Heather Smith ran through the hallway because she was late for her history class. Her teacher always closed the door on late students. Mr. Sinclair told her if she was late one more time, she would get kicked out of class the rest of the semester. Heather would also get an incomplete as a grade. Mr. Sinclair always took a major interest in her life. He was a substitute teacher. Yet he was always teaching in one of the classes Heather had. Her Science teacher was having surgery and would be out for a long time. It was no surprise to her that Mr. Sinclair filled in for her regular teacher.
Heather was annoyed that the halls were crowded. People were crushed together in the hallway. Heather saw a break in the traffic and ran out of the opening. She slammed into a girl who had come out of a blind corner. They collided and her books went flying. Heather and the girl bent down to pick up the books.
The dark-haired girl stared at Heather. She grabbed her by the arm. “Molly, Oh my God, it really is you.”
Heather glared at the girl and pushed her away. “My name is Heather.” Uncontrollable memories flooded through her mind. What is this girl’s problem?” Heather thought. Why is she bothering me? I have no idea who this girl is. Why does she think I am Molly? On the surface of her mind, she did not recognize the name. Yet down deep, she recognized being called Molly. She remembers two elderly people hugging her. Saying they were glad her and her mother returned to them. Heather was shocked. She rarely recalled anything from her past. She remembered that she used to know a girl named Nicole. She always called her “Nicki” and the girl always got angry. Heather was so shocked she could not move. The memories overloaded her system. She was rooted to that spot. She felt like the past high jacked her brain. Memories that conflicted with the reality that she knew today. Who was she really? Heather or Molly?
Nicole put a hand on the Heather’s arm. She shrugged away from her. Nicole backed away and held up her hands in placating manner “I’m very sorry- I- I just used to know a girl with green eyes and red hair when I was a kid. She died a long time ago. You remind me of her.”
“Whatever” Heather abruptly turned tried to walk away. This girl would not give up! Why is she staring at my face?
Nicole reached out and touched Heather’s face. “The scars on your cheeks. How did you get them?”
Heather raised both her hands to either side of her face. There were almost identical scars on both cheeks. It almost looked like the skin was sucked inward. “I don’t remember. Now please leave me alone!” Heather shoved Nicole and tried to walk to her classroom. Heather was very angry. She hated it when people stared at her scars. She got extremely upset when somebody asked how she got them. The question made violent, gory images invade her brain. The sounds of gunshots and people screaming. She sees herself and another black haired girl running through the woods. She stops running when she feels something burn through her cheeks. Blood pours down her neck and splashes on her shirt. She sees the blond haired girl grab her arm and scream. Then the girl shakes her head and screams louder. The black haired girl has blood gushing down the side of her face. “Come on we have to go deeper into the woods, away from the gun fight. Heather becomes so upset, she runs into the restroom.
“Wait.” Nicole yells. “I need to talk to you!” She follows Heather into the bathroom.
Heather tried to get away from the strange girl. She was afraid. She felt puzzled. She wondered if what Nicole said was true. “Maybe I should hear what she has to say.” Heather thought.
“Please stop, I know who you are! Your name is Molly Dillon. Your family thinks you are dead. You were declared dead in 1990. You supposedly were killed by a gunshot wound. Your aunt and uncle still mourn you. They would be very happy to know that you are alive.” Nicole said. She gently put a hand on Heather’s shoulder.
Heather knew that she was in the foster care system since 1990. She was told by her caseworker/guardian Mr. Stirling that her parents shot each other during an argument. Her father also shot her grandfather and grandmother. He said her father was drunk and high. Maybe that was the massacre Nicole mentioned. Mr. Stirling showed her a newspaper clipping that was part of the foster care case file. Her file said that she had no relatives who could take her in. Heather froze and shook her head. “That can’t be. I was told I had no family.”
“Who told you this?” Nicole asked.
“My case worker and court appointed guardian Mr. Stirling.”
“Is his first name Andrew?” Nicole smirked and rolled her eyes. Word of advice, never believe anything that man says. Especially since he has been lying to you for the past 10 years!”
Heather was surprised by Nicole’s reaction. How did this girl know Mr. Stirling? Was she in foster care just like her?
“Yes. Do you know him?” Heather tilted her head and stared wide-eyed at Nicole.
“That son of a bitch sticks his nose in everything! Of course he would be a part of something like this.” Nicole’s lips formed a snarl and she clenched and unclenched her fists.
“What are you talking about? What is going on?” Heather felt more anxious the longer she talked to this girl. She acted like she knew everything about her. “I need to get away from this girl. What she said is crazy. There is no way I have any family. Yet deep down, a string of memories tried to reach the top layer of the brain. The part where repressed memories got loose and wreaked havoc. The layer of the brain that fought all blocks and evasions from the truth. A memory of her grandfather introducing Heather to his brother Sean and his wife Colleen. Could this be the people Nicole was referring to? Heather realized that she questioned what she was told about her past for a long time. She never mentions to anyone about these questions anymore. When she did in the past, her therapist Dr. Kerr would give her more medication. If Heather got to upset and “would not listen to reason.” He would inject her with something that made her sleepy and pass out. Heather would wake up with little or no memory at all. Could Dr. Kerr use her therapy’s sessions to repress her memories? Heather was confused, in all the talk shows she watched, therapists were always trying to bring out repressed memories. She decided to talk to Nicole and try to find out the truth about her life.
“How could that happen? My family thought I was dead and I thought they were dead?” Heather asked.
“I think; no I know your death was faked. Everybody told me you were dead. No matter how many times I questioned it. I don’t know what is going on and who was involved, but I will get to the bottom of it.
“Do you seriously expect me to believe your crazy story? I don’t even know you.” Heather said. That was a slight lie. The longer she talked to this girl, the more familiar she seemed.
“I can prove that I know you.” Nicole reached into her backpack. She pulled out a photo album. “Look at this picture that is me and you. This was taken the last time we saw each other. At the ma— It was the glass factory annual picnic. Nicole dropped her eyes and looked away from Heather. She sniffled and wiped her eyes.
Heather was shocked. Was this girl tearing up over a picture? Nicole just kept getting weirder. She grabbed the picture out of her hands. The picture was of two girls posing in front of trees. The photo awakened a long buried memory. She was running in the woods with another girl. They were screaming. “Where was this taken?”
Nicole cleared her throat. “At Oak view park in Juliette PA. The factory had one every year.” She sighed and wiped her eyes again. “Sorry, this brings back painful memories. I still have nightmares about it.”
. “Why would you have painful memories about a picnic? What happened?” Heather is scared at what the girl would say. The longer she talked to Nicole, more painful memories flashed through her mind. She tried to shut her mind down. To put up barriers and close off the bad thoughts. Just like her psychiatrist taught her to do. She put her hands over her eyes breathed deeply.
“Are you alright? Look, I know this is a lot to hear. Terrible things happened that day. Both of us got shot. That was when you got your scars.”
Heather put a hand to her scarred cheek. She knew they were caused by gunshots. She was told by her foster care guardian that her father did it. Mr. Stirling did not mention anything about another girl being shot. Heather now wondered if Mr. Stirling told her the truth. Heather looked at Molly. “You were there when my father shot me and my mother?”
Nicole grimaced and shook her head. “Yes, how much do you remember about that day?”
“I don’t remember any of it. Mr. Stirling told me my parents shot and killed each other during a huge fight. I was hit by a stray bullet. My mom thought I was dead so she grabbed the gun and shot my dad.”
“Wait-You said Mr. Stirling? How do you know him?” Nicole asked.
“He is my foster care guardian. He places me with foster families.” Heather said. “He loves to move me around. I don’t stay in one place for very long. He claims it is because I am “difficult”
Nicole gasped and clapped her hands. “That makes sense. No wonder it was so difficult to find you. Andrew moved you around. He did not want you found. I know for sure he was involved in this crazy fake death plot.”
Heather cringed and laughed. She could not believe this girl. “Fake death plot?” Seriously, what’s next, saying she was abducted by aliens?
“What is that look for?” Nicole asked. “Look, I get it. Some strange girl bumps into you and says that you are involved in conspiracy theories. If it were me, I would run away from the insane person.” Nicole raised her hands in a placating manner. “I swear I am telling the truth. At least as much of the truth I know. There are a lot of things I don’t know. Please, come with me. I will take you back to your family. We will figure everything out together.”
Heather eyes leaked stinging tears when she heard the word “family” She never had a family. Just foster parents that did not care about her. She was always alone. She would do anything to be a part of a family. Sadly, Heather did not believe this total stranger could help her. She knew this girl for 5 minutes. How could she know anything about me? Heather turned and tried to run from the crazy girl.
Nicole tackles Heather. She then stands her up and holds her by the arm. “Sorry, I can’t let you go. I need you to come with me.” Heather tried to shake her off. “You deserve to know the truth. I can’t believe Andrew lied to you. Your father did shoot you, but not when your parents fought.” She raised her hands and balled them into fists. She then shook her fists. “How dare he say that! What happened that day was a lot worse than a domestic spat. A lot of people died that day. He should know better than to lie about that day!” Nicole spit on the ground.
Heather backed away from Nicole. This girl is crazy and has major anger issues. Heather shakes Nicole off. “Wait. You don’t expect me to follow you? I don’t know if I can trust you!” This was going too far. Heather thought. I just met this girl, there was no way I am going anywhere with her.
“You do know me; Molly I am your cousin. Your great Aunt Colleen is my grandmother. We were best friends when we were kids.”
“My name is Heather. Call me by my right name, not the one you think it is.”. I have no recollection of this girl. I can’t be her cousin! Why can’t I remember anything she is saying? I have never been so confused in my life!
“I know your right name. The one I called you when we were kids. “Molly.
Heather rolls her eyes. “I have almost no memory of my childhood. My therapist Dr. Kerr says I should forget the past. The past does not matter anymore.”
Nicole gasped and raised her arms. “I don’t believe this! Dr. Kerr was my therapist a few years ago. He pissed me off and I got him in trouble. I always wondered where the jerk ran off too. I am shocked he is still a shrink. He always fed me the same line of bullshit!” Nicole put her ear to the wall. “Enough talking we need to get out of here. Thank goodness this bathroom has two exists.”
“Why can’t we talk here?” Heather asked. “Why are you in such a hurry to leave? Paranoid much?”
“I don’t want a man named Allen Sinclair to see us. I know he will call Andrew—Mr. Stirling.” Nicole grabs Heather’s arm again. “If those two caught us together, we would be taken away. I doubt we would ever see each other again.”
“What are you talking about? Who would be upset if they saw us?” This girl is getting weirder by the second. I never met person who was so paranoid. Wait, how does she know Mr. Sinclair? What the hell is going on?
“I will explain everything later.” Nicole said. She walked over to the bathroom door. She peeked out into the hallway.” We don’t have a lot of time here. If I think if the person I saw is involved, we can’t let him find us. Hey, do you live nearby. We need to get out of here and go somewhere to talk and figure things out. I don’t want to stay here for very long” Nicole grabs Heather’s arm and tries to lead her out of the bathroom.
“Hey, stop. I am not going anywhere with you. I will scream for help. Let go of --Heather’s was cut off by a loud man’s voice. “Ladies, you don’t belong in here. Heather, you should be in my class.” The man turns and sees Nicole. His eyes widen and his mouth opens and closes. “My God, Molly and Nicole together. He whispers in shock.
“What the fuck?”, Heather thought. Did he call me Molly? Could it be that what Nicole is saying is all true?Mr. Stirling’s eyes kept darting between me and Nicole. His eyes were wide and looked like they were going to fall out of his face. Sweat poured down his face.
Nicole grinned and clapped her hands. “Hello Mr. Sinclair, fancy meeting you here. May I ask how you know Molly?” she dragged out the name.
“Nicole? What are you doing here? Wait, what have you told her? You can’t be here- You don’t know what you have done!” Mr. Sinclair sputtered as he paced between Molly and Nicole.
“Hey, you seem very shocked to see a dead person come back to life. I actually was happy. You should be happy too, we are witnessing a miracle.” Nicole said. “Of course, it could be the fact that she never died. I knew all these years- but everybody said I was wrong.” Nicole shakes her head.
“You two know each other?” Heather asked. “I can’t believe this! Heather thought. Everything is so messed up. Yes, I have always dreamed that I had a family out there and someone would come get me. But to have it actually happen is very weird and scary. Who knows. She thought. Maybe I am dreaming. Or in a drug induced fantasy.
Nicole grinned. She pointed at Mr. Sinclair. “Allen and I are old friends. Actually, we are related, but it is very hard to explain.” Nicole stage whispers to Heather.
“It seems you are consistent, in your way that you are always in the thick of trouble, often causing it!” Mr. Sinclair said.
“You call finding out one of your old friend’s alive “trouble?” Nicole asked. She lowered her lip in a sneer and rolled her eyes.
“Shut-up and go back to where you are supposed to be. I will take Heather home and have a talk with her. I will have to call her case worker. Or maybe I should call her psychiatrist.”
“I don’t think so. I just found Molly and I don’t want to lose her again.” Nicole stood with her arms folded and her feet in a firm stance.
Mr. Sinclair pushed Nicole towards the door. “Young lady, you need to stay out of this. No have no idea the damage it will cause if people find out she is alive.”
Nicole almost fell out into the hallway, but she braced herself on the wall. She turned and stalked slowly back into the bathroom. She then crouched into a fighting stance.
Heather could not believe that things escalated so quickly. She suddenly realized. Mr. Sinclair was in on this lie. Of course, she thought, no matter what school I was in he just happened to be teaching there. Mr. Stirling and Mr. Sinclair both have been lying to me all these years Molly began to sniffle. Her breath came in short gasps. She began to twitch.
“Heather dear, you need to take your meds and go see Dr. Kerr. He will straighten this all out.” Mr. Sinclair said. He tried to grab Molly by her hand.
Heather shoved Mr. Sinclair. “I don’t want my therapist. I want answers!” Mr. Sinclair grabbed her and held her arms. “You are very confused and you need Mr. Stirling and Dr. Kerr to help sort this mess out.”
“I know what will happen. Mr. Stirling will take me to Dr. Kerr and I will get an injection that will make me very sleepy. When I wake up, I will be in a new town and a new school. I won’t have any memories of the last week of my life. Well, I am not falling for that shit anymore!” She twisted her arms around and kicked Mr. Sinclair in the knee. He let go and fell to the ground. Molly kicked him in the face. He slumped on to the floor. Nicole dragged Molly out of the bathroom They both ran out of the school.
I can’t believe I am doing this, Heather thought. I actually got into a fight and ran away the same day. To think, just yesterday I thought my life was boring. “What happened in the bathroom proved to her that what Nicole said was true. She hoped Nicole had a plan. Actually, Heather would be surprised if this whole thing was planned well in advance. Nicole had Heather’s family album and the pictures of them together. Nicole mentioned that she always knew that Molly was alive. You know what? From now on I want to be called by my real name. “Molly” I will never go by Heather. Why call yourself a name that is a lie?
Molly and Nicole ran for several blocks before got to Molly’s foster home. Molly fell down on the grass and vomited. She could not breathe. She screamed and sobbed and pounded the ground. The realization that she had been lied to hit her hard. How could anybody lie to me? What really happened when her parents died?
Nicole patted Molly on the back. “Molly- I mean Heather-
“You can call me Molly. I don’t’ want to go by the name that was a lie.” She sniffled
“Were you with me on the day my father shot my mother? Were you in the house with me? Do you remember how my father went crazy and started shooting? He must have shot you also." Molly said.
“That is not what- never mind.” Nicole shook her head.
“What do you mean? Could it be that the way they died was even more horrifying than what she knew? That explained the dreams she had of running in the woods hearing gunshots and people screaming.
“Nothing, it’s just that I am having trouble remembering that day.” So many awful things happened that day. I try to block most of it out.” Nicole said. “Don’t worry, I am going to take you back to our family. Your Uncle Sean and Aunt Colleen will talk to you. They will help us find out the truth.”
“What are you not telling me? What happened when my parents died?” Molly asked.
“You know, instead of standing her talking, we need to go into the house, pack your stuff and get out of here. “We need to be fast.” Nicole said. “Mr. Sinclair could come here. He probably called the police. Or Mr. Stirling. I know his way of taking care of a problem. We don’t want to be caught by him.”
“Fine, but I hope you will tell me some answers before I get back to my family.” Molly said. She walked over to the closet and put clothes into her backpack. She found the $200.00 she hid under the floor board.
“I think the best and cheapest way to go back is by bus.” Nicole said. “Is there a bus depot near here?”
“It is two blocks away.” Molly said. Oh great. We are traveling by bus! Molly thought. I hoped she had a car. Nah, of course she would not. She is only 13, like I am.
Molly sighed. “Too bad it will be three years until I can drive.”
“You have less than two years. It is February and your birthday is May 21. You were born in 1985.”
“Shit, Molly thought, “Even my age was a lie. Mr. Stirling and Mr. Sinclair sure went to a lot of trouble to make her life miserable. Faking her death, lying to her and her family? What the hell reason would they have to pull something so cruel? She had another frightening thought. Who else was involved? A plan like that would probably take more than just two people to pull off. She walked out of the closet and sat on the bed beside Nicole. “I was always told I was born in 1987.” She shook her head and rocked back and forth on the bed. “What is going on?” She murmured over and over again.
Nicole patted her on the back “Look I know this is a lot to understand. This whole thing happened a lot faster than I expected. I had to rush to find you.” Nicole took Molly’s face in her hand. “I am sorry, but you will have to wait until we are safely back home to sit and think about it. We have no time for navel gazing.”
Molly knocked her hand away. “Who does Nicole think she is? How dare she talk to me like a child? What the hell does she expect? For me to instantly be okay with finding out my whole life was one big lie after another? What does she want me to do? Blindly follow her and trust her? Who is she to criticize me for wanting to sit down and think about what is happening?
Molly glared at Nicole. “Excuse me for needing to stop for a minute and take a breath! I’m sorry for having difficulty with all the shit that happened today.”
Nicole puffed out a couple breaths. She put her hands on Molly’s shoulders. “I know this is hard. I should have planned this out better. I found out for sure that you were alive last month. I wanted to gradually get in contact with you.” Nicole backed away from her and put her head down. She but her hands over her eyes and her voice broke when she spoke. “I found out some news about your great aunt that sped up my plan.”
Molly sat and gaped at Nicole. “What did you find out?”
Nicole shook her head. “Sorry, but that is something you should hear from her. To tell you the truth, I am not even supposed to know. I overhead a conversation between my mom and grandma. Grandma Colleen does not want anybody to know.” Nicole jumped up and clapped her hands. “Sorry but I need to rush you. “The next bus leaves at 9:30. It is 3 hours from here to Juliette. We can talk on the bus ride.” Nicole took off her backpack and opened it. “Here, you can look at these photo albums while on the bus. Maybe the pictures will job your memory.
“Thank you.” Molly put the photo album in her backpack. She went back into the closet and packed the rest of her clothes. “
Molly was interrupted by loud pounding from downstairs. She left the closet to look out the window. “Shit! Mr. Stirling and Sinclair are here! I think they are trying to break into the house.”
“Stop panicking. I know how to handle Mr. Stirling. You handled Mr. Sinclair very well back at school.” Nicole said. “You got any weapons? Something that will put them down for a while, without killing them.”
Molly went into her closet and found a baseball bat. She showed it to Nicole. “Good. You grab the bat. I don’t need it. I got my boots and I will kick and stomp on Mr. Stirling.” Nicole sighed and said, “Just like old times.”
“Do I want to know?” Molly asked.
“Come on, let’s go. Time for some payback.” Nicole said.
The crept slowly down the stairs. Nicole was in front arrived at the bottom of the stairs first. Mr. Stirling and Mr. Sinclair stood in the foyer. Mr. Stirling had a short, stocky build. He had broad shoulders and a barrel chest. His hair was dark brown and wavy. His eyes were dark brown. Mr. Sinclair was tall and had a thin build. He had dark blond hair and blue eyes. Molly glared at them. “Get out of here. I am going to find my family. She stepped beside Nicole and brandished the bat. Both men held up their hands. “Now Heather, there is no need for violence. We want to speak to you. We are worried about, you left school in a very bad state.” Mr. Stirling said.
“My name is Molly.”
Mr. Stirling ignored her. “Just put the bat down. Come with me and this whole mess will get straightened out.” He hid his hand in his pants pocket.
Molly noticed that Mr. Sinclair also hid his hand. She knew what was going to happen. She was not going to let them drug her and put her in a mental hospital.
“Watch out, they both have syringes.” Molly yelled.
“Gee, still knocking young girls out, Andrew? Shame on you, I thought you learned from the times I kicked your ass for it.” Nicole said.
Mr. Sinclair leaped tried to sink a needle into Nicole’s arm. Nicole blocked him and punched him in the face. Mr. Sinclair fell down. Nicole kicked him in the face.
Molly swung the bat at Mr. Stirling and hit him in the nose. Blood flew out of his nose. She hit in the head again. He fell down and did not get back up.
Mr. Sinclair tripped Nicole and again tried to jab her. Molly brought the bat down on his arm. There was a loud crunch and he yelled. She hit him again and he passed out from the pain. She raised the bat again and Nicole stopped her. “That’s enough, you don’t want to kill them.” Nicole is right. If I kill them I will go to jail and never see my family. Besides if I killed them, I will be just like my father. I would rather die than be like him!” She dropped the bat. We will need weapons. I am not traveling on a city bus without protection. A bat will be too difficult to hide.
Molly walked back into the house. “Hey where are you going?” Nicole asked.
Molly went into the kitchen and found a butcher block full of knives. She pulled out a large butcher knife. Then she grabbed a few smaller sharp knives. She offered one to Nicole.
“No thanks, I got my own.” She pulled up her pant leg and unlaced her boots. There was a switchblade knife hidden.
“Nice knife.” Molly said.
Nicole and Molly hurried out of the house. Nicole gave one last kick Mr. Stirling before leaving.
“Why do you hate him so much?” Molly asked.
“That is a very long and complicated story.” Nicole answered.
“More complicated than mine?”
“Actually, yes. Maybe someday I will tell you.