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Authors: Amanda McGee

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BOOK: Extraordinary
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But, alas, Kate was just as blown away as I was. She tried to reassure me but had to leave before I was convinced. She had to visit her parents before flying back to Stanford tomorrow for an internship she said was “a big deal.” She promised to visit again before the fall semester started but not without several hundred-telephone calls to make sure she stayed in the loop. I promised to make her next trip much less interesting. She didn’t care for that idea.

Poor girl expected to fix my broken pieces but instead left with a few of her own. Her last words to me were, “Shit happens I guess.” Not her most eloquent conclusion, but profound just the same.

My startling family history was hard to process, but at least it distracted me from my grief about my mom. Through bloodshot eyes I surrendered to the anxiety that had kept me awake and fumbled my way downstairs to begin my day.

I made a beeline to the coffee pot, desperate for a jolt.

No wonder I can’t sleep. I’m a caffeine addict.

Now was not the time for an intervention. Besides, there were far worse things to be addicted to. I stared into the glass as the source of my dependence streamed down, filling the pot with its dark caffeine-infused goodness. The machine rumbled and whistled and its aroma filled the kitchen. Lost in a trance, my thoughts wandered off in the direction of the supernatural.

To me, magic was broomsticks, wands, potions, and spells.  There was none of that as far as I could tell. From what I had seen thus far, enchantment was much less sensational and created separation.

I wondered how I would know what my power was, if I had one at all. I was half-expecting enchanted lightning to shoot from my fingertips and turn a lamp into a toad or some other bizarre event. And the Internet would be of little assistance.

What would that Google search be like?

How do I know what my magic powers are? Search.

As far as I was concerned the people who believed had no real power and the ones who didn’t believe would be of no more assistance than the ones who did. Information may be power but where was the information about my so-called power?

“Ah, I need coffee.”

A soft knock at the door redirected my attention. I tried to guess who it could be since Kate was gone and I did not associate with anyone else.

Opening the door, I saw no one. But then a tiny, navy blue car pulled into the driveway.

Do I know anyone who drives a Mini Cooper?

A young girl in a flowing white dress emerged with caution from the vehicle. The stranger paused to peek in my direction over the top of her oversized sunglasses as her dress shifted with the breeze then pooled around her feet. Moving further onto the porch, my eyes strained to see. As she came closer and I could fully observe the wisp of a girl strolling towards me. Her scrawny legs carried her up the footpath with poise but her fisted hands made me think her composure was forced.

“I’m Sadie,” she said, stopping on the first porch step.

She stared up at me with a look of awe and excitement. Her tiny stature and enormous smile reminded me of a child, eager and friendly. With only two words spoken between us, I believed I could trust Sadie with my deepest secrets.

Her hazel eyes were mesmerizing. The sunlight reflected their golden tones that lightened the brown into a hypnotic shade that demanded my attention. Her chin-length blonde hair, accessorized with a bejeweled headband, was very different from the features of my mother...our mother. The photograph of our dad that Aunt Leah had showed me flashed in my mind. They shared the same smile.

Sadie’s bohemian style was simple like Mom’s but would have been too fashionable for Mom’s liking.  Yet, there was something in Sadie’s presence I recognized as familiar. The warm, personable glow radiating from every inch of her petite frame was undeniably genetic.

I realized that I had been staring at this poor girl for too long to be considered normal etiquette and reached to shake her hand.

“I’m Alex. So I guess you heard?”

“Weird right?” 

“Secret siblings and magic? Nah, what’s weird about that?”

“Only everything.” She giggled. Her laugh was as I predicted—energetic and pure.

“So, I met Aunt Leah,” I said, taking a seat on the top step. “She was full of interesting stories.”

“More like bizarre, life-changing stories,” Sadie said, still giggling as she plopped down next to me.

“I planned to come visit you. Aunt Leah said you were out of town.”

“Drama club trip. I wasn’t sure if I should come here but I would never relax unless I tried.”

“I know the feeling but I am not sure how to begin sorting through this madness.”

“I’ve got all summer,” she said with a hopeful grin.

There was something very magnetic about Sadie. I imagined that she never met a stranger and that people were naturally drawn to her. The heart on her sleeve was as big as she was and the smile on her face dared you to try to not love her.

“Will Aunt Leah be ok
ay with that?”

“It’s not like I ran away from home,” she said. “She knew where I was going and I called her when I got here. Plus, I spend my summer vacations at music camp or something dorky like that. This time, I thought I’d try to get to know my sister.”

I couldn’t have said no even if I had wanted to. Something told me Sadie always got her way.

“It’s strange, isn’t it?” I asked. “To go your whole life adjusting to one existence and in the blink of eye you feel like you’re living someone else’s life.”

“I think that can happen to anyone. We just have a much more interesting story than most people.”

“Understatement!”

“So what do we do now?”

“I guess we can just take it slow and get to know each other,” I said. “You want to go first?”

“Oh, I’d be happy to!” she said, practically shrieking.

Never for one second did I believe Sadie would have a problem divulging the story of her life but I did wonder how far she would go.

“Well, I am Sadie Ann Ryan,” she began. “My philosophy is ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ It helps deal with the bad if you believe it has a purpose.”

“I never thought about that,” I said. “Continue.”

And continue she did. Her tales of life in Atlanta with Aunt Leah all flooded together in a long run-on sentence. Sadie strung together stories of the vacations she and Aunt Leah took to the beach each summer where Sadie developed a slight addiction to the shaved ice drinks that were carted up and down the beach by those “poor girls in bikinis” and the game nights they would have every Wednesday night and the time Sadie almost ran into the front porch of their house when Aunt Leah tried to teach her to drive.

For my beloved porch’s sake I was thankful she worked that out.

Sadie announced that she had just completed her junior year of high school and was quick to point out that she would be seventeen in August, since most people thought she was younger because she was so tiny.

I listened in silent fascination as her jubilant illustrations revealed a life that sounded similar to mine. Although, her outlook on her life mirrored her free-spirit flowing white dresses and big sunglasses, while mine made my personality feel like an oversized hooded sweatshirt.

“I was voted Junior Class President,” she said with pride. “I didn’t even run. It was all write-in ballots.”

“That isn’t surprising,” I said. “Your personality is contagious and bubbly like…like…the fizz in a soda.”

I cringed as soon as the words left my lips. Though Sadie beamed at the compliment, I was embarrassed for having blurted it out. Most of my shame came from knowing I was able to form such a bubble-gum notion. Sadie was already starting to rub off on me. Maybe that was her magic power.

“I was voted ‘Best Eyes’ in my senior yearbook,” I added, making full use of air quotes. “Apparently, my dark green eyes are ‘intriguing.’”

“They are intense,” she said. “I was wondering if they could see into my soooo-ul.”

“Says you! Your eyes freak me out a little. There are hypnotic.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment. Besides, you should be proud to have such a distinguishing feature that people notice and appreciate it. I know I am!”

“Secretly I was flattered, but I had a rep to uphold.”

“And what kind of rep was that?”

“The smart jock,” I said, observing her reaction. “Exactly! I was already an enigma, why add on to it?”

Sadie chuckled and a sense of calm circulated within me. When the daydream of having a brother or sister had flashed through my mind it never looked or felt this serene. I forgot about magic and secrets and pain and I let myself bond with the sister that I felt I’d known all of my life.

“So, what about your friends?” I asked. “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Sadie’s cheeks went from muted pink to sunburn red.

“I don’t have many close friends. In fact, I don’t really have any. I was so busy being everyone’s friend I forgot to pick a favorite.”

“Uh huh, and boys?”

“I guess I forgot to pick one of those too.”

“Me too,” I said. “Fairy tales are unlikely in high school and I have never been the boyfriend-having type.”

“Why do you think that is?” she asked.

“That is the question! Maybe I was distracted or oblivious. Or maybe no one ever made me want to fall. I never could see the point in dating just to be dating.”

“Oh, I agree,” she said. “It seems people have a new relationship every week. That just sounds exhausting to me. I’ve got things to do, you know?”

“One hundred percent! Maybe we all have daddy issues. Who knows?”

“Can’t find a boyfriend? Blame your dad. Don’t want a boyfriend? Blame your dad.”

“Sounds justified to me!”

Pleased with ourselves and our little comedy routine, we doubled-over in laughter until our cheeks cramped and tears streamed down our faces. It took several minutes to regain our composure. I failed to remember the last time I had laughed that hard.

“I always believed I was adopted,” Sadie blurted. “I was too afraid to ask about it or where my dad was. I didn’t want to hurt my mom’s feelings.”

“You never asked at all?”

“My life was so blessed it felt wrong somehow. I just assumed she’d tell me when she was ready.”

“Same here,” I said. “I was never sad about not knowing him but I guess a part of me was too mad to mourn him. Losing my Mom, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with.

“I remember when I was seven we drove to the beach and made a fire. The smell of salt water and her lilac shampoo in the air around me, I knew I loved her more than anything. I was grateful for her, to her. Life without her has been bleak and miserable. It’s been hard talking about her, especially since I’ve hid away since she passed.”

My casual memory broadcast took me off guard. A single tear rolled down Sadie’s cheek as she rested her chin on her knees. Staring down at her French manicured toes, she appeared vulnerable. Storytelling was all Sadie would have of our mother. I was fortunate to have known her but regret mushroomed in my chest, possibly another piece of my heart breaking, knowing that Sadie never would.

I ignored my distaste for emotional contact and put my arm around her shoulders. Even when she cried she seemed somehow upbeat. Sadie’s presence would change me and, surprisingly, I welcomed it.

Personally, I do not care to wear my heart on my sleeve. Sadie, on the other hand, wore hers as an entire outfit. Something about that struck me as admirable rather than my typical reaction of pathetic. I didn’t anticipate crying on anyone’s shoulder anytime soon, but a possible attempt at showing a little affection was not out of the question with Sadie by my side.

“She sounds like a special lady,” she said, wiping her eyes.

“You remind me of her.”

Sadie’s face lit up like the morning horizon. Her tears became a joyful grin.

“Tell me about her,” she said.

“She was kind. Thoughtful. I never saw her without a smile on her face. Now that I know what she went through, aside from the cancer, which still didn’t fade her happiness, I cannot imagine how she managed it.”

I shared any story I could think of, from Mom’s elaborate birthday parties where she made us all dress-up in costumes to how she would ride her bicycle more than she drove her car. As I spoke my sentences began to mirror Sadie’s and ran together.

Sadie particularly enjoyed the story of one balmy summer night when the heat became too much to bear. Mom found an old tarp, squirted dish detergent all over it, and sprayed it with the water hose. The two of us slid and slipped our way up and down that tarp until we were covered in aches and bubbles.

“That sounds like something we would’ve done at my house.”

“It’s amazing how even though we were separated our lives played out oddly the same.”

“Everything happens for a reason, Alex. Now it feels like our lives are upside down but up until a few days ago we believed our lives to be normal.”

“For the most part.”

“Out of curiosity, was she sad because...he was gone?” she asked. “Was she sad for any of us?”

BOOK: Extraordinary
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ads

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