“Am I adopted?” shouted Brian. “Don’t try and evade my questions? I want to know the truth.”
“I’ve always considered you my son,” said his mother. “Haven’t you always felt part of this family?”
“For God’s sake. That’s not what I asked. I’m not accusing you of child neglect. I just want to know the truth.”
“Well, yes. You are,” said his mother quietly “but how did you find out?”
“Maisie told me. She thought I needed to know. She thought I should have a chance to talk to you before you died. Apparently all the aunts and uncles knew and all the cousins. It seems I was about the only bloody person in the world who didn’t know. How do you think that makes me feel?”
“Oh, Brian. It was for your own sake,” said his mother.
“For my sake, Mother or for yours? How do you think it feels to find out at my age? And were you ever going to tell me or were you going to die and let me go on believing this lie?” Brian put his head in his hands.
“Don’t be cross with me,” said his mother, tears coming into her eyes. “I only ever tried to give you the best life I could and things were different then. I was trying to protect you. I didn’t want you to spend all your life wondering where you came from. And your real mother didn’t come from a family like ours.”
“Don’t you think that should have been my decision? Didn’t you stop for one moment and think I had a right to know? I don’t feel as if I have a family now. It’s all built on a lie, isn’t it? And what about the girls? All this time they have believed that you are their grandmother. Lisa made a special trip to Denmark to research our ancestors. Didn’t you feel even a little bit guilty about that? How do you think she will feel when she finds out?”
His mother grasped his hand. “Oh, please don’t tell the girls,” she said, her voice quavering. “They don’t need to know.”
Brian snatched his hand away and stood up. He gazed down at his mother and shook his head slowly. “You still don’t understand, do you, Mother? Do you think I want to pass this betrayal on to another generation? No. The lies stop here.”