Chapter 8--Rica Miller

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“No,” Mom replied. “We never learned their names, and Rica doesn’t remember them. I don’t know how much Charlie told you, but we didn’t even know she was Hannarian until last year.”

“What happened?” Jernard asked, now looking at me. “Charlie’s told me some things, but I want the details.”

I sighed.

“Last December, all my grades shot up to A’s overnight for what seemed like no reason,” I said. “You’d think my teachers would have been happy, but they thought I was cheating.”

“Charlie was furious,” Mom added. “We had fought to keep Rica in regular classes when they kept telling us to hold her back. Then once she started doing well, it was another battle all over again. We switched her to another school because we were tired of how she was being treated.”

“You had difficulty keeping up with human children your age before then?” Jernard asked me as he lowered his head to make eye contact with me. “Was it certain subjects or everything?”

“Everything,” I replied. “At least at first—math wasn’t bad after awhile, but everything else was hard until a year ago. I had the most trouble with English and speech. I called things the wrong words, ordered my sentences backwards, spoke too fast—it makes sense now, but at the time I…I felt like a total failure.”

Mom’s sad face made me wish I hadn’t said that out loud after all she and Dad had done. They had both been so supportive, and for so long I felt like I’d let them down.

“You and Charlie never made any connection that Rica may have been Hannarian before last year?” Jernard asked. “Her behavior sounds normal for one of us.”

“When we first adopted her, she spoke something that didn’t sound like Hannarian,” Mom replied. “It just sounded like gibberish. Plus her eyes didn’t glow, and it’s not as if we’d ever seen a four-year-old Hannarian before. I’m sorry, but if we had known we would’ve contacted—”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that, Rebecca,” Jernard interrupted and then looked back at me again. “I’m just trying to make sense of this, too. Rica, how long was it between your grades getting better and your eyes starting to glow?”

“About three weeks—the day before Christmas Eve.” I pointed toward my eyes. “I woke up, got dressed, walked into the bathroom, and saw this. I thought I was having a nightmare. Once I realized I was awake, I screamed until Mom and Dad finally calmed me down.”

“We looked up Lance Jacobs from the base and took her to him,” Mom continued. Jernard’s eyes flared at the name, but he said nothing. “He’s the only other person we’ve told. I didn’t even tell my family. My parents and sisters got upset when I told them we were leaving for Destiny, but knowing their attitude toward Hannarians…I wasn’t sure how they would react, so I thought it was better to say nothing.”

Jernard nodded, and his eyes dimmed again. I felt ashamed my grandma and aunts were so anti-Hannarian they would be conflicted if they ever found out. I was also thankful Mom was different from them. She did love me, and the fact that I wasn’t human didn’t matter. It was the same with Dad.

“Did Jacobs have time to do a blood type and genetic check?” Jernard asked.

“Yes,” Mom replied, snapping herself out of a thought. “All of Rica’s medical files are in my purse. I’ll get them.”

Jernard looked at me as she went inside our suite.

Do you remember anything before they adopted you?

I remember being alone in a shopping mall and being very scared. A woman with short black hair found me and brought me to the security office. Social services came a few hours later. The next week, I was placed with Mom and Dad. They volunteered to be my foster parents until someone came forward, but no one ever came. They adopted me a year later.

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