Messed up family isn’t even the start of it. Ashleigh Thomas was never right in the head. I found that out a long time ago. My life just proved that. She decided to take two of her own kids’ DNA, mix it up in a lab and put it in herself because she knew something was meant to bond them together. Was making me that way really so necessary?! That way was obviously necessary, according to Ashleigh. My father was turning eleven the day after I was born. My mother was already thirteen years old! Ashleigh even tried to pass on responsibility on them, but of course, my mother had to fight like the TSB spy she was, so the responsibility of bringing me up was dropped on my father’s shoulders. He was eleven for crying out loud! What was Ashleigh thinking?! She obviously wasn’t if she thought she did the right thing.
All I seem to be able to do is drag disaster and pain and heart break after me. It hurts like mad! I don’t want to be this! I didn’t ask to be made this way! It’s sick! My mind just keeps thinking over how I despised the way I was made, but then that meant I despised being alive. I wanted to exist, sure, but I didn’t want to be some creature Ashleigh had created.
Now all I can see in me are my parents. I have his anger, his gentleness, his weird sense of humour, his hair, his quick thinking, his mind-set, his calm mind in freaky situations (as if I’m not already freaky enough) and his natural ability to care for kids younger than himself. I have her eyes, her hair, her medicinal know-how, her calm nature, her Autistic gene, her smile and her gentleness towards those we care about.
Things started to go downhill when I just turned four years old. I guess I can count it as a blessing I had my father beside me all the time.
5th June 2000
I was just celebrating my fourth birthday. John Thomas was sat on the sofa in the living room, reading a newspaper. His dark brunette hair was brushed to one side, making his electric blue eyes sharp when he decided to stare at you. Harriet, my eldest sibling and only sister (but I didn’t know otherwise until I was much older), was in the kitchen, preparing the cake for my birthday. Her dark brunette hair was tied in a loose ponytail behind her head. Her dark green eyes scanned the kitchen as she tried to keep track of everything as Jacob was being the bimbo of the family, again. Jacob was trying to get on John’s nerves, as usual. Jacob’s dark brunette hair curled a little bit around his head. His chocolate brown eyes looked at me funny and then he winked at me. I really wished I could understand my deranged Jakey.
Matt was stood by the door, looking edgy as he held our four year old brother, Callum’s, hand. Matt had dark brunette brown hair sticking up all over the place. His blue eyes flitted around like he was in a dangerous situation. Callum was like a smaller version of Jacob; dark brunette hair and chocolate brown eyes.
All of them wore the same shirt, except Harriet’s was a hot pink colour whilst the guys’ was a radioactive red colour. Something was going on and I wanted the answer. I glimpsed the logo on Jacob’s shirt and my heart almost stopped when I saw it. On his left of the shirt was a triangle shape with the letters TSB printed in the middle of it. The triangle on the inside was cut into sections, with each section a different colour.
I was sure my hands started to feel numb seeing it, like I knew my fate rested in that logo. This couldn’t be happening to me. Ashleigh quickly came down the stairs and I saw that look in her eye for the first time; agitation. Her brunette hair was just like Harriet’s, except it was in a messy ponytail, as if the hairs that waved around so much would break the hair band in seconds. I dashed to the window as Matt and Callum were guided out the front door by Ashleigh. What was going on? Where was Ashleigh taking Matt and Callum? Matt was sixteen and Callum was six. Why would Ashleigh be taking only Matt and Callum with her? Why didn’t she take me? I looked out the window and saw a vehicle pull up. Two boys, who looked a bit like Matt and Callum, got out the vehicle. I knew what was about to happen and I wanted to scream for it to stop. I couldn’t do anything! What could a four year old kid do against men much bigger than me? I was helpless, just as Matt and Callum were. Ashleigh led Callum and Matt to the vehicle across the tarmac to the vehicle. Three men got out the big vehicle and two of them took Matt into the vehicle. One picked up Callum, kicking and screaming. Ashleigh got the two replacing Matt and Callum in the house and didn’t look back. They all saw me looking at the three of them. I knew I wouldn’t see Matt or Callum again. I couldn’t live with that.
‘NO, MATTIE, CALLY!’ I cried, wishing Ashleigh would reconsider her decision.
Ashleigh knew I’d seen what she’d done. The two boys stared at each other with worry. Ashleigh had obviously not warned them I had this weird Extra Detail vision from my Autism (not to mention the visions I got from my mother). She crouched in front of me, glaring right into my eyes. Her glare scared me, but she held onto my right wrist as tight as she dared before I made a noise to warn any of them I was being hurt by her.
‘You won’t say a word about this or I’ll take everything of your siblings away from you.’ Ashleigh snapped.
My wrist was released, so I ran to John, the guy who brought me up since I came home. John loved telling me that story as I went to bed. He dropped the paper as I reached him, tears trickling down my cheeks from the pain in my wrist and from my heart losing Matt and Callum, and picked me up to comfort my tears.
‘Hey, what’s up?’ John asked.
I could hear his voice sounded different from the kids in nursery. (Of course, I only found out later that the family had moved from America to England when John was five years old. He still had his American accent, just like all of them did, except for Mark who had his Scottish accent I loved when he told me little stories before John took me up to bed.) I hid my face in John’s chest, crying like there was no tomorrow.
‘Amy?’ John asked.
I held onto John tighter, knowing that only he could give me comfort. He was the one thing in my life that seemed solid and wasn’t going anywhere. John picked me up as he stood and took me to our room, as our parents let me stay with John as I slept at night. He sat on his bed and looked into my eyes. My dark green eyes were starting to go puffy from crying so much.
‘Amelia, please talk to me.’ John stroked my dark brunette hair out of my face.
‘Mummy did bad thing!’
John wiped the tears off my cheeks, as if he was my Dad. I looked up at John’s face and he seemed to understand what was going on. Our mother had done something and I’d seen it.
‘If Mom does anything again, come and tell me, ok?’ John kissed my head.
I nodded. I knew John cared about me more than the rest of the family seemed to. He got me to have a nap. I understood I needed it as I felt rather tired both from running around the house and from the time of day. I slept in my bed and John pulled the covers up over my body. I looked up at him, smiling he was still here for me.
‘I’ll wake you a bit later when we’ve got your presents ready and the cake too. Now close your eyes. You can’t sleep with them open.’ John smiled at me.
‘Some can!’ I grinned.
‘Being smart are we?’ John tickled my stomach a little bit.
‘Ok! I love you, Johny!’ I giggled, giving in from him tickling me.
‘I love you too, Kiddo.’ John kissed my head as I fell asleep.
Before he left his room, he turned on my nightlight as he turned the main lights off. He shut the door silently and dashed downstairs, my consciousness leaving me lying there in my bed.
I woke a little bit later, needing to go toilet. It was so awkward I needed help to do it. So, this time I wanted to show myself I could do it alone. I scrambled out of my bed in John’s room, since he watched over me all the time, and I found the bathroom. I put the door to and sat on the potty.
‘Amy?’ John was in the corridor.
‘I’m in here!’ I tried to get his attention.
I heard feet come closer and then John found me. He sighed of relief now he found me. He seemed to have wrinkles on his face from where he was…having a go at someone. I tried to put that in the back of my mind for a minute.
‘I needed to go potty.’
John tried not to laugh. I grabbed some toilet roll and cleaned my own bottom. I then pulled up the nappy and joggers. I picked up the potty and poured the contents into the toilet. I then flushed the toilet. I placed the potty down and wobbled towards the sink. John caught me and then helped me to step onto the step so I could wash my hands. He helped me wash my hands.
‘Well done, Kiddo.’ John smiled.
I giggled at the praise. I dried my hands on the towel and then I hugged him around the legs, as that was only how high I could reach.
‘Come on, let’s go and see the others.’ John held his right hand out.
‘Who did you have a go at?’
‘I didn’t have a go at anyone.’ John crouched in front of me.
‘You look like you got mad. You’ve got wrinkly.’ I poked his forehead, where creases still sat in his skin.
‘It’s noting you need to worry about, ok?’
I gave in with that, for the moment, and was able to walk just about with John’s help until we got to the stairs. He picked me up and carried me downstairs. Everyone was ready to have a bit of a party. I was getting excited now. I got to celebrate my birthday now. Mark was sat next to Harriet. Mark had dark brunette hair in slight spikes on top of his head and his chocolate brown eyes smiled at me and John. He was in the same shirt John was, the logo on it almost making me shiver. Harriet smiled at me happily, noticing how similar we looked already. I tried to relax enough as John sat with me on his lap.
‘Do you want to open some presents, Amy?’ Mark asked.
I was sat on the sofa opposite Harriet, Mark and Ashleigh. Jacob and, the two who were supposedly our brothers Matt and Callum, sat in between us all on the spare sofa on the edge of the room. Jacob was bothering Harriet already. She tried to swat away the hand he tried to poke her with, but almost got herself in the process.
‘Jacob, cut it out.’ Ashleigh glared at him.
‘I’m not doing anything, so it’s fine.’ Jacob had that mischievous grin on his face.
Mark got up and gave me the first present. It was from John. I found a ribbon tied in a bow had been wrapped up around the box. I opened the box and found a teddy bear in it with a photo of the two of us in a heart shape frame that was held by the teddy bear. I looked to John and hugged him tightly. I adored it. This wasn’t gonna leave my bed, that I knew for sure.
‘I’m glad you like it, Kiddo.’ John laughed.
I opened the other presents from the family. I got a photo of all of my siblings from Mark, Ashleigh, Matt, Jacob and Callum. I got some clothes and colouring books from the wider family. Harriet smiled as she pulled an opaque lid off something. Underneath was the most beautiful cake. It was a chocolate cake with cream in the middle. The icing covered the top with two candles on the top and a message on the top of the cake. It read:
Happy Birthday Amelia
I smiled and giggled on John’s lap. Harriet lit the four candles and John set me on my feet so I could blow out the candles. I blew and the candles went out, making my wish. They all clapped like that was the biggest thing I’d done.
‘Harriet, I think you’ll be doing this again tomorrow. It’s John’s 15th birthday.’ Mark nudged his daughter in the ribs.
I looked up at John, shocked he didn’t tell me. He obviously saw my worry before the others had.
‘Don’t worry about it, Kiddo. I got you as a birthday present.’ John laughed before he kissed my right cheek.
I seemed to remember John had been there to hold me when I came home for the first time. He’d brought me up until now. I was even sure he would until he died, as if he was my Dad. I could even see Harriet doing the same, as if she was my Mum.
Things got worse after that birthday. My seventh was where it all went downhill, almost killing what I loved completely.
5th June 2003
I was celebrating my seventh birthday. My presents had been put together and I’d opened them all but one. I had picked up the last one to open, which was a bright red box that was now on my lap. The label said it was from John. My heart fluttered knowing it was from John. He seemed to get the best presents when it came to my birthday or Christmas. I opened it and found the box held a locket. The locket was pure gold heart with my full name inscribed into it. I opened it and found a picture of me and John together, smiling. John stood from the other side of the room, as he was sat next to Jacob, and walked to me so he tied it behind my neck. It suited me and I giggled from how happy this present made me.
‘I love you, Johny!’ I laughed as I was picked up and sat on John’s lap.
‘John, why don’t you take Callum and Amy to the park in Shirley? I think someone would like that.’ Ashleigh smiled at me on John’s lap.
‘Can we, can we please?’ I grinned, hoping he’d say yes.
‘Go get your coats.’ John laughed, putting me down.
I’d convinced him enough, obviously. He always did things like that just to make me happy. The kid that was supposedly Callum and I raced to the coat pegs. I pulled my coat on, with a little bit of help from him. He got his coat on and started making car noises. I looked at Harriet and something felt weird to me.
‘Harriet?’ I asked.
Harriet came over and crouched in front of me. My dark brunette hair flowed to my shoulders and my dark green eyes fix on my sister’s dark green eyes, the two supposed sisters looking identical. She could see I was worried about something.
‘What do I do about the future? I see it like you do.’
‘Find a way to keep it on track.’
Harriet kissed my head and walked away, leaving me in even more confusion. Perhaps I should explain what I meant. I have visions of the future. Harriet does too, but mine find me more violently than hers do. So, John walked over and led the two of us onto the drive to get us into the Vauxhall Astra that John buckled us into. I started getting nervous. John felt around his pockets and felt he was missing his phone.
‘I’ll be back in a minute. I left my phone on the table.’ John sighed, annoyed at himself for leaving it behind.
John got out the car and walked back to the house to get his phone. I looked at the boy. His jet black hair was in slight layers around his head. His blue-grey eyes fixed on me as I glared at him. He wasn’t escaping me this time. I wanted the truth and he was gonna spill, whether he liked it or not.
‘That’s John. So, who are you?’
‘No. I saw what my mother did when I was two! Who are you?!’
‘I’m…Finley. My Mom’s your Mom.’
‘Ok, I’ll call you…Fin. Now, where are my real brothers?’
‘Sydney, Australia. My father has them.’
‘They’d better not be harmed or I will cause some damage. What’s the boy’s name who’s trying to be Matt?’
‘That’s Owen. He’s my brother. I can help you get through this. Your future’s to be the strongest of the family.’
John came back from the house, smirking now he had his phone. He got into the driving seat and looked back at the two of us. Finley was behind John and I was opposite him, as the car was British.
‘Are we ready to go?’ John raised an eyebrow, obviously sensing the tension.
‘Yeah, let’s go.’ I tried a smile to try and convince him.
John still looked a little bit worried the two of us had fallen out, but he stepped on the gas and sped off. Finley wondered if I would tell John what he’d told me.
‘Amy, what’s up? Don’t make anything up either, ok?’ John asked.
‘Johny, this isn’t Callum. It’s Finley. I was right.’ I smirked.
‘I’m guessing Matt’s not who he says he is either?’ John knew as much as I did.
‘Correct, he’s called Owen Helleyar, my brother. Your siblings are in Sydney, Australia.’ Finley sighed, trying not to freak about something.
‘Johny! Crash up ahead into us! They know the three of us know the truth.’ I was shaking.
‘I sense that too!’ Finley almost jumped in his seat.
The Astra then stopped at the traffic lights after the Tesco. I was becoming edgy as my memories came back to me as I looked out the window on my left. Finley was fidgeting in his seat, trying to fight something I couldn’t see what. John clenched onto the wheel, his hands becoming white. The lights then turned green. John knew here was what Finley and I meant.
‘Kids, I love you both and hold on tight!’ John growled.
‘We love you too!’ Finley and I gripped onto our seats and the bars in the doors.
John drove forward and tried to get through, but the three of us saw a plain white van drive right towards us from the right. I saw another logo, one that sent shivers down my spine, like I recognised it from somewhere. It looked like a trapezium with a star in the middle and an F and an S on either side of it.
There was nothing John could do about the incoming object. The van then crashed into John’s and Finley’s side. The Astra couldn’t take the force of the impact. I screamed as the Vauxhall Astra turned over twice. The Astra landed back on the wheels, bashed around a lot. I could feel blood trickling down my left cheek. I managed to pull the piece of glass out, as all the windows had smashed around us. My body ached all over. I didn’t want to experience that again. Something told me I wouldn’t be able to escape it. I then saw John. He was unconscious and bleeding. I wanted to scream, but Finley placed his left hand on my right knee, trying to comfort my fear.
‘Stay here. I’ll get you out once I’ve gotten John out, ok?’
Finley had a cut on his right cheek from the glass. He got out the Astra as best as he could and yanked John’s door open. Finley then unbuckled John from the car and dragged his bleeding and unconscious body to the curb. He came back and yanked my door open. He undid my seatbelt and helped me down from the Astra. My cut ached from where the glass had pierced the skin. My senses kicked in just as a lorry was driving towards our crash site. The lorry couldn’t stop, so it crashed right into the car and van, creating a metal downpour. Pieces of metal clattered around us. Finley tried to help with John, but he got dizzy and hit his head on the traffic light post, knocking himself out.
‘Finley, don’t leave me like this!’ I let my tears pour for my brothers, shaking Finley.
I was alone this time. This couldn’t rest on my shoulders! I’m seven years old!
‘John? John?! JOHN!’ I shook John, hoping to wake him.
My mind was racing. I even saw a figure on the other side of the road and they seemed to fix on me. I was sure our eyes locked at that moment.
‘We’ll find you again, but you have to wake up!’ The figure pleaded.
‘Who are you?’ I called, as if they would hear me over the racket surrounding this disaster.
‘I’m your last hope. Remember this moment and wake. It will be the only thing you can do.’ The figure sounded like someone I knew.
The figure then disappeared as they ran away from the scene. I wished I could do the same, but I couldn’t leave John and Finley. These two were my family. Family stick together. I knew who the figure was, but what she said didn’t make sense.
It was Harriet.
I wished she’d come back, hold me close and tell me everything will be alright. Somehow, I knew that wasn’t gonna happen. I was alone in this and there was nothing I could do about it. I was just a seven year old holding up a family I shouldn’t have had to hold up at such a young age.
My World started spinning and changing colours from red to violet, making me feel like I was losing the plot completely. I didn’t know what was going on. Yellow dots bounced around in my vision, blurring everything up in front of me. Sirens filled my head and ears, which confused me whether they were real or not. Could I have dreamt all this? No. I knew I had crazy imagination, but this was pushing it, especially with the pain I was experiencing from my cuts and bruises where glass cut my skin and where metal had hit when it had rained down all around us. Then I saw them. I sighed of relief. This was what I needed. This was what my brothers needed, much more than I did, that was for sure.
Ambulances drove from all directions towards the crash site. Just as they arrived, I felt my heart beat like crazy that wanted to escape my rib cage.
‘Don’t abandon them now.’ I growled at myself, trying to stay as conscious as I could.
I felt my consciousness slipping through my fingers and I couldn’t stop it, no matter how much I tried to have a go at myself about it. I could see people running towards me, first aid bags strapped over their shoulders.
‘Are you alright?’ One of the people asked.
‘She looks like one of Mark Thomas’s kids.’ Another of the people sounded confused.
‘Mark…’ I groaned.
My head became heavy as my consciousness wriggled around and slowly escaped my grip. Then all I could remember was my body slumping sideward, although someone’s hands guided me down as I started to fall. My head then rested on John’s left leg. I could feel someone shake me gently but then they gave up. I’d tried to stay with my family, but it was no use. That van with the mysterious logo on it haunted me as unconsciousness grabbed me by the hand and yanked me under with John and Finley.
My life was over for all I knew. I’d failed my mission. Why was it us, from all the people in the World, that had to be hit with a van and almost killed? Why did I call trying to stay conscious a mission? Something was going on with my family more than I’d ever imagined and now I was lost in its messed up World I was too young to understand.
I’d lost my family now. That was all I could think about. John was bleeding a lot. Finley was unconscious and no one else was there. Matt and Callum were in Sydney, Australia trapped by Owen and Finley’s Dad. Harriet was able to become a mystery figure at the side of our crash, telling me to keep fighting. Jacob would be in pieces, losing John like this. Now I thought about it, Jacob seemed to be almost flirting with me. He loved me just like John did, but almost on another level that seemed almost right for me to understand.
I was alone once more. That was all I could think of. I’d been in a car crash, almost killing me, John and Finley, the three who knew the truth. Why did we have to be silenced?
It seemed to be only I could find the truth and I was certain of one thing. I was gonna do just that.