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I cried until I had no tears left. Kari’s body lay lifeless and still, and I felt as if I needed to choke. Why Kari? Why did it have to be Kari? Why not me? I would have gladly given up my life for her.
What WAS I going to do without Kari? She had ALWAYS been there for me, and I had returned the favor. Sure, it wasn’t Kari’s fault, but now she wasn’t fulfilling that unwritten rule. Right now, I didn’t’ know what to do, nor who to blame. Maybe it IS my fault, I bitterly thought as I cradled Kari in my arms. Perhaps I could have done so much more, but I did not have the required knowledge for such a thing.
Still bearing Kari’s weight, I knelt even in the midst of the mud licking at my heels. The rain had stopped falling, but it still seemed to me as if even the sky were mourning. Rain’s more harmful and hurtful than it looks. There’s no hope now, I told myself. I knew that much. On the ground, I confidently found a spade. I didn’t want to leave Kari in such a miserable place- she didn’t deserve it. But I knew I didn’t have much of a choice. I wanted to be the one that buried Kari, and I was going to do it. I stashed the spade in a pocket and moved.
I had lived in these very woods as long as I could remember. Kari had as well. Now I had no intention of leaving her here in such a place. For of the dust you are and to the dust you shall return. I vaguely recalled those haunting words. I can not remember where I had read them, but yet I had not forgotten. Not that it really mattered- not NOW, anyway.
My pile of books was still stacked outside the building next to a plastic bag. I wanted nothing to do with them now. The very sight of them slightly angered me, although books used to be my life. It sickened my heart to even think about anything that connected to Kari. I am pretty sure she’s the older one, for she had been the one who had remembered things and she had been the one who taught me how to read. However, she herself had no interest in books, which really truly still surprised me.
She had been amazing, but tragedy had struck. Kari could not have died- I absolutely refused to believe it! Maybe I am going crazy. Her body was light now, but the burden of the situation still weighed heavy on my heart. My hair rippled in the wind, and so did Kari’s. I stopped staring at her body and instead I forced myself to look around. My eyes rested on a cart. Perfect for hauling around stuff, I acknowledged to myself and I stepped over to it, feeling the pulsing energy of anger in my steps. I felt the heart-felt anger I was putting into my movements as I stayed angry at the world, closed and unyielding. Even to me, this was overwhelming.
My face flushed in the brilliant sunlight. I carefully lowered Kari’s body into the cart. Next to her, I put my books, our water supply, and random food that we had hunted for together. I didn’t feel any need to stay here anymore in this type of environment that I would now hate forever because of what it had done to me. Instead, I decided that it was about time that I went into the real world so that I would no longer have to hang around here.
I still could remember when Kari and I had been younger, very much younger. She had been the one who had known our names. When I had found out my name, I decided that I didn’t really like the name Emily, just because it didn’t really match me nor my personality. Instead, I chose to be Emmy. Now, however, I had no clue what I wanted. Gazing at the sky, I pushed the cart, looking at the world with glazed-over, unseeing eyes.
Later, I panted as I trudged through the forest. I already saw the tell-tale signs of a town being close by- wagon tracks, leftover food, and other junk. Finally! I thought and I kept pushing. Soon enough, the town was in complete sight. For the first time, I saw an actual CITY. It was truly scary but yet amazing in a certain beauty that I could not explain. Even so, I had to force myself out of that trance, since I knew that I was already gaping. I really couldn’t help it- I could see some markets, buildings of all sizes, it was SO confusing. I saw a lot of doors, and I decided to check one of the markets out.
Carefully, I wheeled the cart toward a market. I tried to figure out how I was supposed to get in when I suddenly heard a swoosh and they opened FOR me. I cautiously walked in and looked around for black- anything that would show my anger and hurt, since I didn’t know what else to do. I had some black paint that I might be able to use on myself, but I needed a few more things. I saw a bottle marked, “Nail polish.” Might be helpful, I decided and put a bottle in my cart.
After I picked up some other junk, I went out of the doors again and watched in admiration and amazement as the doors opened. Something beeped, but I paid no attention since I concentrated on heading out to the central market so that I could pay or perhaps trade. That had been the way I had learned how the world worked, at any rate. I found a building and decided to stay in it, since it looked rather unoccupied. The knob seemed plain, but that suited me. Once inside the empty place, and I mean COMPLETELY empty, consisting of entirely no furniture or, well, ANYTHING, I changed into the new articles of stuff and I left the room. I saw stairs and climbed carefully up them.
On the top floor, I stumbled on a box and in it were some papers. When I squinted and read the fine print, I saw, “Emmaline Corrine Adams” printed in neat scroll across one sheet of paper. I could not believe how close the first name was to mine, but apparently someone else had already lived here before. I set the paper down, nabbed my cart, and pushed the door open again. Immediately, I found myself confused. I got lost inside the strange building for a while before I went downstairs when I managed to find them.
After I tried a door, I found that it led back outside. The sun was now high in the sky. I suspected that noon now apporached. I decided to get lunch later and set out. I saw blue uniformed men standing around. Some were whispering, and one pointed to me. One stepped up to me and suddenly yanked my hands from the cart, startling me.
The sudden yank caused me to squeal. I tried to tear away from the man, but more surrounded me. Soon, they all had me, and then one ordered, “Seduce her.” I struggled. How come nobody tried to help me? Simple. Nobody knew me. Who would trust a stranger, especially someone like me whose appearance horrified most civilians?
But why was I being captured in the first place?
“What’s your name?” one of the men in blue asked.
“Why?” I snapped. The people swarmed around me, and I felt uncomfortable.
He gave me a hard look. “Stealing is serious business.” He glared at me. “Miss…?” He left it up to me to fill in the blank. I complied.
“Emmy,” I said. What reason would there be to not cooperate? But still, why me?
Wait a minute. Stealing. Accuse ME of stealing? How dare they? How did they know that I had taken those items? I was about to pay them back! I glanced down and then remembered I was wearing the “stolen” items. Great. Kari would say that here was the art of exception popping up at the wrong time again, in the most chaotic situations.
I knew better than to think about her now. Better yet, to NOT even think about her.
“Excuse me, sir? I beg your pardon,” I started, a note of plead already rising in my voice, making me sound high and shrill. When he did not turn, I reached out a finger and prodded behind my back. He finally did look at me, and his expression frightened me. “I was going to pay for these but I did not know where to, and-“
“I’ll be the judge of that,” he curtly stated, cutting me off. “As I am obviously more knowledgeable here.” I knew better than to interfere further. “And didn’t you know that you could pay at the cash register?”
The very words were foreign to me. “What is that?”
“Don’t lie to me, you smart-alecky girl. You’re not that stupid. Just cooperate,” he ordered. I submitted to their authority, but only for the time being. I fought back more tears as the want and urge to cry for the second time in two days came back. “What I say goes, missy, so you better be good,” he cautioned, but I wasn’t listening.
Nervously, my eyes darted around as I wildly tried to decide what to do. One man snapped metal things on my wrists, and when I tried to move them, they were stuck together, fastened securely behind my back. I now vaguely realized I was being taken prisoner and I could not do a thing about it.
Soon, I had been pushed roughly into a vehicle, and I felt breath-taken by it despite my fear. I had never seen such an immense transportation device, and I had to admit that it was utterly remarkable. They pushed me into the middle, and two men sat on either side of me and seemed to be glaring, as if thinking I would do something else. “You go to court on Wednesday,” one of them informed me and turned away. What IS a Wednesday? Something to do with time? How long would that be? I already lost track of precious minutes although I had no idea how that happened.
“Move along, now.” Others came into the vehicle, and two sat in the front. Suddenly, the thing lurched forward, and the sensation of moving without doing a thing made me dizzy. My head started spinning, and then I started feeling terribly sick. I felt my body moving as well, and desperately I fought the urge to just be sick. By the looks of it, no one noticed my reactions, and I realized how on my own this situation had become. No one would help me since no one cared.
By the time the car did stop, I had managed to keep myself alive, pretty much, which in itself gave immense relief. However, I was still felt sick and I doubled over in pain as someone helped me out and then shoved me toward a building. I did not want to go into it, but I had no choice, nor a place to go if I did choose to run. I could only willingly go along until it was too late.
After I sat around for some time, they put me behind a door that was made of bars. They also secured my legs, and I could not reach the door. I tried in vain, but nothing happened. I could only stay here and just listen and hope that the time would rapidly pass.
Sometime later, after I had nearly drove myself insane, I heard someone say, “It might be Emmaline Adams. Remember, two girls by the name of Emmaline and Karoline disappeared a long time ago? The body in this cart matches the DNA.” I found myself confused already.
“But the girl, Emmaline, is that her name? She claims she has no last name and that she is Emily. Is she purposely contradicting us?” another person asked. Were they talking about me? Let me get this straight, I thought to myself while I listened. I’m Emmaline Adams, but what about… Kari. It seemed safe enough to think her name.
“Well, if you feel the need to talk to the girl so badly, why don’t you just haul her out and fire away?” someone else sarcastically asked. I lost track of who each voice belonged to- unfortunately I have always been slow at keeping up. “I say it makes sense scientifically.”
“How CAN you base everything on science?” the other retorted.
“Why must you ask so many questions? Especially stupid ones? It’s absolutely not scientifically correct!”
“Sorry, but why do you always have to pick on me?”
“You know what? SHUSH! Gee, you could use a real upgrade. Let’s just go and fetch the girl already!” I suddenly sat bolt upright and realization struck me- they were coming for ME!
I had reacted way too late- the key was already jingling and I could not do anything. Especially not anything obvious. Soon, the door swung open and two officers loomed before me, as if daring me to challenge them. I didn’t meet their eyes.
“How are YOU today, missy?” one asked. I didn’t answer, and both officers took me from the strange room. They pushed me forward and then they led me to another room. Someone else took me, and then closed the door.
“Before you go crazy,” the woman in the room began, “I just need to ask you a few questions for clarification.” The woman had startling, neat straight brown hair. Her eyes matched the ocean blue, and I allowed myself to be enthralled by her beauty for a moment.
She circled me like a vulture watching its prey. Then she spoke again. “Your name, please,” she inquired. The words were an order. I heard that in her voice.
“Emmy,” I said for the second time that day.
“Most astonishing,” the woman muttered. She now seemed nervous.
“Why so?” I shot back.
“Mind your tongue, Emmaline,” she ordered, and then I realized something with a jolt, lest the guilt in her eyes give her away.
“Mom,” I whispered. She glared.
“Where’s Karoline?” she blurted. Then her eyes softened as well. “I’m Corrine. Corrine Adams. Your mother.”
“I thought so much,” I whispered and looked into her face with an intensity I did not know I possessed. Corrine seemed so young, young enough to make it difficult to identify her as my mom. Yet her eyes gave away her age, and now I turned away. It felt too private. I did not want to break down now, but I did, right then and there.
“Emmaline, I can get you out of this,” Corrine said, as she herself seemed to be considering.
“You can?” I raised my head. I forced myself to cease my senseless weeping. Maybe my mother COULD help me.
“Come close,” she said, luring me with her gentle voice. “Closer.” Finally, she locked the door again before confiding to me the plan that I was to follow. Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed.
That night, I could not force myself to relax. In fact, I knew that I was actually doing the complete opposite, which certainly did not help my life much. Besides, I was waiting, waiting, and watching and trying to prepare myself. I could not detect the reason I felt nervous, yet I was. Finally, I decided to ignore those pangs and just wait like a normal person.
My mother, whom I preferred to now refer to as Corrine, finally knocked lightly on my door to signal that she was now entering. For the second time, the key jingled softly in the dark, and I suddenly felt more awake, more alert. The door creaked open quietly, slowly. I immediately dreaded my decision to act on this plan. What was I going to do if we both were caught and just thrown back in jail, imprisoning my own mother as well?
“Emmaline?” She prodded me. I stirred jerkily. Corrine already crouched beside me. “Let’s get going.” She took those horrible metal things off me, and in response I nodded my heart-felt thanks. She merely acknowledged her understanding but otherwise ignored the gesture.
Corrine led me out, one hand protectively encircling my wrist. Darkness enveloped both of us, and I felt pressure building up within me. I controlled myself and briskly fell in step with Corrine.
Once we were safely outside, Corrine rushed me into a house that I vaguely recognized. “Sit,” she commanded me. “I need to get a few things first.” I waited for a while before she reappeared. Then she handed me some food and water. Before then, I had not realized how hungry I was, but now I ate heartily. Corrine smiled at me, but I could see it was half-hearted. Corrine was good at confusing me- I knew that much already, but I tried not to mind.
“Now tell me what happened to Karoline,” Corrine urged. “What happened?”
Her question prompted something inside me that I could not explain. The urge to sob surged in my chest, and at last I could resist myself no longer. I grieved openly while Corrine looked on, her blue eyes sad but understanding in a comforting way.
“Emmaline,” she finally comforted me after I had blurted out the story, the words stringing themselves together as I had spoken, making it seem like an endless sentence. “It’s not your fault/ and it is because of Kari’s sacrifice that I now have you and that you even found me.
“Emmy,” I whispered, a sense of belonging creeping into me, surprising me greatly. Even in all this mess, I was still glad to have Corrine. A fresh new well of tears rushed down my cheeks, streaming down my face. “Call me Emmy.”
Corrine held me as I released my tears. “I’m sorry, Emmy. I had no idea. Please forgive me.” Corrine gave me such a look of plead that I managed to nod. She smiled, and so did I.
“Mom?” I felt shocked calling Corrine by “Mom.” for the first time, but the word gave me unexpected joy. “Where is this?”
I heard Corrine chuckle. “You’re safe, Emmy. At least for the time being. You’re coming home.”