Birds of Prey: Gabby and Dinah: Part 3
by Melissa Minners
Disclaimer and Other Information: It should be noted that all of the characters and many of the locales in this fan fiction are not mine. They are owned by The WB. This fan fiction is somewhat of an homage to the series, though I have used a little liberty here with events. The story takes place during the Birds of Prey television series and continues through my other fanfics which can be found here. I hope you enjoy.
Life is one hell of a rollercoaster ride. It’s filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, and just when you think you’re getting used to it all – WHAM! – there’s a new twist thrown in to make the ride more complex. Some people tend to get hung up on those twists, either scared or just plain unwilling to get past that bend…that new wrinkle in their lives.
I tend to think that the twists and turns are what makes life worth living. I mean, after all, if everything were a straight line – completely predictable – life would be a total bore. True, some of the turns are tight and some of the hills are hard to climb, but somehow, we find the strength to get up those hills and hang on when the turns get too hairy.
It’s been my experience that in riding rollercoasters, if you let yourself tense up, you’re bound to end up with a bruise or two. Same thing holds true for life. If you fight the twists and turns and resist changes that come your way, you’re in for a world of hurt. It’s always better to relax and deal with the situations as they come – take the turns as you reach them and ride them out.
But when life throws you a loop you can’t handle, sometimes it’s best not to take that ride alone. Sometimes, a fresh perspective can help smooth out the ride and make it something less daunting. That’s always been my philosophy anyways.
I haven’t known Dinah Redmond very long, but I can tell she’s been experiencing one of the more complex coasters…and she hasn’t quite mastered how to handle the ride. There are times when she gets very quiet and introspective – times where I can see a sadness in her eyes so deep and intense that it’s actually painful to witness. But whenever I ask her what’s wrong, she changes anything is bothering her and quickly changes the subject.
I’ve never been one to push. If a person wants to keep something a secret, I usually just let them. That’s not to say that I’m not the inquisitive type. I just never saw the need to force anyone to tell me anything they felt like keeping private.
In Dinah’s case, pushing could end up shoving her right out the door. She locks so much up. Sometimes I think she’s a bomb just a short fuse away from an earth-shattering explosion. There’s so much I still don’t know about her…so much I wish she would tell me…but I know better than to demand answers. She’s just started coming out of her shell – just started to trust me – and I don’t want to do anything to cause her to hide again.
But when Dinah stopped by the apartment the other night, I could tell that something was really bothering her. She and I had made plans to study that night, but when she showed up, I could tell that schoolwork was the furthest thing from her mind. She stared at the words in her notebook, but I had no doubt that she wasn’t seeing them. Her mind was somewhere else.
When I asked her if something was wrong, I received the customary reply. But whereas she’d always shaken herself out of the funk she was in before, this time, it seemed as if she’d dug herself a hole she couldn’t climb out of…at least not without help. But if I tried to help, would I end up pushing her away?
I shifted my position on the bed trying to get a peek at her eyes – to read what the response would be if I ventured further. But Dinah wouldn’t look at me. Her eyes were focused unseeing on the book she held in her hands – hands that gripped the book so tightly her knuckles were turning white.
I took a deep breath and prayed I was doing the right thing as I lay a hand on the book she held and gently pushed it down. She let it fall to the mattress, her eyes watching its progression downward with disinterest.
“Dinah, what’s going on?” I asked. “Did you have an argument with Barbara or something?”
“No,” she said, her voice barely a whisper. “Not with Barbara.”
“Who then?” I asked, determined to discover what was plaguing my new-found friend. “Helena?” I knew that Dinah and Helena didn’t always get along…especially when Dinah took to raiding Helena’s closet every now and then.
Dinah rose from the bed and walked to the window. Everything about her posture suggested that she was struggling with some personal dilemma. She stood there before the window, her shoulders slumped, her head down, gazing at the floor, seeing nothing.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Whatever it was that Dinah was struggling with, it was causing her great pain and I yearned to help her with it…but would she let me? I rose from the bed and walked over to stand beside her.
“Ya know, you can enjoy the view a lot more if you open the shades,” I said, a hint of laughter in my voice – my attempt to lighten the mood.
My joke didn’t go over well. Actually, it garnered no response whatsoever – only silence. Just when I thought I could no longer bear the silence, Dinah spoke. Her voice was monotone and she continued to stare at the floor.
“I never told you how I ended up with Barbara,” she began. “I told you that I came from Opal, but I never told you how I got here.”
She turned to face me then, her eyes sparkling with unshed tears. I didn’t know what to say – I was afraid that if I spoke, Dinah might change her mind and decide not to confide in me. I was afraid she’d leave and allow whatever grief that was plaguing her to consume her. So, I stayed silent, which turned out to be the right thing to do.
We both walked back toward the bed and sat down. Then Dinah told me her story – a tale about a frightened girl who was given into foster care by her mother at the age of six. Dinah spoke haltingly about her childhood with the Redmonds, the pain of those memories spoken aloud finally causing the tears to spill from her eyes. She told me of a life lived in fear and shame – a life filled with hateful words and shameful acts – all because she was different. She saw things differently from the Redmonds and for that, she was labeled a freak.
By the time Dinah finally reached the end of her tale – how she had run away from her foster parents and ended up in Barbara Gordon’s care – we were both in tears. My hands were clenched in fists of rage and I was frustrated at not being able to confront the Redmonds in all my fury. No one has the right to make another person ashamed of who they are just because they are different. And to inflict such mental, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse – I longed to get my hands on these bastards and shake some sense into them.
Throughout Dinah’s rendition of her life with her foster parents, her voice had been subdued, fraught with pain and anguish. Suddenly that changed. Her face flushed with anger and her tone was harsh when she finally confided what had been on her mind all along.
“And there she was…after all these years…standing next to Barbara…my mother.”
I listened intently as Dinah told me of the first conversation she’d had with her mother since she’d been left with the Redmonds almost a decade ago. As she spoke, it seemed as if Dinah’s anger had become a tangible thing – a shimmering field of energy that sent goosebumps down my arms.
“She left me with those monsters…no explanation…no note…no phone call. After all these years, she walks in and just expects me to welcome her back with open arms. She said she wants to be my mother again, but she doesn’t even know me! I’ve just finally gotten used to things being normal…to people accepting me for who I am…and now she walks in and wants to change it all! I won’t let her!”
Her hand thumped down on the bed and we both jumped as one of the textbooks fell to the floor. I remember thinking at the time how funny it was that the textbook had fallen. I hadn’t remembered the book being near the edge of the bed. But when I looked up from the floor and saw the anguish in that tear-streaked face, the mystery of the textbook was forgotten.
I pulled Dinah into my arms as she sobbed, stroking her blonde hair, whispering soothing words into her ear as I held her. I’d only known Dinah a month, but in that month, somehow a bond was formed – a bond that I had never experienced in any other friendship in the past. It hurt my heart to see Dinah suffering so. I wished that I could take that pain away, but there was just no way to erase the past.
When the sobbing subsided and the tears stopped flowing, Dinah pulled back to face me. That look of torment was still on her face and I knew that Dinah was struggling with a decision. I decided to put words to her dilemma.
“Dinah, do you want to have your mother back in your life?”
She sighed, drained from the anger and the tears. She flopped backwards and landed in a heap on the mattress, staring up at the ceiling.
“I…I…I just want to know why? Why did she leave me? What did I do?...”
“Dinah,” I interrupted, exasperation tainting my voice, “you were six years old! What could you have done?”
Taking a deep breath, I decided to impart some advice – advice that I wasn’t sure Dinah wanted to hear. “The decision your mom made…well, maybe it was the best choice she had at the time. The fact that she came back…that she admits she was wrong…that says a lot. There are lots of reasons why people put their children in foster homes. The fact that she looked for you after you ran away from them…searched for you, and then actually had the balls to approach you…maybe she had a good reason for what she did. And maybe she didn’t know what the Redmonds were really like. You see the news – stuff like that happens all the time.
“It sounds like you need answers from your mom – answers that only she can give. She wants to be in your life and you want to know why she left it in the first place. And maybe those answers won’t be what you want to hear, but at least you will have gotten them. You won’t have any answers if you completely shut her out of your life.”
As I waited for her to respond, I realized I was holding my breath. I wasn’t sure how Dinah would react to the advice I was giving her – would she think I was siding with her mother who abandoned her so long ago? Or would she take the advice for what it was – help from a friend who can see the whole picture from outside the scope?
Dinah stayed silent for a moment, then sat up and wiped the tears from her eyes, a look of determination washing over the once anguished features.
“You’re right. If I don’t talk to her, I’ll never get the answers I need. And what if you’re right about the Redmonds – what if she didn’t know? I’ll have to confront her…but not tonight…I need some time…I…” Dinah glanced over at me with a sheepish grin. “I sorta told Barbara I was sleeping over.”
I laughed and pulled Dinah into another hug. “Of course you can stay over.”
* * *
I didn’t see Dinah for a couple of days after that. When I did, she was subdued. Her eyes were red and swollen as if from crying and there were dark circles beneath them which suggested little sleep. As I approached I could feel dread and sorrow exuding from Dinah in waves – a palpable thing that threatened to smother her.
She broke down upon seeing me and it took quite a while for her to regain enough control to tell me that her mother had been killed in an explosion. Dinah told me that she had finally made a connection, however small with her mother, and it had been taken away by some madman. She never explained the whole story to me, but somehow that didn’t seem to matter at the time. All that mattered was the pain my friend was feeling and what I could do to ease some of it.
No, Dinah hasn’t yet mastered that rollercoaster called life, but she’ll never have to go through it alone – I’ll always be there to help her along the ride.