The First Age

Full Version: My So Called Life
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Sterling dragged Risha to Moscow University library on a Saturday.  "Ster, baby, why we here?  So boring."

Sterling smiled at her best friend.  "You can go home.  But I'm staying."

Risha sighed and wrapped her friend's hands in her own and danced in circles before starting back down the path.  "Can we at least get ice-cream on the way home?"

Sterling laughed.  "Of course."  Sterling held up her wallet where her mother had given her money for just that.  "Mama gave me money."

Risha hugged her friend. "I love her better than my own."  Risha laughed.  "It's a good thing your mama and pa got you instead of some slugs like mine.  Always drinking and stealing."  Risha came from a bad neighborhood, but her brain gave her a full scholarship to Sterling's school.  Mama and Pa paid for it on their dime.  They were big wigs somewhere, but Sterling never really paid any mind.  She didn't care.

The University was huge.  They were on campus with all the cute boys playing frisbee on the lawns, or lounging in the grass or benches.  Risha and Sterling giggled as they passed a particularly cute pair of boys before bouncing up the steps of the library.  It was almost as massive as the campus was for all the rows and rows of books.

"How are we ever going to find anything in this place?" Risha whined.

"We ask of course." Sterling said matter-of-factly.  She waltzed up to the front desk and after being ignored she cleared her throat several times.  But no one bothered looking her direction.  Sterling shouted. "Excuse me." and then sheepishly looked at the people passing as they glared at her raised voice with a murmurred, "Sorry."
Liv looked out the window of the library, watching the people outside as they walked or sat or ran. A stream, really, individual lines of ants dutifully heading to this class or that, snaking off a thousand pathways. Wending around islands of friends, seated near a tree or on a bench, back packs in front of them.

A girl leaning against her boyfriend's chest under a tree, watching something together on her wallet. A group of people talking animatedly and passionately about something important. Three guys standing around laughing and goofing off while kicking around some kind of ball.

And all around them the bright green of late spring, blooming flowers and trees, flitting of birds and insects, seemed to hover and shimmer.

She looked out the window, wondering why she was here. Her pack was unopened. Less and less could she make herself care about microbiology. It was another unopened book that kept calling her attention. She lightly fingered the corners, felt the uneven paper edges along the side. Her heart pounded.

Absently, she touched her eyebrow, felt the slight ridge of demarcation that split it. Just a tic she did without noticing. It was the book that sang to her. But the seranade brought with it pain. The little deaths, infinite slices, cutting her heart a sliver at a time.

She clenched her jaw, feeling hot wetness behind her eyes. Ilesha's words had stayed with her, though, angering her at her own cowardice.

Father was happy with his shop, husbanding flowers and plants, nurturing them into their most beautiful selves. She saw the way he looked at her, the way he and ma looked at her. Filled with love and concern. Wanting her to find joy again.

And Andrei, little brother that he was...somehow, the brat had disappeared. Mostly. He still left the seat up. And god, but he was such a slob. But he was also funny, always trying to make her laugh.

She had good soil to grow in. Dreams still ahead of her. Connection. The people out there, they had it. Whatever it was she sought, they had it.

She turned to the book, forcing herself to open it. A Survey of Impressionism- 1860 to 1945. Carefully, reverently, she turned the pages, the emotion and color drenched images bring a sense of peace and serenity.

And disquiet. The call. It was so strong. And she was scared.
The woman at the desk glared at her. "What do you want kid?"

Sterling frowned. "I'm looking for a book."

"Go play outside, kid it's a nice day.

Sterling growled. "Look, lady. I need help. It's your job to help me so why don't you do your job." Sterling added, "Please!" for good measure.

The woman looked at Sterling and nodded slowly, then a smile spread over her face and she asked, "What can I help you with?"

Risha giggled. "Look at you being all bossy and stuff."

Sterling just shrugged, she felt tired now, like something had been drained from her. But she hefted her bag higher on her shoulder and smiled back at both of them. "I'm looking for books on heart conditions and genetic defects."

The lady nodded and rounded the desk and lead her in the direction of the right books. She pointed down an aisle and Sterling thanked her. Her parting comment was unlike the smile on her face and whispered under her breath. "Stupid kids." Sterling watched the woman walk away and was glad she did. But now she had no idea what she was doing so she grabbed a few books that looked like they might help. One on generic genetic disorders, and another on the heart. Risha just held the books for her while Sterling looked through the shelves. Her best friend just danced around behind her being a book holder.

Four books later Sterling took two from Risha and moved to a nearby table, but someone was already there. "Mind if we sit here?" Risha was more abrupt and dropped the books on the table and looked over the woman's shoulder. "That's pretty."
Carefully, reverently, the way she'd seen others- the tired and weary- do with their holy books, she touched each page, fingertips light. The image was appropriate. The lost and battered sheep desperately trying to find her way back home to the flock. A child, wandering the store, seeking her mother. Something pulsed and flickered inside or her. Warmth. The flutter of butterfly's wings.

Nothing changed. And yet a sense of peace was there. Not like the time not long ago. Her underneath the stone stairway of the monastery, the pebbles and sticks and the cool of the moist fall ground leeching into her palms and forearms, knees and forehead, trapped forever in a cage of her own making with only one final way out, and the Angel first appears, filling her with his love, giving her the courage to finally be free.

It wasn't that. It was quieter. Simpler. But in a way, just as peaceful. She got lost in the works of Degas and Manet, Monet and Cezanne, the light airily and jauntily dancing over the painting, relaxing her eyes and questing mind to let it lead her to experience their vision of a single moment in time. Always, they had been her favorite, far more than the Post-Impressionists. They seemed...purer. More innocent, maybe. It was the brightness of it all she was drawn to, the hovering haze of light and warmth bathing the subject and the viewer.

The time drifted by and she lost herself until a thump next to her drew her out of her meditation. She looked over, annoyed the girl- a kid- and the offending book. Books, rather. She rolled her eyes, resentful of the intrusion into her privacy.

And of course she wasn't going to stop with the interruption. seemed more innocent youthful indifference than maliciousness. Her comment only served to highlight that. Kids!, she thought with some exasperation. And then she laughed to herself. Liv the ancient one. She smiled in a friendly way. "Yeah. It is." Her eyes glanced over the pile of books from the girl- girls, rather- and raised an eyebrow. "Heavy reading. School project?"
Risha laughed. "I'm not reading that. Sterling's got it stuck in her head that she's some miracle baby and won't let it drop."

Sterling rolled her eyes. "Not for school. Like Risha said," Sterling sighed, "I'm trying to understand a little bit more about what happened to my birth parents, and me."

She sat down after Risha pulled the chair out next to the person they were disturbing and was looking at the pictures of Impressionistic art. Risha hadn't really intended to help anyway, so it would keep her busy. Sterling flipped open the first book and was looking up the specific name of the disorder cited on her medical records. The adoption had been sealed, but her parents had full knowledge of it all. But some how something happened and there were no records in the hospital. Not of her parents death or of anything else. It was all very mysterious, and Sterling loved mysteries.

There was something oddly familiar about the woman sitting across from her, enough so that Sterling's eyes kept lifting up to see what the woman was doing. It was strange but in a comforting way. But she needed to focus.

Risha's loud voice interrupted her thoughts. "So are you an art major?"

There was a chorus of shhhs through out the library, even from Sterling herself. Thankfully Risha was bright enough to be admonished by such things, and she repeated herself quieter this time. "So are you an art major?"
Liv shrugged, wondering what it was like to find out you were adopted. Would it make you love your parents any less? She didn't think so. Mom and Dad were her foundation. She had a lifetime of good memories.

Sitting on mom's lap learning to play the piano, mug of hot tea and a plate of warm tea cakes on the cloth. Her little slender fingers resting delicately on mom's as she plunked out different keys, let her hear the differences between sharps and flats, tones and melody.

She and Dad in the nursery, smell of soil and loam and water and new life in the muggy air, hands dirty, grit underneath her nails, him explaining to her the name of the delicate little plant she held in her hands as she carefully nestled it into the small hole he had made. And they had talked. About everything.

Safe and wonderful places she liked to go back to.

But truth be told, she wasn't sure how she'd feel. She'd be curious, that's for sure. Curious and would start with the little things. Or rather, the things with easy answers. Who were they? What did they look like? Do I look like them?

Her eyes dropped to the stack of books. Harder questions, then. Medical stuff.

She met the girl's eyes, a sense of compassion filling her. The hardest questions would be the ones she'd probably never get an answer to. Why did you give me away? Why didn't you want me? Finally, the deepest whispered one. What was wrong with me?

She smiled, feeling friendly to this girl. "If you need any help with the medical stuff, let me know. I might be able to help."

She looked at the other girl- Risha- and answered. It was an explanation for her too. "No. Microbiology. But...I love art. So here I am."
Risha waved away the need for help. "She doesn't need any help. It's a wild goose chase."

Sterling sighed. "Risha stop. I know you don't care what happened to my parents, or why they are dead, but why after I was all better did they both die?"

Risha shrugged. "What does it matter Ster? Your Ma and Pa love you."

"I know. I'm not looking for love - just answers. This might not help me know them, but I might understand why they died? I don't even know if I have any biological family left, there's nothing on them. My biological father just appeared one day in moscow - nothing before that. She was an only child." Sterling shrugged and pushed the books away. "It's all very pointless as you keep point out Risha."
Liv felt mildly irritated. Risha sure seemed to be a know it all. Or controlling. Always had to have the last word. Minimizing Sterling's feelings, as if they were invalid. That bothered her alot.

Idly, she wondered why they were even friends. Risha's words about Sterling's adoptive parents loving her seemed to come from somewhere more than a place of simple fact.

She almost sensed resentment. As if Sterling had no right to want to know more. Or maybe that she didn't have the right to be part of two families.

Her voice was soft but it cut through the faux banter that was going on. Addressing Sterling, she said, "My offer still stands. If you need help." She turned her attention to Risha. "So what's your family like?" Maybe of she was distracted, Sterling could get some answers.
Sterling rolled her eyes. "Don't ask her that."

Risha just laughed. "My family is from the other side of the tracks, the dumps, the barrio. I only know Ster cause this is nothing." She pushed the books across table back at Sterling. "She's sweet, so innocent. Her Ma and Pa love her. Mine are peices of crap drunks and druggies and who else knows what."

Sterling interrupted. "Risha is smart. She takes a little getting used to." But Sterling pushed the books back towards Risah. "This won't help any." Sterling sighed, "I was born with a heart condition that miraculously was better one day. And then my parents were found dead with my brother. I figured if I knew more about what was wrong with me, I might know why my parents died." Sterling shrugged, "This is just a foolish thing. Maybe I'll find family maybe I won't."
Liv couldn't help the puzzled look that came across her face. Risha was...well she was a drama queen. Maybe a friend, but primadonna nonetheless. Liv didn't get people who resented or were jealous of other people's happiness.

What was the term? A zero-sum game? Well happiness wasn't that. If others had it, it didn't mean there wasn't enough for you too. But believing it so...well it made people do things. Terrible things.

And Liv realized she really couldn't care less as to why a person felt that way. Not one damn bit. Life was hard enough without having to justify your state of mind or happiness or very existence to others. She was surprised at her vehemence. She just wished people would mind their own god damned business instead of making it about them.

She dismissed Risha and focused on Sterling. He voice was firm, sisterly but kind. "Can you explain? I'm having trouble following." Her smile was open and friendly.
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