Karen reaches down and hugs me. “Sweetie, don’t worry. You’ll see your friends again someday. But right now we can’t go back, so we’ll make new friends here, okay?”
I nod and she kisses me on top of the head while I look down at the bracelet on my hand. I touch the heart on it with my fingers and hope that Lesslie knows where I am. I hope they know I’m okay, because I don’t want them to worry about me.
“There’s one more thing,” she says. “You’re going to love it.”
Karen leans back in her seat and pulls a piece of paper and a pencil to the spot in front of her. “The best part of being adopted is that you get to pick your very own name. Did you know that?”
I shake my head. I didn’t know people got to pick their own names.
“Before we pick your name, we need to know what names we can’t use. We can’t use the name you had before, and we can’t use nicknames. Do you have any nicknames? Anything your daddy calls you?”
I nod my head, but I don’t say it.
“What does he call you?”
I look down at my hands and clear my throat. “Princess,” I say quietly. “But I don’t like that nickname.”
She looks sad when I say that. “Well then, we will never call you Princess again, okay?”
I nod. I’m happy she doesn’t like that name, either.
“I want you to tell me some things that make you happy. Beautiful things and things you love. Maybe we can pick you a name from those.”
I don’t even need her to write them down, because there’s only one thing I feel that way about. “I love the sky,” I say, thinking about what Dean told me to remember forever.
“Sky,” she says, smiling. “I love that name. I think it’s perfect. Now lets think of one more name, because everyone needs two names. What else do you love?”
I close my eyes and try to think of something else, but I can’t. The sky is the only thing I love that’s beautiful and makes me happy when I think about it. I open my eyes back up and look at her. “What do you love, Karen?”
She smiles and puts her chin in her hand, resting her elbow on the table. “I love lots of things. I love pizza the most. Can we call you Sky Pizza?”
I giggle and shake my head. “That’s a silly name.”
“Okay, let me think,” she says. “What about teddy bears? Can we call you Teddy Bear Sky?”
I laugh and shake my head again.
She pulls her chin out of her hand and leans toward me. “Do you want to know what I really love?”
“Yeah,” I say.
“I love herbs. Herbs are healing plants and I love growing them to find ways to help people feel better. Someday I want to own my own herbal business. Maybe for good luck, we could pick out the name of an herb. There are hundreds of them and some of them are really pretty names.” She stands up and walks to the living room and grabs a book, then brings it back to the table. She opens it up and points to one of the pages. “What about thyme?” she says with a wink.
I laugh and shake my head.
I shake my head again. “I can’t even say that word.”
She crinkles up her nose. “Good point. I guess you need to be able to say your own name.” She looks down at the page again and reads a few more out loud, but I don’t like them. She turns the page one more time and says, “What about Linden? It’s more of a tree than an herb, but its leaves are shaped like a heart. Do you like hearts?”
I nod. “Linden,” I say. “I like that name.”
She smiles and closes the book, then leans down closer to me. “Well then, Linden Sky Davis it is. And just so you know, you now have the most beautiful name in the world. Let’s not think about your old names ever again, okay? Promise me from now on we’ll only think about your beautiful new name and your beautiful new life.”
“I promise,” I say. And I do promise. I don’t want to think about my old names or my old room or all the things that my daddy did to me when I was his princess. I love my new name. I love my new room where I don’t have to worry if the doorknob is going to turn.
I reach up and hug her and she hugs me back. It makes me smile, because it feels just like the way I thought it would feel every time I wished my mommy was alive to hug me.
Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 12:10 a.m.
I reach my hand up to my face and wipe away a tear. I’m not even sure why my tears are falling right now; the memory wasn’t really a sad one. I think it’s the fact that it’s one of the first moments I ever started to love Karen. Thinking about how much I love her makes me hurt because of what she did. It hurts because I feel like I don’t even know her. I feel like there’s a side to her that I never even knew existed.
That’s not what scares me the most, though. What scares me the most is that I’m afraid the only side of her I do know…doesn’t really exist at all.
“Can I ask you something?” Holder says, breaking the silence.
I nod against his chest, wiping the last tear from my cheek. He wraps both of his arms around me in an attempt to keep me warm when he feels me shiver against his chest. He rubs my shoulder with his hand and kisses my head.
“Do you think you’ll be okay, Sky?”
It’s not an uncommon question. It’s a very simple, straightforward question, yet it’s the hardest question I think I’ve ever had to answer.
I shrug. “I don’t know,” I reply honestly. I want to think I’ll be okay, especially knowing Holder will be by my side. But to be honest, I really don’t know if I will be.
“What scares you?”
“Everything,” I reply quickly. “I’m terrified of my past. I’m terrified of the memories that flood my mind every time I close my eyes. I’m terrified of what I saw happen today and how it’ll affect me the nights that you aren’t there to divert my thoughts. I’m terrified that I don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with what may happen to Karen. I’m scared of the thought that I have no idea who she even is anymore.” I lift my head off of his chest and look him in the eyes. “But do you know what scares me the most?”
He runs his hand over my hair and keeps his eyes on mine; wanting me to know that he’s listening. “What?” he asks, his voice full of genuine concern.
“I’m scared of how disconnected I feel to Hope. I know we’re the same person, but I feel like what happened to her didn’t really happen to me. I feel like I abandoned her. Like I left her there, crying against that house, terrified for all of eternity, while I just got into that car and rode away. Now I’m two completely separate people. I’m this little girl, eternally scared to death…but I’m also the girl who abandoned her. I feel so guilty for putting up this wall between both lives and I’m scared neither of those lives or those girls will ever feel whole again.”
I bury my head in his chest, knowing I’m more than likely not making any sense. He kisses the top of my head and I look back up at the sky, wondering if I’ll ever be able to feel normal again. It was so much easier not knowing the truth.
“After my parents divorced,” he says. “My mother was worried about us, so she put me and Les in therapy. It only lasted for about six months…but I remember always being so hard on myself, thinking I was the reason for their divorce. I felt like what I failed to do the day you were taken put a lot of stress on them. I know now that most of what I blamed myself for back then was out of my control. But there was something my therapist did once that sort of helped me. It felt really awkward at the time, but every now and then I catch myself still doing it in certain situations. He had me visualize myself in the past, and he would have me talk to the younger version of myself and say everything I needed to say.” He pulls my face up so that I’m looking at him. “I think you should try that. I know it sounds lame, but really. It might help you. I think you need to go back and tell Hope everything you wish you could have told her the day you left her.”
I rest my chin on his chest. “What do you mean? Like I should visualize myself talking to her?”
“Exactly,” he says. “Just try it. Close your eyes.”
I close them. I’m not sure what it is I’m doing, but I do it anyway.
“Are they closed?”
“Yes,” I say, softly. I lay my hand over his heart and press the side of my head into his chest. “I’m not sure what to do, though.”
“Just envision yourself as you are now. Envision yourself driving up to your father’s house and parking across the street. But visualize the house how it was back then,” he says. “Picture it how it was when you were Hope. Can you remember the house being white?”
I squeeze my eyes shut even harder, vaguely recalling the white house from somewhere deep within my mind. “Yes.”
“Good. Now envision everything about that day how you remember it in your mind and go find her. Talk to her. Tell her how strong she is. Tell her how beautiful and strong she is. Tell her everything she needs to hear from you, Sky. Everything you wish you could have told yourself that day.”
I clear my mind and go with his suggestion. I envision myself as I am now and what would be happening if I actually drove up to that house. I would more than likely be wearing my sundress with my hair pulled back into a ponytail since it’s so hot. It’s almost as if I can feel the sun beating down through the windshield, warming my skin again.
I make myself step out of my car. I walk across the street and reluctantly head toward the house. My heart immediately speeds up because I’m nervous. I’m not sure that I want to see her, but I do what Holder suggests and I keep walking forward so that I can talk to her. As soon as the side of the house is in view, she’s there. Hope is sitting in the grass with her arms folded over her knees. She’s crying into them and it completely shatters my heart.
I slowly walk up to her and pause, then tentatively lower myself to the ground, unable to take my eyes off of this fragile little girl. When I’m situated on the grass directly in front of her, she lifts her head from her folded arms and looks up at me. When she does, my soul crumbles because the look in her dark brown eyes is lifeless. There’s no happiness there at all. I try to smile at her though, because I don’t want her to see how much her pain is hurting me.
I slowly stretch my hand out to her, but stop a few inches before I reach her. Her sad brown eyes drop to my fingers and she stares at them. My hands are shaking now and she can see that. Maybe the fact that she can see that I’m also scared helps me gain her trust, because she lifts her head even higher, then unfolds her arms and places her tiny hand in mine.
I’m looking down at the hand of my childhood, holding onto the hand of my present, but all I want to do is hold more than just her hand. I want to grab all of her pain and fear, too, and take it from her.
Remembering the things Holder said I should tell her, I look down at her and clear my throat, squeezing her hand tightly in mine.