Emma Davenport was 12, with long, unkempt hair that she wore hanging in her face, strings of brown covering her eyes, a sort of haphazard shield to protect her from the world. Emma lived 12 long years of misery, born to parents too young and too selfish to care about the daughter they had produced. Emma spent most of her time locked in her room in a constant state of imagination, living the life of the story-tale heroes her English teacher preached about. Emma’s school life was just as horrible as her home life, she never wore the right clothes, her hair was never done in the latest style, and she spent most her days being taunted or sitting in the swings at play time by herself in a dull state of acceptance… the acceptance that comes with with the knowledge that nothing she could do would ever change her circumstances, the acceptance that every tick of the clock brought the school day a fraction closer to ending, which meant Emma could go home to lock herself in her room to become one of her favorite characters… characters that belonged only to her, adventures that twisted and turned, challenges faced and won, colors bright and dazzling all set in her minds eye.
Emma’s new life began on a dismal October Friday. Her school day passed much like the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that. Her over-sized, hand me down shirt and jeans donated from a neighbor of her parents had certainly seen better days, her shoes worn and scuffed from years of abuse. The taunts came, taunts which Emma had grown accustomed to. They buzzed in the background like white noise that seemed to be a part of her very existence, a constant reminder of her position in the scheme of things.
Emma went home after a long day and locked herself in her room as was her ritual. It being a Friday, Emma prepared herself for a long evening ahead. Friday brought money, which brought the bottle, which brought more yelling and fists that flew in Emmas direction, always finding their target.
After a wonderous few hours of being a pirate on the south seas, the azure blue lapping at the boat in which Emma had saved the captives, rewarded with fortune and loved by all – Emma heard her name being yelled in the distance. Knowing it was worse to ignore the siren call of violence, Emma slowly got up from her bed and walked the stairs to face the intruder to her fantasy, her own father. The flurry of accusations flung when she reached the bottom of the stairs buzzed around her, like the buzzing of the schoolyard taunts, never really affecting her as she learned to shut that out years ago. She stood there in her dull state of acceptance, all the while knowing her room lay in wait for her to come back up and withdrawl in her mind, into her world.
The violence that awaited her that day, however, was unlike any other she had encountered. Her father, already buzzed on two bottles of whiskey, had learned Emma’s mother spent a few hours in the company of one of his friends, two hours in which he had suddenly become single, two hours in which he became the sole provider of a child he never understood and never wanted. After his rage had passed – rage so heavy, so brutal- that fists connected, blood splattered the peeling wallpaper, bones cracked and words flung carelessly hit their mark – Emma had not the strength to rise back to her room. Emma lay at the foot of the stairs and drifted off. And what a world she drifted of to.
Emma found herself in the midst of the most stunning pink coral beach, the likes of which she’d never seen – even in her fantasies. The vast ocean rolled and swayed like the gentlest of beasts, tamed by the slightest breeze that tickled and teased Emma’s hair like the gentle caress of fingers she barely remembered when her grandmother was alive, her grandmother who held her with care and told her she was beautiful. Emma looked down at her body, her bruises receding before her very eyes, her blood vanishing into thin air. Her clothes were mended and made new. Emma turned and saw a man approaching, a man of such extraordinary appearance that she could hardly believe the sight. He was tall, like the figures you see on the paintings done years ago, a statue from days long passed, when things like tv and movies didn’t cloud the perception of humanity. His face was lined, yet soft, filled with years of wisdom of someone who had seen many things and accepted that many terrible things must come to pass. Soft white feathers floated behind him, dropping from his back to gently float in the breeze, taking their flight, their journey of this magnificent world.
” Hello, Emma” he said, “I’ve been waiting for you.” Emma could scarcely believe her ears. She had never felt wanted, much less waited for. “You have a choice to make”, he said. “You can stay here, and go on to all the beauty you dreamt in your mind, or you can go back there”, he pointed. Emma turned to look to where he pointed, and saw the dismal gray in the distance, her body laying on floor, with flashing red lights and medics around her, busy doing what medics do. Policemen stood background, off to the side, shaking their heads. Neighbors mingled around the old battered house in which she lived, hands on mouth, hardly believing what had happened in their midst.
The choice wasn’t really much of a choice, Emma thought. “I’d much rather stay here.” He waved his hand and the distant vision, her past, her old life, faded into the ether, never to be seen by her again. “Welcome home, Emma.”
Emma smiled for the first time in a very long time.
Emma, you see, had a new life.