Three a.m. Friday night. I was laying in my bed, staring up at the ceiling with a blank face. The air was silent. But the house was loud. The walls cracked. The floors creaked. The things on my desk fell occasionally.
My eyes were wide awake. They wouldn’t close no matter how hard I tried to let them shut. Just having them closed for a second would be a relief to my body. My body had not even been given an ounce of sleep the entire night. I was still worried about Travis and his family. There had to be something I could do to help him.
No ideas came to mind. I felt like a sitting duck. Useless. Unimportant. As if there was nothing for me to do. For all I knew, Travis could be being beaten by his father as I lay there, useless. His mother could be being beaten by her husband as I lay there, useless. Why wouldn’t the police arrest him? Wasn’t there something they could do? Elizabeth had said there was no proof. Wasn’t Travis coming back with bruises proof enough.
When sleep finally came, it didn’t stay for long.
About fifteen minutes after I’d dozed off, there was a knock on the window. The startling sound awoke me. But when I realized it was only Travis, I made a sigh of relief. Walking over to the window, I unlatched the lock and allowed him in. “What in the world do you think you’re doing here?” I asked him with a bit of a glare.
“My parents are fighting...And my house is just chaotic. Can I just stay here?” he asked innocently.
“Yeah...Sure. Um. Why didn’t you just knock on the front door? Elizabeth is a light sleeper, she would’ve let you in.”
He smirked a bit. “I just wanted to see you.”
I blushed, looking away from him. What was I supposed to say next? I’m sorry that your father abuses you? That just sounded sort of rude to me. Should I tell him that I knew about his family problems? Or would that make things sort of awkward between us.
When Travis stepped into the light of the moon, I gasped. There was a small scrape on the side of his cheek. “Travis? How did you get this?” I insisted, placing my hand on his cheek, over the cut. When he didn’t respond, I spoke. “Elizabeth told me that your father was...abusive. And I just want to know if that was where this was from?”
With a sigh, he nodded.
“Travis? Why didn’t you tell me? Why don’t you tell the police?”
“I don’t want everyone to know me as that kid whose father beats him up. I don’t want everyone to feel sorry for me. I don’t want people just to be friends with me because of that.”
“How did he give you the cut?”
I could tell this made him feel slightly awkward. But I knew that it was good for him to get this out. “He came home slightly drunk and started hitting on me.” He pulled up his shirt, showing me some of the bruises. “My mom was begging him to stop, telling him to beat on her instead. But he didn’t listen. Instead, he grabbed the first thing he could find. The knife. And he scraped my cheek first. Then my shoulders and some other places. Finally my mom got to him. He stopped. But instead of stopping altogether, he went for her instead. My mom told me to run. And I ran the first chance I got. So now I’m here.”
I could see the pain behind his eyes, even in the dark. The way his voice crackled, he wouldn’t meet me in the eyes, I could tell that he was afraid of his father. He didn’t want to see his mother suffer every single day. It hurt him.
Before even thinking, I grabbed him in a hug. Tears were rolling down my face, dripping onto his shirt when I placed my head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around me as well, trying to comfort me. Why was I the one being comforted? Travis was the one in danger. He was the one who needed help. Not me. It felt unfair.
“Anna, I can’t go back there. I just can’t. I don’t know what my father will do next time. But every time he hurts me, it gets worse. And the last think I knew he looked like he was going to stab my mom. I don’t want to have to deal with this all the time. I just can’t go back Anna. You understand me, right?”
I nodded. But I wouldn’t know if I could really understand him. I had a loving ‘family.’ And I figured that I’d been loved before. After all, wasn’t I just so lovable? At least I hoped everyone didn’t hate me. People say that they know how you feel. But I didn’t know how Travis felt. All I could feel was pain and sorrow for him. It hurt me that he was being hurt. Was that normal? Travis was a friend, and a crush, so why was it weird for me to feel bad about him being hurt? But it was something more than that. As if I was being hurt as well. I wanted to experience that pain. Not in some emo way. But I wanted to know how he felt. I wanted to be the one being hurt. I knew that I didn’t want Travis to be hurt. He’d been through too much already. He didn’t deserve this unfair treatment from his father.
“Actually. Travis, you know that I don’t understand. Here I’m loved. And I don’t know anything different. This is the only life I remember. I wouldn’t understand how you feel. But I realize that it probably feels horrible for you to be there. And I don’t want you back there. So you can stay here. You know Elizabeth will welcome you. And so will Connor. I have the guest room, but you can share with Jamie or something.”
Travis smiled, hugging me. “I knew you’d let me stay here.”
“I would always let you stay here. Even though that’s not my decision. But just a quick question, why’d you pick to knock on my window instead of Jamie’s? He is your best friend after all. And he’s a guy.”
“Got the windows mixed up,” he replied with a shrug.
I laughed, shaking my head. “You’re lying.”
“Yeah. I am.”
“So? Your real answer?” I raised my eyebrows, smiling a little bit.
“Well. I’m not in love with Jamie.”
In love? Had he really combined those two words together? In and love. Love was just a simple word to say that you cared for someone. But actually being in love was to feel love so strongly that you just can’t describe it. How can you describe love? You can look up love in a million different dictionaries. And you’ll never really fully understand the meaning of the word love by just those words. Love isn’t just some fairy-tale Cinderella thing for little girls. It’s real. And no matter how hard you fought being in love, it would come. Things were just meant to be. Maybe there was someone who you figured there was no way you would even like that person, but you fell in love with them anyway. Love is just unexplainable. Unpredictable.
And I believe that you only fall in love, true love, once. There’s that one person meant for you. One person who you may be the complete opposite, but they’re out there. Waiting for you. Somewhere. Just knowing that there had to be someone somewhere out there in the globe out of seven billion people, that just makes you feel special. Our job is to find them. And sometimes it’s easy. And other times it’s hard. Some people refuse to admit the fact that they’re in love, and others simply ignore the fact that love is out there, some don’t even realize that they’re in love, and some simply don’t want to believe that there is a such thing as love.
But I guess this confession snuck up on me. It didn’t feel right. Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to be in love with Travis. I’d thought that he was the right guy for me the moment I saw him. Maybe I was one of those people who didn’t recognize love. Perhaps I wasn’t even aware of someone else who was looking at me. My heart wanted to be in love with Travis. But my brain was telling me that this wasn’t right no matter how much I wanted it to be.
My heart took over. “And maybe that’s the reason I’m okay with you randomly sneaking into my room.”
“So,” he began, wrapping his arms around my neck. I could tell he was smiling through the dark. “Does that mean that I feel that my love is returned?”
“Perhaps. You can find that out for yourself.”
With that, I felt a kiss as his lips came forward into mine. I wasn’t sure if this was really my first kiss, but it felt like it was. At least I considered it to be my first kiss. There wasn’t that spark that I expected to feel like how things are described in movies and books. Was a kiss really not that big of a deal? But to me it was. A kiss was more than just something. It showed that you loved someone. Maybe that you were even in love with someone. It was supposed to feel special, right? But this just felt average. Maybe that was what a kiss was really like.
“Does that answer your question?” I asked as he pulled away from me.
“I think it does.” Travis replied. “Are you going to let me...?”
I could hear the hidden despair in his voice. He was a teenage boy. I knew what he wanted. And he wasn’t going to get that. “Alright. Can I at least share a bed with you?”
My mind pondered over everything, going over all the bad things that could happen. But considering that I had faith in Travis, I would let him get at least that. “Fine. But you know what limits I’m going to give you. Your hands will not even touch me.”
Rolling his eyes, Travis agreed to my requirements and we were soon both asleep. My dreams seemed to haunt me though. I recognized a teenage Elizabeth sitting in front of a mirror.
It was about noon. Her father was at a meeting. There Elizabeth was sitting in a pink chair, brushing through her chocolaty colored hair. So a baby boy. Connor was excited as ever. And Elizabeth was secretly happy, while nervous at the same time. More nervous than happy. What had she just gotten herself into? Her father would freak. And who knew what her mother, Alyssa, would think?
There was a knock on the door. “Elizabeth, sweetie, let’s try on that nice dress that you’re going to wear to the dinner tomorrow.”
They spoke, exchanging the average mother-daughter chats. Asking how she was enjoying Truro as a vacation spot. Elizabeth responded politely. But she was having trouble meeting her mother in the eyes, she wouldn’t look at her directly. Only through the mirror. Being a mother, I could tell that the woman could sense that something was wrong with her daughter.
About halfway when she was zipping the dress up, the woman stopped. It wouldn’t fit. When she spotted her daughter’s face in the mirror, she automatically realized what had happened. “Elizabeth...” Those were the only words that would come out of her trembling mouth. “Can we talk?”
Immediately, tears were coming out of her eyes. She was wrapped in Alyssa’s arms, already falling apart.
“How about you go change into something more comfortable to wear and then we’ll talk, alright?”
Elizabeth nodded. A few moments she came out of the bathroom in a pair of Nike shorts and a white v-neck tee shirt. She was crying, her hair had been tied up. Immediately, she sat down in her mother’s lap, crying. “Mom, I’m sorry! I didn’t know what I was thinking! What am I going to do? Dad’s going to kill me!”
“Sweetheart, it’s okay. You’ll be fine. Your father isn’t going to kill you. Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?”
Alyssa smiled a bit, kissing her daughter’s forehead. “Elizabeth, just admit that you’re secretly happy. I know you are. Don’t be afraid to hide that from me. I’m your mother. And no matter what you do and how many mistakes you make, I’m going to forgive you. I’m your mother, It’s my job. Don’t think about the bad things. Think about the good things.”
“Like what? Me being disowned and having some child who’s not even going to see his grandparents?”
“Sweetie, your father is not going to disown you. And if he does, I’ll do everything I can to help. And if I can’t convince him to not kick you out, I’m coming with you. I don’t care if it means leaving my husband, I’m going to stay with you.”
“That doesn’t help me. I’m still going to get in loads of trouble.”
“Yes you will, Elizabeth. Don’t think that I’m not disappointed in you. But I’m more disappointed in myself about this. I should’ve been there for you more. I should’ve supported you unlike your father. I didn’t get to be the mother I should’ve been.”
“This is all my fault. Don’t blame yourself, Mom. I’m in trouble, and you know it. What have I done?”
Alyssa sighed. “Sweetie, stop looking at the negatives. You have a wonderful chance. You can bring life into the world. Another human being. Someone who you will love no matter what. Someone Connor will love. Someone I will love.”
“I never said anything about Connor!”
“If I can figure out that your baby is Connor’s, your father can too. He’ll be even more upset if you lie to him about that.” She laughed a bit, looking down at her daughter.
After a long moment of silence and tears, Elizabeth finally spoke. “You never mentioned Dad in the names of everyone my child will be loved by.”
Sighing again, Alyssa spoke. “I honestly don’t know what your father is going to thing. But we both know that he isn’t going to be very happy. Or happy at all. You know that he already hates Connor. This isn’t going to help very much.”
But Elizabeth already knew that. She knew her father would want to go beat up Connor the moment he heard about this. Her mother knew that. Everyone knew that. Sean, her father, was extremely protective over his only child. And her ending up pregnant would be the worst thing possible in his mind. She wouldn’t be his little girl anymore.
“Do you wanna see the pictures?” Elizabeth asked Alyssa, trying to change the gloomy mood. Girls should be overjoyed about having a baby, right?
Alyssa smiled again. Seeing the happiness in her daughter’s eyes, even if the happiness didn’t come from something she really wanted her daughter caught up in, it made her happy as well. “Yeah. Of course I would.”
Grabbing her laptop, Elizabeth began searching through her computer. She pulled up the sonogram, setting it down on the bed.
After laughing and talking for a while, Sean walked in the room. He wasn’t supposed to be back yet. “What are you two up-” he was cut off mid-sentence when he saw what was on the laptop. The girls were frozen, staring back at him with blank faces. Elizabeth was obviously afraid of what her father would do. Alyssa was giving her husband a ‘please don’t do something horrible’ look. But it had no effect on Sean. “Elizabeth. Alyssa. Why are the two of you both looking at a sonogram?”
There was a long moment of silence. “You know why, Dad.”
But then there was a ring on the doorbell. The ding-dong echoed throughout the house. All three of them knew it was Connor.
“Dad! Don’t!” Elizabeth exclaimed, jumping up.
But Sean was already heading down the stairs. And as soon as the front door was opened, Elizabeth had caught up to him.
There Connor was standing, a bouquet of flowers in his hand with a box of chocolates. “Oh! Mr. Brown. I wasn’t expecting to see you here...”
“And who were you expecting to see?” Sean asked with a glare, stepping forward and crossing his arms.
Taking a step back, Connor spoke, “Elizabeth.” He was stuttering over her name, unable to even say a word to Sean without slipping up. I felt so sorry for him. Just standing there awkwardly with the flowers, looking for Elizabeth. He looked so lost, unsure of what to do or what to say.
“And why would that be?”
“To give her these flowers...”
Sean didn’t say anything this time, instead he simply stepped out of the doorway and grabbed the boy’s shirt, punching him in the face. Blood began trailing down out of his nose. “I never want to see you back here! Don’t even think about calling my daughter or even talking to her! You will never, ever, ever, see her again in your life!”
And with that, Sean gave him a few more punches before Connor was running off. Of course the gifts were still on the porch. Laying there as if they were trash. Unimportant. They didn’t mean anything to Sean. They were just meaningless. And to him they were trash.
“Elizabeth, go to bed. How about we talk about this in the morning? That boy has put you through enough.”
And with that, I woke up. Had that really happened? Of course it was a dream. But dreams were connected to things, right? It made sense. Based on what I’d heard from Elizabeth, that was pretty accurate.
My movements woke Travis up. “Anna? What’s wrong?” he asked me, running a hand through his dirty blond hair.
“Nothing. I just woke up. That’s all.” Travis shrugged it off, going back to sleep. I, however, found myself staring out into the darkness of the night through the window. I couldn’t even imagine how Elizabeth must’ve felt then. If it were me, I would’ve been crying all night in my mother’s arms. Well, if that actually happened to me, Elizabeth’s. But I doubted Connor would do that if I ended up pregnant.
The next thing I knew, it was morning. I was woken up by a voice. Elizabeth’s. She was standing at the door with Connor, looking at the two of us.
“Travis. I have no problem with you staying here. But I do have a problem when you’re staying in my daughter’s bed. Get out of the bed. Now.” Connor glared at him. I’d never seen him be so rude. Apparently he’d learned from his lesson about boyfriends. When he called me his daughter, Elizabeth and I both couldn’t help but smile. I was officially part of the family now. Connor treated me like any man would his daughter. And Elizabeth, of course, had grown attached to me the moment we met.
Travis frowned, creeping his way out of the bed. “Don’t worry. Nothing happened...” he muttered.
“Why are you here?”
Travis looked back towards me. He didn’t want to answer the question. “Um. Family problems.” That explanation was good enough for Connor. He understood the hidden message in there. His father started beating on him, Travis wanted to escape, and now his mother was there suffering. I hoped this wouldn’t become a regular trend.
“Go to Jamie’s room.” With that, Connor left.
“We’re going to the hospital to see Nathan in about an hour,” Elizabeth told Travis as he left. She smiled, leaning against the door. “So,” she began, shutting the door and sitting down on my bed next to me. “Travis came in through the window?” I nodded. “How romantic. Are the two of you going out now or something?”
“It’s not official but I guess you could say so.”
“Just to verify. You didn’t really do anything with him, do you?”
“Alright. Just making sure. I’ve had my share of experiences with messing up with boys in the past. But I ended up happy, so they all turned out well.”
“I had this dream last night. About you and Connor. When your parents found out that you were pregnant. Did your father really tell Connor that he’d never see you again?”
Elizabeth sighed. But she nodded after a little while. “Yes. I was afraid I’d never see him again. And I loved him. And I still do. I didn’t want my son growing up without a father. And I didn’t want my father to end up marrying me off to some guy to save the family name. Someone who I didn’t love.” There were tears forming in her eyes, the sadness returning.
“Do you wish you could see your father again?”
“Yes. Yes I do. No matter how hard that is to believe. I wish I could see him again. I wish that my boys, and you, could meet him.”
“What about your mother?”
“Of course I’d want to see my mother. You know she didn’t want my father to say those things. She tried to convince my father that he was good for me. But it didn’t work. I actually told her I was going to run away with Connor. She knew everything. I had no one else to talk to. She even helped me pack. She didn’t want to see me secretly suffering with my father there. She wanted me to be with Connor. To be happy. I’d give anything to see my mother again. I never really appreciated my mother that much until Jamie was born. Then I realized just how much she loved me and wanted to be there for me when Jamie was born. But then my dad would know that she knew. And he wouldn’t stand for that.”
The story made me smile, even if it was sad. “Jamie just brought you and Connor closer together even though you thought it would do the opposite.”
“Yes, he did. And I think that I secretly wanted my father to come after me. I thought that if he saw how happy I was he would just let me marry Connor. I wanted him to understand. I wanted to know that my father loved me. And when he didn’t, I was only more upset. I needed him and he wasn’t there for me. That’s why I always made sure I was there for my boys. And I made sure Connor was too. Anna, why are you wondering about this all of a sudden?”
I sighed. “I’m nervous about Travis. And what his father’s going to do to him. I want him to be okay and everything. He wants to feel loved. He’s loved by you, but that’s not enough. He wants his father to love him also. I can understand to know what it feels like to have someone other than your birth parents to act like they are your parents and love you as if you’re they’re child. But it’s just not enough. I mean I love you to death and all, Elizabeth, but it’s just not the same if it’s not your real parents. I want to know that I’m loved by them as well. To know that they’re worrying about me somewhere is comforting. And I want Travis to feel like his parents love him.”
Elizabeth nodded. She understood. She realized that I wanted to know who my real parents were. It was like I was incomplete without knowing where I came from. People took their parents for granted. I’d realized that after I’d heard my classmates complaining about parents and all.
“Anna. I want to help Travis too. And I can’t imagine anyone hurting their own child like Travis’s father does.”
Tears began flowing out of my eyes. Elizabeth immediately saw this and placed my head in her shoulders, wrapping her arms around me. “Why does it have to be him? Why does he have to go through pain every single day. Why does he have to feel unloved? How could anyone hurt someone like that? To grab a knife on your own child? Why does the world have to be like this with all of these people hurting each other? Why can’t it just be perfect? Why do we even need these problems? Why is someone suffering somewhere in the world every single day?”
Elizabeth was trying to comfort me, and was failing. But I could see that she wanted to help me. “Sweetheart, I don’t know. Some people are just like that. They’re driven by others’ pain. I don’t know the answers to your questions. You’re gonna have to accept that there’s nothing you can do.”
I refused to believe that. There had to be something I could do that could help Travis. And I would just have to figure that out. No matter how hard it was to find, I would find some way to prove that statement wrong. There was something I could do to help Travis. And I would find it. No matter what it took. That one decision changed my life. And I will stand by it forever. It’s probably one of the few things I’ll never regret.
After Elizabeth could see that I just needed some time alone, she quietly sneaked out of my room while I wasn’t really paying attention. But I noticed. And I didn’t mind. I was secretly glad I could have some time to just think to myself. Elizabeth probably wanted to go talk to Connor or something by now anyway.
During that hour before we left, I spent most of my time reading. When I was finally called down, I was ready to go. I’d been waiting for an entire hour to get to see Nathan. It wasn’t like I had anything else to do, which made me feel slightly useless.
“Anna!” The boy called my name out as I approached. He was lying down on the hospital bed, wearing one of the dresses as I liked to call them that all of the patients wore. For someone who’d just had his head glued back together, or however the doctors fixed his head, he was strangely hyper and happy. There was a smile on his face, as always. His eyes were wide and eager. The four year old was nearly bouncing up and down in his seat in fact. “I’ve been waiting to see you! But the doctors said I had to wait until I could see anyone!”
I couldn’t help but smile, seeing as I was finally able to see him again. But the fact that he was in the hospital made me feel slightly sad. He didn’t deserve to be here. Why was he hurt? Out of all of the people in the world? There were many people that deserved to be hurt, but the thought made me jittery. In fact, it hurt me to think of anyone else being hurt. It was a strange surge of pain that hit my heart, that made tears want to come flowing out of my eyes.
“I’ve been waiting to see you too, sweetie,” I replied in an innocent voice. To Nathan, he was going to get better and nothing would be the same.
But to me, there would be. Even if he was still the same old Nathan, there would just be something different. His personality would be there, but I would feel slightly different when I thought about him. Sorry. A sense of unjust. Why hadn’t I been the one to be hurt? He was younger than me, and didn’t deserve to go through such pain of having to be in the hospital.
That was when something struck me. A memory perhaps?
I woke in a room. On a bed. There was a light above me. I felt enclosed in the small room with no windows. Why weren’t there any windows? The walls were tight, and it felt as if they were moving. My mind was playing tricks on me. Everything was white, there was nothing different. I was lying on an empty bed that had a pillow at the end of it. There was a bracelet around my left wrist. It read my name. Anna. But that was all I could make out. The rest of it was illegible. Blurry almost.
My hair was damp. It was down, for I could feel it move around my shoulders as I sat up. But it struggled to do so. Instead I fell back down on the bed, crying out in pain. My leg hurt. My right leg. But when I moved my head to look down at my leg, there was the pain again.
It was a strong, electrical current that started from my neck moving down towards my spinal cord and reaching out into other places. My nervous system perhaps. It was like being pricked by a needle in a million different points at a time. But more like ten thousand needles. It hurt to move.
I decided to endure the pain, managing myself up off the bed. I groaned as I did so, glancing around the room. There was a sheet of paper attached to the bed. Anna. Everything else was blurry. Except for one other thing that I could see. There was a title at the top. Big Bend national hospital. London, England. That must’ve meant I was in England. Near big bend. That gave me something. I flipped through the other papers as if there was something in particular I was looking for. Date? No. Blood Type? That was blurry to. One thing suddenly rushed through my body.
But it was blurred too. Who had checked me in?
There was a noise from outside. The door began to open. I quickly half-ran to the bed and hopped in, closing my eyes and pretending to be asleep.
That was when I tried to become very aware of my breathing. It was slow, and when I took a deep breath in, I felt a calming sensation. My heart was pounding. I closed my eyes, visualizing my heart pumping blood into various arteries. I had no idea why I did. But the thought made me suddenly imagine something else.
The shark that had come towards me. Sharks could sense blood, correct? That fisherman I’d seen, I cringed at the memory of him, he’d been dumping some sort of blood nearby me then just left me there.
The door opened. My eyes opened quickly, my fake sleep being lost. There was a woman dressed as a nurse there, smiling at me. “Anna. You’re awake! She’s awake,” she said with a smile, turning towards someone. “Your mother and father are here to see you.” The woman had a British accent, not a surprise seeing as I was in London. “Right in here, Mrs. Jones.”
But the woman who came in was not my mother. And the man who came in was not my father. They weren’t the people I’d seen in my dreams before. The woman had curly, bloody red hair. The man had black hair combed back, gelled. They were staring at me with a loving look, I could tell it was fake. These people weren’t my parents.
“Could you leave us alone for a moment?” the woman asked, turning to the nurse. The nurse nodded, leaving me with the couple. As soon as the door was shut, the woman’s expression turned cold. “Anna...I believe that you’re very confused at this point. Well you should be. But that’s completely normal. As you can see, you’re in a hospital. You broke a few bones trying to get into our office. You fell off, well you actually jumped off, a moving jeep. You’re lucky you didn’t crack your head open. We’ll talk later once you get your strength back.”
I came back to the real world for a moment. I felt dizzy, and practically collapsed right there in the hospital room. At least I was in a hospital. I heard my name being called. Anna, Anna, Anna...The voices repeated the word. There was Elizabeth’s, worried and concerned. And a few others that I recognized as Jamie’s and Connor’s. But the one that stood out the most was Nathan’s voice. A child’s voice, loud and unknowing. Innocent in a way. The way he said the name soothed me in a way.
It sounded so beautiful from a child’s voice. Especially from a voice that I immediately identified with love.
I woke in a room. On a bed. There was a light above me. I felt enclosed in a small room with one large window, with the blinds down all the way. There was shouting outside. Deja vu. The dream was the first thing that came to my mind, but also wen I’d been in the hospital after the shark attack. Yes. This was the same room. But the dream, well daydream, I had experienced seemed to take place after that. That must’ve meant I had lost some of my memory of that as well. Maybe I wasn’t losing memory of what happened before Elizabeth and Connor found me, but of other things of well. It was possible, wasn’t it?
“Anna.” The word made me smile, and I turned only to see Elizabeth’s face. She stood up from a chair she was sitting in. There was that same face of worry that I’d seen when I’d awoken in the hospital room before.
She gave out a sigh of relief, stepping over towards the bed. She grabbed my hand, and I could see tears forming in her eyes. The woman sat down on the bed and looked at me for a long moment. “Anna. I’ve known you for just less than half a year. And we’ve been in the hospital three times.” I remembered that I’d been sent to a hospital to be looked at when we first reached land, considering I was throwing up shortly after feeling the sensation of dirt. “That either means you’re very unlucky or something’s going on.”
There was a long silence as I looked into her eyes, only to see that they were still fill of worry. She knew that something was wrong, I couldn’t hide my feelings from her. “Anna. That’d be impossible even if you tried. First you turn up in the middle of the ocean completely lost. Next you’re bitten by a shark, and now you suddenly faint. The fainting is actually quite understandable, I understand you hadn’t had much to eat. But there was something strange about you the minute before you passed out. What was it?”
I sighed. “I saw something. A memory perhaps. I was in a hospital room. But it wasn’t like the hospital here. The bed was different, and so were the walls...It was just different. I could remember something about a shark though. But that was all.”
“Anna, this makes no sense. If I were you, I’d be going completely crazy by now.” We both laughed a little bit, trying to make the moment slightly easier for the both of us. “You’re hiding something from me, aren’t you? What is it?” She stroked my hair gently, holding onto the locks for a moment before dropping them, allowing them to fall back to the side of my head.
I had to tell her about the man that approached. I sighed, looking away from her. I couldn’t meet her eyes with the feelings I currently felt. I felt strange, as if I didn’t really belong here. As if I didn’t deserve the kindness she had willingly given to me. She’d allowed me to enter her family, and all I was doing to repay them was making them pay medical bills.
“There was a man in the courtyard, he spoke to me. I’d seen him in a dream or something, a dream that mentioned a shark or a squid attack. Something about a disaster in the ocean that was about to happen. He said I was different than the others, that I was stronger. That I didn’t belong here.” He was beginning to get to me. I didn’t belong with the Davidsons. I didn’t deserve them. They were sweet and caring, willing to take me. But what had I done to deserve them? I didn’t exactly fit in with them. I mean I fit in with everyone at school fine, I make friends and all. I just have some strange feeling about myself sometimes. Like I don’t really belong there. It’s strange. Completely impossible to describe.
Elizabeth simply stared at me with a blank look, as if she didn’t know what to say. “Anna, I have to tell you something too. The moment I saw you, I could tell that you weren’t normal. I mean you looked perfectly fine. But it just felt strange, finding you there. And you were so calm about it and all. You just looked different. No one is really like you, Anna. You’re a faster swimmer, you could beat all of those guys when you played football with them. And you seem to be very prone to danger. Maybe I should lock you away from the beach or something.”
I laughed, well forced one out. I know this sounds sort of depressing, but I didn’t really feel like laughing at the moment when I was thinking of such serious things. It sort of ruined the mood. I mean laughing was completely wonderful, but it just felt sort of strange to try and be so happy when my real thoughts were wandering off about the strange man I had met before and what he had said.
I was silent, and so was Elizabeth after that. She knew that really locking me away from the ocean would make me feel strange, out of place. And that she’d feel guilty later on when I was begging her to go out and swim with Travis and Jamie, and she’d end up letting me go anyway. Trying to keep me away was completely useless.
“She’s alive once again!” a voice called out, slamming open the door. I caught a glimpse of camera shots, there weren’t as many as there had been when there was the shark attack. This was only a faint after all. I couldn’t help but smile as Travis entered the room, slamming the door shut behind him. “This is only what the millionth time you’ve been in here?” he asked with a tease, stepping into the room with his charismatic presence echoing through the room.
Even though I laughed, his act had become slightly old after a while of being loud and completely noisy. He was always eager about things, which wasn’t exactly a bad thing. But sometimes he just ruined a quiet, peaceful, serious moment. And I found serious, quiet, peaceful moments with Elizabeth quite relaxing actually. And I was really in need of this one. I needed someone to talk to about everything. Someone who would actually take me seriously for once. To Travis I was just the cute little girl to play football with. But to Elizabeth, I was a serious person.
“Hey, Travis. And it’s three by my count,” I replied with my forced, wry smile still there. He had his hands behind his neck, his eyes looking down at me. He was watching Elizabeth, wondering if she was going to say anything. But she didn’t, so he turned back to me. He was actually quiet. Strange.
“So, Miss Three, how ‘bout ice cream?”
I shook my head, politely declining his offer. I really just wanted some time to think, not time with Travis. No matter how fun and wild he could be at times, I just really needed some time to be with Elizabeth and actually just talk about my feelings and what was going on. Travis wouldn’t understand my feelings, especially since he was a boy. Boys just couldn’t comprehend girls feelings, and the same went for girls to boys, no matter how much some people wanted to say that that statement wasn’t true, I stuck to it.
He raised his eyebrows, I could see the hidden disappointment hidden behind his happy expression. “Oh come on? Not even one small cone?”
I shook my head.
Even Travis could see that I wanted to be left alone, so he simply sighed and gave a wave, exiting the door. “Come over to Nathan’s room once you’re done with girly talk. And if you need help or whatever, I’m still gonna be here. I’m not going anywhere!” I knew that he meant that he wasn’t going back home. It wasn’t as if he had anywhere else to go anyway.
The awkwardness returned when I looked at Elizabeth. I sighed, deciding to explain my strange memories to her. “Elizabeth, I keep having these weird memories. They just keep coming in these random flashes to me. Randomly. Like right before I fainted. I had a memory of being in a hospital. And I have one clue of where I might be able to find something.”
“London. Some place called Big Bend Hospital.”
I wanted go, and that was obvious. I didn’t just want to go. I needed to go. I would go to Big Bend hospital. I didn’t care if I missed school, I needed to find my way to who I was. Or who I had been at least.
“Anna. We can’t all go to London. I realize this is very important to you. But we can’t just go right now. And what you’re looking for you probably can’t find all in winter or even summer break.”
“Elizabeth, I have to go. I don’t care if I miss the entire school year, I have to find this out. You didn’t finish high school, so why are you telling me I can’t miss some school?”
She sighed, looking away. I’d got her. She wanted to go to England most likely, I could tell. She wanted to help me find out who I was. It would hurt her if she didn’t help. She’d feel like I wasn’t really part of the family if she didn’t do something to help me. I wouldn’t really be one of her children if she didn’t help me in some way. I knew deep down that she didn’t really want to find my family. She wanted to have me to herself, to be able to say she had a daughter. To be able to see me. If I found my own family, I might not ever see her again. Well of course I’d make sure that I did. But she was afraid that I wouldn’t. That my parents would keep me at home. Wherever home was. If there even was a home anymore. It was a selfish thing, for her to want me to herself. But I understood what she was saying. If I had a child I’d want to be able to see them everyday.
“I can’t pull Jamie, Tom, and Nathan out of school too. And I have a job, and so does Connor.”
“We can go. Just you and me. Connor can run the business with Jamie’s help on his own. And he can take care of the boys. Please, Elizabeth. I have to find out who I was in order to understand who I am. This means the world to me.”
She looked at me, afraid of leaving her children with her husband. Not that she didn’t absolutely trust and love him. She just knew that he didn’t have the same motherly aspect, he wasn’t as gentle. He was more wild, and probably wouldn’t watch Nathan as well if he went to play outside. The trip would be completely ruined if we got a call from some hospital saying that Nathan was in the hospital again.
I would have to be somewhat persuasive on her. Use that sweet innocent lost girl technique. Try to get the soft, motherly part of her alive again.
“Elizabeth, you have a past. Connor has one. They might not be your favorite things. And you might wish that they were different.” She shuffled her feet around awkwardly, not wanting to face the part her parents played in her past. “You know where you come from. You know your history. I don’t. I don’t even know who my parents are. You do. How would you feel if you’d never even met your parents? That they’d shoved you into some orphanage and left you there? That you never knew who they were. Where you came from. Whether you’d grown up rich or poor, whether you even had a good family.
“I realize that finding out who I am might lead to problems. And you might think it’ll be a mistake if I find out my parents are really abusive or don’t really care about me. But I’d rather have parents who hurt me than not have any at all. I have to know who I am. And I know my parents wouldn’t hurt me. They love me. I’ve seen them. In dreams. I have memories and dreams of my family. I know that they love me. So you don’t need to be afraid of me going home to a family where I’m unloved.”
I was crying, and Elizabeth was too. She’d been afraid of the fact that she might’ve been sending me home to some family that wasn’t very good, to a family that I wouldn’t love. She slowly nodded, finally seeing my side of the story.
“All right. I’ll take you to London. And anywhere else we need to go in England. And if we need to, I’ll take you all over Europe. Or even all over the world. I’m going to help you find your family. I promise. We will find out who you are. You have my word. And if I ever have doubts about this, just remind me of this moment. And I’ll help you. We’ll find your family.”
She walked over towards me, grabbing my hand as she looked at me with tears. “I promise,” she whispered.
“Thank you.” Those were the only words that I could make out as we hugged each other, eager to find out who I really was. But we both knew it might mean goodbye. But she’d promised, and I’d promised myself. Even if it meant goodbye, I would find my family. I loved Elizabeth and her family, but I had to find out who I really was or I’d never really feel like I fit in with them.
And whoever that man was that I’d seen in the hospital, I had that feeling that I’d meet him again during the period of time that I was looking for my family. He’d been so...persistent in trying to get me to come with him.
It had been a week. Elizabeth had bought tickets from New York City to London, England. And I was as antsy as ever. At this time next week, I would be running around London searching for my parents. I’d managed to get a passport, which had been quite a hassle seeing as though my date of birth and all couldn’t be listed. But Elizabeth and Connor had decided that the day they’d found me, sixteen years ago would be my birthday.
Just over half a year ago, I might’ve been in London myself. Maybe I’d been in that hospital then. Maybe I’d been running around just like I was going to be soon. Where would my journey take me? Across the world again? Clues and more clues. That was the one thing I was afraid of. What if we didn’t find my family? What if clues only lead to one more clue, only to get me nowhere. What if I couldn’t find them? I shoved the thought aside, forcing myself that everything would be fine. That I’d find my family.
So here I was packing. Hotel reservations in London were made already. Everything was in my suitcase. Today was the day. I was finally beginning my journey to who I had been. And who I was.
Soon I was standing at the airport with the whole Davidson family, including Travis. He was included with the Davidson family by now. Taylor was there. She’d begged to come along. But considering the fact that she was sometimes extremely loud and would probably fail all of her classes if she came, I politely told her to stay home. Elizabeth was already crying, hugging everyone goodbye. Her goodbyes were temporary. But mine might’ve been permanent. Once Elizabeth was through hugging her family, she stepped back and allowed me to say goodbyes.
I looked at Connor, who was trying his hardest not to cry. He looked at me, at a loss of words. “Well, Anna. Take care of Elizabeth for me. I don’t know what I’d do with out her.” He smiled, catching her eyes for a moment. “And good luck with finding your family. And if you don’t have any luck, you always have a home in our house and with our family. I’ll really miss you. I don’t know what we’ll do without you.” I gave him a hug, turning to Jamie next.
“School won’t be the uh-same without you ya know. Bye...”
Next was Tom. He gave me a basic hug. But when Nathan came, I picked him up, giving him a bigger hug. He didn’t realize that he may never see me again, being four. I’d miss him a whole lot. When Taylor came, we hugged and exchanged the last few words of ‘I love you!’
Then came Travis. Everyone sort of looked the other way for as as we kissed. Travis looked at me with a smile. “So does this mean I have a long-distance girlfriend or...?”
I shook my head. “I honestly don’t think that would be so well. There’s other girls in Truro. And things wouldn’t of really worked out between us anyway. Take care of my family for me. Our family.” I added in there.
“There’re always be a place for you at my house.”
“Travis. Your home isn’t really a home. Face it. Elizabeth, Connor, and Jamie, and everyone else in that crazy house is your family. You belong there. You belong with them. Face it.” He smiled a bit, nodding.
When we finally boarded the plane, things were quiet between the two of us. The goodbyes had been awkward, but loving. Elizabeth had stopped crying by now, staring ahead at the other First Class seats in front of her. When would we get there?