People say I'm just a "sweet girl with an, um, speech issue". No one knows why I stopped talking. They wonder, but they can't fathom why.
It's because of the lightning night, in the woods. Ingrid made me swear: What happens in the woods, stays in the woods.
Here's my story.
My father, Ryan Blackburn, was a young Irish gentleman who had brought along his beauty of a girlfriend, Joelle Nazigan, to the United States. As they settled down in New York, they decided to go out to a pub, to celebrate. There, they saw a lady in green, whom everyone called "Lady Luck". Little did they know, Joelle and Ryan had walked straight into a hotspot for retired demigods.
Ryan instantly fell in love with Tyche, leaving poor Joelle jealous and desperate as Ryan strengthened the bond between him and Tyche, too much in blissful love to notice the pain he was causing Joelle. Joelle fell into that post-breakup phase, drinking her cares away. Two years later, in the year of 1998, twins were born:Rumour and my dear sister, Ingrid. Tyche disappeared soon after, and although Ryan was heartbroken, he finally noticed Joelle's pain. He rekindled his love with her and they became married when Rumour and Ingrid were three.
I loved Joelle, even though she was still hooked on that drinking problem. But slowly, her relationshiph with Ryan began to fall apart. He was disgusted by her drinking problem, and she began smoking too, to fill in the gaps in their relationship. They quickly divorced after mere months, and of course Ryan got legal custody.
But, as you know, Joelle was furious. She wanted to be me and Ingrid's mother, and have revenge on Ryan. So she picked me and Ingrid up from her friend's house, and we disappeared. Just like that. We vanished off the face off the earth, as the newspapers read.
But deep inside a national forest, states away, Joelle tucked us away into a broken-down camper left behind by some poor family. We didn't have any refrigeration or running water. We learned to live-survival style. The creek became essential, for our hygiene and for our drinking water. Canned goods were a nessescity. Bread and butter, those things, were rare-they didn't keep well. Me and Ingrid mostly lived off things like ravioli in a can.
But I found, nestled deep inside the camper, a box of guns. I learned to shoot well enough, and sometimes I had to hunt. Life in the woods was no walk in the park. Joelle visited every few months, bringing bags of supplies from town. But she was running out of money, and she had a malicious mind. So every week, her friends, who were men, would lay cash into her greedy hands, and she would let them hurt me and Ingrid sexually. And if I refused, well, a sharp stick to the back was what I got.
It's strange what the mind recollects. I don't remember Joelle hugging me and kissing my forehead when I pass a test or get good grades. She didn't bring home cakes and cookies when I succeeded in something. No, I remember only few happy times, where she had come home with gifts, like a new coat or funnel cake, and a shining face that meant her meth connection had come through.
Tyche couldn't believe how cruelly her daughters were being treated. So when Joelle was away, she would pay me and Ingrid little visits. She couldn't meddle with our lives, of course, but she would soothe us, comfort us. Once, she took some of the hunting rifles in the box, and replaced the ammo with bronze stuff. "You'll need it." she advised us.
Need it we did. When we were twelve, a hellhound leaped from the shadows of the woods. Her words rang through my mind as I shot it with the gun. The rifles became our savior.
Until the lightning night.
Me and Ingrid were eating outside. It has been a month since Joelle last visited us. A man charged up to us, red-faced and swearing. He demanded, "Where's Joelle?" and "She owes me money; I ain't leaving 'till I got it." He wrapped his hand around Ingrid's neck and repeated, "How long has she been gone?" Ingrid made the mistake of answering truthfully:
The man took advantage of this situation, two helpless young girls, and dragged me onto the table. Usually when Joelle comes, she wears this lemon-yellow coat, and we can see her clearly through the trees. A pop as she appears, and a zing as she approaches us. There's the pop, but there's no zing. And as quickly as she appears, she's gone again.
I want to scream, to tell her to help us. But I can't. I only remember white-hot lightning ripping through my stomach as he hurt me before I blacked out.
When I woke, he was about to rape Ingrid too, but she was fighting for her life. I rummaged under the table, finding the shotgun I always kept for emergencies, and shot him in the arm. In his surprise, he snapped Ingrid's neck. He fled, and Ingrid was already dead before I reached her. I couldn't let him do this to us again. I couldn't let him come back. So I followed him and shot him square in the chest. His body was never found.
Joelle, no matter how much she had hurt us, still cared for us. So she wrote a letter to Ryan, telling my location:she could no longer "Care" for us. I was found, but when they questioned where Ingrid was, I said nothing. They suspected Ingrid had died from natural causes. But I buried her near the creek, little did they know.
Joelle knew she had broke the law when she took us. So she hid herself, and no matter how hard the cops looked, they couldn't find her. They'll never find her.
A few months later, on my first day in regular school, I was immediately attacked by an empousa. The school's satyr rescued me, and took me to Camp. I suppose I should count this as a miracle. People say as a Tyche kid, I'm more lucky than most. But, looking back, I really don't feel lucky at all.