My life had never really been ‘normal’.
My earliest memory is waking up to my sister’s screams as she looked into my crib. I couldn’t remember anything else about that and when I asked, no one in the family would talk about it or tell me why she screamed.
That wasn’t anything abnormal about me. I mean, my family not talking about things. No. That wasn’t really right. They talked a lot. Just not about stuff I wanted to know. Like my sister screaming at me.
Or when I had been three. I remembered waking up on the beach with one of my uncles looking terrified as he picked me up and people around us looking scared. We went home from the beach early that day and… well, I wasn’t sure what else happened. But nobody told me what happened.
My memories went that way, for my youngest years. Looks of worry. Looks of fear. Screaming. And as I got older and asked about these memories, no answer. My dad would just pat my head and promise me that it didn’t really matter.
When I started getting older I began having a lot of nightmares. Like really bad nightmares. I’d wake up sobbing and crying, begging for someone to come get me. One of the first ones I remembered was from right before my fifth birthday. Well… I didn’t really remember the nightmare a whole lot. Mostly I remembered waking up crying out for someone to come and comfort me.
I do remember my dad coming in and sitting on my bed, pulling me into his arms. “It’s okay, Apollo. You’re okay. It was just a bad dream.”
Then he took me into his room and let me sleep in his bed which became a habit whenever I had my nightmares.
The first nightmare I remembered was when I was like six or seven. There were a lot of people screaming and falling and then lots of fire and then lots of water. Later on thinking ’bout it I knew it was a plane crash but for a few years it was just a weird nightmare that stuck out in my head…
Another one had so much fire, fire everywhere, and so much pain. I thought you couldn’t dream pain but I felt pain in my nightmares. That was the first one I remembered really having a lot of pain. I woke up screaming and running into the bathroom, into the shower. I sat in my pajamas as the shower water poured on my head and sprayed out of the tub since I didn’t close the slide-y door.
My second sister came in that time. “What’s wrong, Jamie?” Only my sisters called me that. They had tried calling me Polly but I threw a fit about that. Wanting something to end in the ‘ee’ sound like their nicknames they turned to my middle name, James, instead. My grandpa called me ‘poliwag’ though but he gave all his grandkids Pokemon nicknames so it didn’t bug me.
“There was fire,” I had told her.
Arty turned off the shower and once the water drained out took me out of the tub, taking my wet clothes off and drying me off while I stood there shivering. “There’s no fire. It was just a nightmare…”
How many times had I heard that said? Just a nightmare. I just stared at Arty and she hugged me tightly before pulling me back to my room to get dry pajamas on. Then I went into the room she and Reeny shared and slept on the floor between their beds, with Reeny’s hand dangling down to touch my head like she always did to comfort me when I slept there.
It was around that time that I left school. I didn’t know why I was. I know sometimes I woke up and found people staring at me in class, like I had been snoring loudly. The teachers would look super scared and there’d always be a phone call to my dad or grandpa about my behavior. First grade had gone that way and in second grade when it happened about twice a month… well, after winter break I wasn’t put back in school.
“I think it’s just better if you’re homeschooled,” Dad told me as he signed me up for online classes. I just watched in silence. I couldn’t really say I’d miss my friends cause I didn’t have any friends in school. I did at the start of first grade but then after my sleeping in class problems the other kids wouldn’t talk to me. They called me a crazy freak and pushed me around and laughed at me.
So I took online classes and spent my days with crazy Grandpa which was I guess the best place for crazy me. But while I didn’t know why kids called me crazy, I knew why Grandpa was crazy. Cause he talked to his dead husband.
Grandpa had alllwaaays talked to Granddad’s spirit. Everyone else just kinda accepted it. Aunt Glados told me they had some glasses that could help see the ghosts but it was lost during the move from, um, Midnight Hollow to our new home in Storybrook County. My oldest sister Reeny and my Uncle Max both said they could see the ghost too. Dad, Arty, and I couldn’t. Dad said it was cause Reeny was part elf and Uncle Max was part cat. Grandpa could see ghosts cause he had been one before.
See what I mean by not normal? None of us were really ‘normal’.
“Your Granddad says…” was a common saying. For someone dead, Granddad had a lot to say. Especially in regards to my oldest sister’s choice in clothing and vehicles. While Reeny could see his ghost she couldn’t really hear him so it would be a usual thing to hear, “Your Granddad doesn’t think you should be wearing that skirt…”
“No dress code at my school, Granddad.”
“Your Granddad thinks a motorcycle is unsafe.”
“I’ll be fine, Granddad.”
Not that the rest of us weren’t targets.
“Arty, your granddad said you tried to sneak out last night. I won’t tell your dad but you shouldn’t be going out at night like that.”
“Apollo, your granddad says that you tried to hide ice cream under your bed. You should clean it up before your dad finds out.”
Luckily though that while this did happen, it wasn’t something that happened a lot. Usually our granddad gave us hugs through Grandpa or helped us with homework.
I guess I should explain my family more.
There’s my oldest sister, Eirene. Eight years older’n me. Almost eighteen. She’s really my ‘half-sister’ since she has a different daddy than me. Had. Both her dads had died. The one that was different and the one that was the same. She was part elf and really nice, though sometimes she acted up. I think it was cause she missed our dad. Out of all three of us, she’s the only one who remembered him.
Then there was Artemis. Two years older’n me and my full sister, but we have less in common than me and Reeny. Mostly Arty preferred to be inside all the time while I liked to be outside. But she was super cool and closer to me in age than Reeny so we probably hung out more often. Usually playing board or video games and sometimes making super cool forts using all the blankets.
There’s Grandpa and his dead husband. They slept on the main floor since Grandpa was really clumsy and fell a lot. One time I saw him fall and he never hit the floor just like, get caught by someone not there… so maybe the whole dead husband thing wasn’t as crazy as it sounded. I liked spending time with him though cause he was super good with video games and also ordered pizza whenever he was in charge of dinner. Don’t ask me about Granddad cause yeah.
Finally, in the house at least, was my dad. He was my birth dad and Arty’s birth dad but Reeny’s adopted dad, cause he married our other dad after Reeny’s dad died. He was super smart when it came to computers and putting things together. One time he put together a remote control tank and remote control helicopter to make a flying tank, just for me. When I was super young he looked sad a lot but now he smiled a lot more. I adored him and wanted to be as smart as him when I got older.
My dad that died, I never met him. He died when I was just barely a speck in my aunt’s tummy, least that’s what I was told. Neither of my dads got pregnant instead they put Arty and they put me in my Aunt Glados’s belly to grow instead which is good cause if my other dad had me in his belly I woulda died when he did. I didn’t know much about him except that he was a big hero.
Then there’s me. Nine years old and still confused at some of the things in my life. Why people looked scared at me sometimes. Called a freak by other kids and had teachers practically shake at the sight of me. Why I was taken out of school.
Obviously I wasn’t normal but with a raising like I had I didn’t really know what ‘normal’ even was and really, I didn’t care.