Chapter 1: The Unwanted
Margaret is a beautiful blonde woman, who is always dressed to impress. She can never be found without makeup on, and she never wears the same clothing twice. She spends most of her time shopping and being social around town. She eats lunch daily at the Country Club with the most influential women of Corinth. Once a month she flies in their private helicopter to have lunch with the governor’s wife. The rest of her time is spent ensuring her daughter, Trina Craig, is as influential and presentable as herself.
Trina is a 16-year-old girl that looks just like her mother with blonde hair and is beautiful in appearance. She attends an elite private school and is a model for a few of the businesses around town. She can be seen on multiple billboards, magazine covers, and in TV commercials. All the other girls in town want to be her and all the boys want to date her, yet she snubs her nose up at most everyone she meets.
The Craig's appear as a happy trio when they are seen at all the towns events, flaunting their stylish new clothing, and throwing their haughty expressions around. They know they are better than the rest of the town, but to keep votes for Charles as mayor, they do try to smile and be friendly. No one could say they were charitable, though.
Charles and Margaret own a large, beautiful rock home surrounded by their private golf course just on the edge of town. The home has eight bedrooms and seven baths with a five-car garage. The outdoor pool and indoor pool exist in the rear of the home. Of the eight bedrooms, three of the bedrooms belong to Trina one is where she sleeps, another is her own closet, and the third is her own fitness room. Charles and Margaret have separate master bedrooms. One room is used for Charles’ home office and the other room is a fitness room. The last bedroom is used for storage because Margaret did not want to store things in the attic since it was not heated or cooled.
In the attic lives a girl named Brooklyn Craig. Brooklyn is a frail thin 14-year-old with fire red hair. She is the daughter of Charles Craig’s brother, Marshall Craig. Brooklyn’s parents, Marshall and Bella Craig, had died years ago when Brooklyn was only 2 years old. Her uncle had told her they died in a car accident. As long as Brooklyn can remember, she has lived in the attic. She does not attend private school, receive gifts, nor receive the attention that her cousin, Trina, receives.
Tomorrow is to be Brooklyn’s 15th birthday, but she knows it will be ignored, like all her earlier birthdays. She never receives birthday presents or even a cake on her birthday. The only reason she knows her birthdate is because of her birth certificate she keeps in a small box under a floor plank in her darkened cold room. Also in the box is a picture of her parents holding her as a baby. She has always found it odd that in the picture the baby has dark curly hair. She twists the end of her straight red hair in thought as she looks from the baby to her mother’s round head and blonde hair. She looks nothing like her mother, but she knows her mother had to love her and want her. She moves her eyes to the tall man in the picture with his brown hair and dark eyes, her uncle and aunt have often told her that her mother was a tramp and cheated on her dad. They say that is why she has red hair because she is not really their niece nor the daughter of Marshall Craig. She knows it cannot be true because her parents look so happy holding her in this picture. She runs her finger along the baby’s dark hair thinking what she always thinks, the baby does look just like Marshall Craig. She is not sure when or how her hair turned red. Oh, how she wishes her parents were still alive. She knows her life would be so much better if they were. She would be loved and have a nice warm room to sleep in that did not smell musky and make her freeze in the winter.
She wonders what her parents would do for her birthday tomorrow if they were alive. She knows that her aunt and uncle always make a big deal out of Trina’s birthday with surprises hidden all over the house, a giant party with hundreds of guests, fireworks, and lots of gifts. The sudden sound of a bell ringing breaks her train of thought. She quickly places her picture and birth certificate back in the box before putting the lid on. She shoves the box back down into the hole under her bed. She places the wooden slat back down on top of the hole. Then, she runs toward the door of the attic to exit and make her way downstairs before she is punished.
She stumbles into the kitchen where her aunt is standing with her hands on her hips speaking to the maid. Brooklyn quickly snaps to attention as her aunt’s eyes quickly snap toward her. “And where have you been, you little germ?” Her aunt’s words are sharp and hateful as always. Brooklyn keeps her eyes down to the floor knowing it would only cause more anger toward her if she spoke. Her aunt continues, “I have good news,” Brooklyn feels surprised by the excitement she hears in the words. “Ms. Mabel here will be taking you to live at her brother’s house.”
Brooklyn’s eyes quickly dart up to meet her aunt’s. “What?”
“His wife is sick and in need of a housekeeper. And you have been such a burden to us that it is what works out best for everyone.”
Brooklyn cannot believe she is being given away. “A burden?” The word angers her. “It is not like you have ever taken care of me. I do everything. I wait on you hand and foot while you...”
She suddenly feels her cheek burning from the slap her aunt just placed across her face. “How dare you speak to me in such a manner, you ungrateful little spur. You are going to leave with Mabel, and we will never have to see your awful red hair again.”
Her uncle suddenly appears in the entrance of the kitchen. “Ah, yes. Brilliant my darling.” He kisses his wife on the cheek. “I knew you would find a solution,” he looks disgustedly toward Brooklyn, “to our problem.”
Brooklyn looks over toward Ms. Mabel, the maid, in confusion. She knew they hated her but never thought she would be given away to someone else. “I don’t understand.” She feels tears building in her eyes. Though they did not love her she was family.
Her uncle speaks sternly toward her in reply, “It is not for you to understand. Go gather your things at once.” Brooklyn would never dare cross her uncle, he had hurt her on more than one occasion for talking back, so she dutifully moves toward the stairs feeling broken hearted. “Now Mabel,” her uncle’s words cause her to pause at the bottom of the staircase. She is just out of sight but close enough to hear. “This house is hidden well, yes?”
“Oh, yes sir!” Mabel replies assuredly, “They live in the middle of Burgby Forest, and the closest town is practically a ghost town. The few that live there have no contact with the outside world. It is off the grid, sir.”
“Excellent,” Her uncle replies sounding accomplished. “Let’s see them try to find her there. And remember she must be gone before nightfall, and no one must see you take the girl.” Brooklyn wonders why someone would be trying to find her.
“Yes, sir.” She can hear Mabel’s curiosity as well.
Brooklyn hears movement coming toward her, so she begins to move quietly up the stairs before she is caught eavesdropping. “After she turns fifteen, she can never return,” Her uncle’s words cause her to pause again. “Do you understand?”
“Yes sir.” Mabel replies and Brooklyn cannot fathom why she would need to be hidden. “I understand. If she escapes, she will never make it out in that environment. There is no way for her to possibly get back.”
Brooklyn begins to move up the stairs again after she sees her uncle move past the staircase not noticing her. She retrieves her box under the floor plank and wraps it in an old blanket along with her small pile of clothes. She looks around the empty dusty room, realizing she doesn’t really own anything else. She moves towards the door as she hears heavy footsteps approaching the attic. She had never had anyone come up to the attic before and she feels nervous by who it could be. She hears the loud boom of her uncle’s voice as she opens the door. “Hurry up and come along.” He pulls on her shirt collar forcing her to walk down the stairs in front of him.
“Why do you not want me?” Brooklyn asks feeling more courageous than usual, knowing if they are getting rid of her, they would not be able to hurt her anymore.
“We never wanted you!” Her uncle continues to push her down the stairs hastily as he speaks. “Marshall never wanted you. And you will never receive whatever it is your dirty mother’s...” He stops his words and shakes his head making her wonder if her parents must have had a will that left her something when she turned fifteen. “You don’t deserve it.” He finishes.
“Why do you get to decide that?” Brooklyn asks as she finally pulls from his grasp as they make it down to the next floor.
He laughs at her question. “You don’t even know what I am talking about.” He grabs her by the collar again and pushes her towards the next staircase.
“My parent’s left me something.” Brooklyn says and it causes her uncle to jerk her backwards to face him, abruptly stopping them from moving down the stairs.
“No. They died penniless, and you should have died with them.” She refuses to let his words make her cry, so she stiffens her chin toward him as he speaks. “They had nothing to leave you.”
“Then, what do I not deserve?” She shyly asks as his eyes burns into hers.
“To meet your mother’s family.” Trina’s voice causes Brooklyn to look around her uncle and notice Trina. Her clothes look new, and her hair is tidy, the opposite of Brooklyn. “They want you when you turn fifteen.”
Brooklyn feels her curiosity peek. She never knew she had other family. “I have family that wants me?” She wonders why her uncle would care if someone else took her, because she knew he did not want her.
“No.” Her uncle pushes her down the stairs by the collar again towards the first floor. “I already told them you ran away. They won’t be coming. Now be quiet.” He pushes her toward Mabel as they arrive to the back entrance of the house. “Is your car ready?”
“Yes, sir.” Mabel opens the door revealing an old beat-up maroon car sitting down at the bottom of the steps with its trunk open. “Come along child.” Mabel smiles smugly at Brooklyn as if she knows something Brooklyn does not.
Brooklyn is hesitant for only a second before looking over toward the only family she has known. Her uncle, aunt, and cousin are all smiling triumphantly toward her as if they have won a prize. Brooklyn knows that wherever they are sending her cannot be as bad as living with them. She moves out of the house toward the car and places her small bundle in the trunk. Suddenly, Brooklyn feels her back being pushed forward forcefully as she screams in pain from the fall into the trunk. “No!” Brooklyn tries to fight against the strong arms pushing her into the trunk. She looks up seeing her uncle as he pushes her legs into the trunk before closing it. It is dark and uncomfortable in the trunk. The old tire next to her hurts her side as the car hits bumps in the road. It feels like she has been in the car for hours before she finally falls asleep.