There is only so much that one can take before she breaks. And this was what I felt at twenty three.
My name is Rachael Shepherd and I grew up to a set of loving parent; Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd. The best there could be. Not only did the love each other infinitely, that love rained on me too.
They had waited for so long, eleven years to be precise, to bear a child. But it seemed as years rolled in and out, their dream of being a complete family was decomposing. So, they decided to adopt a child.
They had gone two weeks into the process when my mum fell ill. While being tested for proper diagnosis, abnormal (or maybe normal, in some cases), changes in her body were found and upon more tests, she was found to be the host of a fetus.
My parent’s joy stretched, careless of any breaking point. They prepared for me like it was the messiah coming and they were avoiding a repetition of his first coming. You know, the discomfort and all.
They sliced a good portion of their massive bedroom and turned it into a baby haven. This was no stress as not only did they come from respective wealthy families, they were both twenty first century entrepreneurs.
My father was the host of a nation-wide and international recognized podcast where he taught, analyzed and invited experts on world politics. My mother was a respected writer, blogger, public speaker and thought leader. She harnessed social and mass media in the growth of her business. Because of her job requirement, she was a, “distinguished,” traveller, having been to eighteen countries in four continents. Once I was discovered to be growing in her womb, she took a one year break, leaving her organization to its board. She strolled into her workplace whenever she felt like it.
My parents were making sure that I had the best life from the day I took my first breath and my father could not stop gushing over me on his shows. In fact, after three months, it wasn’t just my parents looking forward to my birth, but arguably the whole world.
And then I arrived. And in grand style. The hospital I was delivered in shook from it’s roots. My father had arranged a red carpet- excessive, right? Well, my dad for you- from the delivery ward to my mothers temporal ward where she would be staying till she was ready to go home. He also arranged a band to play Donnie McKlurkin’s “Great is your mercy,” on repeat from the moment my first cry echoed down the hall. Then champaign was handed to every single staff in the hospital.
How did I know all this? He got the whole thing recorded!
The story of my birth and all its activities was aired on local and national TV and sprinkled on the pages of several dailies.
To crown it all, I came out a beauty. I inherited my father’s blue eyes and my mother’s flawless skin. My parents couldn’t have been more happier at that moment.
I was made to go through the best schools and my friends were literally interviewed by the duo. It was like they were seeking a job.
“In five years time, what would your friendship have produced?” My father would ask, seconded by my mother’s favorite question,
“Would you be willing to take a bullet for our child?
It was little wonder that I had just one friend, Diana. She stuck because she was Diana, the only Diana there was. The only individual who turned the table and became the interviewer!
“Mrs. Shepherd, are you saying your daughter attracts bullets? My! Thumbs up, Diana, you always find the weird ones.” Diana responded one day at dinner.
My parents went red with furry. My father was about to go for the kill when I looked him in the eyes, daring him to take away my last chance at friendship.
I and Diana stuck better than glue though we were polar opposites. I was the silent one, making use of my weapon whenever necessary: my eyes. Diana? Well, her secret (actually, obvious) weapon was her mouth. And she was good with it. Diana could undress you and show your nakedness to the whole world with her mouth. And there would be nothing you can do than thank her and leave in shame.
She literally pulled me through highschool.
The drama in my life -if you remove all the previous ones – started when I bumped into a professor at college, during my second year, giving his files and everything he was holding wings to fly. As I stared at him, I sensed he was thinking the same thing because he was staring too. It was like I was looking at the male version of my self, only older. After some awkward moment, I dragged my feet before I became a creep.
Geez! I had never seen such resemblance before. Not even with my father. Yes, I and my father had the same color of pupils, but that was about it. This professor too had blue eyes, was blonde too, though that was already titling towards the white version. And these two qualities, I dare say, were the least striking features we shared.
I pushed the thoughts out of my mind, no need to worry over simple coincidence. After all, it is believed that we all have a replica somewhere on the planet. And mine happened to be a man. An old man. Way to go girl!
During my first short break of second year, I visited home, a forty minutes drive from college. Trust my parents not to let me out of their sight. They welcomed me like it was Christmas. And we’d been apart for just three months. Diana would always tell me that I should relish all the love because though her parents loved her to bits, they were tired of her sarcasms and bleeding mouth. Now, they took left when she was heading right.
Did I mention she was also at my college? Yea, my parents had taken like to her defensive attitude towards me, so they had “for friendship sake and family ties,” asked her parents to let us go to the same college. I and Diana knew the truth though: they were employing a bodyguard for me. I didn’t care, neither did Diana, so long as we remained friends.
I was in the kitchen with my mum on a Saturday morning, Dad had gone for a run and we were making breakfast. My mum, as an addition to her several skills, was also a badass cook and she was currently making world-class cheese/eggs/veggies/fruits sandwich. And these happened to be the only constituents of the sandwich because she had run out of space between the two sweet slices of bread. If she had her way, she’ll have all eight classes of food go in there!
As the kettle whistled, indicating that the water was hot enough for tea, and I got to making the tea, something popped up in my mind.
“Mum, you won’t believe it but I came across someone who was like my reflection.” My mum paused, and stayed frozen. I didn’t notice, so I kept talking.
“Though he’s kind of aged being a professor and all, but it was like I was looking in the mirror. His face was…..” That was when I noticed my mum’s face had gone pale and she was looking at me, more like looking into nothing, apparently lost in her thoughts.
I waved my palm across her face. “Are you listening?”
“Mum!” And she snapped out of her trance.
“Are you alright?”
She didn’t answer but a drop of tear escaped her right eye and that was when I knew something was amiss.