the karma laundry presents

“You’re Adopted”

In Shorts, Uncategorized on 23 January 2016 at 1:17 pm

Or, The Man Who Found Out A Sad Thing About Himself

Nobody wants to find out they are adopted over early morning coffee in Starbucks. The coffee isn’t good enough. It is not coffee for bad news, for unexpected and wholly too-late tidings. Environmental credentials notwithstanding, it is no place to be sundered of root and branch. You wouldn’t want your past pickpocketed away while you were failing to enjoy a breakfast mocha with cheap spray-cream topping.

But I’m twenty-three, says Sebastian, burying his head in his hands: presumably to hide his rapidly surfacing cry-face.

It’s an awkward moment for his former mother and sister, facing him. They sip their lattes in time and the older woman begins to realise the mistake of her situational planning. Treating him to an extra-creamy topping perhaps comes over a little crass, in hindsight. He could probably do with a double espresso right now – he always was demonstrative and emotional. He blubs quietly into his hands, shoulders hunched and slowly trembling. Two rows back, a teacher fuelling up before school hones in on the gravity of the moment, photographs the perfect depiction of early morning coffee shop tragedy on her mobile phone, and posts it to social networks with an undeniably amusing and prophetically accurate caption: “You’re adopted”.

By the end of the day she’ll have had seventeen likes, five comments and one new follower.

Sebastian thinks about his sister. Is she – , he asks, emerging from his hands with teary curiosity. Before he can finish the question, they emphatically chime in time.


He returns to his hands, wondering who he is. Exotic and beautiful Italian women look down on him from trendy canvas prints on the wall: they enjoy Roman terrace caffe culture and the company of tall dark moped-driving suitors; smiling little street urchins in well-knit wide-necked jumpers; fresh fruit vendors with wooden punnets of peppers, tomatoes and grapes; the unfolding tragedy of The Man Who Found Out A Sad Thing About Himself.

For Sebastian the world is spinning like the vortex in a draining bath and he thinks himself a speck of grit being washed away from these women. He wants to ask ‘who am I?’ but he is wrestling with the enormity of this concept behind his wet and shaking hands. When he peers up over his fingers it comes out in a mangled form.

I’m not Sebastian any more, he cries miserably. It is rather pathetic, the women will later agree. The teacher two rows back has put her phone away and stares open-mouthed in shameless curiosity as the older woman completes the unintended demolition of Sebastian.

No, she says. Your name is Lamellion. But your father, well, that is to say, my husband, thought Lamellion rather effeminate.

His silent weep becomes heavier behind his hands. His shoulders tremble more deeply. His former sister attempts to comfort him but she is stiff with awkwardness as she reaches over and pats him on the knee.

Sorry, she says. Sorry, S-ebastian.

She vocalises an infinitely small stumble across his name. Infinitely small and yet… they all heard it. Even the teacher.

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