‘Where are you coming from with that accent of yours?’ he asks.
‘Nowhere,’ I reply. ‘I’m from nowhere.’
‘Everyone’s from somewhere,’ he says.
‘Not me,’ I reply silently.
Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic life change and move to Brighton, where she was born. Clem has no idea that while there she'll meet someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents.
As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth family could be too high to pay...
‘You will help me, won’t you?’ she asks.
‘If I can,’ I reply. I wonder what she thinks someone she has just met will be able to help her do when she has a whole family down the hall in the living room who are at her beck and call. ‘What is it you want help with?’
This woman, my grandmother, who has only really been in my life for the past hour, fixes me with a gaze that is determined and a little frightening; woven through with strands of defiance. Maybe I was mistaken; maybe those outside this room aren’t as devoted and loving as I thought. Whatever it is that she wants to do is clearly something they’re unlikely to agree to. She says nothing for a time, and the longer she stares at me with her brown eyes, the colour dimmed by age, the more a feeling of dread meanders outwards from the pit of my stomach. I should not be sitting here having this conversation with this woman. I should have brought her back here and left her to it. The longer I sit here, the longer things are going to go wrong for me.
Eventually, so eventually I thought she was planning on remaining silent, she speaks. Cautiously, haltingly, she says: ‘My time has come. I am too old...too sick...too tired to carry on in this world.’ She pauses but her eyes continue to drill into me. ‘My time has come. I want...I want to leave this Earth. I need you to help me.’
That Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson is published on 24th March by Arrow, price £7.99 in paperback. Share your favourite photo and its story to #ThatGirlMemories to win a Fujifilm Instax 8 camera.