She reckoned she could tell because I didn't look like anyone in the family, and looking at myself in the mirror, she was right. Fair and curly to their straight and dark, I was the odd one out. I thought that if one day I woke up with different hair, that would prove her wrong, but it didn't happen. I lay in bed at night and wondered what this adopted thing would mean. Would some other parents, who presumably would look like me, drive up one day in a Mercedes and repossess me? I lost a lot of sleep and thought about my repatriation and when and how it might occur. Should I have a bag packed?
I eventually asked my mother, and she said oh, for goodness sake, don't be ridiculous, of course you weren't adopted. Eloise was just teasing you. Why in god's name are you so gullible? Can't you take a joke? Grow up, Cecily. She was not very motherly. Hard-hearted. Then she told Dad, and he laughed meanly and looked at me and shook his head slowly.
I was different at high school too. I didn't take the subjects the other girls did – History and Geography and Home Ec and Typing. I happily studied Maths and Physics and Chemistry and unhappily, French, as a foreign language was required – god knows why but there was no arguing with the rules. I was awful at French. Unlike my sister.
"Told you", she said, "You're adopted." It still wasn't funny.
I always sat at the front of the class. Turned out I was short-sighted. I sat there even after I got thick black-framed glasses. Specky four eyes, the boys said, and made finger-and-thumb circles around their eyes. Eloise sat at the back all the cool kids who didn't need specs, and they swigged vodka they nicked from someone's parents and decanted it into vanilla extract bottles. Our parents were teetotal.
They did this during Geography because Mr Smythe was a bit dim and didn't see what was going on. He did wear glasses though. She still passed her Geography exams. They didn't ever get caught stinking of cheap booze and the weed they smoked while walking home.
There is no mistaking my parentage now: my thighs the same shape and size as my mother's, sort of marbled white and pasty and plump. She died recently: a heart attack. Appropriate really. Dad died in a car accident. Drunk driver. I don't see much of Eloise or the other kids.
It is of no comfort to know I'd been in my blood place all the time. I had anguished over it and wished and prayed for a family like me to come and take me home. It didn't have to be in a Mercedes.