The Stars are all Aligned

July 24, 2010
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Prolog :

I was eight.

We were driving back from our annual visit to Colorado for Thanksgiving and I sat in the middle row of our classic family-type minivan holding my american girl doll. I looked out the window into the dark night.

“Are we there yet?” I moaned to my mom who was driving.

“Not even close honey,” she sighed “were still in Mississippi.” She looked back at me with a weary smile. “Don't worry, we'll stop for a hotel soon.”

I continued looking out the window, wishing that we were home already so that I could change my doll's outfit again. Then suddenly, as fast as I could blink, there was a gut wrenching slam; a hard hit that threw me forward until my torso was pressed up against the seat belt like the panic bars on a roller coaster hold you in your seat as you loop upside-down. And in that moment, I thought for sure that we had hit an iceberg. I don't know why. At eight years old you'd think I'd know better; that it would be ridiculous to think that there would be an iceberg in the middle of a highway and that hitting a deer , which is what it turned out to be, would make much more sense. But that's what I thought. An iceberg.

What I later learned from this experience is that in those first few moments of shock, the minutes when your brain is fuzzy and is still calculating the difference between reality and fiction, is when you'll believe almost anything.

Chapter 1

On the faithful day of December 16th 20(year) I was fifteen years old. It was 1:03am when I awoke in my bed from a loud bang. Unwilling to get up, I stayed in bed until 1:09am when I figured that I should probably go see what the noise had been.

I was utterly unconcerned.

My house was old, so I was used to the random creaks and annoying groans it would make at night. And although this one was considerably louder, I still wasn't worried. At the time, all I could think of was the warm covers I was leaving behind and how good my eyes had felt shut instead of open. So as I walked down the narrow hallway and into the kitchen in my fluffy slippers, everything didn't suddenly switch into slow motion, no instant cold feeling came upon me, no intense horror movie music started playing and there was no situational irony. No. I walked straight into the kitchen just as I would have if I was getting a glass of milk, yawning the whole way. Was I surprised? Yes. People always ask things like that. Did I scream? Cry? No. Or at least not on impact. All I could do was gasp and put my hand over my mouth. Not as dramatic, I know. But it's all I could manage as I walked in, and found my mother lying on the kitchen floor with a bullet in her head.

For the next year I was sent to physiologist upon physiologist, who all wanted to find the deeper meaning of this event. And they were disappointed whenever I answered any of their questions. They wanted me to have had family issues, to have been unhappy in my home. To be abused, confused, anything. They just wanted me to be something explainable. They couldn't seem to believe me when I told them that I had lived a completely normal life and my mom had just randomly decided to pull the trigger.

They focused a lot on the divorce. Of course. They had these wonderful ideas that my mom had been depressingly lonely and unhappy after a tragic divorce that she never wanted and this somehow lead to her being a bad influence on me. I tried many times to explain. Explain that she was surely over the divorce. My parents had been divorced since I was two and she'd even had a few boyfriends here and there. But to each one, this had to be the answer. And apparently they were right. A few months after my final visit to that dreaded office, the police were finishing up their search through the house for last minute evidence and found a diary full of disturbing answers that sent a sense of accomplishment down their spines for a case well solved.

Because of the house search, and because I was still under eighteen and social services refused to let me live on my own, I was forced to go live with my father who I'd only ever seen every two months and on Christmas for as long as I can remember. Moving in with him could be the most awkward thing I've ever experienced in my life. A thirty seven year old man has no business living with a teenage girl he barely knows anymore and doesn't know what to do with. For the first month or so, I just sat there in his nasty little apartment that seemed to be crumbling to pieces and cried. Cried because I missed my old house, my mom, and just not living with him. And my father didn't know what to do. But I couldn't really blame him much. He'd didn't ask for this; it said it bluntly in the divorce papers. He only wanted me once every two months and on Christmas, and if my mom hadn't gone and committed suicide, that's the way it still would have been. He'd sit there, watching football on his flat-screen (the only thing that wasn't falling apart in that place) and offer me tissues with the promise that he was looking for a new house.

And it was fulfilled. After four horrible months of moaning and tears, he bought a shiny new house. A pretty house, but not my house on the edge of Rabun County near the coast in with acres of land and lake access. I had to change schools, friends, lunch numbers, locker combinations, everything as I moved into my unwanted fresh start.

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