Bloganuary Daily Prompt for January 26, 2023: What language do you wish you could speak?
From Nicki Flores’ Journal
We settled into our island life surprisingly quickly and easily. Dad loves his work and his beach-combing days. I’ve already had my first book of short stories accepted for publication, and I have a contract for a second one.
Without the pressures of college sports and academics, I had a lot of peaceful time.
It was while I was jogging on the big island that I realized the time was right to adopt a kid.
I stopped in the middle of my jog and watched the wild chickens while I thought it through.
I’d always told myself that I’d adopt once I finished college. Heck, Dad even adopted me while he was still in college! Yeah, the time was right, I decided. It’s just a big step, but I really felt ready. We have so much to share.
Dad said he adopted me when he was young because Grandma was still around, and he wanted me to get a chance to know her. I’m so thankful for that.
It’s how I feel, too, when I look at Dad. He told me there’s no rush–he’s healthy, and he plans to be around for many more years. But you never know, that’s the thing. Sometimes, when I look at him, I can see a tiredness around his eyes.
At any rate, with things going so well for us, I couldn’t imagine a better time.
I filled out the application, including in the biographical statement my own history of being the third generation of adopted kids in our family.
One of Dad’s colleagues dropped by when I was writing it, and he’d read some of my short stories that had been published in the local literary journal, and he got so excited to meet me. It was hard to concentrate on the application, but I just told him that we could talk about writing after I finished this draft.
The application was fine–we got approved. Dad knew we would, but I’d felt nervous. We reviewed the profiles and pictures of the kids. I’d always thought that I’d adopt a mini-me, a little girl or boy with bronze skin and red hair. I’d always liked how I felt physically similar to Dad and Grandma, how I looked like I shared their genes. And there were plenty little red-haired, brown skinned kids.
But there was this one photo that kept pulling me back: a little girl with a a curl on the left side of her forehead, and the softest, deepest eyes I’d ever seen.
The placement director and I had a long exchange of emails and a few phone conversations. This little girl had been labeled “Difficult to place,” because her behavior was erratic. She was the only survivor of a household fire. She’d lost all her family, including a twin sister. The psychologist wasn’t sure if she had memories of the fire–or even of her family. But she had PTSD, and she behaved in unpredictable ways.
Her history made me want to give her a home all the more.
So, last week, it happened. I brought Magdalena home.
“Is this where I live now?” she asked when we got to our island.
“Yes,” I replied. “You’re home.”
She gave me the biggest hug, and just then, I felt this overwhelming sense of protection–I will do anything and everything to protect this little girl and give her a home and a family.
She just stood there, looking out at the ocean, with this little grin on her face.
When we got inside, though, she sort of freaked out. She started making wild gestures and speaking a language I didn’t understand, interrupted with growls and screeches.
I didn’t disturb her. She wasn’t hurting herself. She was just expressing something, in a language that meant something to her.
After a few minutes, she finished and stood there quietly.
She seemed all right. I suspected that the outburst was her way of regulating herself. And she did have a lot of change to process!
She didn’t want to eat or drink anything–we’d stopped for a meal on the way home.
I gave her a journal.
“You can write in this,” I said, “if you want.”
“Can I write anything?” she asked.
“Can I write in Spinkoto?”
And she sat down and began to write. It wasn’t in a language I could read.
I gave her some time to herself, sitting nearby, in case she needed me, but directing my attention to the view of the waterfall, across the bay.
“I’m done!” she said after about fifteen minutes.
“Did you enjoy writing?” I asked.
“Yeah, it was fine.”
“It’s my language.”
“I haven’t heard of it.”
“That’s because we made it up, me and my sister. It’s all we ever spoke with each other.”
“I wish I could learn it,” I said.
“No,” she replied. “I don’t think that’s possible.”