Excerpts

 

 

Ami

Though I befriended a few of the girls during the pageant, some of the others were just downright malicious and tormented me. Daddy was furious, but I begged him not to do anything to make the situation worse. I made it to the final three, and it was my turn to answer the final question. The question presented to me was, “If we were in the future and looked back to 10 years ago, what contribution would you have made to change the world?” Without hesitation, I answered,

“I would counteract the homelessness of children. The general population's concern relies heavily on homeless men and women, but children seem to be overlooked. It is a world-wide issue. The government should take empty malls and large abandoned buildings and repurpose them as a safe haven for homeless children and their parents. A stable residence and community creates a desirable environment for learning. The families could reside in the building as long as they made active attempts to gain higher education or obtain a job and then give back to the community in which they live.” 

At 14 years old, I’d had that model in my head for years, but for the first time, I was speaking it aloud. The judges were rather quiet, as in deep thought after my response. The other two contestants gave some cliché answers to their questions, but mine was the most thought out yet spontaneous. When they announced the second runner-up, I was quite nervous. My mind raced with, “Do I really want to win?”  “Do I want to see this through to the end?” “What’s my endgame here?”  I could see Daddy’s position in the audience and his look of pride in my answer.


 

 

Claire

The one personality trait I encompass is not conforming to the norm. Though I was well-known in school, I was not in the popular crowd. I found solace in being a part of the nerd culture. I didn't partake in smoking, drinking, and other vices like everyone else. They called me “square” and “prude,” but I just exhibited pure common sense. I lost too many classmates due to stupidity or senseless crimes. 

I had plans for my life that involved purpose and greatness. I wanted to work for the government to implement change to a better world and share my love of books. I wanted a job at the Library of Congress! 

My first job was as a check-out girl at the local supermarket when I turned 17. I enjoyed helping others, working with money and feeling a sense of self-worth. People needed me as a person and not as a trophy child. It was freedom from the house of horrors. My mom was mortified! What were her socialite friends going to think? I didn’t want to be sitting around smoking and drinking and cackling with other women miserable with their lives.

I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to see the world, share unique social experiences, explore new opportunities, and give back to my community. My father wouldn't stand for it. He stated, “No daughter of mine will disobey God's will and live among sinners,” so he kicked me out of the house. I anticipated his ignorance, so I had already made plans to room with a few girls from school. 



Angela

The death of my mom was the one that broke me. She complained of headaches and 14 months was gone from a brain tumor.  Seeing her go from this graceful goddess to a frail, incohesive woman was devastating. I was working when she started going downhill and my dad called me to come to the nursing facility.  I wrapped things up, grabbed my 6-year-old daughter, and hit the road.  She passed away shortly before I’d gotten there.  I didn’t even get to say “goodbye” and that haunted me for years.

Granted I was 25, and in addition to my own grief, I had to deal with my daughter who couldn't understand why her nanny wasn't around anymore. Several months later, I would be pregnant with my second child who would grow up never knowing her. The year to the day of her passing, I visited her gravesite which was toward the back of the cemetery. Her tombstone was near a huge oak tree surrounded by purple and white hydrangeas.  I was knelt on the soft grass bawling my eyes out because I needed her to deal with the trials of my life. Suddenly, I felt someone gently squeeze my shoulder, but when I turned around, no one was there.  

Gabby, who was standing in front of me proclaims, "Mommy, Nanny doesn't want you to be sad. She says everything's going to be alright."  

Disturbed, I looked up at her with a puzzled expression, and said, “Um, Sweetie, how do you know that?”  

“Mommy, she told me.” she said matter-of-factly.

She told you?” 

She points toward me and says, “Yeah, she’s standing right behind you.” 

I turned around knowing no one was there. Accepting what my daughter said on faith, I felt a wave of calm descend on me.  All of the fear, uncertainty, doubt, and strife I’d been going through suddenly disappeared.  There’s no way you can convince me otherwise that the supernatural realm doesn’t exist!