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I never thought my life would come to this point in time. I never once believed there was any hope for me in a world that was filled with shattered dreams, and normal people.
But what I’ve always wondered was, What makes you…abnormal? What makes you special? How do you get there?
I was sitting on my porch with my sister Sarah, and best friend Margaret (a.k.a. Margie). My parents weren’t home; my dad had a business trip in Idaho (Idaho! What’s in Idaho? I remembered asking when they told us where his trip was to) and my mom went with him, leaving us two girls, me – seventeen, and Sarah – fourteen. I was shocked when they said they were going to allow us to stay by ourselves for the 9 days they’d be gone; they had been gone for 7 already, and would be home Monday evening. They left us money for a week and a half’s worth of groceries, and 5 nights of pizza.
It was mid-summer, 88 degrees out, and we were feeling good.
We were all rocking our cut-off jeans and matching tank tops, blaring Train’s “Drops of Jupiter”.
We all sang in deep emotion with each other.
We were all entranced, thinking to ourselves. I was pretty sure I was the only one that noticed the black Escalade that kept driving around the block.
Their second time around, I tried my best to see the people inside of it; there were two younger-looking guys. One, the driver, had hair as white as the white crayon; pretty much invisible. Our eyes made contact as they drove past, his piercing my own. He was beautiful, but obviously arrogant. The second guy, the passenger, was a heavier set guy, with dark brown, barely-there hair. He was looking our way, too, but it was still the driver who had my attention.
Margie and Sarah were still sucking on their Ice Pops when the Escalade drove away. I hadn’t been eating mine while I was staring at the blonde guy, and it had melted on my leg.
“I’m going to go wash off my leg, this will be sticky and it will drive me insane.” I got up from the step I was sitting on and went in the house, to the kitchen. I didn’t intent on being in there very long, but as it turned out, we hadn’t done any laundry since my parents had been gone and there were no hand towels in the kitchen. So, I had to go to the back of the house to the laundry room. I put all the kitchen towels but one in the washer, poured ¾ of a cup of soap in, closed the lid, and started it. The towel I had kept out, I took back with me to the kitchen, to get wet, and cleaned my leg with it. I threw it halfheartedly on the counter next to the sink, and went back outside.
When I stepped through the door, I saw the Escalade turning onto our road again. Sarah and Margie still didn’t notice, they were now entranced on the lyrics to One Republic’s “All the Right Moves”.
I walked over to the curb, just as the Escalade was nearing our house. It was obvious what I was beckoning to the two creepers. The SUV slowed, and pulled to a stop when they reached me.
The heavier guy (the one on my side) rolled down his window.
“I couldn’t help but notice you driving around the block a million times,” I said, annoyed. “Is there something I can help you find?” The two just looked at me like I had just asked them I could shoot them in the foot; kind of like I was an idiot. They looked at each other next. The blonde, the driver, had a sort of smirk on his face. The heavier guy just looked outright patronized. I cleared my throat, still waiting for an answer.
The blonde chuckled. “You.”
That was all he said.
“Yes, me,” I said, thinking he was making sure I asked if I could help him find something.
He laughed again, as if to call me an idiot.
“Mind telling me what you’re laughing at?” I asked him, feeling like I was a seven-year-old playing the I’m-not-touching-you game with the most annoying boy in class.
The heavier guy turned to the blonde and said, “Should we tell or should we do?” Did they have to be so inconspicuous?
“Tell, and then do. We’ll bring out the big guns if we have to.” Okay, this should have been scary, but it so wasn’t. It was actually kind of hysterical, in a sort-of scary, what-the-heck-are-they-freaking-talking-about way.
I looked back at Sarah and Margie. They were paying attention now, looking kind of worried. I smiled at them, to assure them I was handling things; I was always the one to handle things.
“Okay, cut the crap, guys. What the heck do you want?”
“We would tell you, but then we’d have to kill you,” the blonde said, jokingly. “No, really. If we tell you, you have to swear you’ll believe us, and go along with it. Otherwise…we really would have to kill you.” The way he spoke now, kind of made me believe him. I felt shivers go up and down my body with realization that he wasn’t lying: this was important stuff.
“You going to tell me from there, or are you going to get out?” I was actually agreeing to this crap; maybe out of complete fear, or maybe out of morbid curiosity, who knew.
The guys, once again, looked at each other.
“Are you two…you know, gay?” I asked them, completely serious.
They laughed hysterically.
“No,” the heavier guy said, in a gruff voice; the first time he spoke to me.
“Let’s get out,” the blonde said to the heavy guy. So, they did. I started walking towards the porch, but all of a sudden, one of the guys grabbed my arm. I turned around to see what they wanted, and found the big guy gripping my arm.
“No,” he said again. I didn’t understand.
The blonde had a follow-up, he whispered, “You can’t tell them, either,” looking over at Sarah and Margie. I laughed.
“You’re kidding, right? They know everything. What’s to hide? You selling dope or something? Cause if that’s your business, you might as well hit the road now, boys.” After I said it that totally made sense that they were selling dope: Escalade, smaller dude with a heavier side-kick, probably the ‘bodyguard’, secretive business. These guys needed some help.
“No, we aren’t selling dope. It’s a little more…classified than that. And could you please keep it down, this is like, important stuff,” the blonde boy (of course) replied, pulling something out of his jean pocket. It looked like a wallet, but when he opened it up there was a C.I.A. badge sitting in it. “Can we please go somewhere…safer?” He asked.
Crap. These guys were here to talk about my parent’s missing tax reports.
But…wait, wasn’t that the IRS? Yes, yes it is. So…what did these guys want from me?
I began walking to the house. Margie and Sarah were giving me a look that said What in the heck is going on? Again, I smiled, reassuringly, because I had no idea myself.
“Guys, these gentlemen need to have a conversation with me, so please stay out here while we talk in the house,” I winked at them, signaling Eavesdrop! Eavesdrop! The guys didn’t notice, considering they were behind me, but I knew the girls got it, they gave a hint of a smile.
We continued on into the house and sat in the dining room, which was by our front door where the girls sat; I knew they would be able to hear us from where they were, but the guys didn’t.
We sat at the table, the both of them on one side, me on the other.
“Alright, gentlemen, what’s up?”
“First off, I’m C.I.A. Agent Michael Murphy,” the blonde said, “and this is my bodyguard,” I knew it! I thought, “Duke Winslow. You are Rylee Bernice Albright.” Yes, I am Rylee. I know my name. But how did he? I left it alone.
I beckoned for him to go on.
“We are here because, well, we have to take you with us. You are in grave danger, Rylee.”
“Yeah, okay. And what is this ‘grave danger’ that I am in? And where are we ‘going’?” I played along with the psychopath.
“There are people looking for your father. If they can’t find him, they will go after you next, and our department cannot allow that, due to your expectance to join us.”
I laughed. He had to be kidding me.
“This is no longer a joking matter, Rylee. We are here to collect and protect. There are foreign enemies trying to get a hold of one of the CIA’s most trusted Agent’s, and those enemies will do whatever they can to stop us, and specifically him, from closing them down; their organization name: Al Qaeda. If they cannot reach your father, they will go after you.”
That actually made no sense. That wasn’t really the CIA’s job, or so I had thought. Does anyone ever really know anything about our government for sure, these days? Still, if Al Qaeda would go after me, wouldn’t the go after my sister?
I asked. “Well, what about Sarah?”
“Sarah will not be in any line of danger, due to her non-biological relation. Al Qaeda will have no knowledge of your sister.” Wait, non-biological? That meant… Sarah wasn’t really my sister. She was adopted? How come I didn’t know this?
“What?” I asked.
“You heard me correctly. Sarah Alexandria Albright was adopted by Bruce and Elizabeth Albright when she was 3 months old, from a sister to Mrs. Elizabeth Albright, Judy Beckondale.” I didn’t know my mother had a sister. This was too much.
“Okay, let’s say I understand what you are telling me. You never told me where we are going?”
“Washington, D.C. of course. We are going to the Gray House.”
Gray House? What the heck?
In the midst of my confusion, I heard a huge thud coming from outside.
“God, dang it!” Michael yelled.
He ran outside, and came back in a few seconds later, with Sarah and Margie.
“It looks like some people having an eavesdropping problem,” he said, obviously mad. “That just means you have to go too, now. Let’s stop horsing around and get out of here, please. We have no idea what the time basis is for the terrorists. Rylee: Go pack a weeks’ worth of clothes for all three of you. We may be gone longer than that, but there is a washer and dryer, and if all else fails, credit cards. Sarah: Call your fathers cell phone, let him know you’re going too. Margie: Call your parents, give them an excuse. You’re eighteen, you’re free to leave their home, deal with whatever consequences you are given when we return; that’s what you get for eavesdropping. Oh, and you two,” he said pointing back and forth from Sarah to Margie, “you are warned that if any of this ever leaves your mouths to anyone not involved in this, you will have committed a federal crime, and will be given a trial, proven guilty, and sentenced to jail. I would watch what you say.”
When all was finished (Sarah called dad, told him what was going on, Margie told her parents she was going on a road trip with us, and I packed our bags), Michael and Duke got us on a private jet to Washington, D.C. Because it was a private jet, we were all sat together: Duke by the window, then Michael, and me. Sarah and Margie were directly behind us.
It was a long flight, even on a private jet, from Los Angeles, California, to D.C. I had my headphones in, and my iPod turned up. I was currently listening to Coldplay’s “Yellow”.
I noticed Michael kept looking at my iPod, then me, iPod, then me. It drove me crazy. I pulled a headphone out.
“Is something bothering you?” I asked him.
“Not bothering, per say. It’s just that, well, a) that’s a wonderful song, it suits you,” did he just compliment me? “And b) you probably couldn’t get it any louder.” He smiled again. His smile was pretty. Yes, pretty. Not cute, not handsome, or beautiful. It was more than that. He had pearly white teeth that shone when he pulled his lips back to smile. His lips were full, luscious. I found myself wondering what it would feel like, them pressed against mine, and I shook my head.
He was still looking at me. No, not me, but my eyes. Deep, far away into my eyes. No one had ever looked at me like he was looking at me now. It was exhilarating, but still quite…odd. I just met this guy. And he at least had to be 20-something. A CIA Agent on top of that!
But, it seemed like he was thinking the same thing; had we met before?
I looked away first. I felt it when he took his eyes off of me, 32 and a half seconds later.
The rest of the flight, we didn’t speak. When we landed, he got my bag down from the rack above our heads, offered to carry it, I refused.
We took a limo to the Gray House (which turned out to be a headquarters for CIA Agent’s and their families in a time of danger), no one speaking much, casual conversation.
When we arrived, Duke and Michael showed us our individual rooms.
We all went into our separate rooms, and began to situate ourselves. A few minutes after Duke and Michael had left, and I knew Margie and Sarah were still unpacking, I heard a knock at my door. I opened, and wasn’t surprised to find Michael waiting there, looking beautiful in his denim jeans, and plain white t-shirt that matched his hair (that color had to be faux, but it looked good, shockingly). He smiled, spinning my world around. I held on to the door to keep from falling over.
“Yes?” I asked him, tight-voiced.
He laughed a beautiful harmonic laugh.
“May I come in?”
“Sure, why not? Make yourself at home.” I moved from the doorway, back to the suitcase and dresser drawers. I leaned against the wall that was beside them; while he sat on the bed (he took ‘make yourself at home’ quite literally.)
“You know the same thing I know,” he began, staring into my eyes.
“And what is that?” I asked, not daring enough to look into his, for a fear of embarrassing myself, and passing out; he was just so darn beautiful.
“I’m not trying to rush this on you, but I already know it to be true. When you look at me, I feel exhilarated, weightless, tied to you. When I look at you, I know you feel the same.” He got up off the bed, and came over to me.
I looked at him now, not knowing what he was going to do. He brushed the hair out of my eyes.
“Rylee, I’ve known you for a long time, and I know you know me. You haven’t met me, but you know me.” He was right.
I felt like I knew the things he’d never told anyone in his life.
I nodded, unable to speak. He laughed again.
“Why do I make you uncomfortable?”
“Because you’re beautiful,” I answered, looking into his eyes.
He leaned his face in, brushed his fingers over my cheekbones, and kissed me, slightly, gently, on the lips. His were made for mine. We belonged together.
It’s three seven years later, today, that I met Michael Murphy.
In the past 7 years, I became CIA Agent Rylee Albright, Mrs. Michael Murphy (which changed my name to CIA Agent Rylee Murphy), and a Nobel Peace Prize Winner for the capture of Al Qaeda’s group leader.
I discovered what made a person abnormal: being themselves, believing in themselves, and pursuing the dreams that make themselves.
To be special, you find your own individual place in this world.
To get to that place, you have to have hope.
I found hope in my life that led to my place: Michael, CIA, believing in myself. Finding my place made me special; if only to myself. I wasn’t what you would consider ‘normal’ any longer.
I was me.
I found me.
I found who I had become: