The ride to Hildegard’s house that warm muggy day was one of mixed emotions for Rainbow. She was excited and curious about her new life, but she was still more depressed and withdrawn. She hoped she’d feel better once she could get around easier, but wasn’t so sure about that.
Tears suddenly threatened to spill from her eyes as she sat in the back seat of Hildegard’s car with Nadja. She wiped them away and hoped Nadja hadn’t notice.
But she had.
“Aw, don’t cry, Dame Regenbogen,” she cooed in a loving and playful way in her ear. “Everything’s going to be ok.”
Rainbow allowed herself to be held by Nadja, the only thing that seemed to have a soothing effect on her lately.
“Why does everyone have different last names?” Rainbow suddenly asked. “Your mom has a different last name than you. You have a different last name than your brothers.”
“Well, I was once married in a previous life even though that certainly didn’t last long, and my mother’s got the name of her second husband who died nearly two years ago of heart failure.”
“Oh,” Rainbow said with an empathetic nod.
“So you see? She understands what you’re going through.”
“Why does everyone look so young, and did she adopt you or was she just really young when she had you?”
“She was only sixteen when I was born and then she had my two brothers, Josh and Roman, over the next seven years.”
“You look early to mid-thirties and your mom looks mid-forties.”
Nadja laughed and Hildegard said something in German as she halted the car at an intersection. Laughing again Nadja said, “She said it’s not fair of me not to translate for her. Makes her feel left out of the discussion.”
Nadja then told her mother what Rainbow had said.
Hildegard smiled but didn’t say anything.
“Are you the only language lover in the family?” Rainbow asked.
“For the most part, although one of my brothers knows some Spanish because his wife is Colombian, and mom knows some Turkish and very little English.”
“Does she vacation in Turkey, too?”
They pulled onto a narrow winding street that Rainbow would describe as cluttered. There were many close-set houses with lots of trees, plants and flowers wedged in between. Despite the lack of breathing space around the small houses, the neighborhood had a very inviting atmosphere about it.
“How nice,” said Rainbow.
“It is,” said Nadja. “It’s a senior community so it’s pretty quiet and the people are friendly.”
Hildegard pulled up into a carport that ran along the right side of the house, said something to Nadja and then exited the vehicle. Rainbow watched as she unlocked the door on the side of the house. The woman’s bright red hair that was bound in a ponytail and accentuated by a turquoise-colored scarf, contrasted nicely against her navy outfit. She also seemed to have perfect posture despite her age. A second later she returned to the car as Nadja pushed open the car door. In German, she assured her mom that she didn’t need any help in getting Rainbow inside.
To Rainbow, it seemed to take forever, but eventually, she found herself in the middle of Hildegard’s cozy kitchen. It was both dark and bright. Dark cabinets and countertops were compensated by bright yellow walls.
She looked to her left and saw a utility room and a half-bath.
She was guided straight ahead into a living room that wasn’t exactly spacious but wasn’t too small either. It was ideal for one person and bedecked with lots of plants that really brightened the place up. There was a couch along the back wall by a sliding glass door that overlooked a small yard mostly filled with a pool and plants, a recliner just outside the kitchen, and an entertainment center across from it. Across from the couch was the front door which was across a hallway which Rainbow assumed led to the bedroom at the other end of the house, opposite the kitchen. She couldn’t see down the hall from where she stood.
Hildegard said something and then hurried down the hallway.
Rainbow, who had been leaning on Nadja, looked up at her. Nadja smiled down at her, took her wrists and wrapped them around behind her for a hug. Rainbow felt very comfortable in Nadja’s arms. “I really wanted to go home with you,” she said.
“And you will, honey. It’s Wednesday. A couple more days and you’ll go home with me as soon as I get off work.”
They heard what sounded like Hildegard rummaging around in another bathroom that was just out of view. A moment later she appeared with a box that she took into the kitchen as she spoke to her daughter.
Rainbow suspected Hildegard may’ve been confiscating the household “contraband.” Razors, pills, things like that. She asked what she was doing anyway.
“Oh, just making some preparations to make it easier on you.”
Hildegard walked back out of the kitchen and back down into the hallway. This time it sounded like she was going through a linen closet.
“She couldn’t know for sure that you’d be staying here, so she’s making things more comfortable for you.”
“Oh. She doesn’t need to put herself out for me any more than she already has.”
Nadja told her mother what she’d said as she appeared with a set of dark red sheets.
Hildegard sort of looked at her in a way that was hard to read. There was a slight hint of amusement, but more so she almost had a don’t-be-stupid or shame-on-you kind of look, though it was gone as fast as it had appeared.
Nadja sat her on the chair while she assisted her mother in making the couch up. When they were done Hildegard stepped back and spoke.
“Time to relax now,” Nadja said with a smile.
And again Hildegard spoke in which Nadja interpreted.
“Want anything to eat or drink?”
Hildegard went into the kitchen and got her and Nadja some ice tea and then she made herself comfortable on the couch next to Nadja while Hildegard sat in the chair. At first mother and daughter spoke about who knew what as if she weren’t even present. Then without understanding much German, it was obvious that the discussion was now about her. She looked at Nadja.
“She said you look so innocent and so lost.”
“I don’t know about innocent, but you could say I feel a little lost.”
Nadja repeated her words in German.
Her mother studied her intently and then said in German, “I don’t know if I can help her. Even though her sister says she’s strong and resilient she may’ve reached her limit in life. She’s getting older and this is a radical change. Losing a husband, then a home, then being in another country with people and a language you barely know. That’s huge.”
Hildegard went on. “I just don’t know what to think at this point or if I’m going to end up with a dead girl on my hands. I guess I just wait and see what happens when she explodes.”
Nadja translated and asked her mother in German. “What is she going to explode over?”
“Whatever it is she can’t get her way with. This one may be smart, compassionate and many things good, but she’s a bit spoiled and stubborn. I can tell.”
“She’s not going to explode, mom. I really think she’s over the worst of it.”
Rainbow looked between Nadja and her mother, frowning in confusion, and Nadja told her what they said.
“You don’t want her, Nadja,” her mother said in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. “She’s going to be a huge responsibility. She’s fragile emotionally, she doesn’t drive, she can’t just run out and get a job as soon as she can walk – if she can really ever walk normally again at all – and she’s probably going to need years of therapy. Just because you’ve got money doesn’t mean it will be easy. She’s going to take a lot of time, attention and money almost the same as any minor would and you don’t have the patience for that.”
Nadja translated for Rainbow.
“I don’t think I should be here,” Rainbow said, attempting to pull herself up from the couch. “I want to go home with you, Goddess. No one will know. And I’m not a girl.”
After Nadja gave a quick chuckle and translated for her mother, she pulled Rainbow toward her.
But Rainbow struggled. “I’m not that helpless! I will walk well soon enough. I want to be with you!”
“Shhh-shhh, calm down,” Nadja said. “I know you do and it’s not that I don’t want you with me, but you can’t come with me now because the courts have people that do regular checks to make sure people are where they’re supposed to be.”
Rainbow struggled harder and raised her voice. “Well, I don’t belong with someone that sees me as nothing but a burden who’s spoiled and stubborn and who obviously doesn’t want me around!”
“Stop it!” Nadja said, her own voice rising. “Jesus, Rainbow, you don’t have to prove the woman right on every single goddamn thing she says!”
Rainbow froze and glanced at Hildegard who sat with her elbow on the arm of the chair and her cheek against the backs of her fingers. She eyed Rainbow with an expression of pity. Or was that shame? Although this only frustrated her more, she was also a bit embarrassed by her outburst. She took a deep breath and resolved to pull herself together as best she could under the circumstances.
“Why do you think she doesn’t want you?” Nadja asked Rainbow.
Rainbow looked at Nadja. “Well, isn’t she only doing you a favor since you can’t take me right now?”
“No,” Nadja said, translating for her mother.
“Just two lousy weeks here, Rainbow, and then I don’t see why the courts wouldn’t ok you coming to live with me.” She turned to her mother and asked if she thought she would be able to live with her at the end of the two-week period.
Her mother looked thoughtful for a second or two, then gave a slight but quick shake of her head and said, “Nein.”
Nadja looked at Rainbow. Then she smiled, determined to ease her worries. “I think she’s just a pessimist.”
Nadja spoke to her mother and she answered back.
“What did she say?” Rainbow asked.
“She said she doesn’t think the judge will give you to me in two weeks. Says I’m inexperienced with your kind.”
Now it was Rainbow’s turn to snort. “My kind?”
“What do you think?” Nadja asked her, tickling her playfully.
“I think I really have to wonder who the hell names their kid Hildegard.”
Nadja translated and Rainbow’s eyes nearly bulged out of her head. “You weren’t supposed to tell her that!”
Rainbow locked eyes with Hildegard. A faint smile played upon the woman’s lips as Rainbow’s cheeks flushed bright red. Was that a hint of a challenge twinkling in the older woman’s eyes?
Last updated April 17, 2021