It was a bold move walking into a police station, but I had to. I had to do everything in my power to find her.
I hid my face in my shirt walking up to the counter, avoiding every camera in sight.
“What can I help you with today?” The lady at the desk looked up through her tilted glasses, resting on her curved up nose.
“Hello, I would like to find someone.” I said it hesitatingly, yet bold.
“Name please,” the girl started to type.
“I breathed in Amelia Andrews.” She looked up at me “you mean, the Amelia Andrews?” She emphasized the, the in that sentence, and obviously regretted asking the question. “Sorry you’re just a familiar face, I saw you on the news is all. Who would you like to find dear?
“My sister.” I leaned my hands on the desk Lilith Andrews. She’s 15 years old and in foster care, or she was the last time I checked anyway, can you run the system?”
The lady didn’t even ask for identification. She knew I wasn’t lying, and it was a relief, for once someone was taking my word for it.
“Your sister Lilith Andrews age 15 was last placed with the Arlene family not at all far from here. I can give you an address but nothing more. I shouldn’t even be doing this without permission from a judge. But I feel you’ve been through enough already. But you can’t tell anyone what I did here, understand?”
she cleared her throat, I nodded and she handed me a piece of paper.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.
“It’s fine.” I left so fast, I barely heard the rest of her sentence.
134 Harding Lane, I used to walk down that street on my way home from school. I raced down the road, it was like riding a bike. The town I grew up in, I knew it inside out.
I was out of breath, but it only took me under ten minutes to get to the house. It was decent on the outside. A little low maintenance, but overall good enough.
Up the walkway, I knocked on the door rapidly. No answer so I rung the doorbell, twice. I saw someone through the blurry window stomp up to the door, and swing it open.
“What?” the voice was wore down, and scratchy. I almost fell back down the walk when I saw her face. Tearing up I voiced her name
“Who are you?” she popped a bubble in my face.
Annoyed I just stared for a moment, covered in tattoos and piercings. She wore gothic black see-through clothes, and had a beer in her hand. The putrid scent of pot leaked out of the house, and nearly made my nose shrivel and fall off.
Before I could answer
“mommy,” a voice small and innocent yelled from another room.
“mommy.” At first I didn’t clue in. Thinking the Arlene family had other kids. But when the little girl burst through the door, and jumped into Lily’s arms I got the message.
“Who are you?” lily shot back, holding her fussy toddler. “What is your business at my home?“
“I’m your sister”
“Amelia?” She stuttered, and opened the screen door that had been separating them.
“Milly!” She set the child down on the floor and held the door open. My foster mother said I had a sister, she said that it was in my paperwork. She also said I had a brother. I looked down at my shoes dreading the words that were about to come out
“Charlie was killed by the same person that killed mom.“
Lily spit her gum onto the floor just passed me, and took a swig of her beer, obviously covering her pain.
“What happened to you?” The words slipped out before I could think of what I was saying.
“What do you mean?” lily puckered her face at the alcohol, swallowing too much at a time. “Nothing happened to me, this isn’t you.” I looked at the bottles of vodka, and the old musty couch. “You used to be so sweet and gentle, now you’re a teenage mother, who drinks, does drugs, and lives like a pig.“
Lily stood from the spring squeaky chair, “how would you know? You don’t know me. The only place you remember me from is when I was a baby, and my daughter is the best thing that has ever happened to me thank you very much. Sure she was unexpected but having a baby at 13 isn’t a crime, and I love her. She is the only biological family I’ve ever known, so if you came here to criticize me as far as I’m concerned, you can leave.“
“What’s her name?” I tried to change the subject. She sat back down and I saw need for love in her eyes. She was alone, and that’s what she felt inside. So she was willing to give me as much chances as she could.
“Her name is Harmony, Harmony Andrews”
I smirked, “how did you know what moms name was?“
“Same way I knew yours, my foster mom.“
The smile on my face faded as my eyes trailed off and caught something reevaluating. The line of purple bruises that showed color on her arm. A door slammed, and a rugged cough charged from the other room. I watched as lily turned, her face turned numb, and her eyes lost the sparkle. She slouched in her chair, and spaced off, blinking very rarely.
The bulgy man came in with a cigarette in his mouth, blowing smoke over the chair, aiming for Lily. She coughed under the billow of smoke, but didn’t say a word.
“Hey babe,” the voice was deep and scratchy.
“Hi” a silent shake came out of the whisper in Lily’s voice.
“Who’s this?” The man came towards me and traced my chin with his finger, adding a bit of pressure as he took his hands away. I wanted to tell the creep off but seeing the fear in Lily’s eyes, I didn’t want to put her in even more danger.
“This is my sister, Amelia. She found me, I told you she would.“
“Whatever, she has to go now.” The man walked to Lily and squeezed her arm obviously inflicting pain with the look on her face. He dragged her by the arm into the other room, I shook my head, and waited a moment before leaving. I looked at the two year old on the couch, she eyed the other room with a look of desperate need for help in her eyes. I walked out slamming the door behind me to make sure that they knew I was gone so, I could listen in.
The screaming started right after I closed the door. Both were yelling, Lily I heard her cries clearly, and pulled out my phone. It was the one that Dave gave me before I knew. It was the one good thing he ever did for me.
I dialed nine-one-one, and stayed by the door until dispatcher spoke.
“Nine-one-one what is your emergency,” she said.
“I’m standing outside my sister’s house, and I think there might be some domestic abuse happening, please hurry.“
“An ambulance, and police car have been dispatched,” the women said calmly.
“Stay on the phone until the emergency personnel have confirmed their presence to me please.” The screaming became unbearable, I couldn’t just stand here and let that horror of a man hurt her. The lady on dispatch read my mind,
“do not enter the building putting yourself in danger will only worsen things. We won’t have enough emergency vehicles for you both.“
The sirens spilled up the street, and I burst through the doors after the police. Guns up, they tried to keep me outside, but other than insisting there wasn’t much they could do. I could hardly wait to go in when the emergency people weren’t here. I had to go.
The first thing I saw was the knife, it had been launched into the wall. It was halfway in and there was a crack up stemmed from where the knife was embedded to the roof. Harmony was screaming in the next room for her mom. I broke through the two cops stationed at the scene and finally breathed when I saw my little sister. Her mascara running down her face, she had a black eye, and a bloody nose. The man was cuffed and lying face first on the ground screaming.
“What is this, what do you people think you’re doing on my property, without a warrant?“
On my way to hug my sister, I made it my priority to step on the creeps back. Plunging his face into the floor.
“It’s okay lily, you’re safe now, he’s not gonna hurt you again.“
“Yes he is, don’t you get it? She collapsed in my arms, the cops found out that my foster mom died. That I’ve been living here alone with my child and him. They’re gonna send me to juvenile detention, until they can place me with someone else. And guess where they’re sending him.“
She looked to the ground.
“Plus he has members of his gang in juvie, they’ll kill me for sure.“
I smiled giving her hope, “don’t worry Lily just stay by a guard.“
“The guards there are corrupt, some of them work for Jason she looked at the smug look on her boyfriends face. You ruined my life!“
“No, I didn’t, I’ll just adopt you, I’m old enough, and I don’t have a criminal record.“
I thought of Dave and how tempting it was to say yet. I was awoken from my trance with the even louder sobs from Lily.
“You can’t just up and adopt someone, you need a licence to do that.“
“Then I’ll get one.“
“I’ll be in juvie by that point, or a body bag. And my baby Jason will take my baby, he’ll get one of his guys to do it, and he won’t give her back. The police don’t even listen, if I file a complaint they will take forever to simply look over the case. I’m screwed, I’m already dead. This is my last chance, unless...“
She looked up at me broken and afraid,
“Take me, take harmony take us. You can drive, we can get new identities, and then we can finally be a family. A family without torture,“
she smiled tenderly “Please, can’t you drive?“
I swallowed thinking of the accident “I can, there’s only one thing. I don’t have a licence, and the last time I drove, I ended myself and my birth father in the hospital.“
Her eyes whimpered “how do you not know how to drive? You’re like how old?“
“29” I answered, smiling. “Let’s just say you’re life isn’t the only screwed up one. I haven’t exactly had a privileged life since I last saw you.“
The sobs from her tear soaked eyes started up again, and she buried her face in my shoulder.
I breathed out through my mouth. “Okay fine, but I’m gonna go slow. I don’t feel like being arrested again for speeding, got it?“
She nodded fiercely then I scooped up little Harmony, and grabbed Lily’s arm. We snuck out the back where no one was guarding, and jumped in the first car on the street. Harmony was buckled in the back, squirming and crying.
Without a car seat she nearly slipped out of the seat, and Lily had to jump to the back seat to catch her. Both of us nearly had a heart attack when we saw the barely talking girl drop. Lily unbuckled and squirmed through to the back to sit with her daughter, as I pulled out of the driveway and drove out of the scene with no last looks.
I had my sister I looked back at her with loving eyes. As Lily slept her daughter resting peacefully on her shoulder, I relaxed at the sight. The wheel was in control, I was no longer fearful of crashing again, or getting caught. The pain was released, I had my sister, and no more Dave. And that was all I needed to survive the tragedy that was my life.
I looked back at the road, yawning. I decided to pull over and sleep, before I fell asleep at the wheel. I got out of the car and into the back seat, I rested my head gently on the back of the seat, laying my hand on Lily’s head stroking her hair with my fingers softly so that she couldn’t feel it. I didn’t want her to wake up startled, she needed rest. When I closed my eyes for the first time since I could remember, I felt warmth like I was falling asleep rather than trying to escape this world for my dreams.
I woke to an ear piercing screech, Harmony was crying so loud that it was impossible to sleep. Through the screams Lily was already up in the front seat with the baby changing her, using the diaper bag she swiped before we left.
“Can I help?” I rubbed the sleep from my eyes as I leaned to the front.
“No I’m okay.” She said with her hair dangling in a mess, “but we need to pick up some more formula. I’m out but I don’t have a lot of cash on me, just what I had in the diaper bag.” Lily pulled out a ten dollar bill from the side pouch. I searched my pockets.
“Ah here it is.” I whipped out my credit card, “a person I thought was family a long time ago was a billionaire. He gave me access to all of his accounts, if we’re lucky he hasn’t cancelled any yet, and we can get some more before the day is up.
A single breath drew from her lips, “good, then were okay, and we should probably get rid of the car by the way, seeing how it is stolen and all.“
Lily finished wrapping the diaper and lifted her baby, all better now she bounced her up and down. There was a beautiful mother daughter bond, I couldn’t stop staring.
“You look just like mom.” I felt a single tear fall down my cheek tracing the lines and accents of my face. “You look like mom when she was with you in your room as a baby. She bounced you to help you fall asleep or calm down when you were fussy.” My eyes relaxed into a soft and tender look “I can’t believe you’re a mother, my little sister. I’m sorry you had to experience so much pain in your life, in the short time you’ve lived. I’m sorry you had to go through the worse to get to the better, but you’re here now, and I want you to know I will protect you as I know you will protect Harmony.“
She smiled and dabbed her under eyes with her hand.
“Stop being so sappy, you’re making my mascara run.” Lily stepped out of the car and stretched her legs, setting Harmony safely on the passenger seat while she did. Then she took her quiet daughter and opened the door to the back seat. Now buckled in, Lily motioned for me to get in the front.
“We need to get to a town before we can get rid of the car, unless you’d prefer to walk to the nearest town, without a stitch of a clue as to wear we are going.“
I stepped out of the car and into the front. “Alright, alright jeez, I’m going.” As we drove along the road no one in sight for hours, Harmony was getting hungry, she fussed in her seat. I searched the street for signs, or shops, or pedestrians, but it was no use, we were lost.
All of a sudden, a few clicks of the vehicle shook it, blowing smoke and leaking fuel everywhere. The car broke down, and I had just enough fuel to pull over.
I looked back at Lily’s face, “so what now?” She rocked Harmony back and forth. I looked around for a moment, then I saw it, a small quaint town with only a few houses, and some shops. I opened the door taking another look.
“It doesn’t seem like much, but we can buy a car or something with an actual vin number registered stolen. Then we can ask for directions, and maybe, finally find a house.“
Lily grew a smile
“I always knew I would eventually find you, I’ve been looking for you for a long time Amelia. For some reason you were nowhere to be found, I looked, and I searched both on the internet, and in the town. I refused to be adopted or taken far from here, afraid that I might lose you, but I never found you why?“
She wasn’t budging until I gave her a believable answer. So I braced myself to give the truth. I sighed, and too a breath, and then...
“I was kidnapped, then held hostage, then in a car crash, then in the hospital. Then in this wacked up foster home, then kidnapped. Then almost killed with blunt force trauma to my skull, causing me to develop memory loss. Then kidnapped and told my name was Delilah for 15 years, then I was in another car crash. So I’m sorry Lily, but you don’t have the most terrible life, at least you have someone. Let me ask you something, did you love your foster mom before she died?“
“Yes of course but….“
“And were you taken into care by her at a young age?“
“I was 2 yes.“
“And when did she die?“
“When I was 12.“
“So technically Lily, you have had someone you’re whole life to care for, to receive love from. First you’re mom, then your child. Take the Jason part out and you haven’t had it that bad Lil. You’re always gonna be my sister, but my whole life has been a lie from the age of 14. When the only things I should have been stressing about were math tests, I have been the foster kid, the sick kid, the fugitive, the girl who cried wolf, the school skipper, the homeless, and the captive kid. Not once in 15 years have I been loved or had someone to love, for real. So the way I see it, you’re lucky. Stop playing the victim Lily, you have people, and now you have me. Let’s go.“
Silent the rest of the way, Lily held Harmony close and away from me. Not a word was spoken, not a sound was made.
When we arrived in the little town, a small shop revealed itself. It was western themed with a saloon feel, I pushed open the doors and fled to the counter.
Hello sir, were looking for a map, and maybe a bus, something to get us to where we need to be. A car dealership maybe, oh” I pointed my finger in the air as the idea struck back. “And a bank machine.“
All the while Lily stood at the door, head down, she kept to herself. I drew a long breath from my mouth deep in my lungs. I pondered the question of if I should even bother. Lily blamed me for not being there, easy to find as a child. She constantly asked the question of where, when, why she, she. I looked in the direction of my lost, hopeless sister. Her baby coddled in her grip as she sang a quiet lullaby rocking and cradling the toddler’s head as she drifted into a calming nap. I remembered holding Lily like that when she was born. I was so heartbroken when Charlie left to live on his own so when mom brought Lily home from the hospital, I latched on to her and never let go. Spending all my free time with her, I would sneak into her room at night, and sleep with my blanket on the floor, so I would awake easier when she called out in the night. I hesitated before walking over to Lily. I put my hand on Harmony’s forehead, and she pulled away, turning to face the door.
“I’m sorry,” I snapped. “Lil I was being a bitch nothing less, it’s not your fault. You have questions, I broke my promise, and I apologise.“
tears forced out of Lily’s eyes and fell down her cheeks, trying to cover her emotions, Lily gathered enough breath to tell me off.
“Just go away, go get the stuff. The man at the counter is probably waiting for you. You don’t want to keep him waiting.“
She turned only showing half her face beat red, she had been holding her breath, trying desperately not to break down, and show weakness. A soft spot. So determined she was willing to keep her breath in longer than physically possible.
“get out of my face!” She trembled, ready to burst.
I touched her shoulder, a last ditch effort to find some empathy, but she shrugged me away. I stepped away to the counter fighting back the urge to keep trying, to keep pushing Lily to talk, to forgive me. When I got to the counter the man was growing impatient,
“the bank machine is right over there miss.” He pointed to the corner of the room where a dusty, wasted, bank machine sat waiting for someone to use it. “As for the transportation, there’s a bus stop just up the street from here.” He pointed out the door, “turn left at the first corner down that street, you won’t miss it.” The man turned to walk away but I stopped him before he could get through the back door.
“What about the map?“
“Buy one first, and I can help find a nearby neighborhood for you and the shy one.” He pointed through his scruffy chin to Lily.
“How did you know what I wanted to find?“
The man chuckled, “it’s not like were busy, I was standing here the whole time. And the people that live here don’t usually ask for directions. He pulled a paper map from his side of the counter. “If you want it, buy it.” He waved the map in front of me, teasing me like a dog with a bone.
I watched Lily the whole time I gathered the money from the machine, as much as I could before Sully decided to freeze the card. Luckily I was just in time, access granted. The machine produced millions, I looked around covering my treasure from prying eyes. I quickly stuffed all but ten dollars into my pocket and stumbled to the counter.
“Here, now show me where we should go.” Making himself comfortable, the man leaned over the desk, and pointed to the map. He circled a small town in red pen,
“it’s called Furnsmuir. It’s a quaint town with a population of 1000 people, the lowest crime rate in this corner of the world. not to mention the beautiful scenery, great education, and an amazing community. Very hands on you’ll feel right at home, if you like small towns that is.“
“Thank you.” Halfway out the door, I heard the bell clang as I pulled Lily out of the store. Down the sidewalk, Lily kept up, but she brushed me off like a flea when I tried to assist her, or speed her up. The baby certainly slowed us down, but we were almost there. The bus pulled up, it was in sight, we almost missed it but a heavy scream stopped the driver dead in her tracks. The bus came to a screeching halt, and the doors rust and all opened, causing an ear piercing sound. I handed her a 50 dollar bill and the driver’s eyes lit up as we boarded.
“Where to? You’re the new guest of honor. Sit anywhere y’ all would like.“
“Thank you mam. We need to find a town called Furnsmuir.“
“Well that’s just a big coincidence, that was my next stop anyway.“
An exchanged smile lead my eyes to Lily, who sat in a seat with the diaper bag blocking me from sitting down. I gave a huff before taking the seat directly across from her. I stared at Lily’s tear stained face. Her cheek pressed against the window, the cold made her even rosier than before. She shivered but with her mind set on everything else, Lily wasn’t moving. Harmony squirmed in her lap but kept distracted with her teething ring. I shed a tear realizing the loss I had bestowed upon myself.
“Lil,” I tried one last time to get the attention, no reaction.
“I’m so sorry, I love you so much. You don’t know how much I’ve been waiting to see you again, and I blew it all. The stuff I said in the car, it wasn’t a lie. All except the anger I directed at you. I was angry because, because.” I swallowed looking around, “the man I told you kidnapped me, he’s my father, he was Charlie’s father, and I, I killed him.” I whispered the words with emphasis, and regret.
“He was a bad man who hurt me countless times, and I took his life.“
Lily’s reaction stayed the same.
“I killed him so I could escape, and get to you. So I could save you.“
No reaction occurred to Lily’s face, no element of surprise showed through her rosy cheeks. Then a movement, Lily grabbed the diaper bag without moving her head, she placed it at her feet, creating room for me to sit. I scootched to her side and rested my head on Lily’s shoulder. “Thank you.” I whispered shutting my eyes.