I lay quietly on my bed, surrounded by the deep breathing of 13 girls. The dormitory wasn’t large, 7 beds on each side with a locker between the beds. I was the only one awake, patiently waiting for the doorbell to ring. Mrs. Dixon had checked the dormitory about an hour ago, her corpulent body bent forward as she shone a torch in each girl’s face. Her wiry hair escaped from her bun as she bent over me, whilst I pretended to be sleeping as deeply as my dorm mates. I didn’t need my eyes open to see.
Some of them had probably been light sleepers, but they weren’t anymore. Mrs. Dixon made quite sure we all took our “Vitamins” every night, except some nights they weren’t “Vitamins” but sleeping pills. Occasionally, I took one myself, as an escape and when I had the urge to sleep through the night.
I had been here for two years, even though I had a living relative. The courts ruled in favor of The Dixon Home for Teenage Girls. They stated 3 reasons. Firstly, my aunt was too young, she was only 19 when my mom died. Secondly, she lived in a bachelor apartment and did not earn enough money to afford a larger place. Thirdly, she worked shifts.
Ironic really, because my own mother didn’t earn enough money, and we’d lived in a one-bedroom apartment that was tiny, not to mention, in the worst area in town. My aunt Liz tried to contest the ruling but without a large sum of money, no lawyer would take the case.
I saw Aunt Liz last year for the first time after moving to the Home, the hospital had closed, and she had lost her job. She had an interview scheduled across the state and would be moving there if she got the job. She promised to write, but thus far I hadn’t received a single letter. I suspected Mrs. Dixon was keeping them, the Home had a postal box, and us girls were never asked to collect the post.
We did everything else though. We attended school until our 16th Birthday, thereafter we cooked, cleaned, washed, and even gardened. The Home only kept us till we turned 17. It was tradition that on your 17th birthday a big lunch was prepared. A State representative would be invited which meant that a three-course meal was served which included an ice-cream cake with 17 candles for dessert. In stark contrast to our daily fare.
During lunch Mrs. Dixon would hand over your Birth Certificate, which was entrusted to her until your 17th birthday and the State gave you $500. You may only extend your stay at the Home for one week, during that time you are required to find a job and accommodation. The money you receive is supposed to go towards rent and maybe some work clothes.
I had seen many girls leave the Home, one of them was my best friend Derry. She had been so excited when she received her birth certificate and her money. We had made endless plans that I would join her the minute I turned 17. We would live together and maybe even work together.
She’d left the Home that morning in high spirits. I’d been just as excited and lamented the fact that I had another 6 months to wait before I could join her. I was kept very busy that day, Mrs. D sent me to town to buy a bottle of bitters which she added to her daily Martini. This meant catching the bus to Emberg, which was the town closest to us. Then catching another bus to Havelton, the next town over.
When I returned late that afternoon, I ran into the dorm to see if Derry was back. Instead, I found a girl unpacking her things into Derry’s locker. I shouted at her, telling her the locker was taken, until Mrs. Dixon came running, breathing heavily from exertion. She pulled my hair and told me that Derry had already picked up her things while I was gone, as she had managed to get a job that required her to start immediately.
Thinking back on it now, none of the girls had ever needed more than one day to find a job. By the time I got back from school, the girls were always gone, and new arrivals took their place. Still, I had expected Derry to stick around as she was my best friend, and we had talked about staying in contact during the six months before my birthday. I knew then, something was off, Derry would never have forsaken me. Plus, it was unreasonable that every girl managed to find a job so quickly, wasn’t it?
That very evening, I overheard Mrs. Dixon speak to Mr. Dixon, telling him to purchase more sleeping pills. That made me suspicious and from that day on I palmed my pills, hiding them in the topmost cupboard of the kitchen. I knew they were safer there than in my locker as we had inspections on an ad-hoc basis.
I hated Mr. Dixon, he was a short, fat man who liked to touch the girls inappropriately. He did this very sneakily while hugging us. His hand trailing down to our buttocks, smacking or squeezing them lightly. He would only do this when Mrs. Dixon wasn’t around, I had the feeling she was jealous of the girls.
I sat up and leaned against the wall when I heard the doorbell, it was time to use my ability. I had been very careful not to use it when I first got here, mainly because my mom begged me to always keep it a secret. She admonished me each time she caught me. Admittedly, I was a lot younger then and used it indiscriminately, but I have grown up since then.
My mom called it “Remote Viewing” and I guess it’s a good name for it. After finding out about the sleeping pills I had managed to accumulate some information using my ability, but Derry was never mentioned. I was sure that the Dixons had something to hide but hadn’t been able to uncover anything more on the subject. I had tried to use my ability to track Derry but had come up empty. The feeling that something bad had happened to her kept me constantly on edge. My birthday was coming up which made me next in line to leave the Home.
I had envisioned meeting up with Derry and applying for a job at her place of work, but the lack of contact and my inability to track her, had eroded those dreams completely. I was on my own.
I waited for the voices to die away in the foyer, once I heard Mr. Dixon’s study door close, I sent my mind to the study. I can’t explain how I do it, I just give my mind a push and direct it where I want it to go. It’s like I'm present when I am not. Most people cannot detect me, but some people have an awareness or affinity and feel my presence, although they can’t see me. This is how my mom always knew when I did it to her, she could feel me.
I slid into the study and listened. There was another man present whom I had never seen before, unsurprisingly, we were never introduced to visitors and especially not late at night when the Dixons had gone to the trouble of feeding us sleeping pills. He was as short as Mr. D with brown hair and a goatee. His eyes were narrow set and deep. He looked like the type of person a girl should avoid.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to take her the same way we did the last one, she almost escaped,” the man said. “Plus, I can’t afford any screw ups with this one, I already have a buyer.”
My blood ran cold. Were they talking about Derry? What had she almost escaped from? Who were they talking about now? My gut told me it was me!