Letting Go | Teen Ink

Letting Go

July 25, 2011
By AshleySunshine, Carrollton, Ohio
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AshleySunshine, Carrollton, Ohio
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The only memory I have from when I was a little girl is when my mother sat on the edge of the bed brushing my hair, while my father read me a bedtime story. I remember the way he looked at us; like we were the only thing holding him to the earth.
But I won't allow myself to venture any further into that memory, because that was the night both my parents were murdered right in front of me.
I don't know why the killer left me alive, but I have spent every day since wishing he hadn't. Every single night I have nightmares of my parents getting killed. Dozens of families wanting to adopt have barely looked at me because they know my past. It's not fair! But, unfortunately, life's not fair.
I wish I could have died with my family. They were the only ones who ever loved me. Without them, I am alone.

"Get up, Ashley" Miss Brooks says. "I know it's a Saturday, but we have rules about sleeping in".
I roll over onto my side so I'm facing her. "Go away," I say to her. I hear her quick intake of breath and know that I'm in trouble now. I smile; I like trouble. It's a whole lot better than people feeling sorry for you.
"I know you didn't mean that. Now, get up before I get Headmistress Smiley" Miss Brooks threatens. I jump out of bed. She knows I hate Headmistress Smiley. Everyone does.
I pull on some clothes suitable for lunch (since I slept in so late) and walk downstairs. Most of the other students(as Miss Brooks likes to call them) are already sitting at the tables. I take my usual seat in the corner, away from everybody else.
The tables are dismissed one-by-one to get food, so I have to wait till close to the end for mine. I'm finally dismissed, so I walk up to the table for food.
"What would you like today, dear?" Miss Marco asks me. "Corn dog, hot dog, or Hamburger?"
Miss Marco is probably my favorite person at the orphanage. She never looks at me like I'm a fragile 15 year old. I hate it when people feel sorry for me. I don't need their pity.
"Corn dog" I tell her. So my day goes on like any other day in this hell hole. Well except that it's the weekend and there is no "school".
Around 8, Headmistress Smiley summons me to her office. It's probably about what I said to Miss Brooks this morning. But, it turns out, I'm wrong.
"Ashley, you have been here for 3 years now, and 5 at another orphanage. Yet, you still have not been adopted. I am curious as to why though. You are a smart, beautiful young girl. But all the families I have set you up with have rejected you. Some say that they don't like your attitude, and others say they are terrified that your parent's killer will come back to finish the job. But, through all this time, I haven't lost faith in you. Which is why, I'm pleased to announce, I have found a willing family to adopt you. You're meeting with them tomorrow afternoon. Don't mess this up, Ashley. This is your chance to be a part of a family again." And with that, I was ushered out of the room and told it was time for bed.
I lie awake, thinking how I could mess up tomorrow. I never wanted a new family, so ever since I could remember, I have tried to keep that from happening. I've spit in their faces, called them bad names, and even punched one of them when they said they thought they wanted me. I've always been alone, and that's the way I wanted it to stay.

The next morning I, unfortunately, have to go to church. I sit and listen to the Priest talk about how much we should all love each other. It's pointless to me. I'm not going to start loving my parent's murderer any time soon.
After the service, I'm told that I get to eat lunch early, since I'm meeting with a family. I go to the dining area and sit down with my food. Miss Marco comes over to talk to me.
"Hello, Ashley. I heard that a family is coming in to talk to you today. Are you excited?" She asks.
"Oh, yeah." I say sarcastically. She doesn't pick up on it though.
"Well, good. I hope it goes well for you. You deserve a nice family after what happened to...um..never mind. I should be going. Good Luck, Ashley!" She says to me. She waves goodbye, and I wave back.
I finish eating and start walking to the Conference Room. When I get there, Headmistress is already talking to the family. I go inside and sit down. Headmistress introduces us.
"Ashley, this is the family I was telling you about. This is Jonathon and Kiara Jones." She gestures to the couple across from me. I look them over. The woman, Kiara, has brown hair that is a little lighter than mine. Her eyes are a dazzling color of blue. The man is quite different. His hair is sandy blond, while his eyes are green.
"Hey" I say. They're both looking at me like I'm going to break. Oh, I so don't need their pity. "So, how long is this going to take?" I ask. Headmistress gives me a stern look. She whispers something to Jonathon, then slips out the door.
"Ashley, It's so nice to meet you. We've been waiting for this chance for a long time. So, I've been told that you've been an orphan for about 8 years. Is that right?" Kiara asks. She's trying to make conversation. I'm going to end it.
"Yeah." I say. "Right after my parents head's were blown off, I was sent to an orphanage. So, It sounds about right." She looks stunned.
"So we've heard" Jonathon says. "But we want you to know that we're not going to get scared off like all those other families. We're here to adopt you, if you like it or not. We won't take any of your crap, so don't start it." At that, I was stunned speechless. I think my jaw even dropped a little bit.
"Let's start over, Ashley." Kiara says. And then they start drilling me with questions. I try to throw in some sarcastic answers whenever I get a chance. Too bad Mr. We-Want-To-Help-You doesn't even blink. Then they start telling me about themselves. Kiara is 32, and a kindergarten teacher. Jonathon is 35, and works as a counselor at the their local Juvenile Delinquent Department.
I'm really getting bored now. I've got to figure out how to get them to "un-want" me. I've got it.
"They say that my parent's killer is still out there and that he's coming back for me. Personally, I believe them" I say.
Jonathon looks at me and finally says, "I've got a gun, and I know how to use it." And with that, they walk out to sign the papers.

After the papers were signed and approved, the Jones took me. They told me they lived in West Haven, Connecticut. I've never heard of the place.
They pulled up to a beige house. It looked quite large. There were flowers out front, and it looked like there were trees behind the house. The lawn was a healthy color of green.
"So, what do you think?" Kiara asked me. Personally, I didn't know what to think. I'd grown up in a building that looked like crap my hole life, and then I was presented with a place that looked expensive.
"I think it looks like a house." I say. She looks at me like I'm nuts, then ushers me into the house. They show me around the place. In the dining room, there is a large chandelier hanging from the ceiling. I always hated chandeliers; they always look like they're going to fall down without warning.
Upstairs are the bedrooms. My bedroom is larger than I thought it would be. A queen sized bed sits of the right side of the room, while a computer desk is on the left. The computer looks expensive. There is a walk in closet right beside my bed. I walk over to it and open the doors.
Inside there is, obviously, nothing. I walk over to the other side of the room. Another door. I open that, and find that it is a bathroom. Well, at least I don't have to share.
When I'm done assessing the rest of the house, Kiara tells me that I'm starting school the day after tomorrow. She also tells me that we're going shopping tomorrow. Great. I hate shopping.
The next morning, I'm awoken by the smell of eggs and bacon. I jump out of bed and practically fall down the stairs. In the kitchen, Kiara is making breakfast, while Jonathon is reading the paper.
"Good Morning, Ashley! Did you sleep well?" She asks. I mumble a "sure" and sit down in a chair at the table. Jonathon looks up at me and smiles. I don't smile back.
After I eat, Kiara tells me that I should get a shower. "Is that your polite way of telling me I stink?" I ask her.
"No, of course not...it's just that I thought it would make you feel better. It would wash the nightmares away." She replies. I stiffen. I didn't realize I still had the nightmares. After I started screaming at the staff at the orphanage, they stopped talking about it.
"Yeah, well, I don't have nightmares. I'm not 10 anymore." I tell her. "Oh, and I don't need your pity. It sucks enough that I have to live here. I don't want to have to pretend I like it." With that, I walk upstairs to my bathroom to take a shower.

As promised, Kiara took me shopping the next day. She was the one who picked out all the clothes; mostly because I just hate shopping.
The next morning I had to wake up at 6:00 a.m. In all my life, I've never had to wake up that early. So it wasn't easy for me. I trudged around the house getting everything rounded up for school. Kiara had bought me a "West Haven High" book bag the night before, so I packed the things I needed.
"Alright, so remember to go straight to the office. It's on the first floor; right when you walk in." she told me as she was driving me to school. "Oh! And I'm driving you home after school. So you'll have to wait until the elementary get out. It's around 3:00 p.m., so you'll only have to wait 45 minutes at the library." Normally, I wouldn't have minded going to school. But since it was the middle of the school year, and I didn't know anyone, I wasn't looking forward to it at all.
We arrived at the High School. It was an extremely large building with a banner across the main entrance; 'West Haven High School'. I walked in, trying to avoid the other students in the process, and went to the office. There was a large line leading up to the desk. I didn't want to wait, so I walked up to the front. My actions were met by "Hey! You can't do that!" and "Wait your turn!" but I didn't care.
"Young Lady, you'll have to wait in line like the rest of the students are." a petite woman with red hair told me.
"Whatever. I'm new. I don't apply to the rules." I replied.
"Yet," she muttered. "You must be Ashley Logan. Am I right?"
"Well, who else would I be?" I asked. She didn't answer me. Instead, she walked over to a man going through a filing cabinet. She handed him something, and told him to "get to it". He started walking over to me.
"Hey. I'm Adrian Woods. I'm a Junior here. I'll be showing you around the school." he told me. Adrian had messy brown hair that looked like it might hang in his eyes sometimes. Speaking of eyes, his were gorgeous! They were jade green and they twinkled when the light hit them just right.
"Hi, Adrian. I'm Ashley" I replied. He smiled at me, then led me out the door. The school was much larger inside than it looked outside, which means the school was freaking' humongous! I knew I was going to get lost sometime.
Adrian showed me my homeroom, which was my first period Geometry Class. He told them I was here, but was going to get a tour of the rest of the school first. Then, off we went. He showed me where the rest of my classes were. Turns out, we have 7th period lunch, and 8th period study hall together. At least I'll have someone to sit with. Finally, he showed me my locker. It was on the first floor, across the hall from his. He showed me my combination, and I put my bag in there. Then it was time for class. He told me he'd save me a seat in the lunchroom, and waved good-bye. I started walking to class.

As soon as I walked into Geometry, all the eyes turned to me. I walked up to the front desk, trying to avoid the stares, and told the teacher I was back.
"Great! Ok, take a seat next to Amber. She's the girl in the green." Ms. Sheppard, my teacher, said. So I walked down the aisle to the empty seat.
"Hi! My name is Amber Green. You must be Ashley. It's soooo good to meet you. Everyone has been waiting for the new student to arrive. You're like a celebrity..."Amber starts rambling.
"Um, Amber? Can you shut-up so I can pay attention?" I ask her. She gets a shocked look on her face and mumbles "sure". Thank God. I don't want to know what people think of me. It will just make this day even worse.
The rest of Geometry passes in a blur. I honestly couldn't tell you what we were learning. It was something to do with finding and x value...
When the bell rang, I started walking to 2nd period History with Mr. Franks. But when I rounded the corner to go up the stairs, a girl with bleach blond hair, and possibly fake boobs, stopped me. "Oh! You must be the new girl. What's your name again?" She asks. I try to get passed her but she stops me.
"Oh, that's right. It's Ashley. Everyone is talking about how the Jones's adopted you. It's so sad that your parents were murdered. It's a shame that they left you behind though." She tells me, and everyone in her "little group" laughs.
"Oh, shut up, Katerina." Someone says. I turn around and Adrian is behind me. Thank God. I thought I was never going to get out of here. I turn back around and Katerina is looking at him like he just slapped her. She whips around and starts walking away.
"You're welcome," Adrian says.
"I didn't say thank you. I could have handled her on my own. Although I probably would have gotten a detention for punching her in the face." I tell him. Ok, so I lied. I probably would have stood there and tried to ignore her until she just got tired of insulting me.
"Yeah, okay. Whatever. Do you need help getting to class?" He asks. "Because, I'm going upstairs too, and I could show you."
"I know where I'm going" I snap.
"Ok, whatever. I'll see you at lunch" He tells me. Then he walks away. The bell rings, and I start walking to class. I'm going to be late again.

The rest of the morning went smoothly, up until 6th period Art class. I walked into the classroom and everyone was silent. That was nothing new. So, I walked up to the teacher in charge.
"You must be Ashley. I'm Mrs. Bible. Your seat is...over there by Annabelle." She tells me. So I start walking towards my seat when I trip over someone's foot. I fall down on the hard concrete floor.
"Oops, I'm sorry," Katerina says sarcastically. Oh, great. She's in my art class. "Let me help you up." So she grabs for my arm, and "accidentally" forgets she has a cup filled with red paint in her hand. It spills all over my jeans.
"Oh, no! Did I do that? Gosh, I'm such a klutz. Well, at least it's an improvement." She tells me. Oh, how much I want to strangle her right now. Mrs. Bible comes running over and sees the paint all over me.
"Oh, Ashley. Go get cleaned up." She says. So I get up and walk to the bathroom down the hall. When I return, class is already in session. I walk to my seat, careful to avoid any legs, and ask Annabelle what we're supposed to be doing.
"We're painting a scene from one of our classmates’ life. For example; I got Katerina's name out of the hat. So I'm going to paint her tripping you." She tells me. "And by the way, she's like that to all of us. So, don't think she's giving you a harder time than any of us." I don't know whether that makes me feel better or worse. But I get up to go see Mrs. Bible. She hands me a folded piece of paper.
"There is a name on this piece of paper. Paint a memory from their lifetime. Okay?" She asks me. I nod my head and walk back to my seat. I open the paper and Annabelle's name is on it.
"Hey. Annabelle? What can I paint from your lifetime?" I ask her. She starts telling me about the time she fell off her bike and broke her arm. So, I start painting that memory.
A few minutes before class ends, Mrs. Bible announces that we have to show our art to the entire class before we leave. She points to a student and tells her to go first. She tells us the name of the student, and then shows us her artwork. We're supposed to guess what happened. Most of the art is easy to identify; Falling out of trees, learning to swim, riding a bike.
We're getting to the end, when a boy says my name. "I've got Ashley Logan's." He turns the picture around and I can't believe my eyes. He has drawn a picture of me covered in blood, while two bodies surround me. It's a picture of my parent's murder.
I gasp, and so do others around me. "I know what it is" Katerina says. "It's when her parents were murdered."
Mrs. Bible runs to the boy and tells him to go to the office. Meanwhile, I'm stunned speechless. How could he do that? "Annabelle, take Ashley to the nurse. She looks sick." Mrs. Bible says.
Annabelle starts leading me out of the room. When we're almost to the nurse's office, I manage to squeak "I'm fine. I just want to go to lunch." She asks if I'll be okay if she leaves me. I nod my head, and she starts walking away. When she's gone, I start running to the nearest bathroom. The tears are building up in my eyes and I'm determined not to let anyone see me cry. I'm almost there when I collide with someone. I look up into Adrian's eyes.
"Are you okay? Wait, are you crying?" he asks. The tears start running down my face. I try to get around him, but he grabs my arm. "What happened?"
I'm crying too hard to talk to him. So he just pulls me to him, and I sob into his chest.

We stood there for a few minutes. I finally stopped crying enough so that I could tell him what happened. "That idiot! Why would he paint something like that?" He said. I know he didn't want me to respond, but I did anyways.
"Well, I'm a freak. I'm easy to make fun of because I don't have any friends, not to mention I've lived in an orphanage for practically all my life." I told him. He looked at me. Oh, no. I know that look. He's feeling sorry for me.
"Don't look at me like that! I don't need your pity," I tell him. "I'm not going to break down again, okay?" He looks away. "Look, I'm sorry. Okay? This has never happened before. I've never been to a public school, and I didn't know that people were actually this mean."
He looks at me again. I try to avoid his eyes. "Apology accepted. And, for the record, I wasn't feeling sorry for you. I was thinking back to when I first started here. Everyone made fun of me too." He said. "It's not so bad anymore though. The quarterback of the football team was in my Algebra class my freshman year, and he befriended me. I guess you could say I'm pretty popular now. I even dated the hottest girl in the school...Anyways, what I'm trying to say, is that no matter how bad it may seem, it'll get better."
"I hope so," I tell him. I start walking away.
"Hey, where are you going?" he yells.
"Well, it IS lunchtime. So, I'm going to lunch!"

Lunch was awkward. We both just sat there and ate our food in silence. When the bell rang for 8th period, I dumped the rest of my food in the trash, and started walking for my locker.
"Hey, wait up!" Adrian yelled. I slowed down for him to catch up. "So, what bus do you ride?"
"I don't ride a bus. Kiara is picking me up at the library," I tell him.
"Who's Kiara?" he asks.
"The chick who adopted me. She works in the elementary, so I have to wait until they get out," I say.
"Well, do you want some company? I mean, I don't ride a bus, and it gets kind of boring at the library..." he trails off. I think about it. I'll have to wait almost an hour, so why not?
"Sure," I tell him. We reach our lockers and get our books for the afternoon.

Adrian met me at my locker after 9th period. I grabbed my bag and we started walking towards the library.
"So, how was the rest of your day?" he asked.
"Well, it was kind of boring. But that's better than disastrous, right?" I said. He chuckled.
We reached the library in a matter of minutes because it was down the road from the High School. It was a medium sized building with glass doors, and red bricks for the foundation. There were large groups of kids around the outside of it. I guess this is where everyone comes to hang out.
"So, do you have anything you want to do?" Adrian asks me. I think about it. I've never really been to a public library before. Back at the orphanage, there was a library. But it was small, and didn't have very good books.
"Well, I guess I could get a library card," I tell him. He nods, then leads me toward a desk with a girl behind it.
"Hello, can I help you?" she asks me. She has curly red hair with streaks of purple in it. It looks quite odd. I glance down at her name tag. 'Abbey' it says.
"Um, can I get a library card?" I ask her.
"Sure, but it costs five dollars," she says. Well, that sucks. I don't have any money on me. I start to walk away when I hear Adrian say, "'Kay, here you go."
I turn back around and see him hand her a five dollar bill. She takes it and starts rummaging around in her desk. "Alright, I'll need your name, address, and telephone number," she tells me.
"Um, okay. My name is Ashley..uh..Logan. My number is-" I rummage around in my bag for a paper with my new phone number and address on it. "325-897-6257, and my address is 663 Ridge Rd."
She writes it all down, then hands me a shiny black card. "Don't lose it!" she says. I pocket the card and then turn to Adrian.
"Thank you," I tell him. "I'll pay you back, I promise."
"Don't worry about it. It's just five bucks," he says. Then he starts walking towards a bunch of computers. "I have a project to do, so if you really want to pay me back, you can help me."
He sits down in front of a computer. I hesitate, then grab a chair and sit down next to him. "So, what am I looking for?" I ask.
He explains his project to me. He has to research the life of Edgar Allan Poe and his literary works. I volunteer to research his life, while Adrian focuses on his writing. We sit in silence for a few minutes, but then I break it. "So, do you live nearby?" I ask him.
He nods, then says,"Yeah, I live two streets over. On Brooks Avenue."
We're quiet after that. I research Poe's life, and am surprised to find that he was a little bit of an orphan like me. I write down important things about him, and in less than 20 minutes, I'm done. So I decide to research myself.
I didn't know what I would find, but I wanted to read about myself, because I had only known what happened to my parents by people telling me the stories.
I type in my name and click 'Search'. The page loads, and I scroll down the list of findings.
'6-year-old girl witnesses parent's brutal murder. But why was she left alive?' catches my eye. I click on it and immediately wish I hadn't.
The top part of the screen shows a picture of a little girl covered in blood. She's crying, and trying to run away from the man who's holding her. I tear my gaze from the girl to the man. He looks oddly familiar.
He's also covered in blood. But he doesn't look like he's sad, or scared. He looks like he's happy.
I scroll down the page and start reading. It explains what happened, when it happened, and why they think it happened. They think my father was involved in some sort of drug gang. They think something went wrong, and he wanted out of it, but the leader of the gang wouldn't let him. He followed him to his house and murdered him and his wife. But they're still confused as to why they left the girl alive. It shows a list of possible suspects. But at the bottom, there is a blown-up picture of the man they think committed the crime. It's the same man in the picture at the top of the page.
I read the paragraph next to the picture. He went missing after the police questioned him, and hasn't been heard from since.
A chill races through my body, and it's not from the air conditioning. It's because I've seen this man before, and it's been recently. I look at the clock and am surprised to see it's 3:15. Kiara is waiting for me.
"Adrian, I have to go! Thanks for everything, and I hope you finish your project," I tell him. I tear the page of notes from my notebook and throw it at him. Before he can respond, I'm running from the library.

Kiara is outside. When she sees me she waves. "Hey! How was school?" she asks me. I hesitate. Should I tell her? Nahh.
"Great! How was work?" I ask nervously. I never really was that good at lying.
But Kiara doesn't pick up on it. "It was fine. Are you hungry?"
I shake my head. After what I found at the library, I don't know how I could ever be hungry again.
She drives us home. I go to my bedroom to sort my thoughts. How could this have happened? Aren't they supposed to go through all of the background info on the couple before they let them adopt? Apparently not. Maybe Headmistress just wanted to get rid of me.
All of a sudden I hear the front door slam. I freeze. He's home. What should I do? Should I act normal? Or should I call 911?
I decide not to call 911. I mean, what would I say? Yeah, um, I'm living with someone who decided to murder my real parents and leave me just so he could kill me later. Can you help me?
There is a knock on my door. "Ashley, can I come in?" he asks.
"Um...sure." I stammer. Oh, God. What am I going to do??
He opens the door and walks in. "I just wanted to know how your first day of school went," he says.
"Um. Fine. People were mean. But I would expect that." I tell him. He sighs.
"Well, I hope it gets better. I'm going to go help Kiara fix dinner, but yell for me if you want to talk about it. Okay?" he asks. I nod my head quickly. Then he walks out of the room.
I let out a breath I didn't know I'd been holding. Well at least he didn't try to kill me. But I need to get out of here. Somehow I have to prove he murdered my family. But how?

The next morning, Kiara drives me to school again. She drops me off and wishes me luck. I'm going to need it.
I go through the morning classes in a daze. I'm thinking of how I'm going to break it to Kiara. I mean, she needs to know who she married, right?
I'm walking to lunch when I run smack into someone. "Whoa! Watch were you're going," Adrian says. Great. This is the second time I’ve run into him.
"Sorry, I've got a lot on my mind," I tell him.
"Care to elaborate?" he asks me. I hesitate. Should I tell him? I mean, he might be able to help me. So, why not?
"Well, this is going to sound insane. But, I think I found who murdered my parents," I say. He gets a confused look on his face.
"You mean, you've seen him?" he asks. I nod. "Tell me about it," So I do. I start from the beginning and tell him what happened at the orphanage, and end at what I found at the library the day before.
"Wow," he says. "Are you sure Jonathon is the right guy?"
"Yes! It looks exactly like him!" I tell him. "But I don't know how to tell Kiara about it."
"Well, first you need proof," He tells me.
"What about the picture on the website? That's good enough proof, right?" I ask.
"Yeah. I think that will do. I'll meet you at the library after school and we can print off the picture, okay?" I nod, and start walking off to lunch. "Ashley, you don't think he'd hurt you, do you? I mean, I don't want you to be terrified of going home."
"I don't know. I just....I don't know," I say. And it's true. He seemed like a nice guy. I didn't expect him to be my parent's murderer.
"Well, if it feels like he's going to hurt you or something, call the police. Okay?" He asks. I nod and hurry off to lunch.

Adrian met me at the library like he promised. We sat down in front of a computer, and searched my name like I did yesterday. I found the page, and clicked on it. Up popped the picture.
"Why don't we just print the entire page?" Adrian says. So we do.
After we print it, Adrian suggests that I look around the library for any books I might like. "Keep yourself occupied," He says.
So I search around the library for a book. I'm really into mystery and suspense books, but reading one would probably make me even more antsy. So I choose a Romance book.
"Nice choice," Adrian comments. I blush. Great, so now he knows I'm going to read a cheesy romance book.
"It's the only book I could find," I say. He laughs.
So for the next forty minutes, I sit on a bench and read my book. Although I'm not actually reading. I'm sneaking glances at Adrian.
I've never actually liked a guy before. I mean, I've had random crushes on some of the guys in the orphanages, but they were adopted before I could even know their names.
Adrian catches me staring at him and smiles. I look away. Gosh, I am so embarrassed.
"Hey, I think that's Kiara. Do you want me to come with you?" He asks. I tell him yes, and he follows me to her car.
"Ashley, who's this?" Kiara asks me. I introduce Adrian to her.
"Kiara, I need to tell you something." I say. She hears the nervousness in my voice.
"What is it honey?" She asks. I take the paper from my bag and hand it to her.
"I think Jonathon killed my parents. I even have a picture for proof," I say. It's better to rip the band-aid off as fast as you can, or so I've heard. But what she says next, I am NOT prepared for.
"That's not Jonathon, honey. That's his twin brother. And we know he killed your parents."

I must have fainted because the next thing I know is that I'm face-up on my bed with a cold rag on my forehead. Oh, and my butt is sooo sore.
"Ash, are you okay?" Adrian asks. I try to sit up, but fail.
"What happened?" I ask him.
"Well, you fainted after that 'piece of news'. Then I picked you up and put you in the car. Kiara asked me if I'd be there when you woke up, just so you wouldn't be frightened."
"Oh. Makes sense. Is Jonathon home yet?"
"Uhhh. Yeah. They want to talk to you."
"Will you stay with me?" I ask him. He nudges my chin up so that I'm staring into his eyes.
"Of course I will. I'll stay until I'm positive you'll be okay," he says. I smile and give him a slight nod. I can't think while he's staring at me like that.
All of a sudden, there's a knock at my door. "Ashley, are you awake? Me and Jon need to talk to you," Kiara says. Adrian tells her I'll be right out. Then he lifts me into his arms and starts walking downstairs.
"Adrian, you don't have to carry me. I can walk," I tell him.
"You can barely sit up, Ash. You're still in shock. Don't worry. You're not that heavy," He tells me.
I look up at him questionly. "I don't get it. Why are you so nice to me? I've known you for 2 days," I say.
"Well, I guess you just interest me. You're not like other girls. You have spunk. " At that I snort.
He takes me to the living room and sets me on the couch. Then he sits on the floor in front of me. Kiara and Jonathon are sitting in the love seat.
"Alright. So I guess we should just start at the beginning," Jonathon starts. "I have a twin brother and his name is James. He lived right next to your family when you were growing up. He thought of your father like a second father to him. The same goes for your mother. When he found out that your father was involved in drugs, it just crushed him."
Kiara breaks in and says, "Because his own father died of a drug overdose,"
"Right," Jon continues. "So it crushed him. He had always been a little mentally disabled, so he didn't think many things through. He called me the night he murdered them and told me everything. He said he had to 'rid the earth of unworthy parents.' I was shocked. I didn't think he could have done that. So I just didn't believe what he said was true. But it was. And when I found that out, Kiara and I started searching the orphanages for the girl who was left alive."
"It took forever, but we finally found you," Kiara says softly. I look up at her.
"Is he still out there? I mean, is he going to come kill me anytime soon?" I ask.
"No, he wouldn't do that. He's living in guilt of what he's done already." Jon says. "I'm sorry,"
"Yeah, well. So am I. I'm sorry that you felt guilty for your brother's actions and just had to adopt me." I tell him.
"No, that's not-" I cut him off. "Save it. I'm not in the mood for this," So I jump off the couch, a little unstable, and run up the stairs to my room.

I sat on my bed and tried as hard as I could not to cry. "Ash, can I come in?" Adrian says through the closed door.
He comes in and sits on my bed. "Kiara and Jon really want to talk to you about what happened," He tells me.
"Well, I don't want to talk to them. They've known all along who killed my parents, but they couldn't even turn him in. And they only adopted me because they felt guilty," I say.
He shakes his head. "No, that's not it. I can tell that they actually wanted you. You may think that they just adopted you because of guilt, but I know they didn't. They care about you," He says.
"How do you know?"
"Because what Adrian is saying is true," Kiara says as she steps into the room. "I know what Jon's brother did, and we feel horrible about it, but we also care about you very much. I've always wanted a daughter, and you're perfect."
"And, yes, we've known all along who did it, but we couldn't turn him in. He's my brother and I love him, even if he did do something horrible." Jon says as he steps in behind Kiara.
"I don't know. I just....Don’t know." I tell them.
"That's okay, honey. I know it's confusing." Kiara tells me.
"I think I'm going to go for a walk.” I say.
"Can I come with you?" Adrian asks me. I nod and he follows me out the door.
We walk in the meadow behind the house. We're both silent, and I'm thinking of what to do. Surely, Kiara and Jon won't hurt me. But they knew who did. And that's just weird.
"So," Adrian starts. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"I don't know. Listen, Adrian. You don't have to stay here. I'll be fine."
"I know, but I want to. And just so you know, I'll be here to help you figure everything out." He tells me. I look over at him.
"Thanks, Adrian. I'm going to need all the help I can get."
Without another word, he takes my hand and I lean into him. It feels nice.
I've never felt this way before. It's foreign to me, and it frightens me. But at the same time, I feel a piece of me that I've never known, but always knew I was missing, come back. And I knew, with all my heart that I was going to be okay.
It might be different and awkward sometimes. Knowing that my adoptive parents knew my real parent's murderer. And it might be hard, adjusting to a life outside of an orphanage.

But with Adrian's help, I was going to be okay. I was finally letting go of the past, and embracing the future.

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