Up, up, and away my soul floated. It felt very similar to floating, except up, and much, much faster, and much more sickening. I was screaming, but I couldn’t hear myself- I just knew I was screaming. This wasn’t the norm for the journey to the Spirit World- I’d been there before. That journey was much gentler. I hadn’t sinned at all in my life, or at least I’d thought I hadn’t. Maybe I’d committed a sin I hadn’t known about yet.
Thousands of possibilities swirled through my head: Maybe I’m destined for the Shadowlands… maybe I’m being reincarnated… maybe something’s going wrong…
But I knew deep in my heart that neither of those thoughts were correct. I was experiencing something else… something totally different… something new.
And suddenly time and space parted as I departed my own realm and shifted to the next time.
The next time?
And suddenly everything was blurry… and then everything was all clear.
My birth. My awakening. My first thoughts. The painful cut away from my mother. My not crying, my gentle strength.
My first birthday- April 4th. Coming to terms with my current place and time. Trying to see past the cloak of shadows deep, buried deep, in my brain, heart and soul. Living in darkness, only in darkness. I attend daycare and have a little fun.
Then there is nothing.
My second birthday. My second year of daycare. Halloween and Thanksgiving. My first real Christmas- I was left with a babysitter the first year. Getting to know my older brother- he’s four. My first New Year’s Eve as well. Gunshots and darkness. Kisses. Love. Always love.
My third birthday. Finally speaking and walking, both on the same day. Slowly beginning to like this world. My first haircut. Preschool- I’m starting to like it. My first time going trick or treating on Halloween. Terrified. Coming to terms with my father’s death. Thanksgiving and lots of yummy food. Christmas again- my new favorite holiday.
The dawning of a new year.
I turn four this year. Slowly begin to learn the true darkness of this world. People are mad, murderers, killers. No one knows my opinion. Throwing a fit because I fall out of my crib. Taken care of by several people- my mother, my grandfather, my grandmother, but none my father, not ever my father. My second time at preschool- getting along very well with other students- very smart. My second Halloween. My third Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Happiness.
Genuine, true happiness.
My fifth year of life- my fifth birthday. This time something changes. I feel very big. I’ve been alive for five years, maybe I can manage a life. Happiness bursts through my heart and soul, and I cry, but with happy tears. This time at preschool- the third- I make even more progress. This year on Halloween, I am not scared like I used to be. This year on Thanksgiving, I am actually thankful. I am grateful.
This year I feel alive.
“Six!” I scream through the house that morning, the morning I turn six. I feel even happier this year- it’s as if an electric charge has gone through the year. This is my last year of preschool. Next year, I attend kindergarten, with a girl named Brooke Dunn, who I have known since daycare. I celebrate Halloween by trick-or-treating, Thanksgiving by eating and giving thanks, and Christmas by giving and receiving gifts.
Very much happiness this year.
A new century, new age. My seventh birthday. We go to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, the city close to my own, for my birthday. It’s very exciting. The fourth of July, the anniversary of my dad’s death. That fall- first grade!! I begin grade school, very happy for myself. That summer I went to camp. I cried as the bus pulled away because I thought I would never return. I did that August. We move to a different house in October. Halloween- Brooke and I dress up as she-wolves. Fangs and all- very, very cute. My unusually long black hair grows even longer. I grow prettier. Thanksgiving- my first time tasting yams. Delicious! Christmas. I get three new Barbies, a couple of books, some clothes, some money, and a new TV. Smiling at the end of the year.
I turn eight this year. I establish that my favorite color is blue. Blue cake, blue bike, blue clothes. Second grade this year- very fun. The fourth of July- I allow myself to enjoy it for the first time. I learn I am skilled at arts and crafts. My black hair finally stops growing, but I start growing, growing six inches in two weeks. That Halloween Brooke and I go as vampires. That Thanksgiving I begin to learn the story behind the yummy holiday. I attend Sunday School for the first time, but after a couple of weeks I drop the classes. That Christmas is very sad. My mother is diagnosed with brain cancer- a very sad day for us.
My ninth year alive. This year I get my own EasyBake oven. My new favorite character- Buttercup from the Powerpuff Girls. The fourth of July, which I’m starting to like because fireworks are really pretty. Third grade is very fun, and Brooke and I officially become best friends. Brooke sleeps over at my house for the first time- I sleep over at hers. I meet a new girl named Becky who I call my roll buddy, and a boy named Chase who I call my puppet. Halloween. I go as an elf this year to show how eager I am for Christmas to come. That Christmas is joyful unlike the last year- my mom beats her cancer.
Joy rings through my house.
I turn ten, and I enter the fourth grade with Brooke this year. I develop true feelings for boys this year, not just crushes. Chase- who’s in fifth grade now- and I kiss, much to the delight of Becky and Brooke. The fourth of July is starting to be like a regular holiday, not just the day my dad died. Halloween this year is fun- we all go as royalty, Chase and my brother Jamie princes, and Becky, Brooke and I princesses. That Christmas, Becky announces that she’s moving to Oregon, and Brooke and I cry as hard as possible. I become a little less popular as I begin liking dark, secret things and whispers by vampires in the night.
My birthday, and I’m eleven this year. Fifth grade! My graduating year of elementary school! Not only am I excited as I walk into school on the first day, but I’m a little nervous because of what happened this summer. Chase told me he loved me- the real me. More boys come into my life. Alek, the cutie every girl is fawning over, asks me to the Halloween dance, which for the first time I attend with him. Chase and I go out- break up- go out again. I have the birds-and-bees talk with my mom and grandma when we go shopping in Orlando. Christmas is fun, and I spend the winter break with my grandmother in Fort Lauderdale.
I turn twelve. Almost thirteen! I’m really happy. I get my first cell phone for my birthday- a T-Mobile phone, the Razr. Chase and I begin our first official relationship, because elementary dating meant nothing. Brooke and I go to California with Brooke’s aunt and uncle, and her dad and mom. Middle school! The joy of being older shoots through me. I begin wearing a real bra. Some sad occasions- my great-grandfather dies, and we go down to Fort Lauderdale again for his funeral. I stay with my grandma that night. Grandma finally meets Brooke when my best friend comes over. Chase might be the one. I have my first period. Alek’s still ticked about last Halloween dance, but when I see him at the dance this year I roll my eyes. I’m affected none by his anger. None.
Thirteen! Thirteen! THIRTEEN! THIRTEEN! THIRTEEN! Thirteen! I am thirteen! Finally- I’m a teenager. My phone broke last year, so I get a new one this year, an even bigger, touch-screen phone. I enter the seventh grade happily, without any pause. Brooke and I run into Becky when we go to New York for the field trip- she’s moving back to Florida! We all squeal with glee. We return and resume seventh grade. For Halloween this year, I throw the most epic party ever. Almost 2,000 people attend. I break up with Chase and begin dating Alek again, forgiving him. Becky stays at my house until Sunday night. That Christmas, I get a laptop! Yay! My mom finally starts letting me go to the mall alone- without any parental guidance- which we do for Brooke’s birthday, when she turns thirteen, on December 28th. That New Year’s Eve, Mom throws a party.
I turn fourteen and enter the eighth grade that year. My final year of middle school. Next year I’ll go to high school and fulfill my dream of becoming an artist. I write in my diary even more this year, which was a gift from my grandma. My mom begins dating a man named Bruce, much to my surprise because I thought she gave up on men when my dad died. Brooke and I visit Brooke’s parents in California. Brooke begins dating Joe Camden, her first real boyfriend. I break up with Alek and go single for a time, until the Halloween dance, when I get back together with Chase. I stop trick-or-treating that year, beginning to see the lameness in it. That Christmas I stop asking for outlandish gifts also. And that New Year’s Eve I finally see the point of celebrating the holiday. It’s so you can celebrate the fact that you lived for another year.
I’m in high school! Finally! I turn fifteen and finally realize that Chase may be Mr. Right, but I can’t accept that. I wait a full three months- the whole summer- to ask him out again. He says yes. School starts and I become a freshman. I can’t believe I was so blind to the love I had for Chase. I can’t believe I was so blind.
Halloween comes, and I throw my third Halloween party- though I don’t trick or treat, I do love to throw parties for the holiday. My mom announces something stunning to me- she’s getting married to Bruce next summer! I’m really happy for her, ecstatic to see her stepping out of my dad’s shadow. I clap and applaud and mark my calendar for August 11, 2009. That Thanksgiving we feast, and that Christmas we give and receive, as always, but now I feel like the holidays are useless.
I turn sixteen!
Okay, now if you know me, you know that I wanted my sixteenth birthday to be different. Bruce kindly rented a banquet hall out for me, a huge one, that March, and we began decorating and planning. My favorite colors are purple and black, so we decorated the whole hall in purple and black. We got a DJ, my cake, and a bunch of other stuff. I invited up to 700 of my friends. Then, my party happened. I bought a black-and-purple dress and put a purple violet in my hair, with some dark purple eyeliner, and my hair curled tightly, down. I looked very pretty, not to brag. The eye makeup brought out my light tone. And I headed out. The theme for my party was film, so I had to look like a movie premiere. They rolled a red runner out for me and everything. It was fun.
I had so much fun. I smashed icing over Chase’s face. I got an iPod touch and an iPhone and an iHome and a laptop and a new blouse and leggings and a flat screen and a new car!!! OMIGOD I GOT A NEW CAR!!!!!!!! It was my favorite type of car, a Range Rover, with purple and black stripes on it. I was so ecstatic. It was the perfect party.
That summer was the wedding. My grandfather walked my mom down the aisle, and she cried when she was saying her vows, which was very touching. After the wedding ceremony we partied at the reception. The first dance was beautiful, and so was when we all danced. I was the junior bride, so when I’d walked down the aisle, I was a little cute myself, with my black dress. The colors were black, white, and silver. My mom’s dress was white, which she looked gorgeous in, and Bruce looked very handsome in all-black.
That fall I start my sophomore year, learning a lot more about life. Chase and I vow that we’ll never hurt each other again. Brooke and Joe get more serious. A lot happens.
And I change from a kid to an adult.
I turn seventeen, and for the first time I truly feel like an adult. My party is not as outlandish as it was last year, but it is fun. We go out to dinner at Six Tables. I love their fruits. I invite Chase, Brooke, and Becky, who I am ashamed of because she’s dyed her hair black with purple and blue highlights, and it’s cut about three inches shorter. Becky’s brown hair was prettier, but her boyfriend, a cutie named Tyler Jain with blue eyes and blond hair, seems to like it so I don’t say anything. Oh, well. Whatever she wants to do.
I graduate from being a sophomore. That summer me, Bruce, Mom, and Brooke visit my cousins in Paris, Mary and Ashleigh, which is very, very fun. I get to taste French food for the first time when we go to a very popular French restaurant called Chez Julien with really, really good food. I mean awesome food. I become a junior that September, once again scoring all A’s on my report card and all good reports on my progress report. Halloween is fun, because of Brooke’s party, which I help her plan, at her dad’s mansion in southern Tampa, Lakefront Mansion. I cut my hair six inches that November. I felt it was too long, almost down to my backside, and I cut it to the small of my back.
We go to DC in school that winter, and on Christmas I get an iPad. I love the iPad and kiss Bruce on the cheek when I get it. Mom gets me a purple sundress and some other clothes. I can see that Bruce and my mother are really happy. Brooke and Joe are really happy, too, as they kiss that night at Brooke’s mom’s Christmas party longingly and filled with passion. As are Chase and I. I think that Chase may just be my soulmate. Whenever I’m with him it feels right, like deep down in my heart and soul, and I know that I’m meant for him. At the Christmas party, Brooke’s mom, Maria, announces that her boyfriend for seven years, Chuck, has proposed to her and they will be getting married next fall.
And on New Year’s Eve I’m left knowing that next year I will turn eighteen.