Rose sat at the table with her parents. Well those two people she had always thought were her parents. That was until six months ago when she had learned the truth. That her Aunty Stevie who she had always adored and looked up to as a big sister, was in fact her birth mother. Rose could still recall that day. She didn't let herself think about it often. It was too painful.
It all started when Rose found the bracelet in Stevie's draw. Rose hadn't meant to snoop, only to put the washing away. But there it was, the little pink bracelet "baby of Stephanie hall". Rose recalled the shock, the confusion. Stevie had a baby? What had happened to the baby? She turned over all sorts of possibilities in her mind, did the baby die? Why hadn't Stevie ever told her about it?
Rose remembered vividly the afternoon she had asked Stevie about it. And as Stevie began to talk about her baby daughter, and how she had given her away, Rose could see the pain in her eyes. But there were no answers to the questions. How could Stevie have given her daughter away? Why didn't Stevie want her baby?
Then there was that moment. That moment that it all clicked; that moment that the dreaded thought first occurred to Rose- the baby was her. Stevie gave her away, never wanted her, never loved her. Sure Stevie said a lot of things, how she had loved Rose and only wanted the best for her…. But actions speak louder than words. And Stevie had given her away.
Even since that day Stevie had called once a week. Every week, without fail, on Saturday afternoon at four o'clock. Every Saturday afternoon Michelle would answer the phone. Every Saturday afternoon Michelle would say "It's for you Rose" and offer the phone to her. Every Saturday afternoon Rose would silently walk away. And every Saturday afternoon Michelle would pass on this message from Stevie to Rose "I love you Rose."
At first Michelle didn't talk long to Stevie during these calls. There was still tension between the two sisters. Michelle wished Rose had never discovered the truth. Rose tried to reassure Michelle that she didn't care less who her birth mother was. It was Michelle who raised her, who had been there every step of her life, who had never let her down. And week after week after Stevie had asked to speak to Rose, and Rose had refused, Michelle and Stevie would speak for longer and longer.
Rose didn't really want to know at first what they were talking about. She didn't want to have anything to do with Stevie. One day she snuck into the hallway without Michelle knowing. She didn't want Michelle thinking she was interested in what Stevie had to say, because she wasn't. She could hear Michelle telling Stevie about the things Rose had done that week, the school play she had been in, the A+ on her English assignment, her new boyfriend, her blue ribbon in the riding competition, the new pair of jeans that Rose brought that week. All pretty boring everyday stuff. But Rose was so angry that Michelle had told Stevie anything about her. It was a bit late now for Stevie to decide that she cared. All those years she never thought twice about Rose. She was just off having a good time, moving from place to place. Half of the time Rose didn't even know where she was. Stevie only cared when it suited her.
Rose often wished that if she had to be adopted, that her birth mother was a total stranger. Then Rose would be free to hate her and it wouldn't hurt so much. But Stevie had been one of her favorite people in the entire world. Someone that she had trusted, and loved and admired. Someone she thought she could count on. Someone she had always pictured as being part of her life. And that's why being rejected by her and given away as a baby was all the more painful to her.
Rose never spoke about Stevie after that day she found out the truth. She didn't want anyone to know she still thought about it. She tried to pretend it didn't bother her at all, and that she just wanted to get on with her life and pretend Stevie had never existed. And that's exactly what she had done. And she managed pretty well. Except for every Saturday at four o'clock when that phone rang. Every Saturday except for this Saturday.
Michelle hadn't commented on the fact that Stevie hadn't called this week. She must have noticed though. Stevie called every week without fail. Rose didn't want to bring it up. She didn't want Michelle to think she had noticed that Stevie hadn't called, she didn't want Michelle to think she cared about Stevie or even thought about her. She didn't want anyone to know that, because she spent so much time trying to convince herself she didn't care.
Rose imagined that Stevie had got bored of calling, bored of telling Rose that she loved her. Rose guessed it wasn't true after all. Stevie didn't love her when she was a baby and didn't love her now. And that's why she stopped calling. Rose tried to pretend it didn't bother her that Stevie hadn't called. But it felt to her like she had been rejected again, just the way she was rejected when Stevie gave her away all those years ago.
"Rose is everything alright?" Michelle asked her "You have been very quiet and you haven't eaten much"
Rose looked down at her plate and quietly whispered "It's Saturday……..and she didn't call."