Mother never mentioned when or how I was born. Darling Lucy had a spectacular birth that reduced both Mother and Father to tears as she was swept up by the nurse’s hands and wrapped gently in a cosy towel. Father showered her with kisses in Mother’s trembling arms, while even the onlooking nurses shed a tear or two. Two years later presumably, I was born, and that I have no recollection of, of course, and neither Father nor Mother wished to talk about it, which made me suspect that it was a painful and undesirable process. I have once asked Mother how I was born into this wild and unforgiving world, but the answer was curt and cold. It happened when I was about five years old – the day I was deciding what to talk about for my Show and Tell, and I wanted to show the class some of my baby photos. I was in the kitchen while Mother snapped at me for stealing her prized sweets from the candy jar. A bad time to ask the question:
“Mum, how was I born?”
“Natasha Reits! Put that back into the jar at once! You of all deliquent children are not allowed to slip their stinking finger into my jar!”
“But Mum…I haven’t touched anything. Can you please tell me how I was born?”
“I will not accept lies from you Natasha! You will not fool me into thinking you didn’t take one…come on show me your filthy hands!”
She grabbed my hands and shook them violently. They were empty, and shaking with fright, as she barked further commands to turn out my pockets and even strip down to my underwear right there in the kitchen. It was preposterous the way she treated me then. And I don’t think much has changed since.
Ten minutes later, I was back in my school uniform and crying on my bed at the so-called criminal behaviour I was convicted for. I mouthed a swear word at Mother silently, and was glad I did. It was the first time I’d dropped one of the sacrilegious word bombs. From that moment on, I hated her. I was quite sure she had heard me ask the question, and kept fussing dramatically over that undiscovered stolen candy in order to avoid answering. From that moment on, I was quite sure there must have been some chaos at the hospital that caused a calamitous exchange between two families and their newborns. And since that day, every birthday wish was for myself to be reunited with my real family, and for the real Natasha Reits to be back with hers. I don’t believe in birthday wishes coming true, though Dalia always has, in her highly superstitious mind. But the fact that I virtually share nothing in common with my “family” suggests my suspicion about the exchange is most likely true.
After the voice spoke to me in the bathroom, the images of myself arguing with Mother, then crying hot tears on my bed, were beginning to rouse such thoughts again. I have many theories about where I came from, and it always made me feel better on those terrible days where Mother and Father were particularly alerted to the criminal behaviour of Natasha Reits.
“Do you want to know the truth?” a casual voice asked.
I looked around me. No one.
“I am not someone you can see. Do stop doing that every time you hear my voice.”
I froze on the steps out on to the garden. I wasn’t even aware I was walking outside, and I couldn’t remember where I had come from. But I knew the voice, and I knew it was the same voice I had been hearing all morning.
“I asked – do you want to know the truth?”
“Yes – the truth. For someone so intelligent like yourself, surely you’d know what I mean by the truth.”
“Uhh yeah the truth…”
I had no idea what he meant. But when the images of that changeling theory appeared again, I understood. Yes, the truth. Of course, I wanted to the know the truth.
“Yeah, the truth…of course I wanted to know the truth.”
“Are you sure?”
There was stillness in his voice, as though warning me about the harrowing tunes of the tale to unfold. I was not going to waste this opportunity to learn about what I needed to know for myself. I’ve waited a very long time.
“You have waited a very very very long time for this,” he murmured, as though reading my thoughts.
“I am going to say what I’m going to say.” My head bobbed awkwardly, as though tied to an invisible rope that was tugged and loosened along with each word he spoke.
“Yes I am doing this so you can focus on my words, and you won’t hear me as a radio buzz.”
Holy cow, what did he just say?
“I can hear your thoughts.”
I thought so. My feet wanted to run, but my head was so fixated on the voice.
“I am going to tell you everything. You are not who you are. You are the daughter of Reth, the God of a distant planet. I have come here to bring this news to you, and to bring you back to your true parents. They lost you in a cloud of burning and decaying stars. You said you would be out wandering amongst the stars, and we said yes, but come back in time for your birthday feast. Your father has prepared a very very special gift for you, and it is a huge surprise. But you didn’t know your feet would create a disturbance amongst the stars that night. Your footsteps sent a quivering quake to the core of Thera and Gora, the two stars that died that night. And you, you were severely hit and blown away by the force of their explosion. This is what we thought had happened. And we all wept bitterly that night because you never came back. We all thought you died with the stars that night.”
He paused for my response. The images I saw were vividly bringing back lost memories, and thrusting me into a new identity I’ve never dreamt of before. The garden outside was welled up into mournful tears. I am the daughter of a God. As if, my own voice reasoned. But I found myself believing every single word he said. But how on earth did I come to Earth after that explosion? And why didn’t I die?
“I have thought about that question. I do not know. But my theory is that you were sucked up my a gigantic light force at the core of the explosion, and this sent you lightyears away to Earth, and there you fell into a womb of an unsuspecting woman, who at that time, was in bed, sleeping beside her husband. That woman is your current mother. And the husband, your father. Your mother was expecting the child much later, but you developed enormously quickly, and in three month’s time, you were born at the hospital. Your mother and father have no memory of the experience, because it was so supernatural. Since you are a God child, you do develop much faster than the humans here on Earth. And since you are a God child, you will never die, because all God children are eternal, and can live forever. They can never be destroyed. As for the question that is in your heart, but not said, I will now answer. The planet you come from is called Thesari. It is much older than Earth, and actually the mother of Earth. The elements found on Thesari were transported on multiple asteroids that combined to form the Earth you know and see today.”
I was dumbfounded. I still couldn’t get over the idea that I was a God child. Like what on earth is a God child? I didn’t believe in God, or Gods even. This was a preposterous idea, I wanted to scream. And I wanted to argue, and tell him what a bullock of lies and absurdist talk he’d just given me. Who does he think I am? I am the most intelligent girl at school, and I triumph over my family in virtually every Trivial Pursuit question (I say virtually, because occasionally Lucy guesses handsomely and gets it right). I am so much better than them. I am…
“The child of Reth. And this is why you are so intelligent. God children are like that. We are a far superior race to human beings.”
It makes sense. Yeah, it totally made sense. I felt my pride surge within me. Fancy that, who knew that Nash could be the daughter of Reth. I wanted to parade this in front of Dalia. Mother and Father would finally respect me for once. Lucy’s moaning whinge, as she realises how much more important I am compared to her. I was so relieved to have finally heard the truth.
“And you have no doubts this is true, because your father placed it in your heart to believe all this when you hear the true story. We knew you were somewhere out there and we sent light rays to you, through the Sun to carry these messages to you. Particularly this changeling theory you have. It tells me that you have been deep in thought about your origin and you are quite sure you are not born from the current horrible and vile and disgusting people you call Mother and Father. Your real mother and father are so much better than this. They are the king and queen of their world, planet Thesari, and you are the heir to the throne! You will be crowned Queen one day.”
“I will be crowned Queen one day!” I shouted across the lawn. The parrots squawked instantaneously, and left a rain of terrified leaves as they fled the oak tree.
I grinned smugly to myself. Why should I even reply to these human beings? I turned around anyway.
It was Mother. There was something in the look of her eyes that demanded an reason for my atrocious outburst – my claim to royalty even though I was still her Royalship’s subject. I begin to cower in submission again, drained of the pride and joy I felt at my rediscovered identity.
Mother was carrying a basket of laundry in her arms. Her furious gaze wavered between the smug smile I had forgotten to erase, and my stance of defiance before her.
“Hang these up,” she said, dumping the basket at my feet.
Her words sank reality into me, and I felt once more, the straitjacket of my life enclose around me. I was not a God child. I couldn’t be. No way.