All around me was white. The purest gleam of fresh fallen snow, simple and soft and blinding all at once. The gentle glow enveloped me, comforting me.
And she was there.
My memory of her had faded, as a negative exposed to extreme light, over time becoming translucent. But her presence lingered always, a ghost on the edges of my recollection. From her embrace, I was pulled. Sent unwillingly back into the world of ordinary. A place I never felt I belonged, but didn’t know why.
What a strange thing it is to be left alone. Put upon the earthen world, surrounded by strangers. With only a mist-filled memory to help you cling to your past, fleeting at best.
But I was here for a purpose. That I knew. I could feel it resonating within the very depths of my being. Only I wasn’t quite sure what that purpose was yet. Matter of fact, I had no clue of who I was even.
The morning was happy outside my window, casting its smile into my room. Above me the ceiling-fan whirled in an endless dance, stirring my silk canopy in a fluidic dance, cooling my flushed skin. The familiar tornado of forgetfulness had yet again razed my dreams into a stark wasteland, the only remnants—a profusion of sweat, and small crescent-shaped indentions in my palms. It had always been this way, for as long as I could remember. My arms felt remarkably empty, a spectral hum of energy tickled at my skin.
When I was three, a passerby discovered me wandering down the shoulder of Highway 93, heading toward Las Vegas, in the sizzling summer heat, naked, and alone. With no connection of who I was, or from where I had come. Those memories were buried somewhere within, satisfied at being forgotten.
But the fear remained. Even now, looking down the road toward my future, I feared being alone.
A tragic mistake of nature haunted by terrible dreams, and plagued by futile attempts to remember them.
My adoptive mother, Millie, had always been rock-solid, a fortress of patience and strength that amazed me. When I was small and would have these nightmares, wake up confused, lost, and unaware of where I was. She would appear, like magic, into my room, pull back the canopy, snuggle up next to me, and let me bury my face in her thick brown curls. Cradling me, until I fell back to sleep exhausted from crying.
She never treated me as though I wasn’t hers, and neither did, Louie, my adoptive father, with whom I’ve always been close. Really what I longed for was some sense of connection. The opportunities to one day meet and know those two special people out there, somewhere in the world, with which I share a genetic link. In my heart I can’t help but wonder: Where could they have gone? What did their faces look like, their eyes, their smiles? Did they mean to give me up, or was I somehow lost? Were they gifted with unusual talents?—like me.
“Maysun,” Millie’s voice bounced up the curved staircase, ringing into my room.
I rubbed sleep from my eyes. “Dang. School. Gah.” I muttered. Calling back, “I’m up.” I hopped down to the floor, digging my purple polished toes into the carpet, dragging myself into the bathroom.
“Ugh! What the…,” I pulled my hands over my face stretching it, distorting it. Thick strands of black hair stuck to the sweat on my forehead and neck. I pinched a stray strand, holding it up out of my face. Smoky circles shaded my eyes, causing me to resemble a punk raccoon. My dark green energy, emanating from somewhere deep within my body, popped and crackled. Its color matched my eyes, bloodshot, and sleep deprived. I couldn’t recall a night where sleep had carried me through.
The hot water of the shower scorched my skin, but felt ravishingly good, burning and beating away the tension from last night’s ill-fated slumber.
Monotonous and boring, the school day loomed before me. The only saving grace was the thought of spending time with my friends. School just wasn’t a challenge, not really. I could taste the end of the school year, like fresh summer strawberries, sweet and delicious.
With Lucky jeans in both hands, I jumped up down to squeeze into them, slid my feet into my Vans and bounded down the stairs, eager to get out of the house. I needed to feel the sun of my face, needed its warmth to consume me, to make me feel whole again.
Fresh-squeezed orange juice filled our roomy kitchen and zinged through my senses, like a jolt of electricity to my taste buds. Millie poured it into tall blue glasses set at the long bamboo counter where we always took our meals.
Her brown eyes lit with understanding. “Hi honey, how’d you sleep?” she asked, knowing what my answer would be.
I shrugged, “Same as always.”
“Aww sweety, maybe it’s better for you that you don’t remember the dreams.”
“I’m really not afraid anymore. I’m more curious than anything.” I grabbed an apple from the bowl in the middle of the counter and sank my teeth into the summer-green flesh.
She moved around the kitchen in silence, her amber energy a delicate hum.
“So mom, how do you feel about taking me shopping for summer clothes?” I threw the bait. “It’s getting warm you know, and I’m the only girl at school still wearing pants.” I was aware I pouted, but knew this course of action would be successful. My mother was maniacal when it came to shopping. The woman’s collection of credit cards would put the most avid shoppers to shame.
“Oh! How about after school today? I’ll pick you up,” she beamed. “You should invite Jen; we’ll go to Fashion Show Mall!” A burst of yellow light exploded from her almost blinding me. Okay, so she was excited.
I chuckled at my success. “Sounds good, after school, then.” She took the bait far too easily.
Of course, I was thrilled. What girl doesn’t love to shop? But the woman could be nutty when it came to the mall. I was glad my dad would be out of town for this event. He could go just as crazy when he figured out how much money my mother spent on one of these infamous shopping escapades. It was better for his health that he not bear witness.
Millie owns her own earth friendly interior design company, “Verdant Décor”. Fortunately, she instilled in me a sincere respect for our planet. My eyes traversed our kitchen, observing her earthly love surrounding us. Every steel appliance bore the Energy Star symbol. The tile backsplash that wove like a ribbon around our kitchen was made from recycled glass bottles of blue and green. The countertops made from tightly-pressed newspapers and phone books. The floors—speckled brown cork. The woman was ecologically obsessed.
My dad’s a drummer who tours all over the world with his rock band. He wasn’t home most of the time, which worked out fine for my mom and me, though I missed him terribly when he was away. When I was a little girl he would sit on his lap and play like a mad-man, simply for my amusement. And I pretended his big red base drums were houses for my toys and dolls. Sometimes he would take a drum-full of whatever stray toys were hitchhiking within on the road with him.
We did go on tour with him when I was younger, my mom and I, but I wanted to go to a regular school and make friends. Calling a tour bus your home wasn’t the ideal if you wanted a normal teenage social life. Well, as normal a life that someone, like me, could hope to have.
I finished the oatmeal and fresh juice my mom gave me, planting the customary peck on her cheek, and a quick, “Love you, Mom.” I was on my way out the door.
Stepping out of my house and into the sparkling sunlight, I was thrilled I’d decided to walk. It was a crisp end-of-spring morning. The inhabitants of Las Vegas were enjoying a cool spell. Slipping my sunglasses over my eyes, adjusting the heavy red backpack onto my shoulders, and popping Skull Candy earbuds into my ears, I started down my street. Breathe by AVA served as background noise.
There was a lot on my mind lately, questions about my odd abilities, my past, and my failure to recapture the dreams that seemed to somehow guide my life, took center stage in my thoughts. And there was no-one available to me, no-one I trusted sharing the depth of my curse.
I’d learned a long time ago to keep many details about myself a secret. My mother told me on many occasions, “There are a lot of things in this world people just don’t seem to want to understand.” It’s safe to say, I’m not the status quo of an adolescent girl.
In general, being a teenager is difficult enough, without sharing those things that keep me alienated from the general population. Things I would not could not, tell anyone for fear they would put me in a straightjacket and lock me in a padded cell.
Why did it seem I was so close to knowing the deeper truth of things?
People are a rainbow of colorful energy; each individual its own special palette. I’m not the only one who sees auras. Though I’ve never met anyone else who does. These kaleidoscopic energies are a wondrous part of my everyday life. A Kirlian camera capture’s a photo of these living energies. I’d love to have an opportunity to see that, curious if it would capture the brilliant scene as I see it. There are a lot of words that describe people who have these sorts of abilities, psychic, telekinetic, clairvoyant, psychokinetic. I didn’t know where I fit into the scheme of it, if at all.
I’m weird enough without all that extra stuff. Sometimes I felt ready to make my own reservation for “The Padded Cell Hotel”.
I walked down my tree-lined street, kicking small stones, like miniature soccer balls, seeing how far I could make them fly. The large, cookie-cutter, mini mansions of my neighborhood were surprisingly ordinary. The houses so close together, it was as if you could reach out and touch your neighbors. Lawns the size of gum wrappers lined the streets. Sprinkled here and there were yards with rocky, desert landscaping, the result of having to conserve fresh water resources. Ironically, there was still a swimming pool and spa in every back yard. It was drab, dull, and monochromatic. The only vegetation to grow in such a place as Las Vegas, with its baking summer heat, is that which is planted. It’s mind-boggling, the contrast between the desert oasis of the sprawling electric city, and the simple dry suburban neighborhoods.
The school year had flown by with such quickness. Since I’d started high school at Liberty, the time seemed to move in fast forward. That’s what happens when you have a full schedule of school activities, and enough homework from taking honors classes to devour your entire social schedule. The year went by in a blur.
A few weeks left of my sophomore year. These would be the most stress-filled, but also the most exciting. Finals loomed over our heads. I’d live through it, eager for end-of-the-year parties and my birthday.
“Ahh, to be sixteen,” I sighed into the empty streets.
I looked forward to driving, being free for my first summer of release. Road trips to Cali, soaking up the sun with Jen, riding the waves, checking out the hot surfers ….
Like flicking off a switch, my daydream ended.
Jen pulled her bright yellow convertible in front of me, blocking my path. She looked like she was on her way to being the next victim of spontaneous combustion; her energy—hot as fire.
“Maysun,” she squealed.
“Are you trying to kill me?”
“Oh-my-God, you’re not going to believe who just asked me out!” She bounced up and down in her seat.
I hopped into the passenger side of her ‘Vette, closing the door with a soft thunk. Folding my hands in my lap, I waited for her to spill. This was going to be good; her energy poured out in waves of sunshine.
“Aiden! Can you believe it? He just asked me out,” she purred. Jen had been in love with this blonde-haired, blue-eyed jock since the beginning of freshman year.
Come to mention it, there weren’t many girls in our school who didn’t think of him as “hot,” except for me, of course. He wasn’t my type.
There wasn’t anyone at our school I found interesting. Weren’t all practically sixteen-year-old girls supposed to have one crush, at least? I would have another look around school. Maybe I missed something, or better put someone. Perhaps I was just too picky.
I need to show the appropriate amount of excitement for Jen right now, I reprimanded myself. Shoving the thoughts of boys from my mind, I looked back to her.
“Wow, Jen, that’s wonderful! When did he ask you?”
“Like ten minutes ago!” She sang. “I seriously can’t believe my luck. Now, I’ll have a boyfriend for the summer; and, not just any boy, but Aiden. Isn’t it great? Maybe I’ll set you up with one of his friends.” She looked at me, a bright smile lighting her face.
I cleared my throat and braced myself against the dashboard, “You really should pay more attention to driving.” She ran a red light; cars blared their horns as she blew through the intersection. Even though she thought so, she wasn’t Tony Stewart. Perhaps she’d been a race car driver – in her former life. The ridiculous rambling of my thoughts made me all but laugh out loud.
“Oh sorry,” she came back down to reality, focusing her eyes back on the road.
I didn’t want to think of Jen spending her summer with Aiden. She was my only friend. Well not my only friend, but the only one I wanted to hang out with. The other girls in our “group” were annoying – kind of, and they gossiped too much – sometimes.
Urrgh! Suddenly I wasn’t as thrilled for Jen. Instead I was annoyed at the possibility of spending my summer alone. Defeated, I made a resolution: I’d try to be a good best friend, and wouldn’t let her know just how bad I wished she’d be single for the summer.
“I’m so stoked for you.” I feigned happiness. “It’ll be great. You are so lucky. You guys make an awesome couple. There are going to be so many girls who’ll have you on their hit list.” I poured it on thick, unable to resist teasing her.
Jen was beautiful, after all, and funny, and smart. She was in most of my honors classes. Pretty much every guy wanted to talk to her; and, because of that, every girl wished they were her. She was the whole package: tall, tan, long blonde hair, blue-green eyes, and flawless teeth, and of course, super model thin.
Finally, we raced into the school parking lot.
“Sorry, Jen, have to bounce. I have an English paper to turn in and Ms. Page will have me writing another essay if I’m late again.” I couldn’t believe my luck, or lack of it. I didn’t want to think of how my summer would be without her.
Turning to go to class, I looked over my shoulder at Jen. She waved and blew me a kiss. A huge smile spread across her face, yellow and pink energy pulsing from within her.
She was in love.
On more than one occasion, I’d witnessed those same colors. They were a constant companion to my mom and dad. It turned my stomach to think about it.
I’d keep my eyes open. Though I was sure I hadn’t missed any of the boys here. I’d gone to school with most of them since kindergarten, which happened to be another huge turn-off. My friendship with Jen always felt as though it was enough to keep me happy. That’s probably why I didn’t feel I was missing anything by not having a boyfriend.
I sat down in my seat in English class just as the bell rang. I loved Ms. Page’s classroom. She was the only teacher at our school with her room painted. It was the bright orange of a Creamsicle. Yesterday, we were assigned a new seating chart. I hated it. I now sat next to a nose-picker. It grossed me out to even think about touching his papers when we passed them for collection. Also, he smelled of dirty, rancid socks.
Ms. Page called the class to order, moving down the aisles between our desks to collect our homework.
Thank goodness we didn’t have to pass it, I thought, breathing a small sigh of relief.
Just as she finished accumulating the large stack of papers, Rayne walked into class late.
“Thanks for gracing us with you presence, Mr. Enlil,” Ms. Page boomed, making a spectacle of his tardiness.
He rolled his dark eyes, and continued to skulk toward his usual desk.
“Your new seat is in the second row. Next to Miss Spencer,” Ms. Page directed him toward the seat next to mine.
There were quite a few rumors floating around school about him. That’s how it always was when you were new to this school. People talked a bunch of crap about you, until one day, they got bored and you were just another—whatever—student. I had to admit, there was something strange about him. It wasn’t the way his sleek raven hair fell down to his chin, ending in a sharp edge, nor was it the way his dark eyes reflected the scene as he looked around the room. There was something about the way they glinted with needle-like spires of silver, but that wasn’t it either. What raised my curiosity was his bizarre aura. It was devoid of color—black and silver, roiling around him, like a storm cloud.
His eyes locked with mine, and narrowed.
Blood flooded my cheeks. I wanted to look away but couldn’t. Unbelievable—he caught me staring. I wanted to bury my face in my hands to shield myself from his glare, but I was locked in his gaze.
He gave me the strangest look, seeming to view the hidden depths of my soul. My head spun. Waves of nausea rolled through my stomach.
Did this boy have to stir such odd feelings of discomfort in me? As though he was my personal destroyer, a black angel sent to take me down into the underworld, why?
His gaze deepened as he approached, his aura shimmering and swirling inward. His black eyes sparkled with mercurial streaks. Mesmerizing, he took my breath away.
Rayne sat down in the bright blue seat next to mine, a tiny smirk upon his full lips.
“What the heck?” I swooned, feeling as though all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room. I was being swallowed into nothingness, black, and blacker, empty. “Damn.”
Visions like ghosts materialized. There was no sense to it, just a vision of people running helter-skelter. Blood curdling screams filled the air. A small boy and a young girl caught my attention, both their round faces beautiful, angelic. They were dressed in long robes of flowing-white, cinched at the waist with shiny gold rope. Tremors shook the ground beneath me. I blinked again and again trying to force the image away.
What was I seeing?
What was I feeling?
The vision changed, starting to solidify. Screams of many people sliced at my ears. Panic in their voices; foot falls echoing as they ran. Thick sulfur-laden smoke and ash choked the air. Searing heat scorched my skin as flames burned out of control. The children sobbed in front of me. They looked terrified, as though I was the reason for their fear. Taking their hands, I started to run, pulling them along with me over cobbled streets. To where, I had no idea. The sweat poured down my back. Turning the corner into a narrow alley, I realized I was surrounded by tall burning white buildings. What was this place? It looked like Greece or Rome. Is this where we were?
The word appeared a flash in my mind.
We ran faster. The smoke and flames billowed around us. Ash and smoke filled the air and burned our eyes. I struggled to see, looking up, searching the sky.
Amazed, I saw a large metal object, glinting through the smoldering clouds. The children’s eyes followed mine. They shook with fear, their small lips trembling. A screeching sound erupted from the large craft. Cracks along the side opened in a sharp triangular pattern. A tall shadowed figure appeared in the doorway.
Screams pierced the atmosphere then faded to nothingness.