Kalea unknowingly walks into a world that very few know about. She doesn’t miss her old life at all, and the mystery of the guy who got her into this mess makes her want to stay, even without knowing what she’s getting herself into. She has to find a way to convince them that she can be trusted and that they need her, and in doing so has to dig up some memories that she had vowed to keep forgotten.


1. Last Breath of Normality


        The sky seems tight as I walk home this seemingly ordinary autumn evening. The colours of the leaves give in to the cold and fade away, just as sometimes I wish I could too. The plump, ash-coloured tabby cat that sits in the middle of my neighbour’s yard stares silently at me, as always. It looks slightly odd, presenting itself smack in the centre, soaking up what sun it can, when one would expect a cat to be lingering in some corner, or perhaps trying to catch something.

        I continue up the walkway to my house. With white brick walls and ceramic roofing, it blends in well with the others that line the street. Some might even call it quaint. It seems to hide what goes on inside, almost like a façade. But the people in the neighbourhood have their speculations. They talk, I know they do.

        The wooden porch swing that I spent countless hours on as a kid stands as still as the air. I’ve always loved the fact that it wasn’t painted white to match the rest of the house. The smooth brown cedar reminds me of my guitar. My hand lingers for a second before I turn the key.

       As I enter, I am greeted by the stench of alcohol and smoke, and the sight of my mother lying face down on the faded brown couch in the den. Unfazed, I drop my bag to the ground, walk over to her and check for a pulse. Feeling a steady beat, I turn to go upstairs when she stirs.

       “Don’t.. touch,” she croaks, as she swats weakly at where my hand had been seconds ago.

       “I’m not.”

       “Kalea, turn off the lights.”

       The lights aren’t on, only the rays of sunlight pouring in from the window that receives the late afternoon sun brighten up the room. Without arguing, I pull the curtains closed. When I turn around, my mother is sitting, looking at me with forlorn, hungover eyes. Wrinkles and spots cover her tan skin, adding years to her age.

       “Are you hungry?” I ask.

       “Coffee,” she requests.

       I make my way to the kitchen and open the beige plastic container where the sachets of instant coffee are kept, but find it empty.

       “We’re all out, I’ll go get more,” I tell my mother, who stares blankly at me with hollow eyes and nods silently. I’m thankful that she hasn’t yet mustered up enough strength to start throwing sarcastic remarks my way. I walk over to pick up my bag and make my way out again to the convenience store a couple of blocks over.

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