Inspiring YouJessica Sorensen
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Copyright © 2015 by Jessica Sorensen
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
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Something inside me
Guides me down a desolate road.
Leading to somewhere.
Leading into the unknown.
Nothing but darkness.
All, all alone.
Terrified to be found.
Fucking fearing the end.
Still, I make my way down that road.
Clutching onto the hope
Of reaching you one day.
It’s all I have to hold onto
Until I get to you again.
“HEY, CAN WE TALK FOR a minute?” Lila, my adoptive mother, asks as she sticks her head into my room.
“Yeah, sure.” I close the notebook that I scribble my thoughts and lyrics into. “Is something wrong?” I ask as I scoot to the edge of my bed and lower my feet to the floor.
She shakes her head as she walks into my room. “No, honey. Nothing’s wrong. I just want to talk.” She sits down beside me. “You’ve seemed kind of quiet at dinner lately, and with everything going on . . .” She sighs. “I just want to make sure you’re doing okay with everything.”
“I’m fine,” I say, hoping I don’t sound as guilty as I feel.
The truth is, a ton of shit is wrong, more than she realizes. Not only have the police found no new information on where my sister, Sadie, is, but I also have an officer following me around twenty-four seven. While I’m grateful they’re protecting me, I’m not sure what the hell I’m going to do when Monday rolls around, and I have to go to my therapy appointment. Hopefully, I can think of a good excuse as to why I’m going to a doctor’s office; otherwise, I won’t be able to go through with my plan.
“I know but . . .” Lila mulls something over while staring out the window where the stars and moon have taken over the sky. “You just seem a little different lately.” She looks at me, worry lines creasing her eyes. “Ethan and I are worried you might be holding stuff in, especially after you found out about your dad . . . And that letter you got the other day . . .” She shudders. “I know it has to be hard for you.”
The letter that arrived in the mail the other day was addressed to me. Fiona was the one who collected it from the mailbox. Thankfully, Lila got a hold of it before anyone else did, noted the lack of a return address, and handed it over to the police. While I don’t know what the contents of the letter are, I’ve noticed I’m being watched more closely, so I’m guessing it was another threat.
“Sweetie, I just want you to know we’re not going to let anything happen to you.” Lila pats my leg. “Your father . . . these people . . . they’re not going to get ahold of you.”
I do my best not to think about the father I never knew, and if he really is part of the evil group who once kidnapped my siblings and me and who still has my sister. Because, if I think about him too much, then I start thinking about everything. And the more I analyze everything, the more I get dragged back into the darkness I let own me for too long. And I don’t want to be stuck in the darkness anymore. I realized that when a member of the Soulless Mileas lured me into the woods. I thought I was going to die out there in the dark, by myself, haunted by my fears I never overcame. When I didn’t die, I promised myself no more being afraid.
No more fear.
Forever and ever.
No matter what
I’ll fight until the end.
Lila sighs at my silence, her shoulders slumping forward with disappointment. “Are you sure there isn’t anything you want to tell me?”
My stomach twists with guilt. It’s like she knows what I’m going to do.
I shake my head. No, if she knew what I was up to, she’d put a stop to it. “I’m okay. I promise. I’m just a little caught up with graduating and stuff. There’s a lot going on.”
She smiles. “I still can’t believe you’ll be a high school graduate in just a few days. It seems like only yesterday we were bringing you home.”
“Two years has gone by kind of fast, hasn’t it?” I realize the truth of my words.
With all of this crazy shit going on with the Soulless Mileas, I haven’t had time to step back and think about how quickly time flies. In just a few days, I’ll be out of high school, and I have no clue what I want to do. Most of my time has been spent trying to find my brother and sister. My search for my brother ended painfully with the police finding his body near my old childhood home. They believe the Soulless Mileas played a role in his death, but since they can’t track down any of the members, no one has paid for taking his life.
“It has gone by pretty fast. Too fast, at least for me.” Her eyes tear up, and she unexpectedly throws her arms around me. “I’m so proud of you. You’re such a strong, good person, Ayden. I’m so lucky I get to have you as my son.”
I pat her back, not feeling as uncomfortable as I used to when she hugged me, but hugging is still out of my comfort zone. “Thank you . . . For saying that. It means a lot to me.”
“I’m just saying the truth. You’re an amazing person, Ayden Gregory.”
I wonder how my graduation conversation would’ve went if my birth mother hadn’t handed us over to those horrible people, if she were still alive, and my brother and sister and I were living with her. Would I even be graduating? Would I have ever truly felt what it was like to be loved and taken care of? I want to say yes. I want to believe my life with her wasn’t all bad. And maybe it wasn’t. There were some good moments that the four of us shared, but most of the good was lost in a sea of yelling, abuse, and neglect.
By the time Lila and I pull away from the hug, my eyes are burning with tears. I don’t want to cry. I’ve been doing too much of that lately in the privacy of my room, whenever I think too much or when I have a nightmare about the past.
Lila dabs her eyes with her fingertips, wiping away smeared makeup. “Well, I just want you to know I’m here if you ever need to talk.”
“I know,” I say. “And I appreciate that, but I promise I’m just a little distracted by school and stuff.”
“All right.” She rises to her feet and reluctantly leaves the room.
The moment she shuts the door, I grab my pen and notebook
and get out the clusterfuck of thoughts crammed inside my head. I hate lying to Lila—hate lying to anyone—but if I’m ever going to end this—fight until the end—then I need to go through with the experimental amnesia treatment. Hopefully doing so will bring back enough of my memories that, at the very least, I’ll be able to positively identify some of the people who took me and my siblings over four years ago.
I just hope remembering doesn’t break me again.
I won’t let it pull me down.
I won’t give in
Drown me all over again.
I’ll fight and I’ll fight and I’ll fight
Against the rapids.
Against the terror.
I’ll never surrender.
After I finish jotting down my thoughts, I put the notebook in my nightstand. Writing usually calms me, but I still feel restless as hell. I need answers. It’s driving me fucking crazy not knowing what’s going to happen next—what the Soulless Mileas next move will be.
I sit down at my desk and turn on the computer screen. With a few clicks of the mouse, I open a webpage filled with information about the group. I scroll through the updated pages and read a more current post. Lately, there’s been a lot of rambling about sacrifices. It makes me really damn anxious and worried that Sadie is their sacrifice—worried I could be too if they get their hands on me.
“The sacrifice isn’t just about giving up what we want,” I read a section of the article aloud. “It’s about giving up what we love. It’s the ultimate sacrifice and the aftermath will cleanse our souls.”
A chill slithers up my spine. Was it my father who wrote this? Is that what we are to him? His sacrifice to cleanse his soul?
I shake my head, anger blasting through me. Fuck him. He doesn’t love us, no matter what his twisted mind thinks.
No matter how much I want to be strong, though, the pain of what my father has done nearly kills me every time I think about it. The air is strangled from my lungs, making it difficult to breathe. I need to remain calm, stop stressing, and give myself a few hours to forget about all the shit going on in my life.
Only one other thing can calm me down when I’m this worked up. Or one person, anyway. Lyric Scott, my best friend, my girlfriend, my everything really. I don’t even care if I sound cheesy. Lyric is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, besides being adopted by the Gregorys.
After I slip on my boots, I go downstairs to the kitchen.
Lila is standing in front of the stove baking something that smells heavily of cinnamon, and Ethan is sitting at the table sorting through some papers for work.
“Can I go over to Lyric’s for a while?” I ask as I grab a can of soda from the fridge.
Lila looks up from the pan, hesitation written all over her face as she exchanges a look with Ethan. “It’s kind of late, don’t you think?”
Ethan glances at the clock. “It’s only nine.”
Lila glares at him. Clearly, that’s not what she wanted him to say.
I pop the tab on the can. “It’s just next door, and there’s an officer parked right outside . . . But if you don’t want me to go, then I won’t.” The last thing I want is to stress her out.
Ethan shakes his head. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” he says to Lila. “And you can’t keep him locked up forever. He’s eighteen years old.”
“Yeah, I know.” She sighs, turning down the temperature of the burner. “I guess it’s okay. Just make sure you make it home by midnight.” She picks up a spoon and stirs whatever’s in the pot. “Oh, and please keep Lyric’s bedroom door open at all times.”
“I will,” I tell her, feeling slightly uncomfortable.
Ever since the Gregorys and the Scotts found out about mine and Lyric’s relationship, they’ve been very adamant about an open-door policy. I’m okay with it, though, just as long as I get to see Lyric.
On my way out of the house, I pass by the living room. Fiona, Kale, and Everson are sitting on the couch, watching some sort of zombie movie on the flat screen.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Fiona calls out when she spots me hurrying for the front door. At thirteen years old, she has a lot of spunk. In a way, she reminds me of Sadie, back before we were taken. Always playing around, always so excited about everything, and a bit over-dramatic at times. “Oh wait. I bet I know. You’re going to see Lyric.” She flutters her eyelashes, drapes her hand over her head, and flops back on the cushions. “Oh Lyric, I love you so much. I can’t stand being away from you for more than ten seconds.”
I shake my head, my lips quirking. “Lyric and I haven’t seen each other all day.”
“That might be a record,” she says, sitting up on the couch. “Seriously, you guys have issues. When I start dating, I’m going to have a rule that we can only spend like two hours a week together.”
Kale, who’s almost sixteen, chokes on a laugh. “Yeah, I bet that’ll never happen. With how dramatic you are, you’ll end up being one of those girls who wants to spend every two seconds with her boyfriend.”
“Hey, don’t be rude just because you and Zoe broke up.” She slumps back. “It’s not my fault you got too clingy.”
“I wasn’t too clingy,” Kale grumbles, pushing to his feet. “I just liked spending time with her.” He squeezes by me and stomps up the stairs, slamming his bedroom door.
“Teenagers are so hormonal,” Fiona says with an eye roll.
“You should cut him some slack,” I say. “He’s still really upset about the break up.”
“He needs to get over it,” Fiona replies. “He didn’t even like Zoe that much.”
“He might have.” I lean against the doorway. “It seemed like he did to me.”
“Yeah, well, he didn’t,” she says. “Trust me.”
“Did you actually hear him say that?” I ask.
“Nope. I just know this stuff.” She focuses on the television.
Fiona says these kinds of things frequently—that she just knows things she couldn’t possibly just know. I once heard her tell her friend she believes she’s a psychic, and while I’m not sure I believe in that kind of stuff, I can’t help but wonder sometimes.
“Hey, you still coming to my game tomorrow?” Everson asks as I turn for the foyer.
He’s fourteen years old and has been obsessed with football for as long as I can remember. His games are important to him and even though sports really aren’t my thing, I want to go to his game, get out of the house, get some fresh air.
“I think I should be able to make it.” I pat my pockets as I back toward the foyer again, making sure I have my phone on me, because I know Lila will text me a few times to make sure I’m okay.
“Cool.” He stuffs a handful of popcorn into his mouth. “It might be the last one you ever get to see for a long time.”
I pause. “How do you figure?”
He nonchalantly shrugs. “Because you’re graduating and going on that band tour.”
“I’m not going on the tour.” Just thinking about my band, Alyric Bliss, going on the Rocking Summer Blast Tour makes my mood plummet. But I can’t go with them. Not when the Soulless Mileas want me. Not when Sadie is out there waiting for me to save her.
“Yeah, right. You’ll change your mind,” Everson says. “I know you’re going through some stuff and those crazy people are after you, but you like music almost as much as you like Lyric. And since she’s going on this tour, you’ll end up going.”
I want to argue with him. Tell him he doesn’t get it. That there’s more to it than just some crazy people being after me. But a small part of me still hangs onto the hope that maybe over the next month my life will change, and somehow, I’ll get to go on the tour. Lyric even insisted I go with the band to record next week. She said whether they replace me or not, I’ve earned the right to be on the album. My initial instinct was to argue, but I really want to be a part of this with them, so I agreed.
e you in a bit, okay?” I tell Everson then walk out the front door.
I make my way down the path to the driveway, the night summer air instantly making me sweat. As I’m rounding the fence to head next door, I spot a police car parked not too far down the road. The car is always there, watching my house, and when I go to school, therapy, or band practice, it tails me. I never get any time alone anymore, and I long for the days when I can walk down the sidewalk without being watched and without worrying that someone is going to grab me.
Live for the days when I can just live.
When I reach the side door of the Scotts’ two-story home, I hear music blaring from upstairs, probably from Lyric’s room. I rap on the door several times before I give up and just walk in. I don’t cross paths with Mr. or Mrs. Scott as I make my way upstairs and to Lyric’s room, something I’m thankful for, considering Mr. Scott seems uncomfortable every time I’m near his daughter. Lyric says it’s because he’s worried we’re having sex. I want to tell everyone that they have nothing to worry about, that because of my fucked up past, I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to have sex. I used to think I’d never get to a point in my life where I could even think about having sex. But when I met Lyric, some of that fear was overpowered by want.
Want, want, want
All the time.
I want her so badly
I’m losing my mind.
With all the desire
Pulsating through me.
I feel like I’m stuck
Out on a wire.
Wanting to stay on
Yet wanting to fall.
Fall, fall, fall
Right into her.
God, please let me fall.
I can’t help but smile as I reach Lyric’s bedroom. Her door is open, “Holocene” by Bon Iver is playing from the stereo, and she’s sitting on her bed strumming her guitar and singing along with the song. Her long blonde hair flows over her bare shoulders, and she’s wearing a pair of red shorts, a black tank top, and the leather bracelets we gave each other last Christmas. She’s so beautiful that I have to catch my breath.