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When I was five years old, my life changed forever. It all happened while my brother and I sat at the kitchen table, stirring our ice cream into “milkshakes”. He dropped the proverbial bomb on me. I was adopted. The news was devastating, as one might imagine. But, in either an unusual act of bravery or a typical act of curiosity, I requested the full story. The specifics were a bit fuzzy in his nine year old mind, but he was able to tell me quite a lot: the part where I was born in a toilet; how Santa found me and later abandoned me in a chimney; how my mother took me in because she felt sorry for me. Sure, some of the details were perplexing to my young mind—why didn't I drown in the toilet? How did my mom find me when our trailer didn't have a chimney? Still, Dusty was older and far more worldly; I couldn't doubt the veracity of his claims. Everything I had come to believe about my life was a lie.

* * *

When I was six years old, I made a startling discovery. One night, bleary-eyed and confused I shuffled down the stairs to the basement only to discover that a strange cult had built a temple down there. I ducked down and peered over the edge of the bannister in an attempt to see while remaining unseen. There was a giant fire blazing in the center of the activity, casting the entire space in an eerie reddish glow. Men and women garbed in naught but loin cloths and golden necklaces danced a circle around the flames. Enormous pillars carved with strange faces sneered menacingly upon the cavern. Heart pounding in my chest, I waited, watched, and listened.

At the mention of human sacrifice I flinched. At six years old it's pretty hard to control your reactions, after all. In that instant all eyes turned upon me and I bolted. I never ran so far in my life. I ran from Temple clear to Farmington. It had to have been twelve miles or more and the whole way the pounding footfalls of the cult behind me. Just when I was beginning to despair that there was nowhere I could run, I saw the church ahead of me and darted inside. Sanctuary. They were set up for a 'Bean Suppah' later that evening, so I scrambled under one of the tables and flattened myself behind the linens. I wondered if I'd have to stay there forever.

* * *

When I was nine years old a barrel of bio-hazardous waste fell from a transport that was passing through our small town. No one else recognized it for what it was, but I did. And that knowledge filled me with terror. Carrying such a burden can weigh on a kid. I knew that no one would believe me, no one would listen, not until it was too late. So, I stared slack-jawed with horror as the waste oozed and wafted from the cracked barrel.

That night I sat in bed with my mother, keeping vigil at the window. They would be here soon. My anxious mind pondered the rifles and shotguns in the living room. Though I'd never been hunting or shot at a target on the woodpile, I'd played cowboys (not Indians) and robbers (never cops). Maybe. Maybe. Any moment now the dead would be rising from their graves. And everyone knows that the living dead have a prodigious sense of smell. Which meant that I, being the smartest girl in Temple, and residing less than a mile from the cemetery, was prime target on the zombies' most wanted list.

My only real hope was that my brother or brother-in-law would hear the ruckus and reach me in time. I nuzzled in closer to my mother and prayed.

* * *

When I was thirteen years old, I started seeing the faces behind peoples' faces. Cat thought I was seeing past lives. I didn't care what it was; I just wanted people to don one face and stick with it. It was getting disconcerting never knowing who would be sitting across from me the next time I blinked.

* * *

When I was eighteen years old, one chill autumn night I followed the sound of drums until I was utterly lost in the woods. I sated my hunger with teaberries. My hooves danced through a labyrinth of roots and trunks. The world vibrated with the thrum of crickets and bullfrogs, dampened by the carpet of pine needles. Out there, under a canopy of stars, a slender white birch bent to form a perfect arch. I paused to admire my curving purple ram's horns, my furry goat's legs, my beautiful gossamer wings. Then I stepped through that doorway out of one world and into another.

That night my life changed forever. That night I discovered that everything I had come to believe about my life was the truth.


( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 23rd, 2013 04:50 am (UTC)
Your writing style is very compelling. It's difficult to tell which parts of this are true and which are made up. I especially like the bit about seeing the faces behind others' faces.
Jan. 25th, 2013 01:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you! But, it's all true. ;)
Jan. 23rd, 2013 04:26 pm (UTC)
I love it! I love the sense of mysticism; that's very powerful. It's like min-exploration into the validity of truth. LOVE LOVE LOVE!
Jan. 25th, 2013 01:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I think that I tend toward mysticism, even when I'm not meaning to. When I saw the prompt, I could help but think about this idea of truth and what makes things true. So glad you enjoyed it.
Jan. 24th, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC)
I, too, could not distinguish the truth from the stories here, and loved it :).
Jan. 25th, 2013 01:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Blurring the lines was something I aimed for, so I'm glad it worked for you.
Jan. 24th, 2013 04:26 pm (UTC)
Really like how it started out seemingly nonfiction and expanded from there. Love the imagery at the end.
Jan. 25th, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I think that forest imagery always speaks to me... probably because playing in the forest was such a big part of my childhood.
Jan. 24th, 2013 05:06 pm (UTC)
Pretty cool!
Jan. 25th, 2013 01:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Jan. 24th, 2013 05:57 pm (UTC)
I love how this progresses. It starts out seeming completely realistic and then transforms into this totally fantastical thing of beauty. For whatever reason the ending reminded me of Pan's Labyrinth, haha.
Jan. 25th, 2013 01:33 pm (UTC)
I think that having a child has made me much more interested in the question of reality vs. fantasy. I've never seen Pan's Labyrinth, but it's on my list--I hear many wonderful things about it.
Jan. 24th, 2013 09:16 pm (UTC)
What a metamorphosis! Totally unexpected.
Jan. 28th, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)
I was hoping I would take people on an unexpected journey.
Jan. 24th, 2013 09:33 pm (UTC)
Love love love love love.
Jan. 28th, 2013 09:14 pm (UTC)
Awww. Shucks.
Jan. 24th, 2013 11:55 pm (UTC)
I loved this! Dreams? hallucinations? Reality? They all mesh into one beautiful piece of writing!
Jan. 28th, 2013 09:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I was hoping that they would all mesh together well.
Jan. 25th, 2013 01:00 am (UTC)
Really fascinating, and beautiful description.

I started seeing the faces behind peoples' faces.
This is a great way of phrasing that unsettling tendency to see more 'information' than other people do, in a state like this.

Nicely done!
Jan. 28th, 2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
It still throws me sometimes when I look at a person, like, really look, and their face suddenly seems strange and unfamiliar to me.
Jan. 25th, 2013 02:03 am (UTC)
Very lovely.
Jan. 28th, 2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Jan. 25th, 2013 02:25 am (UTC)
I just wanted people to don one face and stick with it.

I love the whole idea of this.
Jan. 28th, 2013 09:16 pm (UTC)
Jan. 25th, 2013 03:32 am (UTC)
Guh! I am so in love with this!
Jan. 28th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
Glad it made such a good impression.
Jan. 25th, 2013 04:54 am (UTC)
I absolutely loved this!
Jan. 28th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
Aww. Thanks.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 28th, 2013 11:34 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you picked up on the playful aspect. What's fun for me is that all of these scenes are pulled from my memory. And from that, I started the game of boundaries of truth.
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( 44 comments — Leave a comment )