I used to run from everything. From my fears. From my family. From the fighting at home, and the bullies at school. From my destiny. That all changed the day my father killed my mom, and then took the gun to his head. That day, I learned that running from my destiny was a worthless effort. I don’t know what triggered it. Was it the sight of my parents’ blood slowly cooling on the kitchen floor? Was it the copper tang the air seemed to take on? Or was it watching the last glimmer of light leave my mom’s eyes as she told me what she had done to prepare for my future, and what I still needed to do, that changed everything?
That night, I finished packing the bags Mom had already started putting together for me. Flipping through the file folders in the bags, I was shocked at what she had done for me. Passports, birth certificates, ids, credit cards, the titles to houses and cars across the country. Each separated by identity. My identities. Each id had my face, my statistics. A notebook lying at the bottom of one of the bags had instructions for my next steps. And under that, a letter, written in the shaky, yet beautiful handwriting that was my mother’s.
If you are reading this, my daughter, then it means your father has succeeded in something he had threatened for years. It also means that you are safe, for he is dead as well.
I am sorry, Alary. I should have told you so much before now. It just never seemed like a good time. I am so sorry. There is so much that you need to know, and so little time for me to write it down before your father finds this letter. But I will say what I can.
Years ago, long before you were born, your grandfather, my father, took my family into hiding. He worked with spies, undercover agents, and those hiding from the same threat to keep our family safe. Some became indebted to your grandfather. Others simply loved him, for he was a great man. Even more fell in love with a child when she was born, and vowed that should she ever need them, they would guide and protect her.
By the time you finish packing and carry out the final preparations for your journey, my daughter, someone will be arriving to help you. A man by the name of Gidian will help get you safely out of the city, maybe even out of the state, without arousing suspicion. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that the papers and ids in the folders state your age as two years older than you are. This is to help you overcome any age obstacles you may face.
Be careful, Alary. I am not sure what awaits you out there, but I can assure you some of it may not be pleasant. I am sorry, Alary. I cannot say that enough. I should have had your grandfather take you with him back when we had the chance. I hope this journey takes you to him, and that he will finish telling you the story that I never could.
I love you, my daughter Alary. I hope that you will be safe and protected as promised. Be careful.
Just as I finished packing my bags, and had tucked my mother’s letter inside an inner pocket of my jacket, the doorbell rang. The man, just as Mom had said, introduced himself as Gidian. He herded me into a car waiting in the driveway, loaded my bags into the trunk, and drove me to the train station. He said he would take care of everything concerning my school, the house, and my parents’ bodies. And for the first time in my life, I trusted a stranger. I don’t know if it’s because he reminded me of my brother, who disappeared years ago, or if it’s because Mom trusted him to take care of me, which wasn’t something she did lightly. Gidian bought my ticket, and waited with me until my train got there. Then he handed me a packet, pushed me on the train with the smaller two of my bags, the larger duffel and two suitcases already stowed in the luggage car, and waved until I could no longer see him. I closed my eyes and slept the first few hours of the ride, waking when another stranger sat in the seat across from mine. I tensed, until he passed me a thin envelope containing another letter from Mom. She called the man in front of me Strider, and said he was safe. She said she trusted him, and that I should too. When I had folded the letter and stuck it in the pocket with the other letter, Strider silently handed me another paper, this time a newspaper. My eyes watered at the headline, and I had to turn away to keep the tears from falling.