I remembered standing on the beach with a women. She shouted my name. I was standing next to a bunch of other kids my age. One of them said my name. Memories rushed through my head like a rapid river, sweeping any doubts away.
“Yes.” I confirmed, “I am Lorleah.” Jens eyes lit up. I don’t understand why this made her so happy. Although it did feel like a hole inside me had been filled. Lorleah. That’s me.
Just then, the strange man who gave me food came out of the kitchen and approached us. He looked a lot like Jen.
“How is it Cali?” I continued eating. I wondered who he was talking to. “Cali?” Jen poked me in the ribcage and I choked a little on my food.
“Not nice.” I stated. Jen shook her head. She mouthed something and I stared blankly at her, “What?”
“Cali just doesn’t recognize her name yet, Dad.” Jen consoled the man. So that was his name.
“Your name is dad?” I asked.
“If that’s what you want to call me, Cali.” He confirmed. So I was Cali. I nodded. He walked back into the kitchen.
“Why does dad call me Cali?” I asked Jen who was sipping a small brown drink, “Does he know I am Lorleah?”
“Dad doesn’t think you remember your name so he made one up for you.” Jen swallowed the drink and smiled.
“Most people like you… don’t usually remember their past.” Jen seemed nervous, “It’s a miracle that you even remember you name.”
“Miracle?” I asked.
“Amazing, incredible.” Jen clarified. I nodded. I felt like I was going to learn a lot from this Jen girl. I finished off the amazing food she gave me and she smiled.
She took my plate and disappeared into the kitchen, leaving me to sit alone. Suddenly, another door next to the kitchen swung open and a tall women strutted out. It looked like her clothes were pasted onto her body. Jen appeared at my side and whispered into my ear,
“That’s Mariah,” She clenched a hand on my shoulder as Mariah neared, “She’s Dads wife, don’t say anything.” Mariah stopped in front of us and glared at Jen. I decided that I didn’t like this Mariah person.
“So,” Mariah started, bending down to the height of the stool I was sitting on, “How are you liking your new family, Cali?” She emphasized the name, mocking me.
“Depends if your in it…” I trailed off realizing Jen was covering her mouth, her eyes lit up with joy. I smiled a little.
“Oh sweetie,” Her face was inches from mine now, “You can call me mom.” She wrapped her arms around me. Snake. I thought, rage suddenly boiling. I felt my face heat up and Mariah suddenly squealed.
She pulled away and looked at her forearms. They were so red they looked like they were glowing. Jen stared at me and her body shook with laughter. Mariah glared at both of us and stomped back to the door she came out of.
Jen grabbed my hand and pulled me back up the stairs and into my bedroom. She sat me down on the edge of the bed and yelled with delight.
“You put Mariah in her place.” She sung, jumping up in down. Her happiness almost radiated into me.
“Snake.” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
“I had no idea you could burn someone with your thoughts!” Jen sat down next to me.
“I had no idea either. My mother could though.” I responded.
“That makes sen-” She paused and turned to me, “You remember you mom!”
“What?” I raised my eyebrows, “You mean Mariah?”
“No! Your actual mom! You said she could burn people!” Jen jumped up.
“I don’t think I said that.” I looked at her, confused. Jen sighed and sat down. Then she rocketed up again like my bed was on fire.
“I have a genius idea!” She grabbed my arm and dragged me out the door and down the stairs again, past the counter we had previously eaten at and out the door.
I kept pace with her as she jogged down the sidewalk, dodging people who had stopped to stare at me. I felt like a specimen inside a tank.
Jen didn’t stop running until we reached a large stone building. It’s unnatural front jutted out from the buildings around it, making it look like it was dropped on top of an more old, normal building. It had a large set of stairs leading up to a revolving door, bordered by stone animals. Jen climbed up some of the stairs and looked back at me.
“Library,” She explained, “If I’m right there should be some files on you here.”
“That’s quick.” I said it almost like a question, doubtful that my past could be cleared up in this strange building.
“I’m almost never wrong.” She responded, stepping into the revolving door. I sighed and followed her in.
The library was busier than I thought. When I entered all eyes turned to Jen and me. She seemed to ignore the eyes, but I saw her shoulders tense. I wondered why she acted differently whenever we went into a public place.
She looked around before walking to the corner of the library where a large glass door was. She pulled it open and we both went inside. The room was crowded with shelves, computers, and various other tables and racks. Jen led me too one of the computers and opened something for local news.
The first headline that popped up was about me. The picture was of me in bed in the hospital with tubes poking out of my body. Jen knew I couldn’t read very well so she read me the headline.
“New Expelled Girl Assigned to Diner Family, Doctors Notice Strange Things.” She scrolled past the picture and started to scan the article, saying points and lines from the text. “The girl arrived close to noon and a teenage girl, taking a break from work at her family diner, called 911.” She scanned further, “At the hospital, specialized doctors note that she was talking in her sleep. For privacy purposes they couldn’t tell what she was saying.” She sighed heavily and deflated onto the seat.
“I guess you were wrong.” I joked. Jen let out a breath resembling a laugh. She clicked an arrow in the corner of the screen returning to the local news screen. She was about to turn the computer off when I touched her hand and pointed to a new article that had popped up on the screen.
It was published only a few minutes ago. I was able to read the title. Second Expelled Found Twenty-Four Hours After Previous. My thoughts reeled.
Jen clicked on the article and started to read, “In record breaking time, another Expelled washed up on the shore of a residential beach. Speculations are that the girl who washed up a mere day before this one is related. But coming from only guesses, it looks otherwise. The women is much older but not old enough to have a child the age of the first girl.”
There were two pictures on the screen. One of the women, peacefully asleep on a bed. Another was the same picture of me that was on the first article. They weren’t wrong. She looked much too young to be a parent at all.
Her blonde hair hung in loose waves around her head and her skin was perfectly tan, she barely looked much older than me or Jen. But one thing that the camera wasn’t focused on was her eyes. Along the outer edges were small wrinkles, maybe from joy maybe from worry. For some reason, I felt a memory being dislodged.
Jen was still reading the article and she scrolled past the picture, her voice a low murmuring that was starting to sound more and more like the ocean. My vision started to blur and I closed my eyes.
My body was positioned comfortably between the branches of a tree, watching the scene unfold in front of me. A young women was watching a small child toddle around on the ground, climbing over the roots of large trees and pulling flowers off bushes. She reached for a colorful pink flower with blue edges. Her mother suddenly jumped into action and grabbed her, pulling her away from the flower.
“I wouldn’t touch that.” She cradled the girl, who squirmed and reached for the flower again. The women adjusted her grip and I was struck by how young she looked, “You’re going to give me wrinkles.” She walked away.
I felt a sharp grip on my wrist and I opened my eyes. I looked at the computer screen, which showed the picture again. I pointed and looked at Jen.
“That’s her.” I stated, “That’s my mother.”