Chapter 3

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“Okay, so Charlotte if you could just open your mouth like your…ah…they did?” the nurse faltered as she began the DNA test. My mum’s face completely dropped as she didn’t refer to them as my parents, but really she was sort of on the mark with it.

I opened my mouth as instructed as she loomed over me, inserting a cotton bud into my mouth and harshly rubbing it against my cheeks.

After a few minutes, I felt my cheeks start to peel and burn. “Okay,” she muttered to herself, “I think we have enough cheek cells to be getting on with.”

She smiled at me one last time before placing the cotton bud carefully in a test tube and sealing the top of it down with sellotape. Humming to herself, she then began writing things down on a piece of paper with her back turned towards us.

“Now,” she said in deep thought, turning around with her eyes still fixed on the paper before her, “you requested that you both be tested?” she asked my parents.

Whilst my mum merely rolled her eyes and looked down at the floor, my dad nodded.

I knew what he was getting at – he still didn’t believe that I was his. In all honesty, I was hoping to belong to neither of them.

I stood up off the chair and straightened myself out, tidying up my clothes as we lingered in the room until further instruction.

“I’ll send these to the lab under a priority casing. That way, we should have the results within a few days” she chirped.

My estimate was that she had no idea why we were getting them done, or why she had been instructed to make it a priority.

But I assumed that the results could quite easily answer that.

“You can go now,” she finally added. We all pushed straight for the door, eager to escape the small room, and her judging demeanour.

My mum and dad walked out of the corridor and into the general practice reception, where the lawyer stood.  Beside him, there was another woman. She looked at lot older than he was and perhaps a lot more lenient.

As he saw us emerging through the doors, he looked up and pointed at us. My mum sighed. “Oh, great. Who are they involving now?”

My dad simply shook his head as they walked forward, undoubtedly expressing fake smiles.

I could tell that neither of them wanted to be there, and probably neither could be bothered with everything going on around us.

“Mr and Mrs Sutherland,” the lawyer smiled. “This is the social worker, Jayne.” My parents both smiled at her as I detached myself and stood behind them in an attempt to go unnoticed.

“And this,” he added, parting my mum and dad, “is Charlotte.”

Jayne’s smile immediately depressed itself into an empathetic frown. She looked at me as though I was an emotional wreck, and someone to be talked to as though I was a five year old child.

“Hello,” she smiled weakly, revealing that her accent was no different from ours. I had almost expected it to be American.

“I’m your social worker, and will be your connection to America” she hesitated. “Well, that is if…you know…”

It suddenly became decidedly obvious that she had never dealt with a situation like this before, nor had she ever known how to handle it. She was just as confused as what we all probably were.

“Well, we had best get going,” my mum said, trying to drag my dad towards the door. “Our daughters will be wondering where we are.”

She seemed to be trying to avoid the entire situation, and had probably forgotten that we were brought here by the lawyer, and had no other means of getting home.

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