15 years later.
Linda Cuthbert trudged home. She had had a hard last day of school. Brenda Keegan the coolest girl in the school had teased her ever since she had started at Staton High. It was bad enough that she was a physics geek she couldn’t help it she was just good.
The first day at Staton she had blown everyone out of the water and ever since then Brenda wouldn’t leave her alone. But today had been the worst day yet. She had made the mistake of pushing back her long, bright, red bangs during a test and Brenda wouldn’t let her forget it.
“Hey Scarface,” she jeered “Maybe you can come over later today and help me with my geometry. I mean it’s no secret that you think you’re smarter than anyone else in this school.” Linda hadn’t replied which made her laugh even harder.
It was the worst name anyone had ever called her. Over the course of her 17 years she had been called Carrothead, Geek and even Dork once in 1st grade when the class plant had died on her watch as well as any other name people could think of to tease her looks or her smarts.
She had met Cindy in 5th grade and they had immediately become best friends. Cindy was one of the few popular girls who actually gave Linda the time of day. Linda was the brains Cindy was the style. It had been Cindy’s idea that Linda grow out her bangs in fifth grade. At first Linda hadn’t liked the idea until she had overheard some of girls talking about her. “She might actually be pretty if it wasn’t for that horrid thing across her face.” Linda had never thought about covering up her scar but after hearing those girls talking about it she decided it might be good idea. By the time she got to high school everyone had forgotten about it and Linda could care less about what they thought about her skin or hair color and she had so many people who complemented her for her grades that a couple of mean nicknames didn’t really matter.
She remembered a time in her freshman year when she had let it get to her. She had run to the store and dyed her hair a rich brown…except it had ended up more of a purplish. Her mother had been disappointed in her and had sat her down and told her how special she was. “Linda have I ever told you how you came to be with us?” How many times had she heard the story? “You’re special Linda! God brought you to us! Don’t worry about it Linda gardening isn’t your thing we’ll let you stick with what your good at.” These were lines she had heard about a million times since the Cuthbert’s had adopted her when she was 2 years old.
As Linda neared the farm her six year old sister Jenny came running up the road “Mama says to hurry home there’s lots of things that need to be done before the party.” Linda nodded but didn’t hurry. It was her 17th birthday and her stomach hurt like it did every year on her birthday. She didn’t know why it just did from the time she got up in the morning to the time she went to bed. She would have stayed home from school but she had promised Cindy she would go over after school and that they would start the science project they were going to enter into the science fair that summer. They had spent that entire afternoon trying to decide what they would make but by four O’clock she felt so horrible she had to leave.
Linda rounded the bend and came upon the farm house where she had lived with her parents and siblings for most of her life.
She had tried to find her parents in her Freshman and Sophomore years but after coming up constantly empty she decided to give up. It had been quite obvious that her parents didn’t approve but she had so many questions to ask them like why had they gotten rid of her in the first place? How did she get the scar that went straight across her right cheek and totally ruined her image? The scar made her question what type of home she had lived in was her father an abusive father? Had he given her the scar? Or had her mother dropped her on a rock? Or had the family pet jumped on her face? These were the questions she had asked herself often when she was younger but over the years she had slowly begun to except that these were questions that might never get answered.
When she finally did get home she sat down on the couch and picked up a science book hoping to get her mind off the pain in her stomach. “What’cha doing?” asked Jenny in a sing-song voice as she came and plopped herself down on the arm of the chair.
“Science” Linda replied not looking up from her book.
“Ooooh! I love science. Last month Mrs. Henderson let me take care of the class plant all by myself.”
Linda winced at the memory and said. “Not that kind of science, Jenny you should know by now that I’m no good at biology.
“Oh yeah! Then what kind of science are you doing?
Linda turned back to her book. “Physics!”
Jenny made a face “why are you doing physics? School’s over!”
“I know,” she sighed, “but I like physics. It’s not work to me it comes to me naturally like your piano. You hear a song and you can play it on the piano almost immediately I see a lava lamp and can build one from scratch.” Jenny nodded but Linda could see she had no idea what she was talking about. Jenny got up and wondered off to some other activity that was more interesting than watching her sister read what was in her opinion a boring book.
A couple minutes’ later 10-year-old twins Trevor and Tyler came running in.
“Mary’s here Mary’s here,” they shouted running into the kitchen to find their mom. Linda closed her book and set it on the coffee table, eased out of her chair as carefully as possible and went out to greet Mary.
Tom, Mary’s husband pulled the car up. Mary climbed out of the car and helped 3-year-old Kyle out of the back. Linda loved it when Mary came.
Linda considered Mary to be her best friend beside her friend Cindy her only friend from school. There was something about her sister’s attitude that Linda loved. Mary was always excited to hear about the joys and sorrows of Linda’s life and she while she was very encouraging she was one of the only one in her family that didn’t have expectations about what Linda would become.
Cindy and all of Linda’s extended family came to celebrate Linda’s birthday. The gifts were wonderful but her favorite was the one from Mary. It was a silver necklace with scale like cuts on the base that was covered in a gold glitter so that it sparkled when the light touched it just right and it had little beaded strings hanging off the bottom with little jewels at the bottom of all different colors; it looked very expensive and she wondered how her sister could afford to buy something so nice for her.
That night Linda couldn’t sleep. She tossed and turned all night from a pain in her back. Pain somewhere on her body always followed her tummy ache. When she finally did get to sleep she dreamed a very strange dream there were two people, they were lost in some sort of a void and looking for something or someone. She didn’t know where she had seen them before but something about their presence was familiar. And she wondered if she had dreamed about them before. She couldn’t see either of their faces but could tell that one was a man and one was a woman. Suddenly the woman looked up and saw her she looked startled. “I can’t believe it” she said with tears running down her cheeks.
The man then looked up. “You must not look for us Leena but look for yourself you are the one who is lost.”
“What do you mean?” she heard herself say.
“You will see. You will see.” Then he disappeared then the woman spoke again she still had tears pouring down her cheeks
“Remember us when you find yourself Leena don’t ever forget us in time we too will be found. Be a light in these dark times.” Then she too bowed her head and was silent
“What do you mean? I’m not lost. Who are you? What dark times are you talking about? I think you’ve got me mixed up with someone else my names Linda not Leena.” But neither of them heard her.
Suddenly a man appeared he had a cruel sneer on his face “I…found…you.” He laughed a wicked laugh. He pointed a devise at her and she felt herself shrinking and suddenly with a poof she was gone.
Linda woke up in a sweat. She looked out the window to see that it was morning. She climbed out of bed and got dressed she ran down the stairs to where her mother was making breakfast she ate quickly and then she left. She didn’t know where she was going all she knew was she had to get out of there she had to think. What was up with that dream? It had seemed so real. What had those people meant by finding herself? She knew that dreams weren’t supposed to make sense. But this one had been too real to ignore.
She soon found herself at her favorite place in the woods. This special place was Linda’s fort. It was a beautiful place that was so hidden that not even the animals seemed to know it was there. That day the fort seemed to shine, the dew was still fresh on the trees and was shining in the early morning light. Linda crawled into the little place and sat on the stump that was right in the middle of the place, the sun beating down on her head she took off the necklace that she had put on earlier that morning and began to examine it. It was beautiful, it was quite large about 2 inches around, and it was quite shiny with the little jewels and glitter. It looked like it was shaped like a flower but one she didn’t recognize; but most interesting of all was the fact that on the back it looked like something had been painted over she started to scratch away the paint but a noise from behind interrupted her. She turned around but didn’t see anyone. Then the sound of singing broke into her thoughts. Linda stuck the necklace in her pocket and went to see where the sound was coming from.