Chapter One: His Laughter
It peeled in the air like wind chimes sweetly flowing in the breeze, my brother’s laughter. His curly brown hair was blowing backwards with each push I gave him on the swings, sun-stained from the start of summer, and his skin healthily glowing with a slight tan. Jake loved the swings more than anything, especially the ones on our property, right next to the beach on the ocean, every time you swooped forwards you felt like you flying just as high as the seagulls that crashed into the waves to catch their dinner. Arching downwards into the expanse of blue, before coming out again victorious with a fish in their beaks. I couldn’t blame Jake for loving to swing; he was only four years old; and heck, swinging was something even I still loved to do at the age of sixteen.
“Higher, Kenz, higher!” he squealed as I laughed and gave him an extra extensive push. My nickname Kenz, was practically the only name he knew me by, though my full name was Mackenzie. Mackenzie Lynn Gardens and he was my little brother of thirteen years.
Behind the two of us I heard the shuffling of a picnic blanket being billowed in the summer air, the light laughter coming from our adopted mother: Cynthia. Her and her husband, George having adopted us years ago, and yet it seemed like only a blinks worth of time away.
“Mackenzie Gardens,” the receptionist called out lazily, probably the hundredth name she had had to call out that day. But the moment she looked away from the clipboard in her hand, she saw me standing there in front of the desk, standing tall at the age of 12. She smiled sweetly, her glasses crooking down her nose a bit more than usual. “You have another family here to see you darling,” she said, her southern accent sticking out ever more as she said darling.
I just nodded my response; I didn’t talk much back then, always fearing that my voice would cause people to back away from me all together. Turning I started walking back down the familiar hallways that I had taken so many times to see so many varieties of parents, all waiting to see that perfect child they signed on for. Same wooden boards on the wall that my fingers trailed against as I walked, same plush carpet underneath feet that squished with every step. Room 111. Glancing at the number plates of gold posted on top of every door, I saw I was in the total opposite hall I was supposed to be in, passing room 345. With the silent echo of every one of my footsteps I then suddenly took of at a run, taking every twist and turn the halls threw at me, slowing down in the wake of the occasional nurse who trailed in and out of other rooms. Walls passed in a blur, becoming a tie-die shirt of colors that caused my head to spin and my mind to loose its fine defineness of accuracy.
A giggle passed through my lips: a rare occasion coming from a mouth that usually opened only for food. The peal sounded almost exactly like my little brother’s laughter had started to sound like at only 4 months old.
Almost passing the room I was destined for, I had to backtrack a bit until I reached the right gold plated oak door that loomed in front of me. The happiness felt only moments earlier, slowly started to morph into the sense of fear I had grown all too accustomed to when I met yet another set of parents: eager to see a perfectly symmetrical child with a need to be loved and cared for. I was the opposite of what they usually looked for, my brown hair a scruffy mess on top of my head, cut short and ridden of all the burnt pieces that had been destroyed in the fire that had killed my last pair of caretakers, they had only lasted but a week. And a scar that lined down my jaw, and snaked down to the start of the left side of neck, a permanent mark of what had happened. I didn’t look like that perfect goody-two shoes child that they were hoping for, instead I looked like a lost kid taken straight out of the photos of a gang.
Hesitantly I knocked on the door, my knuckles rapping on the oak sounding much louder than I would have wanted. “Come in Mackenzie,” a voice gently beckoned a few seconds later.
I pushed the door open slightly; peeking first, as I slowly stepped inside and closed the door once more behind me. The usual, the slight intake of breath from the two people seated in the plush blue chairs that seemed to have be gotten out of a sale at a garage sale, then the signature clap of the hand over the mouth, as they took in the sight of my scars. Everyone saw the cosmetic factor of what I was, choosing to ignore the fact that I had been through much more than a child of merely twelve should have seen. They didn’t notice the fact that my eyes were dabbed with fear, grief and loss, or bring out that I was playing the part of a mute, just so I didn’t have to speak in my croak of a voice.
|Keira Knightley||as McKenzie (Kenz)|
|Kingston Rossdale||as Jake|
|Penn Badgley||as Crispin (Chris)|
|Scarlett Johansson||as Ambrosia|
|Halle Berry||as Fiona (Kenzie's Biological Mom)|
|Gavin Rossdale||as Alpha Cormat (Kenzie's Biological Dad)|
|Olivia Wilde||as Casey|