was too much trouble to deal with... what we are."
"That's so horrible!" I said, instantly sympathetic.
She shrugged. "Kiwi barely remembers the people who adopted her. They only kept her a couple of months. I stayed with mine till I was seven, though. Eventually they both decided to get rid of us. Kiwi was a Canadian citizen by then, and I always was, so we ended up in foster care in this country. Another family was going to adopt Kiwi when she was in kindergarten, but they decided not to after they'd had her for awhile and made a lot of promises to her. It hurts her more than it hurts me. I've had more time to get over it."
"So Maia got custody of you both?"
"Yeah. She was our foster sister, and she recognized that we were like her. She and Inna are wonderful sisters to us. I'm glad things worked out the way they did. But..."
"But you've lost a lot because of this secret?" I suggested.
"Yeah. I just want to have a regular life, with... friends."
I smiled. "Well, you have friends! You have all of us, for one thing! This doesn't change anything."
Summer didn't say anything. She gave me a relieved smile, though... and she isn't being weird with us anymore. I think talking about it really did help after all.