My R post for the A-Z Challenge is here.
This week’s excerpt for Sweet Saturday Samples is another unused excerpt from Little Ragdoll, Chapter 40, “What Does the Future Hold?” It’s December 1969, and the four Ryan siblings are at the local health department to finally get birth certificates, social security cards, and legal names.
“We’re here to get birth certificates and social security cards,” Girl tells the man behind the desk at the health department. “None of us ever got ‘em.”
Infant smiles up at the man, hoping to charm him and make him more amenable to their cause even after he finds out just why they don’t have those documents.
“Are you sure you don’t have those documents? What have your parents said about it? They might know where they are even if you don’t.”
“Please don’t patronize us,” Girl says, smiling at him sarcastically. “Why the hell would we waste a trip down here and waiting three hours in line if we weren’t a million percent sure we never had birth certificates or social security cards? We might be young, but we’re not stupid. In fact, we’re probably more adult for our ages than the middle-class and rich kids who’ve been shielded from unpleasant truths their whole lives and not been made to grow up and fend for themselves from an early age.”
He looks at her dismissively. “Okay then. Do you know which hospital or hospitals you were born in, so we can request copies of the records from them?”
“We weren’t born in hospitals.”
He stares at them for a good long while before finding his tongue again. “What were your parents, hippies who didn’t trust the system?”
“We were born in 1952, 1954, 1957, and 1959. Our parents were rather ahead of the hippie movement. They had their own reasons for wanting to do unassisted homebirths. And to save you another needless question, no, we didn’t have a midwife or any other type of birth assistant present who’d have some kind of documentation of our births.”
He gapes at them again. “So what does this mean, that the four of you have basically been living as undocumented residents of New York your entire lives?”
“Sort of. That’s why we need proper documents now, particularly since I’m going to college next fall. I passed my GED with flying colors, and applied to Vassar along with my best friend and our same-aged neighbor. And don’t give me that dismissive mocking look. Just ‘cause I grew up poor and fending for myself doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent, smart, and capable of handling the work at a prestigious college.”
“We don’t even have proper names,” Boy says. “Our parents just called us Girl, Boy, Baby, and Infant. Girl’s been going by Deirdre for awhile now, but it’s not a consistent thing yet.”
“Don’t ask where our parents are, ‘cause we don’t know,” Baby says. “They disappeared when Girl was seven, shortly after Infant was born. They left us in the care of a community of like-minded people. But we do have a last name. We’re the Ryans.”
“Excuse me for a moment.” The man gets up from behind the desk and goes off into another section of the building.
“Wow, we sure rocked his world,” Girl laughs. “He’s clearly middle-class or upper-class if he’s this surprised to find out folks like us exist. God forbid you not be born in a hospital or be raised with your parents in a so-called traditional family in a nice part of town.”
Twenty minutes later, the man returns with a woman in a dark gray business jacket and skirt. She beckons to them to step aside with her so the line behind them can keep moving up.
“My name is Miss Cecilia Skoloda, and I’m here to help you. I was told all four of you are lacking birth certificates and social security numbers because your parents never registered your births. Would you like to come into my office downstairs?”
“Do you have lollipops or candy on your desk?” Infant asks.
“Yes, for a pretty little girl like you, I sure do. Follow me.”