January 23, 2009
By Marquesha W., Rockford, IL

Chapter 2. Retrocognition

I stealthily walked out of the room, looking both ways as though I were about to cross a busy
intersection. The noise from the clunking dryer had definitely drowned out the noise of my fall,
which in turn had left me bruised and battered all over. The big, brown door was heavy as I
tried to push it open and my arms struggled weakly, the biceps and triceps of my arms tender. The
dents in the door prominently stood out, and I mentally told myself that my grandmother was crazy
for ever even thinking of coming here. But when I did open the heavy door, I was standing in the
same hall where Mirror Lani and I had just run from, just from at a different angle. This time, I
was standing by the side of the desk, the clock casting a glare against the light shining on it. I
wrung my hands, anxious. What if he's around the corner?' I thought to myself. I was too
scared to even think about looking around; I was afraid he would hold me and hurt me again. Mirror
Lani did not know exactly how lucky she was that I got her out of there. She didn't have to
suffer, to remember like I did. With her, I'd saved her from Him, from what nobody had saved me
from. She would go on with her young life, happy and joyous, not a care in her little world. I
wouldn't. So many sleepless nights I've had, dreaming about the horror and pain I went through
of having my very own uncle rape me. What was worse was that my brothers were in the room with me,
watching as the door slowly creaked. It was our uncle, and he was hoping we were asleep. The light
cast a shadow in front of the wall I was turned to, where I was sleeping on the bottom of the bunk
beds. As the abrupt light suddenly cascaded onto the wall I turned around, craning over my shoulder
to look, where I saw my uncle. He noticed that I had woken and he immediately put a finger to his
lips and opened the door wider. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the sudden,
unexpected light, and to make out the dark mass of shadow that was my uncle. I couldn't imagine
what he would have done to my brothers if he'd seen them; they were behind the couch, though I
could see their eyes from where I slept. My uncle walked over to my bed and perched himself on the
edge of it, putting a large finger to his mouth, indicating me to be silent. I obeyed him, because I
trusted him, oblivious as to what was on his mind. He stared into my eyes for a moment and then
moved his hand to my leg, to my pajamas, and started pulling them down. My eyes opened in horror and
I opened my mouth to ask what he was doing, but he only glared. "Don't you dare say anything,
Melani," he hissed at me. I snapped my mouth shut so hard, it was a wonder my teeth didn't
crack. I had my mouth closed shut so tight that I was wondering if I would ever be able to open it
again. He continued, and I shivered in pain, whimpering as he hurt me. I wouldn't tell anyone, not
a soul, but I didn't believe that. I was light on my feet and, as always, a great liar. "I-I
have to g-go to the b-b-bathroom," I stuttered, hoping he wouldn't see through my ruse. My lie
sounded pathetic, even to me. He glared at me again, as if he didn't believe it, but then
whispered to me. "Come back quickly and don't tell anybody!" I nodded vigorously, shaking the
bed as I did so. He stood up and let me hop off the bed. I jumped down and my knees crumpled weakly
beneath me. I was shivering from head to foot, afraid to look him in the eye. I stood up slowly and
he towered over me, a great tree in a dark forest. "Hurry up," he whispered impatiently. I
nodded again, not saying a word. I never turned my back to him as I backed toward the door, feeling
around for it. I grabbed the long metal of it, and turned quickly around, bursting from the room. I
hoped my brothers had sense enough to not make a noise or move. I ran away, crying as I did so,
hoping to reach my grandmother. I dashed to the next room and knocked hastily on it. Without waiting
for a response I flung it open, praying that she was awake. I ran into her room wildly, bursting the
door open. "Grandma, Grandma, Grandma," I screamed through my thick tears. I was surprised I
could get any words through my mouth with the choking that came out. It sounded more like gurgling
than words to me, but my grandmother seemed to understand. She flung the covers off of her legs and
walked me into the kitchen, so she could see my face in the light. "Lani, what's the matter?"
she asked me urgently. I shook my head, unsure if I could tell her. She grabbed my shoulders firmly
and shook me while my head flopped uselessly around my neck. "Melani, what happened?" she
ordered me. "U-Uncle James hurt me!" I burst on the last word, unable to hold my distress in. I
sobbed pitifully into her red flannel nightgown, leaving dark, salty stains. "Hurt you how?" she
demanded, pulling my face away from her. "How Lani? Did he hit you?" I shook my head, trying to
hide it in her nightgown again, but she pulled me back. "What did he do?" she yelled at me, her
eyes bulging. And then comprehension dawned on her face. "Did he put his hands on your private
spot, Melani? Did he?" She was screaming so loud now that I was afraid she was mad at me. "Y-yes
he did, Grandma," I spluttered. "Call the police," she yelled at me, and said no more. She
flew from the room with such alarming speed, that I didn't even reach the phone, and it was just
sitting on the counter two feet away. I grabbed at it with wobbly fingers and held it, stupidly
putting it to my ear and listening to the dial tone, as if someone was on the other end of the line.
I blinked, dazed, not really listening to it. My uncle raped me. It finally clicked in my head, the
gears finally keeping up, getting to where the outside world already was. I'd been raped. Tears
fell fresh out of my eyes, burning and blurring my vision. Someone I trusted and loved had hurt me.
How could I ever live with that? I vowed then that I wouldn't tell a single soul, but how would I
ever keep it from my parents? Surely my grandmother would tell. And what about my brothers? They
would want to talk to me about what they saw later on. There was no avoiding it; I'd have to speak
of it soon. I awoke from my daze and cranked in 9-1-1. The phone we had was a small, black one with
a large circular dial. There were ten holes going around it, like a clock, similar to a burnt cookie
with finger-sized openings. In each hole was a number 0 through 9. I waited for it to ring, nervous,
butterflies in my stomach. "Hello, you have reached the 9-1-1 emergency line. Is this an
emergency?" I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out; just a faint gasp of air. "Hello,
sir or ma'am? Is this an emergency?" the woman repeated more slowly. "I" I gasped again,
unsure if I could tell someone else. "Yes?" she urged. "Y-yes, this is an emergency my
uncle¦" I struggled with my words. Just then, my grandmother came bursting in the room, her hair
wild and tousled all over her face. Darion and Javonne were right behind her, somehow looking
pleased and terrified at the same time. "Sit!" She indicated a chair at the kitchen table for
them to sit at. She then turned to look at me. "Phone!" she hissed. I immediately surrendered
it. I had no desire to repeat any of this to anyone, let alone to myself. She walked out of the
kitchen into her room and closed the door. I stood there with my hand out, as if I was still waiting
for her to take the phone out of my hand. Then, it fell limply to my side. I looked up at Darion and
Javonne who were looking at each other. They had looks on their faces that clearly said "Should we
ask her about it?" I hoped they would respect my feelings enough to just leave it alone. I would
be crippled for life with this burden on my shoulders "Are you Melani?" a voice yelled in my
face, snapping me away from my reverie. A bright face was very close to mine, and I panicked for
just a split second before I recognized the man as the one on the elevator. His light grey eyes
sparkled behind his glasses. "Are you Melani?" he repeated in his frail, old voice. "Yes,
where is she? Is she okay? Did she get hurt? Where did you take her? What is she doing? Is she-" I
demanded. He smiled cheerfully, putting his hands up to stop my babbling. "She is perfectly fine.
She's just worried about you, is all. Wondering if you got away safely." His eyes took on a most
peculiar expression, as though he knew something that I didn't "So, she tells me you two are
related" he began, that same knowing look on his face. "Yes," I said, a little defensively,
"we are." "Well don't be shy, young one!" He chuckled merrily and held out his hand. I
looked down at it and I could see the blue and green veins spidering their way along his freckled,
aged hand. They stood out noticeably on the back of his hand, though scarcely visible through the
sea of white that was his palm. I reached for it slowly, hesitantly. He smiled encouragingly at me,
not rushing me at all. I took his hand and was surprised by how it felt. It was incredibly warm, as
though he'd been holding it in a fire for some period of time. I looked up at him, shocked. He
smiled warmly at me again, and suddenly I knew why his eyes sparkled that way, why it seemed like he
knew something, like he was hiding something. His smile grew deeper and deeper seeing the shocked
look on my face, the wrinkles creasing hard into his brow. Then, he leaned down to whisper softly in
my ear. "You're not the only one with secrets Melani Washtot"


"Hi Melani!" Mirror Lani suddenly bounded up off the seat, rushing over to where I was, and
squeezed my arm with tremendous energy. I winced from the strength of her iron grip, my arm
paralyzed. The man had taken me into a very large room, and my jaw had dropped the moment I stepped
foot inside it. The floor was a shiny, jade linoleum, casting a distorted and blurry green
reflection of my face. The crimson lights danced off the surface of the floor, giving the illusion
of little pink balls rolling around sideways and falling on top of each other. The walls burst with
an intense sapphire tint, dazzling my eyes. There hung hundreds of pictures along the walls. Some, I
noticed, were the same, repeated over and over again, but somehow looking different with each turn
of the room, as I saw the lights flashing at different angles. There were simple ones, like the
picture of a beautiful white cat, its dark eyes somehow managing to twinkle, while others were very
complicated pieces, like the one I saw that was closest to the door. In it was a small person, maybe
a child, and a girl judging by the length of the hair. Her face and whole body was blurred, looking
smeared. The picture was full of browns and reds and blues, but the one color that stood out the
most to me was the green. It triggered something in my memory, but I just couldn't put my finger
on it I walked up closer to the picture while Mirror Lani babbled on about something in the
background. Whom she was talking to, I wasn't sure, but I paid no attention. As I got closer, the
picture seemed to come in focus; like I was a slightly blind person, putting on a pair of glasses
for the first time. The girl was crouching down, squatting in a dark alleyway, with her hand held
out, as if she were opening a door. Behind her was a tipped over trash can, its contents spilling
out. In front of her was the green light, bursting with such realistic quality, that even I squinted
like the girl in the artwork. In the topmost window of a building was a small blob of face that, no
matter how close I got to it, I couldn't see properly. I stared at the girl and the green light.
Little red flags popped up in my brain, but I just couldn't figure out what was the reason for it.
"Melani! Hello?" sung Mirror Lani. "Are you there?" I turned away from the picture, annoyed
and reluctant. Sure I was happy to see her alive, but did that mean I was happy to hear that
irritating, high-pitched, squeaky voice? "What?" I hissed, with uncontrolled irritation.
"Didn't you hear me? I said how did you get here?" And just then, with that simple question, I
knew. I knew why that green light looked so familiar. Of course I should recognize it; I'd seen it
before, three times. I froze, a wave of heat trickling up and down my spine. "Lani? Hello?"
Mirror Lani walked over to me, pulling my arm. "Stop being mean," she pouted. I became aware of
a rushing in my ears, a blurriness to my vision. "Let her be for a while, Lani," a distant voice
sounded. "She'll be back soon." "But where is she going?" Mirror Lani insisted. "I want
to go, too!" "You will, in time," it answered. I fell back, feeling light and weightless,
feeling no pain just like I had felt none when I fell onto the deck; it seemed like ages ago. The
voices grew more and more faint, and I was afraid that they'd left me, but then I felt the same
warm hand close over mine, squeezing gently. "Go back and fix it," he whispered, and that was
the last voice I heard before I finally succumbed to the darkness "She's coming back!"
"Give her some room!" "Oh, my gosh, Lani!" I didn't see anything, but I could hear all the
frantic voices, calling my name, calling for me. I was being poked and prodded, but what surprised
me were the voices I heard. I weakly fluttered my eyes open, at first seeing nothing but darkness;
it was nighttime. Then, the noises got louder, and I could see the red and blue flashing lights of
the ambulance. There were a dozen faces leaning over me, some I recognized, and some I didn't.
"Melani!" someone yelled. I sat up, with difficulty, noticing a sharp pang in my side. I looked
down and saw that my shirt was ripped and I had a long, white bandage going along the side of my
ribs, maybe about an inch long. "Ugh!" I groaned. I put my hand up to my head. It felt stiff and
heavy. I doubled back and tried to run my fingers through my hair, but coming up empty. All I felt
was the roughness of the binding that was on my head as well. "Wha-?" I said, groggily. My aunt
came bursting through the crowd, her pained face perceived. "Oh, Melani!" She kneeled down and
grabbed me in a bear tight hug, nearly crushing my bones. She released me when I gasped in pain and
shock. "Oh, Melani, it's going to be all right!" She sounded more like she was wishing it to
herself rather than telling me. "What hap-happened?" I stuttered. "Melani, you fell," she
told me, squatting down next to me. "You got a very small concussion and you scratched your side
on a piece of wood on the deck." I stared blankly at her. I looked around at the pandemonium that
encircled me. There was a stretcher lying not two feet away from me, propped up and ready. A small
number of men in hospital jackets were over a few feet away, asking my brothers questions. My
brothers looked worried, their eyes wide with alarm. They nodded and shook their heads in turn with
the questions. The red and blue lights spiraled around the top of the ambulance's car, radiating a
ruby and indigo glow that harshly lit up my aunt's face. "Where's Melani?" I asked her,
dazed. "Where's Melani?" I repeated. "You are Melani," she assured me. "No," I
persisted stupidly," where is she?" I jumped up, looking around for her. "WHERE IS MELANI?"
I screamed. The ambulance men took that as their cue. They immediately stopped what they were doing
and rushed over to us, the crowd now parting ways. The night air blew fiercely, cutting into my
skin. "It's okay, sweetie," one cooed me. "We're going to get you some medicine, okay?"
I looked at him, confused. His outstretched hand reached towards me. I stared at it, reminded of the
recent event of my uncle. I turned my head, looking for my aunt. She was there immediately, grasping
me by my shoulders. "She'll be fine, I'll take care of her." She stared at the man as if
daring him to object. His stubby, bearded chin jutted out, as though he were going to say something,
but then thought better of it. "Well, ma'am," he said. "Just let us give her some medicine
for her delusions." "I can handle it," my aunt objected. He stared for a while, clearly
deciding whether to go on and do with it anyway. "We ask that you please bring her to the hospital
tomorrow for a check-up. We want to examine those wounds again. There is no severe damage, of
course, but we would still like to do a physical." My aunt just nodded her head. He turned around
to his team. "All right boys; let's load ˜er up!" Within a couple of minutes, they were gone
and out of sight, speeding down the street and turning the corner, the noise of the siren trailing
behind. We all walked into the house, deciding that it would be a good idea if we all went in this
time. I walked in, followed close behind by my brothers, and plopped on the couch. "How are you
feeling, Melani?" my aunt said. "I'm fine," I lied. "Okay, well I'm going to go take a
shower; ya'll stay in the house, please." "Yes, ma'am," we chanted. She walked up the
stairs, creaking with each step. I stared glumly at the dark TV screen, loosing myself in the black.
The inside of my aunt's house wasn't much. There was a brown couch by one of the walls, which
were all crème-colored, a small TV set a few feet in front of the couch, some pictures here and
there, and a small lamp sitting on a small wooden desk by the arm of the couch. Her floor was an
auburn carpet, stretching all the way across the room until they met the stairs. There was a rail
going up along side the stairs, a plus for when she had little children over. Her kitchen was barely
big enough to fit three people in it. There were dirty dishes piled high into the sink, the remains
of last night's dinner still evident on them. The blue cabinets were old and falling apart, one of
the doors hanging open. The refrigerator had a permanent lasagna stain on the side of it, a result
of a food fight my brothers and I had cooked up while Auntie May was away. We paid dearly for it.
"Melani?" a soft voice said. I looked up and turned my head toward my brothers. They were both
staring at me, so I had no idea who'd spoken. All sound and words seemed the same to me. I stared
at them without answering; I wasn't planning on saying anything until found Mirror Lani. I turned
my head back to the TV again, angrily. Why was I back in the future? "Lani," Javonne said.
"Um, who were you yelling about outside?" My head snapped quickly in their direction, and I
froze. They stared at me with curious eyes. For a moment, I was speechless. My mouth flopped open
and closed, open and closed. Then, I turned my head back to the TV. "Do you know someone else
named Melani?" Darion asked me. "Yes," I said, stiffly. Why would I tell anybody? They'd
only think I was crazy. "Who?" he continued. I turned to them, wondering if I could trust them.
"You can tell us, Lani," Javonne voiced my thought out loud. I waited for a couple seconds, the
sound of the shower drowning out my thoughts. Could I tell them? "Me," I finally answered. "I
know me, a little me." I stared at them, looking for any signs of doubt, of disbelief, but I only
saw looks of curiosity, eager for me to tell more, so I continued on. "I well, remember when I
fell on the deck?" They nodded their heads, indicating they knew; how exactly could they forget?
How could I forget? "Well, I wasn't exactly here, I mean, I was here, but..." I struggled
for my words, unable to explain. "What she was trying to say was that she went back in time," a
frail, old voice interrupted me. I jumped and whipped my head towards the door. I would have
screamed if I hadn't recognized the voice, but it shocked me, nonetheless. Javonne and Darion were
startled, too. The man from the elevator walked into the house, wearing a long, dark jacket. Mirror
Lani was right behind him, holding the stuffed dog, and looking around curiously. He glanced at me,
the grey eyes sparkling again. "What's your name?" I blurted out. I realized that I had
trusted my life-and Mirror Lani's-with this man and I had no idea who he was. For a split second,
(so quickly that I wasn't even sure that it'd happened) his eyes clouded over, and then they
abruptly changed back. His pale lips hesitated before he answered. Mirror Lani gazed up at him,
evidently nosy. "My name is Jim. Jim Just Jim," he answered, nodding his head. "Just Jim."
I stared questionably at him. He cleared his throat. "Anyway, enough about me; let's move on to
you, Melani Washtot." "How did you know her name?" Javonne asked, finally snapping out of
shock. Leave it up to him to ask an even less important question rather than "What are you doing
in this house?" or "Do we know you?" "Lani, what do you think Auntie May will say if
somebody we don't know is in her house?" Darion asked, almost rudely. He was staring pointedly
at Jim. My eyes bulged, realization hitting. But before I could even open my mouth to protest to
Jim, he held up his hand. "Don't worry, she's sleeping. But back to you Melani: I trust now
you know what your power does, am I correct?" "Power?" interrupted Darion. "What power?"
Jim continued on as if there had been no interruption. "Your gift is very special and I'm sure
you'd want to know how to handle it properly." "What power?" Mirror Lani now demanded.
Darion and Javonne's eyes went from her to me and back again. I gave them looks that plainly said,
"I told you so." "Um, no, not really," I admitted. "I just remember falling and hitting my
head and having a bad dream. I don't know anything about any powers." His eyes twinkled. "Is
that so?" he muttered, skeptically. "No," I admitted and he smiled smugly. "What powers?"
Mirror Lani, Darion, and Javonne hissed. Jim took out a crumpled piece of paper from his dark
jacket, and handed it to me. There were words on it in fancy writing, but the only ones I could read
clearly were simple ones, like "person", "backward" and "past":

Retrocognition- Also known as postcognition, comes from the Latin "retro" meaning backward,
behind and "cognition" meaning knowing. It is a term used to describe the paranormal
transference of information about an event or object in the past by means that are unknown to
current science. A person who possesses the ability of retrocognition is said to be able to see into
the past.

I looked up from the piece of folded paper he'd handed me. "You lost her," Darion voiced for
me. Jim smiled, as though he already knew that. "It simply means that you can see into the past,
and have the ability to change whatever event you'd like." "Cool!" said Mirror Lani.
"Awesome," chuckled Javonne. "I want a power," mumbled Darion. We all laughed. "So, I can
go back in time?" I asked him. He simply nodded his head. "Well, what can you do, then?"
Surely he would have a power. It only made sense. He stopped. That question had probably taken him
by surprise, and he had the same uncomfortable look on his face like he had a few moments ago. He
ignored my question. "You were asking for Mirror Lani, well here she is!" he exclaimed. Mirror
Lani looked pleased to be introduced, but also quite annoyed. She, obviously, already knew who her
brothers were, even if they were from the future. "Hi Darion. Hi Vonne." "Hi," they
whispered back, shyly. "So," Mirror Lani started. ˜Oh, great!' I thought to myself. ˜He
has to get her started!' Jim chuckled, as though he'd heard what I'd said. "So," she
repeated. "Lani can go to the past. What can they do?" She pointed her little finger at Darion
and Javonne. They looked startled, and then confused for a moment. "Yeah, what can we do?"
"Nothing," Jim answered indifferently, but not hurtfully. They clearly looked disappointed.
"But, why do I have this power?" I asked him. "Why do I have it and not them?" "Because,
little one, not a single tragic thing has happened in their lives yet, has it?" I stared at the
crème-colored wallpaper. I knew exactly what he was talking about. Everyone else seemed to know
too, except for Mirror Lani. I had to remind myself that I'd saved her from that, so she
wouldn't have anything to remember. But thankfully, she picked up on my mood. I didn't want to
mention it to her; not now at least. I shook my head, answering his question. "Melani," he
whispered only to me, and he was now at my level, squatting next to me on the couch. "Time
traveling can be a fun thing, but it can also be very dangerous. I've come here to warn you: be
careful with this gift, Melani. Terrible things have happened to people who have tried to change
time. They've gone and messed up their future by changing one too many things. Let's hope you
won't be that one." He stared into my eyes for an immeasurable moment. I could only see care in
the ancient creases against this stranger's eyes. I nodded, understanding. He stood up then.
"Right," he said, nodding. "Come on here, Melani," he called to Mirror Lani. She stopped
trying to run up the stairs and turned back to him. "What?" she gasped. "Why? I want to stay,
too!" "Don't worry," he smiled. He held out his fair palm to Mirror Lani and she took it,
grudgingly. "You'll see her soon enough." He and Mirror Lani stepped across the threshold and
out into the cold night. They turned back to us one last time. His cold, grey eyes met mine and held
them. There was an expression on his face that I couldn't read. "See you in the past," he
whispered, voice like the wind. And they disappeared in a brilliant flash of ginger light.

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