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“Jace!” I called, trying to keep my voice as low as possible, “Jace, where are you?” Suddenly a firm hand clamped over my mouth. I struggled with the person, trying to scream but their grip was strong. A face appeared in front of me and I breathed a sigh of relief as I recognized those deep, gray eyes.
“Shut up!” Jace complained letting go of me finally, “Do you want to wake the whole orphanage?”
I scanned the halls but our little skirmish hadn’t seemed to wake anyone up.
“What are you doing out of bed?” I questioned him, trying to assert authority, “You should be sleeping like everybody else.”
He smirked. “I could say the same to you.” He glanced down the hall and crept slowly forward, motioning for me to follow him.
“Where are we going?” I asked impatiently. Not that I’d ever mention this to Jace for he’d tease me to death, but I’m kind of scared of the dark. There I admitted it. But only sometimes, like when I’m all alone. Now it actually was kind of nice, like the shadows were cloaking us in their safety. And I have this tingling feeling… almost like we’re supposed to be wandering around tonight.
“It’s none of your business, Avi,” He mumbled.
“It is so my business! I’m your big sister. I can’t just let you make trouble and get us kicked out of yet another orphanage.” This was our tenth one in the past nine years. I’ll admit it wasn’t always just his fault alone but he practically goes looking for trouble.
He grit his teeth. “You’re only two years older! It’s not that big a difference.”
“I’m fourteen, a teenager. You’re only twelve.” I grinned, knowing I won the argument.
“You’re impossible,” he muttered, “Let’s go.”
“You still haven’t told me where we’re going,” Avi reminded me. Was she always so annoying?
“And I’m not going to until we get there.” The truth is, I’m not even sure where I’m leading us. I just have a feeling that there’s somewhere we have to be tonight. And every step I take the feeling gets stronger, pulling me in. I shivered. I led the way through the cold streets of New York City, feeling completely lost but at the same time like I have a destination in mind.
We reached Central Park, which was eerily quiet. The damp, autumn leaves crunched beneath our feet the wind whistled through my light clothes making me wish I’d brought a jacket.
We came to a lake reflecting the bright moon in the sky. The feeling was almost unbearable now. I had to find this place! Suddenly Avi’s head snapped up. She looked at the woods across from us and dashed towards them like a frightened deer. I ran after her.
“Avi!” I yelled, “Avi, wait up!” She was running like a maniac but I’m pretty quick myself. I couldn’t exactly see her but more like sense her position in the deep thicket of the forest. She came to a standstill in front of an oak tree larger than all of the others. She stared up at it in shock. The tingling inside of me was raging now. I felt as if I’d soon burst.
And all of a sudden it stopped. My mind registered that we had reached our destination. I glanced at my sister. Her eyes were still locked in terror at the huge tree. I followed her gaze and saw what she was staring at… a slight figure was on the lowest branch looking down on us.
I honestly don’t know what happened. One minute we were sneaking around central park and the next I’m running through the forest, leading us to this mysterious person in a tree.
The person in the tree jumped lightly to the ground. In the dim moonlight I could make out some of her features. It was a woman, maybe about thirty years old, with deep gray eyes. The woman’s straight, chestnut hair fell to her petite shoulders. Her gaze was deep but wary at the same time. She took a step towards us.
I placed myself between the stranger and my brother. “W-Who are you?” I asked, “What do you want?”
She smiled. “Why, I’m here to help you Avi.” Her voice was gentle and oddly familiar. “As always you two are my priority, if you just remember.”
I shook my head. This wasn’t making any sense. “Do I know you?” I asked. This woman did look extremely familiar…
“Think, Avi. You’re a smart one.”
I tried to think but Jace was gripping my arm tight, cutting of my circulation. Then I realized why she looked so familiar-she looked like Jace.
My throat closed up. “Mom?” I managed to whisper. I didn’t remember my parents but surely this woman was our mother. I mean she and Jace looked exactly alike. She’d come back for us!
She winced but it was barely noticeable. In a flash her smile returned. “I’m not your mother Avi. Good guess but even I don’t know who she is.” She sighed. “Well I suppose if you won’t remember I must introduce myself. I am Chandra, your aunt.”
After this complete stranger announced that she was our aunt we all just stood there in silence for a minute. I could tell that Avi was falling for the bait but I’m a bit more cautious.
“Why should we believe you?” I asked, “What proof do you have?” Yeah, yeah I see the resemblance and all but come on, you’d have to be as naïve as my sister to believe something that big just based on appearances. I need facts.
Avi gave me an annoyed look but I ignored it. Chandra shrugged. “If you don’t trust me you could go back. I’m sure you’d enjoy yourselves much more hanging around in the orphanage for all your lives.” I was about to say that until she had solid proof we’d do exactly that but I realized that we were completely off course. My stupid sister ran right into the middle of the woods and got us hopelessly lost. I sighed.
“I think I’ll take my chances.” I turned and started to walk away, dragging Avi with me when the pressure built up in my chest again. I felt panicked and desperate. My mind screamed at me to turn around and go with Chandra, to listen to her because she was telling the truth. It was like before when I needed to find my destination, except much worse. I grit my teeth. This stranger is not being truthful, I told myself, She doesn’t care about my sister or me and we have to go back to the orphanage now. Suddenly the panic and desperation began to rapidly fade until my sense came back to me. I was reminded of all my doubts and suspicions about this woman and why we shouldn’t trust her. I turned around to glare at Chandra. Her eyes were wide, staring at me. I tugged Avi along but she stopped me a few feet away.
“Wait!” she said, “Wait, let’s just talk first.” I turned to glare at her.
“What?” I hissed.
“We have to trust her. She’s telling the truth.” I rolled my eyes. That’s my sister for you, believing everything she wants to be true.
“No,” I said firmly. I turned away but Avi caught my shoulder. I’m not sure if I was imagining it or not but the air got warmer for a moment. For a split second I could feel her thoughts flow through me. It wasn’t like the raging feeling I felt before, more pleading than demanding. She really believed Chandra was our aunt. I could see her reasoning slowly convince me, even though I was still doubtful.
I turned to face her. “Fine,” I mumbled. She grinned and pulled me into a hug. I glanced at Chandra- she looked stunned but quickly replaced her expression with a warm smile.
“Excellent,” She said, “Follow me children and I’ll try to explain as much as I can.”