They were born with gifts, gifts that they couldn't even imagine. The were protected by Charlene, their guardian up until the time she passed away. With Charlene gone, the girls were put into three specially selected families, unaware of what was going on, but Vivian's powers allow her to begin to figure it all out. The gifts they all have continue to grow stronger, and they begin to realize they are going to have to fight to keep them. As their powers evolve, so do their minds, allowing them to
Tuesday was just another ordinary day. I woke up in the same warm comfy bed and raced to the bathroom, my feet dancing across the same cold hardwood floors, just like any other normal day.
Charlenes' voice drifted up to my room. Come down girls, she said. I have something important to tell you, she added. Usually when a child would hear this, their pulse would jump, maybe their palms would start to sweat and they might be just a tad bit shaky as if anticipating something bad was going to happen. But for me, this was normal.
My sisters and I had made our way groggily down the stairs, occasionally stumbling over one another as we walked silently towards the kitchen. Our only anticipation was what food we would put in our stomachs.
-I had entered the kitchen and spied Charlene sitting at the head of the table with a thick envelope in her hands. I was not alarmed for this scene was a familiar one. We would each take our respective seats at the table with our choice of breakfast foods in front of us and only then would Charlene start on a well rehearsed monologue.
First, she would apologize for what she was about to do, something along the lines of, "kids, I'm so sorry, but I have to go away for a little while. I'll be back safe and sound soon. Mrs. Evans will keep and eye out but I want you to take care of each other while I'm gone." It felt routine. She'd give us contacts in case we need something, a little money to order take-out, and then skirt off to God only knows where. It was normal-it felt like every other day.
But every day is the same until its not.
It was four days ago that I waved goodbye to her from the porch of our 3 story house, four days since I had last heard anything from her. As I woke up on the fourth day I could tell it would be different. You know those moments where something minute happens and you just know you day will not be what it usually is.
Well, it was that way for me and it all started with the mailman honking only two times, not three. Yes, I know, stupid but that small minute something jarred me out of my normal daily routine. It was this small oddity that had me racing from my room, down the stairs, out the door and to the mailbox barely noticing the cold stinging my bare feet.
I reached my hand into the mailbox and pulled out a standard 9x13 white envelope with typed letters on the front. It's so cold and impersonal, I thought to myself as I walked back up the path to our house at a more sedate pace. I flipped the envelope over and noticed that it was addressed to the six of us.
I shut the door with a solid thunk and decided to open the letter immediately instead of waiting for the others. I do not know what brought on this sudden decision but I felt it was necessary at the moment. With unusual care for the crisp edges I opened the envelope and unfolded the letter. It read...
To whom it may concern,
While in our care, your legal guardian, Charlene Merlot, has passed on to the next life. You are now recognized by the state of Colorado as being underage and legally orphaned.
One week from today we will hold a funeral for Mrs. Merlot to which you may attend, if you wish. At 9 o'clock the following morning, 3 cars will arrive to take you to your next destination. Unfortunately you will not remain together. You are allowed one duffel bag and one suitcase as everything will be provided for you at your new home.
Our sincerest apologies,
Eric Crowley And Everyone at CSA
I held the letter tightly in my hands. I finished reading the letter and I was empty. I felt my shoulders shaking and tears streaming down my face but it was as if my mind could not comprehend the emotions that were running through me. I felt weighed down, depressed and most surprisingly of all, I felt angry.
A loud strangled cry jarred me from my thoughts but the weight of what happened quickly brought me back under, dragging me deeper and deeper, drowning me in my sorrow. Soon I heard the pounding of feet and loud voices of my sisters. To me, the pounding of feet and loud voices were fleeting whispers blown away with the wind. They seem so far away.
I was again jarred from my thoughts but this time it is accompanied by a sharp stinging on the left side of my face. I open my eyes to see Manas' face though blurry through my tears. Although I am very much aware of the things happening around me I was not in a stare of mind to answer my sisters incessant questions so I shakily handed over the damned letter.
I watch with silent tears as they read it, as their faces fell and the horror of what they read, the same horror I feel, is now their reality. They all look to me for comfort but as much as I want differently, it is a comfort I can no longer give.
I shake my head in hopes that they will understand. I push past them and retreat to my room, to myself; I tell myself that I will remain here until I am truly needed.
I sit in a large over stuffed chair in the far corner of my room. It's early. I should probably make my bed. Yes, I'll go make my bed. I remain seated, not even a twitched finger towards the messy bed. Oh well, I'll do it tomorrow. I heave a great sigh and return to staring across the room.
I open my eyes slowly and notice my door easing open. I squint at the bright light that floods my room. The elderly Mrs. Evans shuffles inside and closes the door slightly to let less light in. She seems confused as she peers at my unoccupied yet messy bed in search of me. When did she get here? I go to motion her over but my hand does not move and my voice makes no sound. I do not try a second time, there is no point. She quickly places the tray of food on my night stand and with a look of worry she exits my room, closing the door almost silently behind her.
I look to the food a few feet away. I smell the hot oatmeal with cinnamon and apple slices. Am I hungry? I search inside myself. I do not feel hungry. Lost in thought for a few minutes I realize that I cannot remember the last time I ate, not since opening the letter. I focus all my thoughts on getting up and is rewarded when my body shifts to the edge of the chair. Now I just need to stand up.
A few attempts later I end up crawling the rest of the way to the bed. I feel too weak to try and walk again. When did I get so weak? How long have I been sitting here? I finally make it to the bed and pull myself up. Here the smell of the food is even stronger and my stomach makes a loud gurgling sound. So I am hungry after all. I make sure to eat the oatmeal slowly as to not give myself a stomach ache.
Although I am full, I force down the last few bites and my tired body slumps down into the bed. Tomorrow I'll take a shower, I thought to myself as sleep overtakes me.
I wake up in a warm bed with streams of sunlight peaking out the edges of my black out curtains. I turn to my left, following the smell of food and see a small plate of french toast, bacon and eggs. I smile to myself and eat it enthusiastically. Felling adequately awake, I touch my toes to the floor and gasp at the familiar shocking cold. Wth more daring that usual, I quickly tip toe it to the attached bathroom.
I soon relieve myself of the slightly smelly clothes and jump into the hot water awaiting me. I chose a lavender body wash and shampoo and lather myself up. I step out of the shower after I wash off all the suds and wrap a towel around my torso. I turn to look in the mirror and is startled into silence. I look different My once glossy black hair hands limply to my waist ad there seems to be a hollowness to my face and eyes. Hmmm...I wonder why. I shrug my shoulders and exit the bathroom in search of something to wear.
When I enter the bedroom my eyes are drawn to a white dress bag hanging on the back of the door. That wasn't there before. I walked over to the bag and unzip it and gasp in wonder. In the bag is a beautiful full length black dress. It must have been put here for a reason. Without questioning further, I raise the dress above my head and let it slide down my slim form to rest upon my shoulders. No make-up, I say to myself as I look at myself in the mirror hidden behind the dress bag.
With a high pitched yelp, I stumble backwards as the door is suddenly opening towards me. Mana stares at me and asked a moment later, "are you ready?"
"Ready for what?" I ask, my voice croaking out the words.\
"Charlenes' funeral is today." Mana looks at me with sad eyes.
Everything comes crashing down around me as I remember the past few days. She's gone. She's never coming back. Thoughts are pressing down upon me making it impossible to move. Mana gives me a small smile, a smile full of understanding and sadness. She comes forward and takes my arm, tugging me along behind her. It feels nice to finally lean on someone.
We made our way down the stairs and I hear the soft whispers of my siblings as we come into view. They each look as if they were unhealthy and haven't seen much sun. I look at them in disappointment, they should be taking care of themselves. I should be taking care of them. Not one of them can keep eye contact. Instead they leave the house in a single file line and enter the car waiting. I hear Manas' soft sigh beside me and she too leaves the house and enters the car with me right behind her.
The ride to the funeral home and cemetery is quiet. I do not look at them and I know they do not look at me. We sit in mournful silence knowing that this is the last chance to say goodbye to our legal guardian, to our mother.
The funeral procession passes quickly, far too quickly. It was closed casket. I know that in the dark of the night when I am all alone, I will think back to this day and remember a few minute oddities. These oddities, like before, will give me that strange feeling that everything is not right with the world, everything is not what it seems. But for now I am content in my thoughtless mourning.
We all return home in what seems like half the time. I am tired, tired after partaking in a day of doing nothing, nonetheless I am tired. I think they call this emotional exhaustion. I drag my feet up the stair to my room and fall asleep in anticipation of what tomorrow will bring.
This is the day I leave to some far off place, I leave for good, with or without someone coming with me. This is my first thought as I open my eyes. I start to hunt through my dresser drawers for some clothes and I notice that they are all empty. Mrs. Evans must have packed the all up for me while I was asleep, I muse. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a set of clothes set out. I smile, I must thank that wonderful woman for everything she has done.
"Vivian, let's go!"A voice chimes from downstairs. I stand up and take one last look around my room, the dry cracked walls are discolored from 90 years of cigarette smoke, although you can still see some small patches, where pictures once hung, that look as new as the day it was painted. The four poster ned is aged and scratched from use and various felines. I sigh. This room holds all that I have come to know and love and I do not want to let it go.
"Come on Vivian." The same voice speaks up again but just a bit louder this time.
I hook my arm through the handle of the duffel bag and roll my suitcase out of the room, shutting the well worn door behind me. My had lingers on the copper doorknob, I take a deep breath and another and walk away.
As I reach the landing at the top of the stair a plain man comes into view. He is very ordinary looking, tho' slightly balding. Sweat glistens down the side of his face as he tugs at the too tight dark blue suit, "can you please direct me to someone in charge?" he sneers.
"Hello, I'm Vivian. Did you wish to speak to me?" I say this softly as I make my way to where he stands. At my entrance he shifts slightly to face me.
"Aren't you a little young to be in charge, little girl." he questions me almost tauntingly. Any other day I would rise and take his bait but it just isn't in me today. Instead I reply solemnly, "a death can age even the youngest of minds." Any hint of humor drains from his face as he looks into the sad eyes of my sisters. An uncomfortable silence looms over us.
"uh, well, um...my name is Mr. Jones and I am here to read to you the will, the last testament, of Mrs. Charlene L. Merlot." There is a long pause as he stress down at the piece of paper.
I clear my throat impatiently, "well, go on and read it already."
"Oh yeah, very well then. As stated in Mrs. Merlots' will, each of you will receive a single item of her personal possession." looking rather bored he continues, "to Raquel Kateli, I give you my sisters cloak. To Manasa Lovein, I give you my grandmothers' diadem. To Lynnette Sitohveh, I give you my first snow globe. To Chrysaor Ironside, I give you my handmade metal staff with three set jewels. To Vivian Latashi, I give you my own handmade white sapphire ring. As for the house, it will remain untouched until you reach the appropriate age of 18 where you may, if you wish, move into the house." Out of breath he pulls each gift out of his bag. A milky film shadows each girls' eyes as they receive their gifts, like a memory finally found.
A beautiful silver and black ring is placed in my hand, interrupting my thoughts. It has two ghost white stones separated by a single knot. It looks so familiar...
"Char, where are you?" a high, soft voice asks.
"I'm in my study, Viv." An older woman replies sounding troubled.
"What's wro-" Her words are cut off as she spies a wonderfully made ring, "wow, that's so beautiful. Where did you get it from?"
"I made it but I'm not quite finished." She kneels down to the little girls height, "you see, I'm having a little problem. I cannot seem to find the perfect jems to place in my ring." She seems weighed down by such grief towards an unfinished piece of jewelry. I can almost feel her pain.
"Can I pick one out? Will that help you, Char?" The girl asks only wishing to please the older woman.
"Yes, absolutely. That would be wonderful. Thank you so much darling." The girl jumps down from the small stool and runs over to where she keeps her jewels. They are all so pretty and sparkly but none of them catches her eye. As she turns away to find more she notices two tear drop shape, dull, ghost white sapphires hidden behind a single translucent satin cloth. Their cold ethereal color floods her senses and whispers incoherently in her ears. They are perfect.
This is the exact ring she made all those years ago. I know it. I recognize those two ghost white jems anywhere, the same incoherent whispering floats through my head.
A mans clear monotonous voice brings me back t reality, "well, it looks like I am not needed here anymore but remember you rides will be here soon so have everything ready. Farewell children, I hope that if we meet again, it will be under better circumstances." As he leaves three cars pull in.
I can see the tears streaking down the faces of my family. I want so badly to hug them and tell them everything is going to be okay but I can't. I can't even move. I fear if I try I will break with no hope of repair.
I watch as the first driver motions for Ray and Mana to enter the first car and the second driver motions for Lynn and Chrys to enter the second car. I stand there and watch as both cars speed away to an unknown destination, ripping my family apart, ripping me apart.
I feel a sharp pain in my hand and automatically open it, dropping my ring in the process. I gape in shock as the ring soaks up the blood, my blood, turning the once silver artwork to a deep red. The contrast is startling. My shock wears off quickly and I pick up my newly transformed ring and enter the last car waiting for me.