I am not Esther’s Daughter
Winner of the Napier LIbraries Fan Fiction Competition
This story is based on the series of books I am not Esther and I am not Rebecca, by Fleur Beale. My story is set twenty years after Kirby escapes Uncle Caleb. The copyrighted characters I am using are: Brother Ira from I am Rebeca and Esther/Kirby from I am not Esther
“I hate you,” I call down the hallway towards mum! I slam the door and lie facedown crying into my pillow. My normal sky blues are turning blood red, flooding my long black eyelashes. I sit up and flick my long wavy thick hair out of my face and read the letter again. It was from my Aunty Rebecca who I have never met before. I’ve never meet any of my family with the exception of my mum Kirby. Until five minutes ago I thought it had only been her and I. If I hadn’t had been wearing mum’s jacket, I would never have found the scrunched up envelope in her pocket from an Aunty desperately wanting to meet me. Mum refused to listen to my pleas to go and see her and my cousins. She only replied with “it’s complicated” and “it’s best this way.” I get out of my pjs and into baby blue tank top and favourite ripped jean shorts. My dangly earrings catch on the curtain as I wriggled my skinny small body out of the cracked window. I land on the lawn with a thud, then I whistle to Poppy, my clumsy but faithful golden retriever to follow me. I stare back into my bedroom, a newly formed tear drips down my check. I flip the envelope over to re-read the address where Aunty Rebeca lives. I turn my back on home and walk out into the night. In the distance I hear thunder and shortly after I feel rain drops from above. I find shelter under a tree by the roadside and stick out my thumb. Mum used to tell me stories of how she hitchhiked all over New Zealand when she was young. How hard can it be I thought to myself? Hours passed, I was saturated thanks to Poppy shaking her wet coat over me. Should I go home I asked myself? Just then a truck pulled over. The passenger window rolled down and a lady asked if I was ok? My reply was “yes apart from being cold and wet. I’m trying to get to Wellington to see my Aunty.”
“I’m heading there as well. Aren’t you too young to be out on your own?”
“Everyone thinks I’m younger than what I am. I’m turning 16 in a few weeks,” I reply. The door opened, I command Poppy to jump on the back of the truck and I sit in the passenger’s seat. I can’t wait to meet my family. I wonder what they are like?
“Just leave me alone,” I thought to myself my phone started to vibrate for the hundredth time. I peeked a look at all the missed calls from mum and notice that my battery was on 5%. “I’m sure Aunty Rebeca would have a spare charger I could use to tell mum that I was ok and staying with a friend. As my eyes slowly closed for much needed sleep, I dream of finally seeing my family.
I was awoken by the lady driving the truck saying, ‘’we’re here.’’ The door creaked open and I stood outside. Poppy was excited to get off the back and run around. I thanked the lady and started walking down the drive. The butterflies in my stomach were dancing but in my mind I was feeling very anxious as no one is expecting me to suddenly turn up on their doorstep. As the sun was rising revealing a large wooden church at the entrance of the property. Behind that were grey simple houses scattered throughout. Broken and rusted fences were in the distance keeping in sheep who were calling back their lambs. I finally get to the large metal gate with the sign saying, “Welcome all the Children on Faith.” “I didn’t realise that my Aunty was religious,” I thought to myself… I unlocked the gate and cautiously walked in. I looked at the envelope again but it didn’t have any house number on the address. The doors of the church opened and out walked a man who looked to be around 40 years old. His brown greasy hair sounded the wrinkles on his forehead. He was much taller than me but just as skinny. His clothing was very smart despite it being early in the morning. The collared white shirt looked like it was just ironed and the blue tie hugged his neck. As he walked towards me with his outstretched dry hands I put out mine to shake it. “Good morning, my name is Brother Ira, I am an Elder here at the Children of Faith. What brings you here?” he asked in a low but serious voice.
“Hi, I’m Maddie. I’m looking for my Aunty Rebeca who lives here.” I noticed his eyes widen and mouth open a little. “Could you please tell me what house I can find her at?
His voice dropped and turned back towards the church. “She’s the last that house on that road.” And pointed his bony finger towards an older, more run down section of housing. He quickly then walks back onto the church and slams the door shut. I whistle at Poopy and walk in the direction I was told to.
I hold my breath and knock at the door of the house I think my Aunty lives at. The door is quickly opened releasing a delicious waft of freshly baked cookies outside. There stood a lady who looked to be in her early 30’s with a baby on her hip, a toddler clutching her long blue skirt and was obviously expecting another child soon. Here long blonde hair was in a tight plat and her kind eyes warmed my heart. Despite having no makeup on she was absolutely beautiful. “Hi, I’m Kirby’s daughter Maddie. I’m looking for my Aunty Rebeca.” Her face lights up and reaches in for a hug which was difficult holding a baby and being pregnant.
“What are you doing here? Where is your mum?” she replied with a confused voice. I walked inside and explained the envelope I found.
I spent the rest of the morning talking and playing with my cousins. Rebeca shared some memories of her and my mum when they were kids. I felt excited that I fit in so easily to this family. Soon Rebeca started to question me about where mum was and how I got here. I didn’t want to lie so I told her the story. She sat and listened to the story. I could see she was disappointed in me which made me feel sad. I pulled out my phone to call her… it was totally flat. “Can I please borrow a phone charger?” I asked my Aunty. I was astounded to hear that they had no cell phones at all. “We will ask the Elders if we can use the phone,” Rebeca suggested. So we left the cottage and headed to the office building which was behind the church.
I was joyfully skipping and playing with Rebeca’s children as we walked to the office. Poppy gladly joined in and loved being chased. A pet seemed to be exciting to the children. I wonder if they have ever had a pet dog before? We enter the building and I see Ira behind the desk. He stands looking down at me, then gives Poppy who was waiting at the door a nasty stare. Rebeca explains who I am and that I need to use the telephone. I notice when Rebeca referred to my mum as Kirby, he quickly snapped and called out “Esther!” This confused me as I had never heard that name before? He reluctantly handed over the phone to Rebeca who rang mum. There was no answer so she left a message. As we turn to leave the office Ira yells out, “that dog is not Godly and is not welcome here!”
I drop down and cuddle her, “I’ve had her since I was six”, I cried, “I can’t get rid of her!” Rebeca suggested that she gets taken to the SPCA but only while I am staying in Wellington. Tears ran once again down my face as we walked Poppy to Ira’s car. “See in you in a few days. Love you.”
Poppy stares out the back window, I hear her whining all the way down the drive. I turn to Rebeca and she gives me a big hug. Ira drives away from the village and heads towards the forest. When he is well out of sight he pulls over and drags Poppy out of the car. “Leave this place Hell Hound! He screams at her. She looks up at him with her big puppy eyes. Ira picks up a large stone and throws it at her. Poppy quickly turns and runs into the bush. Ira follows it up with another stone before turning the car around and heading home.
I spend the rest of the afternoon helping Aunty Rebecca and my cousins with their daily chores. My arms were exhausted after I hung up yet another sheet on the oversized wash line. This is nothing like home where mum didn’t even make me tidy my room. Shattered I fell asleep before the sun went down with my final thoughts being of Poppy and mum.
When I woke the next morning, I saw a plain, blue dress laid out at the foot of my bed. Without complaining or making a fussy I slip it on and search without success for a mirror. I capture a glance on the window reflection and feel nothing like the teenage girl I was before. We sit down for breakfast and Aunty continues to tell stories of her, her sister and my mum from the past. Uncle Malachi who hasn’t spoken a word to me since I arrive, stands up and walks to the front door. Like robots, his wife and children follow obediently. I finish my mouthful and walk in line to the church. All the other families are doing the same, I had never been to church before and was feeling curious to see what it was all about.
We were sitting on cold, wooden chairs but I soon started to heat up as were packed in shoulder to shoulder. The service started with a hymn which I tried my best to mime so nobody would notice me. As we all sat down, brother Ira stood up and glared straight at me. “Worldly education invites evil and corruption into the hearts and minds of the children. They will leave school as soon as the law of the land permits,” he echoes throughout the hall. “We have a sinner in this room. The daughter of the dead Esther. To be saved she must repent and call Esther mum no more!” Every eye in the church turns to look at me. Uncle Malachi grabs my arm and stands up with me. My legs wobble as we walk to the front, stopping at the steps where Ira is waiting.
“Who are you girl?” Ira screams.
Like a mouse I reply, “Maddie.”
“And who is your family?” Ira demands.
“Kirby,” I reply with hesitation.
“Kirby is dead to us, as to is Esther. If you know what’s good for you, they will be dead to you as well!”
My heart was pounding so fast I was afraid it would shatter like ice. I wish I was home with mum. She would never treat me like this. I turn to Aunty Rebecca, her head was low but I could see tears running like a waterfall down her face.
“Answer me you ungodly girl!” Ira screams.
I stood up straight, put my shoulders back and as loud as I could scream, “I am Maddie and Kirby is my mum!” A sudden pain was across my face, I fall to my knees and looked up at the man who has just slapped me. Ira’s eyes were squinting with evil. I pick myself up and run out of the church and away from this horrible place.
My legs were burning and my feet were blistering on the harsh country road but I never looked back. I had to get away from this terrible place. From behind I hear a loud car horn closing in fast. As I look over my shoulder I see Ira behind the wheel, dead set to getting me. Using all my energy I run even faster but there was no way I could outrun him. I stop and stood tall facing him. Ira stopped the engine, steps out of the vehicle and walks calmly towards me. “Stupid girl,” he screams as he pushes me into the ditch. He raises his hand above his head, I cover my face and close my eyes. Suddenly I hear a loud bark and look up. Poppy was swinging on Ira’s arm. Ira was screaming in pain and pleading for the dog to let go. I then feel a loving arm around my shoulder and a gentle voice telling Ira to “never hurt my little girl again.” I look up and see the face I have known all my life… “MUM!” I cried out. She helps me up and we start to walk along the road. Mum whistles at Poppy who releases Ira before running to me and licking my hand.
I look up at mum and say, “you’re the best family a girl could ask for.”