In her eight short years of life in this world, Dalina Marianne Blackmore had never seen so much rain in a singular spring. Sitting on the window seat in her bedroom, her knees pulled to her chest, she stared at the torrential splattering of water against the windowpane. Beyond the window it was coming down like sheets; there were puddles galore on either side of the road and the grass in the front of every home in the entire neighborhood was no doubt a bunch of grassy, soggy mush. As a child, she had the inherent desire to just go outside and play in the rain and stomp around in the grass, getting wet and muddy. The sensible girl that she was, however, won out. For starters, her parents would kill her if she got soaked and dirty before they left for her grandmum's house.
After a few moments more of daydreaming about the rain and overall dreariness of it all, Dalina's train of thought was broken by her bedroom door creaking open, followed by a gentle rapping on the doorframe. Dalina turned her head, looking up at her auburn-haired mother whose warm, chocolate eyes stared into Dalina's rich, green ones.
"Lina, darling. We're going to be leaving for grandmum's soon. Do you have your overnight bag packed?" Olivia Blackmore was Dalina's mother who doted on the young girl so much anyone could automatically assume she was a spoiled chit. Olivia and her husband Reginald had reared her as just the opposite. Granted, all children have their moments, but for the most part, Dalina was mild-mannered and respectful of her elders.
"Yeah," Dalina nodded. She swung her short legs over the edge of the window seat and walked over to her bed where a backpack lay, almost overflowing from whatever was inside.
Olivia gave a small laugh. "Did you pack the kitchen sink in there, love?"
Too young to comprehend the idiom, Dalina responded without missing a beat, "I have my pyjamas, clothes for tomorrow, hairbrush, toothbrush, some Barbie dolls, a book and a pack Jelly Babies for a snack."
"You've clearly thought of everything, haven't you?" Off Dalina's nod, Olivia took a step forward into her daughter's room. It was unnaturally clean for a child her age, but Olivia had to remember that they used the extra bedroom down the hall as Dalina's playroom. Olivia almost never went in there as it was Dalina's sanctuary where she spent most of her time indoors by herself or with friends from school or in the neighborhood. So, she had no idea as to the state of that room's being. For all she knew it was in complete ruin. "What book have you packed?" Her hand touched the top of the backpack as if the book in question would jump out.
"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."
"Have you started it? Is it good so far?"
Dalina shrugged. "I've got through the first two chapters. I don't know if I like it yet."
"Well, keep reading," Olivia smiled. "You're in for a real adventure."
Dalina looked up at her mum. "Have you read it?"
"Once, when I was fourteen or fifteen. It had just been published and a mate of mine kept going on about it."
"Did you like it?"
"Of course," Olivia smirked. "I thought the possibility of a magical world beyond my own was a fantastic idea. Sometimes I would open my own wardrobe hoping to be pulled into one."
Dalina giggled. What a silly notion. Her little smile started to fade from her lips as she grabbed up her backpack and slung it over her shoulder without toppling backward to the floor from its heft. "Mummy?" she muttered, her features growing serious.
Olivia had already started to turn from the room, her hand upon the doorframe. "Yes, Lina?"
"I had that same dream again last night," came Dalina's response. "The one with the lady with the dark hair and green eyes like me. This time she was standing in front of me with that weird stick in her hands and she made flowers come out the end of it. And she kissed my forehead. She was saying things but I couldn't hear her."
Olivia cast her dark eyes to the floor and bit at her bottom lip. "Everyone has recurring dreams, darling."
"But why of the same lady? And sometimes there's a man with dirty blonde hair, smiling at me, and he uses the same type of weird stick and makes a bunch of things juggle in the air all by themselves, like lamps and fruit." Dalina sat down on the end of her bed, looking up at her mum. "They look like me, mummy."
"Mummy...how come I look like the people in my dream but I look so different from you and daddy?"
Olivia raised a finger to quiet Dalina for a moment. She stuck her head out of the bedroom. "Reginald, can you come up to Dalina's room, please. It's important," she called out. Olivia immediately stepped forward and took a seat beside Dalina, taking one of her small hands into her larger one. She didn't say anything, just waited until her husband appeared.
After a few minutes, heavy footsteps resounded on the stairs followed by Reginald Blackmore appearing in Dalina's doorway. He was taking his glasses off the bridge of his nose and had what looked to be several letters or bills in his hands. "This electricity bill is ridiculous. Lina, have you been leaving your playroom light on when you're not in the room again?"
"Reggie," Olivia spoke, bringing his attention to his wife. "We need to have the talk with her."
"The talk." It wasn't said as a question as if he didn't know what Olivia meant, nor was it apprehensive. He simply repeated it to gather his wits about him. "Right, the talk. She's been asking?"
"Her dreams about the man and woman are becoming more frequent. I think it's time."
While her parents spoke, Dalina looked back and forth between them, like watching a tennis match. What were they going to tell her that made them become so nervous and serious?
Reginald walked up to her desk and pulled her chair out to the end of her bed where she and Olivia sat. He sat in the chair which was considerably too small for him and looked directly at his daughter. He reached out, took her free hand which wasn't in Olivia's hand and smiled assuringly.
"Sweetie, no matter what your mum and I tell you, you are our precious, beautiful daughter and we love you no matter what. Have, and always will."
Dalina frowned. She didn't like how that sounded. It was almost ominous. She didn't understand that word yet, but it fit just right.
"Dalina, for years your daddy and I couldn't have children. After ten years of trying, we decided we would adopt. We went to several orphanages and foster homes, but none of the children there seemed like the right fit. We wished there was something we could do for all of them, every child deserves a home and a family, after all," Olivia began, turning her eyes to her husband for him to continue.
"This was five years ago," Reginald remarked. "We had planned on visiting one more orphanage the following day and make a decision either way afterward, when that particular night, before we were about to turn in for bed, there was a knock at our door downstairs. I went to see who it was at such an hour, your mother was behind me on the stairs in her dressing gown. I opened it and on the other side stood and old man with long grayish-white hair and a great, long grayish-white beard, dressed peculiarly in purple robes and a funny hat. He had small spectacles on his nose. He asked if I was Reginald Blackmore and if my wife was home. Your mother came further into view and stepped up beside me. When we confirmed it, he pulled open the cloak he wore over his robes and revealed a small girl no more than three years old asleep in his arms. She had dark hair, was holding a dolly to her chest and she was the most adorable little girl we'd ever seen."
"The old man said he was aware we had been wanting a child of our own for a long time and could help us with that. He didn't say much else," Olivia spoke, looking at Dalina, watching her face register all she was being told. "The little girl was you, darling. The old man handed you over to daddy and said everything would be taken care of. The paperwork would be official, you would be ours legally. Before he left, he gave us strict instructions to take very good care of you and love you like our own which have down ten times over. He also said you would someday become a very special young woman with special talents and when that time comes, he would return to help us understand it all. We were just so happy to have you, we were ready for anything that might come our way as long as we got to keep you."
Reginald offered a soft smile, giving Dalina's hand a tighter squeeze. "All the children we considered to adopt, all the years of trying on our own, the waiting...and you quite literally fell into our arms. It was fate. It was meant to be that you came to us."
"You're..." Dalina began, trailing off for a moment as she gathered her thoughts. "You're not my real parents?"
"We are very much your real parents, darling," Olivia insisted. "I just didn't give birth to you."
"Are the people in my dreams my other parents, the ones that made me?"
"Quite possibly. It might not be dreams, but your memories."
"What happened to them? How come they gave me up?"
Reginald shrugged. "The old man said something terrible had happened to your birth parents and they couldn't take care of you anymore. We were to keep you safe. He said your name was Dalina, but we were free to give you a different middle name and our last name."
"What was my middle and last names before?"
"We don't know what your last name was," Olivia commented, honestly. "Your middle name was originally Ariadne. I'd always wanted to name a daughter Marianne, but since you already had a first name you were no doubt accostumed to hearing, we kept Dalina, but changed your middle name to Marianne."
"So, I'm adopted?" Dalina said it in disbelief. Over the last couple of years she'd noticed she looked considerably different from her parents; Olivia had auburn hair with brown eyes, Reginald had light brown with blue eyes. Dalina, meanwhile, had dark brown hair and green eyes. But while she looked differently, she never expected them to not be her biological parents. Adoption really hadn't crossed her mind.
"Yes, darling. But you're our daughter in every way that really matters, in heart and soul. The moment we laid eyes on you, we knew you were the one for us," Reginald smiled. "Not a day goes by I do not thank God for that old man bringing you into our lives."
"We checked into the adoption papers he said he would take of, and they were indeed legal, binding documents. You were ours and would always be from that day forward."
"Do you know what my other other mum and dad's names were?"
Olivia shook her head. "Sorry, love. No, we don't. It wasn't on the papers nor were we told."
Dalina cast her eyes downward. "Can I be alone for a little bit before we leave for grandmum's?"
Olivia and Reginald looked between each other. "Of course, sweetie," Reginald assured. "We understand this is quite a bit of information to take in all at once. Take the time you need." With another glance at his wife, he added, "Mum and I will be downstairs, alright?"
Dalina simply nodded, biting down on her bottom lip as she felt the mattress shift and spring upward more as her mother stood up. She watched her father return her desk chair to its proper place out the corner of her eye, and then their receeding forms leave the room entirely. Slowly, eight-year-old Dalina got up off her bed, leaving her backpack there, and sauntered back over to the window seat. She didn't sit down, however. She simply stared at the window, her focuse on a thousands of droplets clinging to the glass.
The more she stared at the droplets the more calm she felt, and suddenly they began to move. But not downward with gravity. They began to swirl around on the glass as if dancing. She narrowed her eyes and for whatever reason, her thoughts went back to the dream she'd had of the woman who was possibly her birth mother, when she made flowers appear out from the end of her weird stick.
And the droplets moved around to form the shape of a flower on the glasses, complete with stem and leaves. It swayed from side to side and the moment Dalina comprehended this, her eyes widened and she let out a gasp, causing the droplets to slide down the window, washed away by the oncoming rain still pelting the glass.