Saturday, June 24, 2017

Reformable

 "Why? Why would you do such a thing?!" Amanda yelled at Roger.

"Do you realize what is going on?!" Roger yelled back and pointed to the door. "He's giving away our city!"

"You think we will exist long enough to hold onto it?" Amanda asked.

"Who do you think has caused our demise?" Roger asked quietly.

Amanda sighed. "You are reformable, but I was told to sentence you to treason and execution."

Roger sat down. "The counsel?"

Amanda nodded. "They're afraid," She said, "It's why you couldn't get support."

"What are you going to do?" Roger asked.

"I will go to the counsel for banishment," Amanda said and held up her hand to stop Roger from responding, "There's a place you can go that seems to be ideal for us. I recommend you head that way."

"What? You are not going to do anything?"

"Todd's right," Amanda said, "Things are already in motion. There's no stopping what is coming now."

At that moment, something grabbed Amanda and pulled her away. The images around her began to distort and bend. She knew something was wrong and began to struggle to keep the images.  Roger reached through the distortion and grabbed her hand.

Amanda woke up gasping for breath. She was still on the floor. Roger was holding her up with one arm while grasping her hand with the other.

"Wait," an unfamiliar voice said, "You can bring people back from the dead?"

"I wasn't dead," Amanda still gasping for air, "yet."

She looked at Roger who put his forehead to hers. Just behind Roger, she saw Todd. He looked relieved but didn't say anything.

"She'll need someone to carry her," Roger said.

"I got it," one of the soldiers said. He pushed past the other men. Roger put Amanda down and got up. The soldier picked Amanda up and headed out the door.

They were going home.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Culprit

There was a long awkward silence. Amanda was too weak to speak. Roger seemed to be waiting for something. He stood by Amanda, leaning on the table facing the door.

Suddenly, Amanda heard a loud thud outside of the wall.

"They're here," Roger said.

"Who's here?" Amanda asked.

Roger didn't answer right away. He continued to look at the door.

"The navy seals," Roger said, "I work with the US government. They're here on a sting. I am their informant."

"It was you who made that website and spread the rumors?"

"Yes."

"And was you, who sent Brian with that guy to come after me?"

"Not exactly. Brian was only supposed to track you. Sometimes people act on their own accord."

Amanda was baffled. "At least try to learn your lesson?"

"No it's not like that," Roger started. There were muffled yelling and more loud, sharp sounds from the outside.

Roger grabbed Amanda and threw her to the ground, using himself to shield her. Some bullets pierced the wall and insulation. The Door wasn't attached to anything. It blew out completely, sending bits of Styrofoam and a plastic polymer everywhere.

The noise stopped.

Roger got up and made his way to the door.

Amanda was still weak and could not get herself up off of the floor. She could see Roger carefully make his way to the door. He opened while standing off to the side.

"Get on the ground!" Amanda could hear someone shout.

Roger put up his hands and lowered himself to the ground.

A man, clad in black and body armor, carrying a rifle comes around the corner. He looks at Amanda and walks over.

In spite of all of the armor and gear, she knew that she was safe.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Almost

Roger sat down in the chair across the table from Amanda.  Neither of them took their eyes off each other. Finally, Amanda said, "I saved your life."

Roger didn't say anything. He seemed surprised.

"So, your memory returned," Roger said.

"Some," Amanda responded. "Most of it is still vague."

"Your tumor," Roger started and stopped. Amanda could sense his concern.

"It's still there," Amanda said sadly, "I may have stopped it from growing, but I don't remember how to get rid of it."

There was some silence.

"Please figure it out soon," Roger said. He sounded disappointed.

Amanda gave him an odd look. Then she looked back at the door.

Roger sighed. "I'm sorry I put you through this. I had to find out if our tech could get into the wrong hands."

"It was you with the website and the rumors," Amanda snapped, "And you put my friends and me in danger. Doing the wrong thing for the right reason is what …" She stopped. She didn't know if she should go on.

Roger looked fearful. "Is what?"

"It's what lost our city," Amanda whispered.

Roger slowly stood up. He was visibly upset, but not surprised.

"Then it wouldn't have mattered what we would have done. You were doing the right thing, weren't you."

Amanda was too weak to her hide her emotions.

"No," she said. "The right thing would have been to bring up a challenge."

"You didn't?" Roger asked. "Why?" He sounded as if he was genuinely curious.

"I didn't do what I needed to do because I was afraid," Amanda said weakly then paused for a moment, finally processing what happened. Then after thinking a moment, she scoffed. "I am just as bad."

Roger walked over behind her and untied her hands.

"It's almost over now," Roger said.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Betrayal

Two large men came down the stairs and picked up Amanda from either side.

She could hear Todd begin to struggle.

"It's no use," Brian said to Todd, "It's too late, now."

Amanda felt Todd's heartbreak, but she couldn't let him know that there was still hope. She needed the calm man to be on her side first.

They took her to a room that was apparently modified. The walls were too thick. Even then, the padding wasn't sufficient to block out all energy noise, but it was enough to keep the other two from finding out anything.

They sat her down in a chair. She didn't put up much of a fight. Instead she let her eyes droop a little, conveying non-responsiveness to her handlers.

Amanda looked past a third man, and she could sense his panic.

"Now all of you leave," The calm man said.

"Wha-" the third man started, then stopped.

"You did enough already," the calm man said, "You need to get out so I can do my job without distractions."

The third man glared at him and left.

The calm man picked up a large block that was made of a foam-like material and put it in front of the door. It fit perfectly.

Amanda noticed that the foam blocked most of the energy from the outside. Now she had her chance.

"What is your name?" Amanda whispered.

It was an odd question from someone who was nearly a vegetable, but the calm man answered, "Just call me Roger -"

He stopped and looked at her shocked. In his mind, he saw the two of them standing in a similar room where she was the interrogator. He wasn't thinking of it. Someone pushed that image into his mind.

She remembered.

She remembered Everything.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Grave Truth

When Amanda came to, it appeared that she was out for only a few minutes. Brian was still looking at her, and she noticed the ringing wasn't as loud, but it still made things hard to hear or focus.

Amanda closed her eyes and concentrated on the ringing. Gradually, it quieted down. She replayed the attack over and over in her head. She didn't dare to think about the dream, knowing what would happen if she did.

She looked around. It resembled a living room or some form entertainment room.  She tried to look up the stairs, but the daylight that shone through the stairwell aggravated her headache.

"Where are we?" Amanda asked Brian, "What happened?"

Brian looked disappointed, but then he responded weakly, "A group of men attacked and kidnapped you and Todd. Now, we are on a boat. Rather, we are on a large yacht." He coughed. "Someone paid a lot to get you here."

"But what happened to you?" Amanda asked him.

Before Brian could answer, they heard from the top of the stairs.

"Three of my men are dead!" on voice yelled angrily.

"I told you it was unwise to approach her," another voice responded calmly. "It's likely you sped up the process. She probably will never remember where she put it. What's more, she'll probably be dead in a day or two.

Amanda recognized the voice, but only some of her memory returned. The rest was still vague at best.

"What are you talking about?!" 

"Your men, confronting her against my advice, sped up the tumor. She has no control over her energy and isn't able to heal herself. The tumor that killed us off is going to kill off the only hope we had for survival."

"But you can heal it."

"No, she is the only one who figured that out. Well, before you practically killed her."

There a loud yell and suddenly some gurgling.

"I did what I could, but you refused to listen to me," the calm voice said among the gurgling, "You chose to go against what I said, and now there are consequences."

The gurgling stopped and then there was a gasp for air.

"I may be able to extract some of her memory," the calm voice said, "but if there is too much damage, I may not be able to get anything."

"Then we go down," the other voice growled, "and we get that information."

Amanda heard Todd sputter. He was awake.

"No," The calm voice said, "All three are awake. The other two will block me. Bring the girl up into the padded room."

Amanda finally remembered who he was and realized that she would have to remind him.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Vault

Amanda heard Brian sigh. After a moment of silence, he said, "The Natisiens should be done filling the vault. We need to be there to see it sealed."

Amanda agreed and followed Brian down a corridor to the underground cavern that housed the vault.

Two 7ft guards stood guard on both sides of the entrance. When they saw the pair, they immediately stopped talking to each other and stood in attention.

Brian and Amanda went into the vault. Flat crystals lined both walls. In the center were more of them above some storage containers. Light from the back of the room filtered through the crystals and created patterns of rainbow colors on the wall. All of their records, their mathematical and technology secrets stored here. All, except for one.

"We can't let anything get into the wrong hands," Brian said as he reached for her pendant. He studied it for a moment, then let it drop.

Amanda knew what he was insinuating. "I was assured that I would survive," Amanda said, devoid of emotion.

"What if he's wrong?" Brian asked.

Amanda remembered not caring. She remembered how she was no longer angry with Brian for his past deeds. As a matter of fact, she no longer cared about them.

In the next moment, Amanda was watching a large wall come up to her. The front of the vehicle that she was in crumbled. Flames engulfed the window before her.

She woke up. She was sitting upright and realized that her hands were tied behind her back. She looked to her right and saw Todd, unconscious. He was also sitting on a chair with his hands behind his back.

In front of her was Brian, looking worse than Todd, except he wasn't unconscious. Instead, he stared at her, as if waiting for something.

Amanda couldn't hear him. The ringing in her ears was too loud. She passed out.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Unlocked

Amanda looked past the blue lady. Then back at her hand. At that moment, she knew what she had to do. The ringing in her ears was unbearable. She tried to look up at the box, but everything seemed to be darker.  She forced herself up with great difficulty. None of her limbs wanted to move.

A random flash of light. It was as if someone shined a flashlight into her eyes and moved on.

Amanda took a couple of steps. It was as if she was in a slow motion sequence. Her mind was going at normal speed, but her body moved as if someone slowed the video down.

Another random flash of light.

Amanda knew that she didn't have much time, but she couldn't reach the box. Each step seemed to get her nowhere. Her breathing was labored. Her footsteps echoed as if they weighed three times more than they did.

Then, she had a revelation. "It's just a dream," she told herself out loud. Then she closed her eyes and made herself closer to the box.

She opened her eyes, and for a moment, the ringing stopped, and she could move freely again. Right in front of her was the clear box held the pulsating orb. It was much smaller than it used to be.

She looked around and saw that she was still in a huge underground cavern. Over to her left, was the vault, wide open. It was still massive, and a multi-colored glow emanated from the opening as if a light was passing through a prism.

On seeing the vault, she became afraid again, and the ringing started. She realized that she would have to face what is in the vault or die.

She slid the flat crystal into the box and the box dissolved. The pulsating orb hit Amanda in the chest, and she fell back into blackness.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

His Face

Amanda, for a moment, could only see his face. Todd's scruffy look transform to a clean shaven and short hair Todd. Then it would transform back again.

Where did she see him before?

She remembered when they first met. Todd had a cast on his arm. At first, he tried to convince Amanda that he was doing some "sick" moves on the skateboard. When Amanda rolled her eyes, he finally confessed to tripping over an uneven part in the grass while bringing in packages from the delivery truck.

He covered his face with embarrassment.

"If only I lifted my foot higher a half of inch," He moaned.

When he removed his hands to reveal the clean-shaven version of Todd that was backlit by some bright light. He put both of his hands on her arms.

"You can come with me!"

Amanda began to panic. She knew that she couldn't go with him the last time, but this time, she will follow. She didn't want to lose him again.

He said something else, but this time she couldn't hear him. Her ears were ringing, and it was getting louder. She tried to get him to repeat himself, but she couldn't speak. He talked again. She couldn't hear him.

He then dropped his hands and walked past her. She turned to follow him. She tried to follow him into a corridor, but all she saw was a glimpse of him as he turned a corner at the end of the hallway. She ran to try to keep up. As she rounded the corner, she saw the vault.

It was larger than she remembered it.

She stopped and stared. She remembered it. She remembers its construction, but she couldn't remember why or where it was

The ringing was now painful. Amanda dropped to her knees and put her hands over her ears. She began to see spots of white light as if someone was shining a flashlight in her eyes.

"You can't delay any more!" A voice said. In spite of the ringing, she heard it loud and clear.

She turned and saw a figure standing over her. She knew it was the blue lady. Just beyond the figure was the orb. It was small but still there. She looked down in her hand; there was the flat crystal.

Then another memory surfaces. Amanda remembers going through this before: The extreme tiredness she felt, how everything seemed dark before she passed out, the flashing lights, and the ringing in her ears pointed to one fact.

She was dying.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Traumatic (Backstory)

"I'd put her at the age of 16," The Doctor said. "She's cleared to go whenever you're ready."

"So no one came to claim her?" The woman asked. She was writing something down in a folder of paper. Leaning up against her leg was a bag that had "Rutland County Department of Children and Families" emblazoned on the front.

"And you haven't found anything in the missing children database?"

"No, no we haven't," The detective said. He was "Tragic."

All three of them looked through the door at a girl who seemingly was too busy playing video games to notice.

"No one reports her, no one claims her," The detective said in a lowered voice, " and no evidence of foul play. So her family doesn't want her, and she obviously doesn't want to go back."

"Wait," the doctor said abruptly, "Are you saying that you think she's faking it?"

"Well," the detective said as he leaned back at the reception desk. He's seen a few cases like this one when he worked in the Bronx. "Not exactly."

"If she saw something traumatic enough, she could have repressed that memory," The social worker said.

"Dissociative memory," The detective said.

"I know what you are getting at, but I've seen her brain scans," The doctor said, "she has a lot of evidence of brain damage. It's possible that the damage may not have any bearing on her memory loss. It's just," The doctor trailed off.

"Just what?" The detective asked.

The doctor waved off the detective, "I really can't explain it until I consult with the MRI technician again. There are some unexplained anomalies, that's all. It's why it took so long to release her. They seem to be healing, and as far as I can tell, there are no serious long-term effects."

"Perhaps it's both?" The Social worker said, "If she had a family, they didn't bother to report her missing, or maybe they couldn't report her missing. The damage could reinforce it?" She ended the last sentence with a question when she remembered who she was talking to.

The doctor shrugged and was about to respond when the detective put his hand up to stop him.

The detective nodded. "No, you're right. My next move was to check the murders in the neighboring states. It is possible that the damage could have been done during that time. She may have been able to get away before, well, the perpetrators could get to her. Perhaps if I can find how she got by the lake as she did, we may be able to solve this case."

Then he chuckled, "And to think, I transferred to Vermont to get away from murder cases."

"Well, if she saw a murder, it certainly wasn't here," The social worker said, then sighed. "Criminals are too high on heroine to kill each other here."

The two men murmured in agreement.

"Well, I have more work to do," the detective said just before leaving, I'll keep in touch."

The social worker looked at her notes for a few minutes and then said, "Shall I go introduce myself now?"

When there was no answer, she looked up to see the Doctor looking intently at the girl.

"What is it?" She asked.

"What kind of trauma would cause someone to want to forget what happened?"

"For everyone it's different. It depends on what the person affected thinks is traumatic," The social worker paused and thought for a moment. "The only case I had that worked with turned out to be pretty bad."

Sunday, May 28, 2017

From the Forest

Amanda followed Todd into the woods. Unlike last time, she was the one who couldn't catch her breath. It seemed that the woods were darker than last time.

Probably the time of day, she thought, but even in the sun, it seemed dark and cold.

She had to stop and rest at a tree. After a moment, she realized it was the same tree that Trisha had rested on.

Todd walked over to her.

"Are you going to make it okay?" Todd asked. He sounded worried.

Amanda nodded. She couldn't understand why she wasn't feeling well. She knew she had to go on.

They did finally reach the top. Amanda walked to where she could see the lake and stood right where she dreamed that she was naked, holding a case.

The case. She could feel it's coldness pressed against her chest. She glanced at a tree stump that was only a few feet to her left.

At that moment she heard voices. She couldn't exactly make out what they were saying. She walked towards the direction that they seem to be coming from.

"Amanda?" Todd said

"You hear that?" she had to speak over the voices. They were getting louder.

Todd stopped and listen for a moment.

"No," Todd said. There was a hint of panic in his voice, "What? What do you hear?"

Amanda could make out some parts of speech now. It sounded like four or five people planning, but none of them were actually speaking to the other. Sometimes the voices overlapped.

"We need to go," Amanda said. She glanced at the stump, only to have the memory of a rock, flying by her head. A migraine seemed to come out of nowhere. She palmed her temple and looked towards Todd. Behind him, three men appeared and before Amanda could say anything, one of the men hit Todd in the back of the head.

She tried to keep control. She could feel some sort of energy well up inside of her. Then someone grabbed her from behind and everything went white.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hesitation

Todd looked up into the woods for a few moments, and then he looked at Amanda who was also looking up into the woods.

"It's something you have to do," he said, "I don't think it could be put off anymore."

Amanda didn't budge. It was no longer the fear of the unknown, but the dreaded sense of being in grave danger that made her freeze.

"Amanda," Todd said, and Amanda slowly looked at him.

"I know," Amanda said. "I know. I just have a feeling that something is about to go horribly wrong."

Todd looked at her for a moment. "I don't know what's going to happen either. I'm afraid of what might happen if you got back your memories. What if based on those new memories you don't want me back in your life anymore?

Amanda gave him an odd look. "Why would I not want you in my life?"

"Well, we are the sum of our memories, right?"

Amanda looked him in the eyes.

"New memories sometimes override the old ones, she said quietly. I don't think any memories will change my mind about you."

Todd cupped her head in his hands and kissed her. Then he put his forehead on hers.

"I sure hope so."

Todd sound strained and on the verge of tears. For a brief moment, Amanda felt fear. It was the same fear that she felt when she encountered the blue lady. Then it was gone.

Todd got up and pulled Amanda to her feet.

"This must be done," he said, and he turned towards the forest. Amanda sighed and followed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Second Thoughts

The drive seemed longer than last time. Amanda was exhausted but couldn't sleep.  Todd was also quiet. Both of them were anxious about the trip.

The sun filtered through the trees then glare through the driver side window, then move through the windshield. Then it would move back and hide behind the mountains as the car turned the curves.

When the sun hit the windshield again, and Todd readjusted the visor for the umpteenth time he scoffed.

"I should have gotten sunglasses!" he said, annoyed. Amanda chuckled in agreement. At least she can take her eyes off the road to get away from the blinding light. Todd could not.

They finally reached the parking spot. Todd got out of the car, but Amanda hesitated. Part of her knew that she had to go. However, Amanda was afraid. She had a feeling that her past involved a lot of pain. Pain that she did not want to experience, again.

However, she was concerned that if she didn't learn about her past now, things are going to get much worse.

Todd opened her door.

"You are not having second thoughts now, are you?" He asked.

Amanda turned and swung her legs over onto the dirt.

"It's just," Amanda said then trailed off. She really couldn't put it into words precisely what she was feeling.

"I guess everyone is afraid of the unknown," Amanda sighed, "I'm not sure if I'm ready to face it yet."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Preparations

"Are you awake now?" Todd asked.

"Um," Amanda was a little confused. She looked at Todd for a moment, then finally sat up.

"I guess." She couldn’t figure out where she was. She looked at Todd, trying to remember why he was there. She thought he was gone.

Todd sat next to her and put his arm around her. She leaned on his shoulder. After a moment, She remembered what was supposed to happen.

"Oh, right," Amanda said and sat up. "I need to grab my stuff so we can go to the lake."

She could barely see Todd in the early morning light, but she thought she heard a quiet sigh of relief.

Her phone had the clock screen saver running, so she was able to grab that first. She turned on the brightness and set it up on it's built in stand as a low-level light. Then she grabbed her bag.

Todd watched her for a moment and got up and walked over to her. Amanda could feel him trace across her upper back until he reached her other shoulder. Then he moved his hand to her upper arm and pulled her in close.

"Are you sure you want to go through with this?" Todd asked quietly.

There was a familiarity on how he held her, his breath on her temple, and his quiet, hushed voice that triggered something. She was suddenly hyper-aware of her surroundings. Her phone's screen seemed to hum, the energy from the sun as it started to peak from the horizon. Even the house's wi-fi seemed to buzz in the air.

She pulled partly away from him and turned herself so she could see his face. It took a moment to not only make sense of what happened but also to gather her thoughts so she could give him an answer.

"I have a feeling that if I don't find out my past soon," Amanda said after a moment, "My past will catch up to me and something bad will happen." It was the best explanation that she could give. She couldn't remember her entire dream, but she did remember a sense of urgency.

Todd grabbed her other shoulder and now was facing directly at her, looking intently.

After a moment, Amanda had a feeling that can only be described has someone rummaging inside her head.

Amanda blinked, and the feeling was gone.

Todd nodded and sighed. He leaned forward and kissed her on top of her forehead.

"Well, then," Todd said, "I guess I'll have to get my bags, too." With that, he went into his room.

Amanda stared at him leaving. The anger and frustration bubbled up again. Something about seeing the back of Todd as he went irritated her. She took a deep breath and finished packing her bags.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Dimmer Dream

Amanda saw Margret happily talking, but she couldn't understand what she was saying. It was as if she was speaking another language. It reminded her of her original dream. She can hear the syllables, but she couldn't make out the words.

She turned to Todd. He watched her intently as if he was waiting for something to happen.

She turned back to Margret, and she wasn't there anymore. The entire house was gone, and a forest replaced it.

Amanda knew at that moment she was dreaming, but she had no control.

The trees extended endlessly to the sky. At first, Amanda thought that she was by the lake, but as she looked around, she only saw trees, and they all looked the same. At that moment, a feeling of loss and a sense of panic set in but she wasn't sure why she was afraid. She knew that she couldn't stay in that spot any longer.

She started to run, but the more she ran, the denser the woods became. Soon it was too thick even to move in. The trees grabbed at her clothes. She can feel the branches start to pierce her skin. She had lost hope of surviving, but at least she can stop the trees from hurting anyone else.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out a silver ball. She knew that it would be the end if she activated it, but it appeared that she had no choice.

She pressed an indentation in the ball, and it separated in half and started to click. She looked up to see an opening in one of the stumps of the trees. She clutched the now clicking device in her hand and crawled through.

She stood up to face the same light orb she saw in previous dreams. Except, this time, it was much smaller and dimmer.

She looked carefully at the light and saw that it was inside a clear box. In the corner of the box was a thin slot.

"What key?" Amanda asked, remember the last time.

"You have it."

Amanda, a bit startled, looked up to see the blue lady, except she wasn't glowing anymore. In her normalcy, she looked like Amanda.

No wonder she looked familiar, Amanda thought.

She looked down at her hand that clutched the device. It was still clicking. When she opened her hand, however, it was a flat, rectangular, crystal object. It pulsed a white light with the clicks. She knew that it fit into the slot and it would open the box.

"I don't know if I want to," Amanda said. She realized that she was afraid of letting the energy out. It was there for a reason.

The woman looked at her with empathy. "I know you don't want to deal with the life that you forgot, but you must stop running and face it. The problems from your past will make you stronger. I know you have the strength to deal with them. You must trust your instincts."

"But what if I don't want to see my past. What if I live in this ignorant bliss?"

"If you choose not to release the energy, this light will die, and you will die with it. Without this energy, you won't be able to face the new problems."

"What new problems? How long do I have?" Amanda asked.

There was no answer. Todd woke her up.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Good Night

It was a long day. The car did finally show up. Todd and Amanda went out for dinner and to check on local attractions.

Later, the four of them sat in the family room and reminisced a little about the past.

Amanda mentioned on how she got the laptop.

"My social worker gave it to me on one of our weekly meetings," Amanda said. Her social worker would take her out for ice cream once a week to discuss random things.

Margret chuckled, "I'm not surprised. Was she the one who suggested that you go to the library to use the internet?"

"No," Amanda blushed. She felt sorry for disobeying even now, "That was me. I just wanted to get my book done, and it was the only way I could communicate with Todd about publishing."

"Well," Michael said, "You were always intuitive about such things. It's a shame we didn't see it then, but I'm glad that it worked out."

Then the conversation turned to them talked about visiting their daughter. Margret was so excited about her plans that Amanda didn't dare to interrupt. It was good to see her so happy.

Time flew by, and it wasn't before long that Amanda and Todd had to go to bed.

"We need to be up early tomorrow," Todd said, putting a stop to the conversation. "It's probably a good idea to go to bed now."

Amanda sighed and got up. In doing so, she almost lost her balance.

"Wow, I'm much more tired than I thought I was," Amanda said as squeezed the bridge of her nose.

Todd grabbed his and Amanda's phone and headed towards the bedroom. After Amanda had stabilized herself, she wished her foster parents good night. They responded in kind. Amanda couldn't help but noticed that Michael seemed concerned about something. Margret seemed sad.

Amanda brushed it off as parting blues and headed towards bed. She reached her room and saw Todd plugging in her phone. She had no idea on how she got into bed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Second Chances

Amanda and Todd spent most of the morning on their phones.

Todd was on his, trying to find out what happened to their rental.  Amanda could see him struggle to maintain composure as the rental company sent him from one department to the next.

Amanda didn't want to bother Todd, and she was too nervous to go outside. So she spent most of her time on an image app.

Eventually, she got bored of it and contemplated getting her laptop out of her bag in the bedroom.

At that moment a car could be heard in the driveway and Amanda jumped up to check the window. The familiar gray sedan stopped just before the garage.

"Mom and dad are home," Amanda said, then realized that Todd was still on the phone. Without another word, Amanda walked over to the front door and helped them with their purchases.

"Look, we got you some items to take back with you," Margret said. She pulled out a few things including a gallon of maple syrup and buckwheat mix.

"Oh, wow," Amanda said, "Thanks!"

They talked about the differences between California and Vermont. Amanda had to explain that Los Angeles was not a day trip and that it takes more than 8 hours to get there, depending on traffic.

Todd, in the meantime, finally finished his phone call with a sigh of relief. "Well, that's taken care of, at least." He walked over to the kitchen where the trio was talking. "The car will be here in a couple of hours, I hope."

The topic then turned to the future.

"Dad and I found a motorhome we liked. It's not too big, and it looks perfect. We'll be talking to a realtor tomorrow after you leave," Margret said.

"Leave?" Amanda looked at Todd and then realized what they were talking about it. "Oh, I guess you actually planned on tomorrow, after all," Amanda said.

"It's a good thing, too," Todd said holding up his phone, "I don't think we would be able to get to the spot before dark."

Just then Todd's phone rang again. He walked back to the family room with his phone and sat on the Sofa.

"I'm just glad everything is working out," Margret said, "Our oldest daughter decided to talk with us again and invited us to go and visit her and her husband."

"The interesting thing is," Michael said, "it wasn't until we realized that we were too focused on what we were doing rather than accepting God's grace for what it was."

Just as Amanda was about to ask more questions, Todd walked up to the island and said, "Welp, looks like we are leaving tomorrow in the late afternoon. Stand just called, and his trip has been cut short." He saw the look on Amanda's face and quickly added, "We'll just leave earlier tomorrow. Like, just-before-sunup early."

Amanda was relieved and disappointed at the same time. She wanted to stay a little longer with her foster parents. Since they have changed so much, she had so many more questions.

However, she wanted to go back to where she by the lake. It had become an intense desire, almost as if someone was calling her there.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ghosting

Amanda stood near the bottom of the stairs staring at a spot in the woods. She recognized the woman and didn't know what to make if it.

She decided not to get the berries, and she went back inside.

"That was quick," Todd said looking up from his phone.

"Well," Amanda said slowly, not sure on what to say to Todd. Then she sighed and sat down at the table. Todd had already set plates filled with food on the table.

"I've been hallucinating again," Amanda said finally. That was probably the case.

"What about this time?" Todd asked. He didn't seem too concerned. He set his phone on the table and sat down in front of the other plate.

"I keep seeing this woman," Amanda explained, "At first it was in my dream, but then she seems to be everywhere. This time I saw her in the woods about where the berries are."

Todd nodded a little as if to indicate that he understood. He didn't seem surprised at all.

"Did you try talking to her?" He asked.

"Well, no. Why would I do that?" While Amanda was glad Todd didn’t think she was crazy, the question surprised her.

"I was just curious," Todd said quickly, and he started to eat. After he had swallowed his first mouthful, he said, "Sometimes if you confront what is bothering you, it finally goes away, or at least that is what I read, somewhere." He winked at her.

Amanda about to tell him more but when she noticed that he was bothered by something she decided against it. Why should she add more to his stress by telling him that the real reason she decided not to pick berries is that she felt the woman's fear?

Friday, May 12, 2017

One More day

Amanda woke up twice, thinking that she was in a different room that wasn't her apartment or her old Bedroom.

A few times she got up to touch the wall in her dream state logic, to see outside. The window to the outside was only a few feet from where she stood. She would then become fully awake, realize what she was doing, groan then go back to bed.

When she woke up the third time, the sun was above the window. She could smell eggs and bacon wafting into the kitchen.

"Oh wow," Amanda said, "how late is it?" She saw that Todd was already awake, talking to Michael. Margret was dressed up in slacks and a blouse.

Amanda paused for a moment to be sure that she wasn't hallucinating. Margret was wearing makeup. The makeup was very subtle, so if someone weren't paying attention, or didn't know old Margret, they wouldn't have noticed it at all - Except that she looked good for someone who's past 60.

"It's almost nine thirty," Margret said, "We figured you would want to sleep in today."

In spite of the obvious changes the two went through, Amanda was still surprised at this. Her foster parents were sticklers on getting up early every morning, even on Saturdays. No excuses.

Margret put a covered pan of already cooked eggs and bacon on the island.

"Go ahead and serve yourself. Just be sure to put the dishes in the dishwasher," Margret waved at the food, "Dad and I are off to the farmer's market in town, and we'll be out doing errands until about two o'clock. There's food in the fridge for lunch. Todd has the Wifi password, so if you want to go online, you'll have to ask him for it."

With that, Margret walked over to the table, grabbed her purse and headed out the door with her husband.

"Well," Todd said after they left, "They certainly are a lovely couple."

"Have I described to you how they were before?" Amanda asked.

"Well, you did say they were rather conservative," Todd said, "They seem alright to me."

"They were 'ultra' conservative before," Amanda said, "She always hounded me about sleeping later than six thirty and the internet was evil. I mean, they're not entirely wrong if you go into the NSFW on 4chan, but it was difficult writing that first book. I had to do it at the library."

"Oh, that kind of conservative," Todd said.

"And she was wearing makeup," Amanda said and trailed off.

"She was wearing makeup?" Todd said and looked over his shoulder at the door.

"Well, you haven't seen her without -" Realizing how bad that sounded, Amanda stopped.

Todd snickered.

"Open mouth, insert foot," Amanda said laughing.

After they had calmed down, Amanda said, "So we are going to  the lake today?"

Todd sighed, "I've had problems with transportation. For some reason, we got lost in the system, and the rental that was supposed to be here didn't show up. So I have to sort that out." Todd saw the frustration on Amanda's face and added, "Stanley can't take us back for a few days. So we can go tomorrow."

"I just want to get it over with," Amanda said sullenly.

"I know, it's just as frustrating to me, but look at it this way," Todd said, "You'll get to spend a little more time with your family." He walked up to her and took her hands in his, "This may be the last time you will see them in a while. They are selling, and they will be traveling, and by what Michael said, it looks like they have quite a few stops to make before they can come to California."

Amanda nodded.

"Now I need to see if I can get our ride. If I can get it soon enough, we can go out for lunch instead of raiding your parent's fridge."

"I'm going to go for a walk," Amanda said. "There's a short private trail behind their house. I can check to see if there are any blackberries left we can have with breakfast."

"Oh, bring me some, please," Todd said, "I never had fresh blackberries before." He then pulled out his phone.

Amanda nodded and went out the back door. As she walked down the steps of the deck, she noticed a figure in the woods. It looked like a woman, and she looked frightened. Amanda blinked, and she was gone.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dinner's Served

"So, where's Stanley staying?" Margret asked as she grabbed the pot off the stove and brought it to the sink to drain. Amanda finished unpacking first and walked up to the island that separated the Kitchen from the family room.

"I guess he's staying at a hotel," Amanda said, "You'll have to ask Todd."

"Stanley is on vacation. He wanted to come to Vermont this year to do some fly-bys. Something about getting some stock footage to sell."

"Ah, yes," Margret said, "It's a bit early for leaf-peeping season." She poured the pasta into a glass bowl. Then she grabbed the bowl along with the sauce and put it on the table. "He should hike in the woods. That's where the best pictures are at this time of year."

"Um," Todd said, "That pasta looks a little overcooked? I mean,  I never saw black pasta before."

"It's black bean pasta," Margret said. She grabbed a covered plate from the island and put it next to the other foods.

"Ployes?" Amanda asked.

"Of course," Margret said, "It's difficult to find a mix that doesn't have wheat, but I found it."

Michael walked in and set his ax by the front door like he always did. "Heating for the winter is a full-time job. I have to chop wood because heating oil is too high."

They all sat at the table. Margret was always a good cook, and there was plenty to eat.

The conversation turned to selling the house.

"You know, in the past few years since SRS changed over to CPS, they have been a bit wary of anyone who is religious," Margret said. "You were the last one we had, and even though our license is valid, they hadn't sent anyone to us."

"The house seems a little bit bigger than it used to be," Michael continued, "Way too big for a retired couple. I can't swing the ax like I used to anymore."

Amanda nodded but felt a little sad. She knew it was inevitable, but it was hard for her to fathom her foster parents to do anything but what they did.

"Recently, there have been some changes," Margret said, somewhat haltingly. She paused for a moment as if to pick her words carefully. "Well, we made a lot of mistakes in the past and recently, we reconciled with our kids."

Michael finished eating and took out an e-cigarette and leaned back in his chair. Amanda realized that no ashtrays and pipes were laying around the house anymore. He must be trying to quit, she thought.

"We also wanted to apologize to you," Margret said.

"To me?"

"Yes, we were a bit hard on you. I honestly don't know why," Margret put her head in her hand and looked at Amanda thoughtfully, "Out of all of the kids, you were the easiest. You kept your room tidy, and you never asked for much. Of course, we hounded you with that laptop of yours. If I knew what you were doing and how you would make a living with it, I might have backed off a little. Then again, I didn't know because I was blinded by fear."

"Well," Amanda said, "I was never angry with you, so you were already forgiven? But what were you afraid of?"

"My own shortcomings," Margret murmured.

It was quiet for a moment, and then Michael cleared his throat. "We have decided to sell the house because it was too big," he repeated himself. "So we are purchasing a Motorhome so that we can visit our kids. Our oldest daughter has invited us over for Thanksgiving."

"Well, that sounds fun," Todd said. The conversation turned to travel.

Amanda helped with dishes then turned in early. After taking off her shoes, she gets up, walks to the wall and stops. There was supposed to be a closet there.

Amanda looked around the room and remembered that there was no closet. Just a wardrobe, which was on the other side.

I must be exhausted, Amanda thought. Instead of getting pajamas on, she just crawled into bed and fell asleep.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Ride Home

"Amanda, it is so good to see you!"  Amanda's foster mom greeted her with a hug. Then her foster dad also hugged her. The pilot walked by with some of the bags.

"Oh, Ma, This is Stanley Winkler," Amanda said, "Our Pilot."

"These are my foster parents," Amanda said to Stanley, "Michael and Margret Risner."

As they greeted each other, Todd walked by to grab the last bags out of the plane. "And I guess you already met Todd."

"Well, only on the phone," Margret said. Todd put the last two bags into the trunk of the car.

"Everything is good to go," Todd said, and he got into the back seat of the car.

Margret leaned towards Amanda and said, "He is cute."

"Ma!" Amanda whispered harshly. She was glad that Todd was already in the car. Amanda looked a little nervously at Stanley who seemed to be too busy to notice. Relieved she got into the car with Todd.

It was a long trip. At first, it was small talk. Margret then told them that she and her husband were going to buy a new motorhome and they plan on selling their old house.

"When Todd called," Margret said, "We thought it would be nice to have you in your old room before we sell and Todd can have the guest room next door. Our kids have their own lives, now and we decided it would be better if we travel to see them, rather than the other way around."

When DCF placed Amanda in their in their care, her foster parent's youngest was already in college. Having a rather large house that sits mostly empty didn't seem to make sense. So Amanda wasn't surprised at this news.

It would be weird to be in her old room again. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Jet Lag

"Hey," Todd put his hand on Amanda's shoulder, "We're here."

Amanda was startled awake. It was a long flight. They had to stop halfway to refuel, and there was a problem at that particular airport that grounded them for a few hours.

Exhausted, Amanda practically stumbled out of the plane. Todd reached out and steadied her.

"Are you alright?" Todd asked.

"I didn’t sleep well," Amanda said. "I could sleep a few more hours." She looked up to see a familiar car drive up. It was her former foster parents.

Todd, after he grabbed one of the bags out of the trunk paused long enough to whisper in her ear, "I thought you might want some support."

He walks past her as she watches their car come to a stop.

Amanda never got close to her foster parents. Their beliefs at the time had cut them off from the rest of the world, isolating them from even those who lived in the same house.


The last time she saw them, she saw a change for the positive in them that got her curious. It's going be an interesting trip.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Eastward!

Todd opened the trunk of the Uber car to take out the luggage. A man, roughly the same size as Todd seemed to appear out of nowhere.

"Oh," Todd said a little surprised, "Hi there!"

"Sorry, I didn't realize I was sneaking up on you." The man said.

They both laughed. Amanda knew she wasn't in on the joke.

"Amanda," Todd said, "This is our pilot, Stanley Winkler."

They shook hands.

"Thanks for flying us," Amanda said, "You have no idea how much this means to me."

Stanley gave Todd a knowing glance. "It's the least I could do. Seriously, I owe Todd a lot." He said as he grabbed some of the bags and put them into the hatch.

Amanda still only had her two bags, but Todd, she noticed, had four large bags. She's seen Todd's apartment a few times. He was pretty efficient. She couldn't understand why he would pack so much for a few days.

They boarded the plane and waited for clearance for takeoff.

"So, how did you two meet?" Amanda asked.

Both of them scoffed a little.

"Well, I had a few roommates who were really into weed," Stanley began. "I tried changing dorms because, at the time, it wasn't even close to being legal. Paperwork was problematic."

Amanda nodded. Understanding bureaucracy was a perk of being a ward of the state for a few years.

"One of my roommates was stupid enough to get caught. He was one of those people who thought nothing was ever his fault and would try to blame someone else.  Never mind that he took out his joint in front of uniformed police officers, he thought that because I didn't smoke as he did, I must be against it."

Amanda scoffed. "Us vs. them."

"I know, right?" Todd responded. At that point, Stanley got the all clear, and he took his plane to the sky.

When they leveled off, Stanley continued, "So when the guy got caught, he assumed that I turned him in. He ratted his roommates out and convinced them that I was the one who did it."

"At the time, I was doing a project with Todd and a few others. I had no clue what was going on. At that moment, my roommates were destroying the science buildings and tried to blame me for it. Unfortunately, the Dean didn't believe me when I told him that I was with Todd. After all, the weed was in my room.

I'm not exactly sure what happened next. I was too busy trying to convince my parents that I'm not on pot. Fortunately, they were forgiving. Forgiving and rich. If my parents didn't have the money, I bet I would have slept in a jail cell that night.

Todd, in the meantime, I think convinced the two other roommates that I wasn't the one who ratted them out, and it was in fact, the first roommate. They felt guilty enough to turn themselves in and explain everything. If it weren't for Todd, I think things would have turned out differently for me."

Amanda thought she heard Todd say, "Nice." They both looked at her for a moment. Amanda smiled and looked out the window.

They had left late, so the sun was setting.

Todd came to Stanley's rescue, and now he's coming to mine, she thought.