The key to change...is to let go of fear.
Disclaimer: I do not own the movie Orphan.
"So, what will it be for dinner tonight, guys? There's pasta, french fries….I think we have stuff for sandwiches somewhere…" Kate rummaged through the contents of the cupboards. She reminded herself to go grocery shopping later. Kate didn't hear an answer from any of the children, so she turned and walked out of the kitchen, the door closing quietly behind her. Sometimes she found herself thinking of her old home, her old life. One thing was for sure: she thought about John every day. Kate tried to block out all of her thoughts of Esther. She was gone. She was dead, and could never come back.
Kate started walking down the hallway where all of the kids' rooms where, looking for her children. Max's room was at the end of the hallway, closest to the kitchen and living room. Kate stopped outside of Max's room first, cracking the door and peaking inside. Max stood at an easel in the corner of her room and seemed to be painting something, but Kate couldn't tell what it was from where she was standing. Max looked so at peace and relaxed; there was a small smile on her face. Her dirty blonde hair was pulled into a messy ponytail and she wore jeans that were splattered with paint, and a woolen peasant top. Even though they were indoors, Max had on a pair of brown UGGs.
Max had gotten into painting shortly after her father died, and she was quite the painter, even if Kate did say so herself. The walls in Max's room were covered by a mural that the ten year old had painted herself when the family had first moved into this house. The mural was of the four seasons, and each season showed each member of the family hidden somewhere. It was fun to sit and look for the painting of you on Max's wall. Sometimes it was hard for Kate to remember that Max was just ten years old. When you looked into her youngest child's eyes you saw the wisdom of someone much older than she was.
Max had the largest windows in the house next to the ones in the living room, and they took up one full wall of her room; the summer wall. Kate didn't want to spoil her children, but that was exactly what her husband Mark, had been doing since the second date they had went on. Max had a MacBook Air in her room that was sitting on her queen sized bed, still open. Kate enjoyed Max's room because it was so colorful and bright. The curtains were pulled open so that light could stream in from the giant windows. Kate took a few steps into the room and noticed that Max didn't have her hearing aid on.
She turned to look at Max's desk that was covered in folders and papers, then to her nightstand where there was a picture of John in a picture frame that decorated in beads and shells. Kate held her breath and quickly cast her eyes down, and a purple hearing air caught her eye. She quickly snatched it up and walked towards Max, tapping her on the shoulder. Max sucked in a breath and whirled around, dropping her palette and her paintbrush. Her face was shocked, but it relaxed a bit when she saw that it was only Kate.
"Why aren't you wearing your hearing aid?" Kate spoke and signed at the same time. Max bent down to pick up her palette and paintbrush before answering. "I don't like to hear when I paint. Sometimes noise is too much of a distraction, you know?" Max signed and spoke as well. Her voice wasn't as hoarse as it had been when Kate had first entered her into speech therapy, but she was better now. It had been Mark's idea to enroll Max in the classes that her school was offering. Max had been excited about the idea and agreed almost instantly, while Daniel was rather opposed to the idea.
"Why does Max have to change to make him so comfortable? Why can't he try to change for her? He could learn how to sign like we all did! Dad learned! Even Leslie learned! " He pointed out. "Why are you trying to replace him?" He had whispered, and stomped away to his room. That had hurt Kate, but didn't she had a right to be happy? Max and Daniel had been happy after their grandmother had moved out a few years ago, and Kate should be allowed to be happy as well. That was why she had gone on the blind date that her co-worker, Angie, had set her up on two years ago and she swore it was like love at first sight.
Mark was perfect, even though no one would ever replace John. Mark had lost his wife when she was murdered in a gun shooting two year before, so he understood what she was going through. Mark had a child who was Daniel's age, a girl named Leslie. The two families had started to spend time together and even though Daniel did not like Mark, he appreciated Leslie's company. It was Leslie's idea to go to a family therapy session after a while because of both of the family's pasts. They all started attending the sessions regularly, and they would still go sometimes, just in case they needed someone to talk to.
Mark and Kate had been married for a little less than a year, and things had been going great for everyone.
Kate sighed, stroking her daughter's hair while placing the hearing aid back in her ear. Kate tried understanding what Max had meant, but as she was staring outside of the window she saw the neighbor's house. Outside there were two boys around Max's age playing around on a tree house with their sister. Max was probably still thinking about that day. "I know, sweetie, but you still have to keep this in. what if I need to call you for something, if we need to go somewhere? If there is a fire? What would we do then?" Kate asked. Max nodded. "Sorry."
Kate wrapped her arm around her daughter. "Don't be sorry. I understand. Just try to keep it near you when you take it out, okay?" She pulled back, beginning to sign as she spoke again. "Do you know what you would want for dinner, or if Leslie and Danny got back yet?" Kate asked. "They got back an hour ago, and are in their rooms. They want to hang out together after they both have 'alone time'." Max explained. Kate nodded. "Alone time" was something that both teens did. Kate didn't necessarily know what they did during this time. Max was the only one that knew what happened and she promised that they weren't doing anything wrong, but that she couldn't tell Kate. Kate could understand this, so she decided to leave it alone. Both kids had been through a lot. All of them had been, actually.
"I'll go ask them what they want, then." Kate said with a smile. Max nodded and turned back to her painting. "I'll be in here." Max said without turning around or signing. Kate felt so proud and surprised, but she didn't say anything. She did get a good look at what Max was painting, though.
A father and daughter, walking hand in hand.
Kate walked towards Daniel's room next. Daniel's room wasn't exactly as welcoming as Max's was.
ENTER AT OWN RISK
Kate ignored the sign that Mark must have bought Daniel and walked into the room without knocking. Daniel didn't have any lights on, but he did have his windows open, creating a cold breeze in the room. Daniel's windows were almost as large as Max's, but not quite. The light from the winter scene outside illuminated Daniel's dark room. The walls were decorated with different photos and posters that Daniel had made using Photoshop or some other type of computer program. Daniel enjoyed photography and had several different types of cameras. One corner of Daniel's room was filled with his photography equipment. There was his desk with his Mac and iPad resting on the wooden desk as well as the two cameras that Daniel used the most, and a poster that Daniel was in the process of making. Other cameras sat on a shelf above the desk, and there was a lava lamp there as well.
In another corner of Daniel's room there was a black acoustic guitar as well as a dark blue electric guitar. Kate didn't know much about Daniel's music, but she knew that the bass was the instrument that he had most recently begun to learn how to play. Daniel lay on his bed with a pen in one hand and a notebook open out in front of him. He stared at Kate, looking pissed off. Kate had to admit that her son had grown up in five years. His brown hair was styled in what Leslie called a Justin Bieber haircut, except that Daniel's hair didn't really look like Justin Bieber's to Kate. Daniel's hair sort of spiked out at the end. Daniel's hair was long, kind of like Justin Bieber's had been before he cut it. So Kate did had to give Leslie props.
Daniel wore a red and black checkered sweater that Kate thought made him look like a lumberjack over a t-shirt that looked like it had a picture of… was that Pepsi on his shirt? Kate had to speak to him about shirts he bought while he was at the mall with his friends. "So, what was so important that you had to interrupt my alone time?" Daniel asked, his tone showing his aggravation. Kate crossed her arms over her chest as her eyebrows rose. She opened her mouth, but Daniel cut her off. "I know; I was using a tone with you and you don't like it, yada, yada. I'm sorry." Daniel closed the book and threw it under his bed.
"What's up, Mom?" He asked as if the previous fragment of a conversation hadn't occurred. Kate shook her head. Sometimes she wondered if she would ever be able to understand her son. John would be able to. A voice at the back of her head told her. Kate shook it away. Daniel had Mark now, and she didn't have to worry about Daniel not having a male role model. "I was wondering what you wanted for dinner. Mark will be home soon, and then after that he'll be home until after New Year's." Daniel rolled his eyes, but smiled a bit. "Break starts tomorrow…"
Kate chuckled. "Yeah, tomorrow after school. You'll have to get through that first." She pointed out. Kate shook her head once again. She did have to admit that Daniel was pretty responsible for his age. She would leave him alone with Max when she had to work before she had married Mark and the kids' grandmother had been able to move in. Kate was proud of him for that, especially since she knew that he must have been freaked out to be home alone after...Esther. That was why Angie was such a great help. She got off of work earlier than Kate did, so she would go to the apartment and stay with the kids, cook some dinner. She and Kate were still great friends to this day. Kate could probably leave Daniel and Leslie home alone for a weekend with Angie checking up on them, but it wasn't like she would. Max still got scared when she was home without Kate and even though Daniel would never admit it, she knew that he might be afraid to stay home alone for that long as well.
Daniel got off of his bed and walked over to his desk, picking up his phone. Kate had wanted Daniel to have a cell phone so that she could communicate with him whenever she wasn't around, but he didn't need an iPhone 4. Nor did Max, her ten year old daughter. Kate didn't really know what to say about Leslie having the smartphone because Mark was her father, but Kate needed to remember that the adoption papers would be finished soon and then Leslie would be her legal daughter as well as Mark's. "Do you know what you want for dinner?" Kate asked again.
Danny shrugged. "Why don't you ask Leslie? We were gonna hang out in a few minutes, but I'm sure that she wouldn't mind if you inspected her room." He said with a smirk. Kate's eyebrows rose. "What?" She sounded confused. "Oh, come on, Mom! I'm not stupid; I know that you're looking for possible places that I could be hiding boos or drugs or smokes or something." He folded his arms and gave Kate a knowing look. Kate shook her head and walked closer to her son. "You know that isn't the case." She smiled, brushing some hair out of Danny's face, kissing his forehead.
Daniel leaned in to give Kate a hug, but winced when Kate leaned on him a little too much. Kate looked down and saw that she had been pushing down on Daniel's left arm; the one that had gotten the most action during his fall all those five years ago. Kate couldn't see the scars from under Daniel's shirt, but she knew that they were still there. The only scar that Kate could see was the giant bruise-like- scar that was on her son's neck. She tried to ignore it, but still felt a few tears running down her cheeks. Daniel pulled back.
"Aw, Mom, don't cry." He moaned. When the tears continued to roll down Kate's cheeks, Daniel thought for a moment. "You know what Leslie says? She says not to cry because something is finished, smile because it happened." He tried to smile, but Kate just glared at him. "I'm supposed to smile because that... that woman happened to our family?" She screeched. Daniel shook his head frantically. "No, no, not what I meant." Kate could tell talking about Esther was heart wretching for him as well, because his eyes got a little red around the edges as if he were trying not to cry.
"Um, sometimes when I'm…upset, she says…she says, 'don't cry, cause you're drowning me'. That was in a song, Mom. Did you know that? She always has a pen or a marker or something with her everywhere she goes so that she can write down things like that, the things that she'll hear. Isn't that cool?" Daniel patted his mother on her back as she sniffled and tried to pull herself together. "See, I'm trying to find things out about her, and she's trying to learn about me. We're all trying Mom. I…know you like him a lot." He said so softly that it was almost a whisper. "Love him, even." Danny choked on tears. "Thanks, Danny." Kate was glad to see that her son was trying to make an effort to bring the family together, even though it was a bit easier for him to bond with his step-sister than his step-father. Kate kissed Daniel on his forehead one last time before getting up, closing the door behind herself and leaving his room.
Daniel looked down at the quote his step-sister had told him earlier that day. She was obsessed with words in different patterns, was what she said. Everyday since Daniel had met Leslie she had recited on of her favorite quotes to him. Today's quote had been stuck on Daniel's mind for a while, as he had written it on his arm with a black marker so that he wouldn't forget.
"Don't cry; we all make mistakes from time to time. Unfortunately for me, being me was mine."
Kate wiped her face again with the wet washcloth from the hallway bathroom that the kids shared before entering Leslie's room, the one at the end of the hallway. Kate didn't want Leslie to know that she had been crying even though the girl would probably be able to tell regardless. She noticed little things about people like that. When Leslie had first met Max two years ago she had known that Max was deaf/ hard of hearing almost instantly, just by observing the way that girl acted. Kate couldn't remember exactly at the moment, but she thought she remembere Leslie saying something about becoming a motivational speaker or something along those lines when she went off to college.
On Leslie's door Max had helped her to paint her favorite quote:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful BEYONG MEASURE. It is our LIGHT not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be BRILLIANT, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Kate smiled when she remembered the day that Leslie had first met Daniel, a couple of days after Leslie had met Max. Daniel wasn't so excited about meeting the daughter of his mother's boyfriend, but when the pair met and Leslie shared that quote with him, the two just clicked. They hadn't spent much time together lately because Mark had taken Leslie on a trip to Austrailia to visit her family shortly before Kate and Mark had gotten married, but the two were making an effort to make time for each other lately. Usually Kate would see them playing instruments together, or playing video games or in the snow. One time Kate had seen the two drinking tea together late at night. Tea? Daniel didn't drink tea! She pushed open the door to Leslie's room and walked inside.
Max had helped with Leslie's room, a lot. There were different quotes everywhere that you looked, on the walls, on h aner phone cover, on the curtains, her laptop, her camera, her keyboard… and they had all been said by someone at some point. Some were from songs, some from stories or poems, others just from people who had opened their mouths and decided to say something. Leslie said that it wasn't the words that she loved, but the orders and groups that the words had been placed into.
Leslie had a keyboard in her room but she also played the grand piano that was in the living room for everyone on Sunday nights. At first Max and Daniel had been wary about what a wonderful piano player Leslie was, and so was Kate, but so far no one had tried to kill each other and that was great. Kate had also heard Daniel and Leslie play songs together a couple of times. There was a veranda outside of Leslie's room so that she could sit outside in the rain, because that was another thing that the girl seemed to be in love with. Leslie loved the art of sign language, the way people could speak with their hands so beautifully...and then there was the fact that people could recite quotes with sign language! Max and Leslie would sit out on the veranda with a tea party set, little dolls and a bunch of books filled with quotes from Leslie's bookshelf, reading to each other with their hands. Max's favorites were the ones with the pictures.
Leslie's room was actually quite cozy. The colors on the wall were soft browns and all of the quotes were written in different colors, giving it that same arsty, colorful feeling that you felt in Max's room. Leslie had the same set up on her desk as Daniel and Max; her Mac, iPad, camera, notebook, and book bag were all there, and well as her cell phone that was charging vigorously. Leslie was the only one who had a TV in her room that was hidden behind a cabinet hanging up on her wall. Kate stood and took everything in for a moment. Leslie was always replacing her quotes with different ones, but not before writing them down somewhere first. Leslie opened the screen door to her veranda, about to walk back into the room, and smiled at Kate. "Need anything?" The soft spoken girl asked. You shouldn't let her soft voice fool you because Leslie had a fiery personality. She was always sticking up for people; speaking her mind.
Leslie's somewhat dark, red hair was in a messy braid that was down to her back. Kate would have made her cut it like she made Max cut hers every year, but Leslie had grown up with her long hair, so she didn't say anything about it. Leslie had multicolored eyes that seemed to stare into you and read your mind. Sometimes it got creepy to everyone. Leslie had on overalls with black stockings and a shirt with.. the cookie monster on it (Kate had to speak to the kids about these shirts.) under her shirt along with a pair of black combat boots and a blue beret. Leslie was slightly wet, Kate guessed from being outside. Fresh snow had just begun to fall. "I was just wondering what everyone wanted for dinner…why are you wet?" Kate asked.
Leslie shrugged. "I saw fresh snow falling outside, and you know that I just had to see it." Leslie and her father had used to live in Austrailia and Leslie was facinated with snow. Mark didn't use his accent much, and neither did Leslie, but sometimes her accent would randomly pop up, or she would randomly decide to use it. "That reminds me of a quote…" Leslie thought for a moment. "Oh!" She began, and Kate had to giggle just a bit. Leslie could be pretty entertaining at times when she was reciting those quotes. "The snow, the beautiful snow, filling the sky and earth below, over the housetops, over the street, over the heads of the people you meet. Dancing, Flirting, Skimming along." She twirled in a cirle, cleared her throat and curtsied. Kate clapped, a smile clear on her face.
Kate enjoyed snow, but it also reminded her of things that she didn't want to remember. Leslie knew about Esther, but she didn't know the full story. She had heard what everyone else head heard on the news and the newspaper. She might have gotten extra bits and pieces from Danny and Max, though. Leslie looked down at her vintage watch. Leslie loved vintage things. Those were other things that filled her room. Old clocks, old chairs, and old desk… some of her clothes were vintage as well.
"Well, my dad should be home in an hour. I could help you make something…" Leslie offered. Kate smiled. "I'd like that." Kate didn't know much about Leslie's mother, but she wanted to try and be the best mother she could be. Leslie returned the smile and walked towards the door with Kate. "Great. So my specialty is Penne Al a Vodka; do we have stuff for that? I am good with pasta, so…"
Please leave me a review. This was sort of like introductions to the characters, I guess. I worked pretty hard on it. Tell me if you like it!