She is everyone, and no one. She doesn't even have a name, because every day she is in a new life. She doesn't know who she is...or was. All she knows is the pain of these other girls, these living girls, the suffering girls.

She wants to know who she really is...but what will it take to find out?

WARNING: This Movella contains rape, bullying, suicide, abuse, self-harm, and other sensitive elements.


8. Julissa

A warm, comfortable, and empty bed has never felt so nice. I wake with a gentle sunbeam glazing my vision and birdsong caressing my ears. I can smell a delicious breakfast cooking downstairs. I sit up and stretch, analyzing today's host.

Julissa Peirn is tall and fit, with smooth caramel skin and short black hair. Her life is good right now, except for one thing: she is an orphan and a foster child, forever living with a family that is not her own. She’s been tossed through the system since she was 11, and has been in 5 different homes already. The families that she’s stayed with just never seemed to work out.

She’s only two years away from independence, but she can’t decide if she’s really happy about that or not.


I head downstairs with my nose high in the air as wasps of the delicious morning smell wrap themselves around me and yank me into the kitchen.

Molly turns, smiling at me. “There’s our little mouse. Hungry, Jules?”

Molly and Dan are an older couple who joined the foster system 15 years ago, after finding out that they wouldn’t be able to conceive a child of their own. They’ve had 10 kids total, of all different ages, but Julissa is the only one in their care right now. I can feel a dull ache in Julissa’s chest; she always misses her parents, even 7 years later when the grief has faded into a dull table knife.

And below the ache...my stomach growls greedily. Molly and I laugh. “I guess that’s a yes! Here you go, hon.” Molly hands me a freshly prepared plate stacked with french toast and turkey bacon. My mouth waters, and I waste no time grabbing a glass of milk, sitting down, and digging in.

Molly and Dan have been Julissa’s favorite home so far, and I can sense a secret wish deep inside her - that the couple would adopt her, and give her a permanent place to call home even after she comes of age.

Molly sits in a chair next to mine. “Dan’ll be home early today, we could go see a movie or something. Maybe that new superhero film?”

I grin. “Sounds like a great plan!”

I finish my breakfast after a few minutes and stand to bring my plate to the dishwasher.

“Make sure you rinse off that syrup!” Molly reminds me.

“Got it!” I reply, rinsing the plate in the sink. The syrup slowly rolls off under the steamy hot water in layered brown waves.


“C’mon, hummingbird...please wake up...these doctors are starting to pressure us to pull the plug on you, and I’m not ready to do that yet…”

“Julissa! Can you hear me? Jules!”

Molly lightly smacks my cheek, one finger resting on the side of my neck. I blink rapidly. “Wha…”

“Holy crepes, Jules, you scared me! You just collapsed at the sink!”

I slowly sit up, grateful for Molly’s firm hand on my back as I do so. “I...passed out?” That’ not normal for Julissa...or for me.

“Yes, hon. You just...crumbled, like old cake. Nearly gave me a heart attack. You’re lucky you didn’t hit your head.” She glances towards my right side. “Or break my plate. Come on, let’s get you to the bathroom and check your temperature.”


After deciding that I must have just had an odd dizzy spell, Molly orders me to stay in bed for a couple of hours. “Just read or something,” she says as she walks out of my room. So I pull a couple of worn paperbacks from the shelf that’s on the wall next to Julissa’s bed and start reading, only to find myself suddenly feeling very drained…


“Please! Give us more time! Give her more time! She’s in there, I know it!”

“Wait, wait!”


“What? What is it?”

“Her vitals...they’ve changed! Heart rate is up a bit!”

Warm hand. “Abigail? Can you hear me, hummingbird?”

“Can you hear me?”


“Julissa! Come on, wake up, slumberbug. Fainting spell or not, you still gotta get some work done today.” Molly waves a freshly washed paintbrush in front of my face, splattering my nose with water. “If you can count that massive art project as work, anyway. Sure, it makes our store look better, but…”

I bat her hand away, rolling my eyes.

Molly stands. “What time did you go to bed last night, Jules? You were so sound asleep I was starting to think you’d gone comatose on me. Why don’t you get some coffee before you head out? I’ll go ahead and make you a cup while you get yourself up and around again.”

    I sit up. I actually fell asleep? What is happening to me? And...what are these...dreams that I’m having? I’m so confused, and this confusion buzzes around my mind like a trapped bee as I dress in an old T-shirt and paint-stained jeans. I need to figure this out eventually, but first I need to figure out what Julissa is supposed to be doing right now.


    The store mural that Julissa has been working on for almost a month now is one of the most beautiful pieces of artwork that I have ever seen. It’s meant to make the outside of Molly and Dan’s store look a little less like a giant cinderblock, and pull in more customers to see Dan and Julissa’s incredible art and taste Molly’s heavenly baking. Visitors are usually just locals, with the occasional tourist, so business is low, which is why Dan has another job at a local toy store.

    The mural is a stunning depiction of a girl with white skin and lavender hair. She has gleaming silver dragonfly wings that burst from her spine and lift her towards a sky that swirls with stars swimming in shades of blue and purple. Julissa has been focusing on the girl’s dress lately, which is a simple light periwinkle, but decorated with elaborate swirls that are just a couple shades darker than their background.

    I gaze at the mural for a long time, thinking. I learned the hard way that I usually don’t take on the artistic talents of my hosts, because even muscle memory can’t replicate something that comes from the heart and soul. I don’t want to ruin Julissa’s beautiful mural with my unfortunate lack of painting skills.

    I wonder if I could replicate what happened with Kelly yesterday, if I could somehow bring Julissa back into her own body, just for a short time? But what if I can’t come back? What then? Would I just be stuck in some kind of subconscious space? Would I die? Can I die?

    I shake my head hard. I need to stop thinking so much about this. I can’t just go home and tell Molly that I’m having an off day. Julissa has worked on this mural every single day without fail.

    I look around to make sure no one is watching, then close my eyes, focusing.


    I can feel Julissa, in a quiet space where everything comes into view through a thick and drowsy curtain. She is calm and quiet, not really aware of anything. I hover here for a moment. It’s odd, to really focus on my host. I’ve never done this before.

    Finally, I summon the courage to mentally nudge her. She stirs a bit, then settles back into her quiet state. I nudge her again, feeding her an image of the mural. There’s work to be done.

    I feel her awakening now, and feel myself fading. It’s like sinking into a deep blue ocean…





    Beep. Beep.

    Beep. Beep.

    “Abigail?” Hope lines a desperate mother’s voice, hope for her lost princess to awaken from her slumber.

The king is out searching for the wicked soul who would dare to tarnish their daughter with the curse of hopelessness.

    The queen watches with wide eyes as her beautiful princess moves, just a little bit. Her fingers twitch, and curl.

    It almost looks like she’s holding something, a pencil or a paintbrush.

    Then the fingers fall limp.




    Hope rushes out of the queen’s mouth.

    Not this time.


    If surrendering control of Julissa’s body was like sinking, then regaining control is like bursting through the water’s surface, gasping for air as the sun hits my face. Once I have a good grasp on reality again, I focus on Julissa’s work. My jaw drops.

    The dress is finished now, lit by the golden rays of sundown. “Wow.” I whisper. “Thanks, Julissa.”

    A loud car horn startles me, and I turn. Dan is sitting behind the wheel of a beat-up blue truck. “Jules! Get your paint-splattered butt in the truck! You’re late for dinner, daydreamer!”

    I gather up Julissa’s supplies and climb into the truck.

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