A Story Well-Travelled

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Chapter 16: Adelyn

You’re not Emerson, are you?

The words repeat in my head, over and over. Kenzi lets me take some time to prepare my thoughts. The fire is growing stronger and stronger. I want to watch the large flames lick the sky in a glorious display of orange yellow and blue, but instead, I have to own up to my lies.

After almost a minute of silence, Kenzi clears her throat, a gentle reminder that she’s waiting for me to speak.

I take one last confidence-inspiring look at the glittering sky overhead and start to speak. “No, I’m not Emerson.” I duck my head to hide my embarrassment. The grass at my feet looks green-orange in the firelight.

Kenzi is so quiet, I have to look up to gauge her reaction. Her head is nodding slightly, as if she was expecting that answer. And she probably was, considering she’s the one that asked the question, but it hurts that I’m not quite as slick as I thought. I guess my acting career will never take off.

“Are you mad?” The words sound weak even as I rehearse them in my head, but they most be spoken.

Kenzi shakes her head. “No, I’m not mad.” She says. “But I am curious as to why you didn’t just tell us the truth.”

For this, I have no good answer. “I guess it just made me nervous.” I say sheepishly. “I mean, your whole little imperfect family is actually perfect…and you guys are like a team. And I didn’t want to come into the team and not fit in at all. That terrifies me, not fitting in.”

“We would’ve made you feel at home.” Kenzi assures me. “I mean, you’re Emerson’s sister, after all.”

My head snaps up. “What do you know about us?” Of course, we had to be sisters. How else would we look exactly alike? But it hits me suddenly how intense my curiosity is. Why did we grow up in different dimensions? How did we end up as pen-pals?

“I knew your Mother even before we joined up with Cade, Zofia, and Porter.” Kenzi says. “She was a beautiful lady. Full of life and sparkle. Magic, if you will.” Kenzi’s eyes watch my face, trying to get a reaction out of me. But her cryptic message goes so far over my head, I can’t even see it anymore. She clears her throat before she continues. “Anyways, I knew she had twins, Emerson and…Adelyn, right?”

I nod my confirmation. “But why did we grow up in different dimensions?”

“Did you miss having a mother?” Kenzi asks in lieu of an answer. Slight irritation boils under my skin. I wish she would just cut to the chase, but it seems she desires a two-sided conversation.

But she’s being incredibly understanding about the whole situation—me masquerading as one of her own—so I owe it to her to answer as best I can.

“Honestly, I never thought about my birth mother growing up.” I say with a shrug. “In my dimension, it’s kind of just a fact of life that you give up your child at birth and they get adopted around a certain age.” Older ages for some of us, but I’m not bitter—maybe. “It’s all part of this campaign for all kids to have the same chance, so that no child fails to succeed at life because they were born into an awful family.”

“But that’s terrible.” Kenzi’s face crumples. “You never know a mother’s love?”

“We have adopted parents, like I said.” I might not have an amazing adoptive mother, but Aspen loves her adoptive family. Her mother and her are practically best friends, and many other kids love their parents as well. At least in our system, parents have a choice as to which kid they get. Interviews start at age five, so if you end up with a bad egg, all the blame is on you alone.

“But your mother loved you so much, Adelyn.”

Again, I shrug. “If she loved me so much, then why isn’t she here now?”

Kenzi’s brows furrow. “Because she’s in your world.”

My head snaps up. My mother is in my dimension? Why didn’t she ever find me? Did she ever even try? I’ve been stuck with Ezra this whole time. Though I’d never thought about having a real mother before, the seed has now been planted and it’s only growing. “What do you mean she’s in my world?” I ask.

Kenzi sends me a sympathetic look that makes my heart race. What is she about to say?

“Of course she’s in your world.” Kenzi says. “She went there to save you.”

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