Does Someone Need a Kidney
Beth Corcoran had known that she was adopted since she was old enough to understand things. It was just something that was. It wasn't something she talked about. Not because she was ashamed or anything, but because it was such a nonissue that it didn't even cross her mind to bring it up. She looked enough like her mom that her school friends were always a little surprised when she mentioned it as she got older.
She had brown hair, not as dark as her mother's, but still brown. Brown eyes. Tan skin. Jew nose. She would wonder sometimes, as she looked into her mirror, if she looked anything like her bio-mom.
Bio-mom. Because saying biological mother got bothersome after the first few times she said it. When she was five she asked her mom what her bio-mom's name was. Her name was Quinn. Beth had giggled; because even at that age, her bio-mom's name had just sounded so WASPish that she couldn't do anything but wrinkle her nose at it.
When she was seven her mom told her that Quinn lived in the city. New York City, where they lived. She was going to college there. Her mom didn't say where and Beth didn't ask, even though she really wanted to. She was filled with alternating feelings of panic and curiosity and anxiety. It was a strange balance. She panicked when she thought about the fact that she could just run into her bio-mom on the street. They could walk right by each other and never know it. They could already do it, every day. She was curious. She wondered what Quinn looked like. She wondered if she was anything like her, wondered if they liked or hated the same foods. She wondered sometimes if it was genetics that made her want to eat a solid pound of bacon when she smelled it cooking. She was anxious about even bringing Quinn up, despite her curiosity. She didn't like the look on her mom's face when she did. Sad eyes. It made her feel guilty.
She tried to not bring Quinn up.
When she was ten Beth found out about her big sister. Her sort-of-big-sister. Her mom had set her down after school and explained to her about when she was younger and what she had done for two men who couldn't have a baby. Beth listened to her mom's reasons for giving away her daughter and for not being a part of her life. She said she was selfish. Beth heard it and it made her a little sad. She loved her mom and she didn't like to think bad things about her. She wondered if Quinn was selfish too. She wondered if that's why she didn't want her.
Her mother told her to never think those things. She told her how she felt for her big sister Rachel, how she loved her so much it made her whole body ache. She told her that all mothers felt that way. Beth listened when she was told that Quinn loved her so much her whole body ached. She told her that Quinn wasn't selfish. She was selfless.
It took Beth a long time to work out the difference.
It was that same year that Beth saw her sort-of-big-sister for the first time. Her mother had taken her to a lot of Broadway plays before, that wasn't new. But this one was different because her sort-of-big-sister was in it. She was the lead in it. Beth knew her mother was an amazing singer, so it was strange that she was caught off guard by how amazing Rachel was. She barely paid attention to the play, instead focusing on the sound of Rachel's voice and the way she looked exactly like her mom. Beth had slumped a little then, because she didn't really look like her mom. Not the way Rachel did. It made her want to cry. It made her burn with jealousy. The look on her mom's face when she watched Rachel didn't help. For just a minute she felt like a replacement. Then she wondered if Rachel thought that Beth was a replacement too.
By the end of the show she was mostly just in awe that she was related to a Broadway star. She thought about bragging about it to her friends at school the next day. She decided that she would.
She went to see all of Rachel's plays.
When she was twelve she met her sort-of-big-sister for the first time. She got off the bus from school and stormed into the house, a tetchy tornado of pre-teen angst, she doesn't even remember what had upset her so much because what was in her living room was worse.
Rachel and her mother sat across the coffee table from each other. Her mom held a cup of tea and Rachel was as far back in her chair as possible, her tea was sitting on the table, apparently untouched. Beth could tell that Rachel was uncomfortable. She could also tell that they had been talking about her before she walked in. She was in middle school. She knew what that kind of silence felt like.
When Rachel turned to look at her, Beth automatically felt her hackles rise. She scowled at the woman and Rachel just smiled benignly.
She said that Beth looked just like Quinn.
Beth deflated like a balloon and she talked to Rachel, about Quinn, but also about other things like Broadway and getting teased because of her nose. Rachel calls her Understudy, and Beth feel like it's a fun pet name. It isn't until she's older that she understands it was probably not very friendly of Rachel to call her that. But they talked for a long time and Beth tried to ignore the pained look on her mother's face but she didn't entirely succeed.
When Rachel leaves that night just before dinner she leaves her autograph, at Beth's insistence, and also her phone number. In case she ever needs to talk, Rachel tells her.
Beth uses the number one time. When the voice on the other end isn't Rachel's but Quinn's, giggling about how Ms. Berry is currently unavailable, Beth felt like ice had settled firmly in her stomach. She hangs up without saying anything and for a long time she's angry at her mom and she's angry at Rachel and she's angry at the world.
A lot of time passes where Quinn is only a passing thought to Beth. As she got older her curiosity waned. While when she was younger she had yearned for her eighteenth birthday so she could talk to Quinn if she wanted to, that day came and went without her giving her bio-mom a single thought. When she does think of Quinn she only really feels gratitude. She understands how easy it would have been to get rid of her and not have to deal with having a child at sixteen. She's grateful to be alive.
She's twenty-two when Morgan Fabray tries to add her on facebook. It's late and near the end of her fall term, so her finals are pressing down around her like a physical weight. She has a play coming up that she doesn't feel prepared for. Most of the time she just wants to cry. And her boyfriend has been an unmitigated ass for the last four days and she has no idea why.
At first she's just confused. She doesn't have any friends in common with him and when she goes creeping on his profile she realizes he's only thirteen. That in itself is odd. Most of the facebook crowd is college and older as its popularity is starting to wane. His profile is only semi-private so she could see that he only had twelve friends and only a few blurry pictures. She is in the middle of wondering if he's one of the kids she taught at her summer acting camp when her eyes catch his family section. There are two links, both followed with the word mother.
Beth's chest feels like it's on fire and she spends the whole night looking at Quinn Fabray's profile picture. It's a family portrait and it's too small to see clearly. But Quinn's profile is set to private so Beth can't see anything else.
She leaves Morgan Fabray's friend request where it is for three days. On the fourth day she agrees and sends him a message. She asks how he knows her and she wants him to lie. He doesn't though. He says he's her brother.
Beth feels irrationally angry.
He's not her brother. She doesn't have a brother. He's just blood. She wants to tell him as much but she doesn't. Instead she talks to her mother.
Morgan turns out to be a little creeper. He comments on all her statuses and her pictures and always tries to corner her on the chat. She turns her chat off after awhile.
After two weeks she adds Rachel. Rachel agrees less than an hour later.
Beth types out a strongly worded message asking for Rachel to curb Morgan's enthusiasm, it turns into a rant and it's going on a thousand words before she stops and stares for awhile. She highlights it and hits backspace. Instead she sends only a few words that are far less biting.
The next two days find her with five more friend requests. Her bio-grandmother, bio-aunt, and three bio-cousins all add her. She agrees because she honestly just doesn't care. They try to start conversations with her, and while she doesn't ignore them, she doesn't let the discussions go on too long before ending with a closed statement.
Quinn doesn't add her.
She doesn't add Quinn.
Beth wonders if all their sudden interest means that someone needs a kidney.
Her mother thinks it's funny. Beth thinks it's irritating. She barely makes it through finals without having a nervous breakdown.
Four month later Beth breaks down and adds Quinn. Quinn accepts. They don't talk. Beth wonders if Quinn is creeping her profile as hard as she is hers.
When Beth meets Quinn for the first time it's every bit as awkward as she always imagined it would be. At least, after the age of twelve when she really realized what it would mean to meet her bio-mom. She can remember the awkwardness that had hung around her mom and Rachel like a cloak and she knew it would be like that.
And it was, only worse, because it was also completely accidental that they met. Beth is working the cash register at Starbucks and Quinn is trying to corral three kids and a toddler so she's not even paying attention to the fact that Beth is there. She orders three hot chocolates and a latte without looking up from digging in her purse while also trying to hold on to a squirming toddler. It's the off hours, so there isn't a huge line and Beth doesn't feel guilty for openly staring. Behind Quinn is Morgan, his eyes intent on his cell phone, and two little girls bickering.
Quinn snaps at the girls to stop fighting and orders Morgan to take his little brother from her. The teenager sighs dramatically, but puts his phone away to take the boy from his mother when he catches sight of her.
They stare and Quinn notices when Morgan fails to take the toddler from her.
When Beth meets her bio-mom's eyes for the first time she suddenly feels self-conscious and her hackles rise just like all those years ago when she met Rachel. Quinn seems to notice and Beth wonders if that's because she does the same thing. Her bio-mom just asks for the total and Beth runs through the rest of her script. They move to the other end of the shop to wait for their order, but Beth can feel Morgan's eyes on her. She's tense until Quinn herds them all out.
That night Beth sends Quinn a message saying they should talk.
Quinn sends back a phone number.
Beth doesn't call for three days. She finally breaks down and dials the number when she's at her best friend's house.
Quinn answers the phone and their conversation is stilted and awkward at first. They end up talking for four hours. They talk about her schooling, music and sports, what she did in high school. They talk about boys and a little bit about girls. They talk about her bio-father and that's something that Beth had never really thought about before. She knew intellectually that she had one somewhere, but his existence had never really bothered her. She didn't have a dad and she didn't feel like she needed one.
The second time they meet is far less awkward. It's the same Starbucks but Beth isn't working this time. It's busy and loud but they just sit and talk for a few hours. They don't talk about the elephant. Beth doesn't want to because she doesn't feel it's necessary. Quinn wants to, but doesn't because Beth doesn't.
They part with a hug. It's weird, but nice, and Beth pretends she doesn't see the tears in Quinn's eyes when she gives her cell number over.
Quinn leaves first.
Beth leaves after throwing away her coffee. It's cold because they spent more time talking than drinking.
When she leaves and steps out onto the busy New York street it's with a sense of peace that she's never really had before. She decides to send the Fabray family an invitation to her graduation.
A/N: My English professors are always telling us to write what we know. I know about being adopted. This is actually based on my own feelings about my bio-mom, whose name is Rachel…funnily enough, and some events that actually happened, minus New York, cause I live in Texas. The kidney thing is something I actually asked my bio-mom one time…I was serious…
Tell me what you think.