Now for Post 2 of the day! (All this writing has caused my fingers to become as toned as Jillian Michael’s abs…) The first story was Used Car Exile – Inspired by Shannon Caroland. Oh! And while you’re clicking on links, make sure you VOTE for last week\’s stories. Voting is open until 11:59 pm tonight (Michigan Time)
This afternoon/evening’s story comes from Kristi West. Now, I’m going to be honest, when I first put the idea out for this contest I didn’t think I’d get 30 stories. So, I invited people to submit up to 3 ideas. And Kristi did just that! Her first idea nearly won in the first week. It was a moving idea that turned into an emotional story to tell. Please feel free to read it. Good-bye, George is a story that I’m planning on building and including in some kind of collection one of these days.
In the meantime, here is Kristi’s second story idea (which, by the way, has had me sweating…it was a toughie)…
“Character: Libby, 14-year-old girl
Setting: Midwest America
Conflict: Libby finds evidence that the woman she thought was her mother actually found her wandering around NYC on September 11, 2001, alone. She then decided (possibly after trying to find her family?) to raise her as her own.”
“It isn’t fair. And you’re just being mean!” Libby yelled from the top step. “All my other friends get to go!”
“I’ve already made up my mind,” Sherri said from the bottom of the stairs. “You aren’t going.”
“I can’t wait till I’m 16! I’m going to divorce you!”
“They don’t allow that anymore, Libby.”
“Yes they do! I ‘Googled’ it. It’s called ’emancipated minor’ and I’m so doing it!”
Libby thrust her hip out and crossed her arms over her chest. Sherri couldn’t stand that stance. The attitude that puberty brought made her crazy. The walls in the garage were pocked with fist holes from Sherri’s frustrations.
It’s better than hitting Libby, she thought. I won’t let my anger go that far again. The way she looked at me that day…It’s far better to bust open my knuckles on drywall.
“Go to your room,” Sherri yelled, louder than she’d intended.
Libby sat on the step. “I’m not moving until you say I can go to Toronto.”
“Well, I’m not cooking until you stop being so bull-headed. There is no way I’m going to allow you to go to Canada with your Girl Scout friends.”
“But Vanity’s mom is going.”
“I don’t trust anyone who names their kid ‘Vanity’.” Sherri scrunched her face in frustration. “You aren’t going. That’s final.”
“I hate you,” Libby said, without emotion, as she got up and went to her room.
She has no idea what I’ve done for her, Sherri thought. And she can never know.
The city was full of people, running in all directions. Trying to get away from the collapsing towers. It was impossible for Sherri to see beyond the dust cloud of soot and ash. She could hear screaming, sirens, other noises she couldn’t identify.
Standing still, watching others flee, she believed that the world was coming to an end. And, so, she sang. She sang at the top of her lungs until the thick, grainy air clogged her throat.
A small form bumped into her. Sherri looked down at the young child. It was alone and shaking.
“Are you lost?” Sherri asked. “Where’s your mama?”
The child raised arms scratched and bleeding. Sherri scooped her up.
“We should figure out where your parents are.”
Sherri saw the pigtails, loose and messy. A little girl. With the same brown eyes as her Libby. Her little girl. Libby who died. Libby who she lost. Libby who had come back to her.
“Libby?” she asked. “How did you come back?”
The child held tightly to Sherri. She quaked and sobbed. Sherri held her, knowing that she wanted to keep this child. Knowing that she would have to escape to do it.
A week later, Sherri and her new Libby were in Wisconsin. No one knew them. It was their chance to start over together.
Libby slouched as she walked down the steps. “I need coffee.”
“You’re too young for coffee,” Sherri answered. “But, anyway. Happy Birthday, Libby!”
“I hate my birthday. Everybody’s so freaked out that my birthday is September 11. I just wish I could lie and tell them it’s the 12th or 13th or something.”
“But that isn’t your birthday,” Sherri snapped. “Your birthday is important. It’s when you joined this family.”
“Yeah. Great family. It’s just two of us.”
“So, what would you like to eat for your birthday breakfast?”
“I don’t know. Nothing, I guess.” She walked to the living room. “I just wanna watch TV.”
Sherri wondered how this child ever became so sullen. She’d been such a happy little girl.
If I’d known she would grow up to be like this, I never would have taken her, Sherri thought.
“Oh my word. This is so sad,” Libby said. “Mom, come see this.”
The mood swings of this girl will be the death of me, Sherri thought, rolling her eyes.
The television showed pictures of children, flashing across the screen.
“It’s all about the little kids that died on 9/11,” Libby said. “I didn’t know that kids died.”
They watched together. A woman was being interviewed.
“Our daughter’s body was never found. We had to bury an empty casket. It never should have been like this for Danielle.” The mother grieved. Held up a picture of her daughter.
The same brown eyes. Same slightly off-center lips. It was Libby.
“That little girl looks like me,” Libby said, leaning in nearer to the screen.
Sherri’s breath caught in her lungs. It was all she could do to switch off the television.
“We’re going out to eat,” Sherri said. “Get yourself ready!”
It took Libby a long time to shower and dress and do her hair. Eventually, they made it to the restaurant. Libby barely touched her food.
“Have you had a good birthday?” Sherri asked.
“Mom, that girl on TV. She looked like me.”
“She did. I’ve heard it said that everyone has a twin in this world.”
“But she looked more like me than my baby pictures do. It’s like you used someone else’s pictures in my album.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Sherri was growing nervous. The pictures in the album were of the first Libby, the one that had died.
“Mom, something’s really weird today.”
“Did you want dessert? You can get the chocolate cake you love. I bet the waitress would sing to you.”
“I found some stuff in your office.”
“They’d probably put ice cream on the side for you.”
“Why do I have a death certificate?”
Sherri felt very cold all of the sudden. She huddled herself in the booth.
“I was looking for my birth certificate and I found this.” Libby pulled a document from her purse. “It says that I’m dead. I died when I was 2 years old?”
“It was just an accident.”
“What was an accident?”
“We lived in the city. New York. There was an accident when we were crossing the street. The taxi never saw her run in front of him.” Sherri stared straight ahead. “I should have held her little hand harder.”
“What are you talking about?”
“But then I found you. And you were little Libby come back.”
Libby sat, eyes full of tears. “I have no idea what you mean, Mom.”
“I didn’t know that there were people who loved you. I just thought you were alone and needed me. I needed you. I knew no one would understand, so we ran away. You and me.”
“This is crazy, Mom. Cut it out.”
“You should find that other lady. I think she misses you.”
“But you’re my mother.”
“I’m not. I just found you and started all over. You reset my life.”
“Who should I call?”
“You might want to start with the police.” She laughed nervously. “I never realized that I was a kidnapper before.”
Libby pulled a cell phone from her purse, dialed 9-1-1.
“Libby, I’m sorry that I took you. Will you please forgive me?” Sherri’s voice was too calm.
“Hello?” Libby said into the phone. “Yes. I have a really weird thing going on. I need help.”
Sherri smiled peacefully, joyful that another mother would have her daughter returned.