Author: Iveta Redliha
Bradbury is a gorgeous property that stands amidst dark secrets. One fine day a young reckless woman Leonora, driven by desire for easy money that a rich couple would offer their surrogate mother, comes to live at the mansion, unsuspecting of the paths this seemingly carefree life and lust for money will bring to.
Meanwhile, Reyna’s steady life is turned upside down the moment her mother dies in suspicious circumstances and leaves her an unknown property and dark secrets from her turbulent past. Around that time handsome yet secretive Lucas comes into Reyna’s life. At the end the truth about the young man and the horrors of his past that haunt him, not allowing him to give in to his feelings, serves a final blow to Reyna.
The boy's heart was beating like a drum when he caught his name mentioned in the headmistress' office. He stood motionless, straining his ears to catch every single word spoken behind the closed door.
- So do you need that report again?
- asked the headmistress sharply.
- Yes, just like every year, - a kinder female voice replied.
- Why can't you just leave that boy alone? - the headmistress could hardly hide her indignation. - Let him live in peace. He's got nothing to do with it.
- We have to observe his development.
- You are very much aware of his wellbeing. He’s just a normal child. And in good health, too.
- We're glad to hear it. But you must understand, he was one of the first in our experiment. We must therefore follow his development in order to understand if there’s future for surrogacy.
- You say that every year, and every year I object to it. Physically he is fine, psychologically on the other hand...- the headmistress hesitated.
- The psychological trauma is vast. Look where he's living! - she exclaimed. - Does it look like a successful experiment to you?!
- Of course, what happened to him later was all very sad, but it's hardly the result of the surrogacy. We can't be held responsible for actions of the surrogated children's biological parents in later years. All we are interested in is the health and development of the children born by surrogacy.
- You scientists are too insensitive. Perhaps you should check the surrogacy candidates more properly!
- Your resentment is understandable, yet I came here for the report and not your opinion. We know what we're doing, and so far surrogacy has shown no negative consequences. All results are positive, parents are happy to have a child which was otherwise impossible in the natural way. This particular case is an exception, and it's not doctors' fault.
- Of course, of course. Here it is. Fortunately, the boy doesn't know what exactly happened to him, - the headmistress added sadly.
- That is probably for his own good, at least in this case. Usually we allow parents to choose whether they want to tell their child that a surrogate mother had been involved in his or her birth, to avoid confusion in child's mind. Standing behind the closed door the boy heard the sound of papers being shuffled, and after a while the scrape of a chair being dragged on the floor. Someone in the office got to their feet.
- Thank you for your collaboration. You have to understand, it's a big step in medical science.
- Yes, I understand, - the headmistress replied with annoyance. - Now, if you'll excuse me, I’ve got work to do.
- Certainly, I won't take any more of your time. Thank you once again and good bye!
The boy sprang off the door and darted away along the corridor. As soon as he hid round the corner he heard the door of the headmistress' office being open. A tall slender woman was walking down the corridor in the opposite direction. Only now, having realized that nobody had seen him, the boy slid down the wall and sat, his heart racing. He had just found out something more about himself. He didn't understand much of what was said in the office, but he suspected that the headmistress knew something about his family. The boy memorized the word "surrogacy"; whatever it meant, he knew it was crucial.
After the dark, the boy tiptoed to the headmistress' office. He was surprised to find the door unlocked, sneaked inside and rushed to the large filing cabinet behind the headmistress' desk. It consisted of many drawers. By the light of his torch he found the right drawer containing folders with children's names on them. Hastily he searched for his own name, extracted the folder and feverishly took in the information. Nothing new. Two dashes in the row "Parents". The boy was disappointed. He replaced the folder, carefully shut the drawer and was just about to leave the office when his intuition nudged him to stay and look through the other drawers. He opened one drawer after another, furtively examined all documents, and still didn't find anything. Helplessly he shut the last drawer and lifted his eyes to the higher shelves where he noticed a slightly open little door. The boy climbed onto a chair and opened it. A strong box was hidden there. Hoping against hope, he grabbed its handle and it opened. The strongbox contained a few folders. The boy took them all and placed them on the desk in front of him. His heart was beating even faster now: he knew the answer was near. The eyes rushed over folders and the numbers on them. He opened the first folder and read someone else's name. Then another one, and another. It wasn't until the seventh folder that he found what he was looking for: his own name, followed by his parents' names, as well as the most important line:
The number of the surrogate mother: XX8374091Y
When he was done his hands were shaking. He replaced the folders in the strong box, making sure they were in the same order in which he had found them. Nobody should suspect anything.
Later laying in his bed, unable to sleep, the boy was staring at the dark ceiling of his orphanage dormitory. He felt like on that day his whole life had turned upside down. Suddenly it had gained a purpose. He knew he had to find his mother.
About the Author
Iveta Redliha (b. 1977) is a Latvian writer. With great passion she unravels in writing destinies of people of different walks of life, and their entangled feelings. “The Steps” was born out of the writer’s imagination and built on inspiration from gothic love and detective novels.