Chapter Seven – Practice

Den sidste første fredag i måneden i år 2014 og jeg er klar med kapitel 7. Heri kommer Jennifer til at komme i lidt mere kontakt med hendes nye side af sin familie. Det er næsten synd at der ikke rigtig er noget julet over kapitlet, nu hvor vi er i December.

 

The last first Friday of the month in 2014 and I’m ready with chapter 7. In this Jennifer gets to be a bit more acquiented with her new side of her family. It’s almost a shame that there’s not more Christmas in the chapter, now that it is December.

 

Chapter Seven – Practice

“Jennifer?Can you hear me? Wake up honey.<< The voice sounded from far away. It was a familiar voice but Jennifer had a hard time recognising it. She felt like she was floating and it really was a wonderful feeling, but the voice in the distance kept calling to her, telling her to wake up. But if she went back it meant she would have to return to problems and things that made no sense at all. This place was much nicer and far less complicated. She slowly began to feel someone touching her arm. The voice also got clearer as it kept repeating her name.

>>Jennifer? Wake up! Jennifer?<< She started to recognize certain feelings going through her body and she reached the conclusion that she was lying on the floor with her head on a soft pillow. Her bed was not as hard as the place she was lying. She tried to move a bit but her muscles didn’t really want to listen and it didn’t amount to anymore than a tiny twitch of her left arm. This seemed to be enough for the voice though, because it softened after this twitch.

>>Sweetie, Jennifer. Can you hear me?<< Her desire to stay right where she was, was still strong although she wanted to answer. But her voice wouldn’t do what she wanted it to do either, leaving her only to grunt as a reply. Immediately after this, she felt a soft motion up and down her left arm. A warm hand was stroking her arm to make her come back to consciousness. Jennifer tried to move her head and she heard someone gasp close by her. It was a short while before she was able to look up into the worried face of her sister and see it clearly.

>>Thank God.<< Breathed Sam, still holding on to Jennifer’s arm, she kept stroking it. Jennifer’s other arm found its way to her neck at once. It was bare even when she went around the collarbone in her search.

>>Is this what you’re looking for?<< Jennifer turned her head far too fast craning her neck and saw Anna holding the necklace in one hand. Jennifer made to reach for it but Anna kept it out of her reach.

>>Wait one second.<< Sam’s grip on Jennifer’s arm tightened and Jennifer turned to her with a displeased look.

>>But it’s mine.<< She squeaked in an embarrassing tiny voice. Sam just nodded.

>>We realise that, but until we figure out what just happened you are not getting it back. You didn’t relax until we took it of you.<< Jennifer didn’t understand a word of what Sam said. The last thing she remembered was the door opening and she had been overpowered by emotions, which she now realized must have come from Sam as she entered the room. After that, everything had gone black.

>>You collapsed on the floor.<< Anna explained, and Jennifer noticed she still kept the necklace out of reach.

>>You kept pressing your hands to the sides of your head and screamed in pain. You were practically thriving on the floor screaming. It wasn’t until Jack held you down and we took the necklace of you, thatyou calmed down. You sort of went all limb and then you passed out. And now you’re here.<< Jennifer looked confused at Sam, who just nodded along to the explanation coming from Anna.

>>But…<< Jennifer tried to form a question to why it had happened in the first place, but all she seemed to be able to think about was how she was going to get the necklace back. She looked over at Anna again, but this time she couldn’t spot the necklace and she fell back on her pillow.

>>We don’t know anything about it either. Just that it has to do with the necklace. So until dad gets here tomorrow, we’ve decided to keep it away from you. It’s only what’s best for you.<< Sam placed a hand on Jennifer’s shoulder but Jennifer could see no good part about it. She couldn’t forget the feeling she’d had when she had the necklace on. She realized it was the primary reason for her lying on the floor, with no real powers left in her body. But it was impossible that had been her father’s intention when he gave it to her? Besides he’d wanted her to practice. Despite all this, it was clear from Sam’s expression Jennifer would get no further opportunity to test it. She sighed, which to Sam seemed to be her expression of agreement.

After this, Sam insisted on Jennifer staying in bed where she was brought breakfast in bed.

>>At least one good thing came out of your little accident, you managed to get some form of rest.<< Sam was clearly in a brighter mood when she was tucking the covers around Jennifer. Normally this was something she would have objected to, but she felt like Sam needed to do this more than Jennifer needed her to do it, so she let her. Strangely enough, Sam was right. The collapse had helped in that sense; she was no longer as exhausted as she had been. She didn’t know how long she’d been out of it and she didn’t feel like asking either but no matter how long it had been it had clearly helped her. She felt as fresh and awake as she’d had a good night’s rest, which only made her feel more irritable about being forced to stay in bed. She ate her food in silence, with Sam hovering over her, making sure she ate everything. When she finished she watched as Sam started to get out the vacuum cleaner.

>>Sam, why do you think he gave me that necklace?<< Sam stopped with one hand on the vacuum cleaner and turned to Jennifer.

>>I assumed he wanted to prepare you.<< She said with a slight shrug of the shoulders, as though a necklace opening to other people’s feeling was something you came across every day.

>>Prepare me for what?<< Sam wrinkled her nose and gave another slight shrug. >>You know more, don’t you? Why do you keep doing this? You knew the necklace was making me feel that way and you knew it would make it better the minute you took it of me, didn’t you?<< Sam bit her lip and Jennifer knew she was right. >>How much do you actually know?<< Jennifer crossed her arms and mustered the harshest look she could at Sam, who kept silent. Sam gave a heavy sigh before she adjusted her seat to get more comfortable.

>>You have to know Jennifer, what little I know I have been told and I have never experienced it first hand myself.<<

>>First hand? What are you talking about?<< Sam gave a vague smile.

>>You see, in Júzrïe some people have what they refer to as Gifts. I would simply call them enhanced senses or powers, or whatever. It was this you experienced earlier. Your senses were sharpened, in a way. I suppose it’s possible the pendant woke your Gift from its otherwise dormant position. Because it is your senses, they’ve always been there. Only when you get to Júzrïe they might be enhanced and that can be frightening. I assume that is the reason why dad gave you the pendant and asked you to practice, thereby making sure you wouldn’t be completely freaked out by it.<<

>>So what you’re saying is I have super-senses?<< Jennifer tried to feel for what she had felt earlier but she could feel nothing out of the ordinary.

>>In a way.<< Sam chuckled. >>But not everyone has these Gifts. Mum said it runs in families. Obviously we get it from dad’s side of the family.<<

>>Do you and Anna have it too?<< Again Jennifer felt surprised and just a tiny bit offended that they hadn’t told her this either.

>>Yes, but we can’t access ours the same way you can. My guess is, if we wore the pendant our senses would wake too but as I don’t intend on going anywhere I don’t plan on testing that theory. Because we get it from dad’s side of the family, mum didn’t have any of these senses, or Gifts, as you will have to start calling them. And not everybody in Júzrïe will have them either. From what dad’s told me, they descend from some of the oldest families. Other Gifts are more unusual and more rare and occur without any real explanation, and don’t ask me what these Gifts are,<< Sam quickly interjected because Jennifer was about to open her mouth. >>Because I don’t know. As I told you, I can only tell you what I remember dad or mum telling us and even that is limited. After dad returned to Júzrïe on his own, mum did her best to keep us from that world.<< Jennifer nodded.

At least now she knew a bit more than before. She knew she would have to get used to the slight buzzing she still had at the back of her head. It had been there ever since she woke up on the floor. It even seemed to have progressed, Jennifer felt like she could catch up on other people’s feelings when they were close by her. As Sam had said, it was like the pendant had awoken a sixth sense in her and now she couldn’t turn it off again. She cast a quick glance at Sam and faster than she expected she got the feeling yet again that Sam knew more than she let on. Jennifer kept quiet and tried to focus on the feeling she picked up from Sam. There was definitely doubt as the first thing she could clearly recognize, further than that she couldn’t tell, the feeling of doubt was too big.

>>What are you thinking?<< The sound of Jennifer’s voice seemed to alter Sam’s mood. At the moment her so-called Gift didn’t seem like such a bad thing. It helped her to understand her sister better.

>>There is one more thing but it’s a bit more family business than the rest. You know how our grandfather died making dad have to go back and leave us here? Well, there’s not much I know of our family on dad’s side beside that we still have a grandmother. Dad mentioned her one time.<<

>>Have you met her?<<

>>A couple of times. But I was just a child and I can’t really remember much of it. I think she got to see you right after you were born, before dad left. That was the last time I saw her. But as far as I understand from dad, she is very much alive and maybe too much at some times. I think her name is Beth, from what I remember.<< Sam couldn’t help but smile at the blissful look Jennifer suddenly got. Jennifer had relapsed back into her imagination, thinking about how her grandmother would be. She thought about what it would have been like if she had been there when Jennifer was a child. How they would have laughed and kept secrets together. She was so immersed in her daydreams she didn’t notice Sam leaving again.

Jennifer stayed in bed a few more hours daydreaming, but late in the afternoon she went downstairs and found the rest of the family in the middle of quite a heated argument. The minute Jennifer entered the room, silence swept across them.

>>Don’t hold back on my account.<< She said with a hand to the side of her head. She could feel the tension and excitement far away from everyone. Susan sat in Anna’s lap but crawled excitedly over to sit with Jennifer.

And Jennifer discovered how easy Susan was to be around, compared to the others. The only thing Jennifer read from Susan was pure joy of sitting and tucking on Jennifer’s hair. Jennifer did her best to retract her hair from Susan’s tiny fingers before she broke into the argument.

>>We were just discussing what we’re going to tell the neighbours and our friends of your sudden disappearance.<< Jack explained and glanced at Sam who scoffed.

>>There’s no way we can tell that our presumed dead father has returned from the dead and taken her to another world.<<

>>And telling people she went off to boarding school is just too mean. No one will believe that one anyway.<< Anna interjected and smiled at Jennifer. Jennifer kept quiet and let them continue the argument. Anna was the one who came with the most suggestions.

>>How about something about a distant relative? That’s partly true anyway.<<

>>Everyone we know knows the size of our tiny family. A distant relative is out of the question, they’d know it was a fake.<< The only thing they seemed to agree on was the truth was out of the question. Even if they simply explained Jennifer’s father had returned and surprised them all by still being alive, no one really had any spare feelings left for him.

Their mother had lived in the same neighbourhood for quite a while and had developed a close relationship to many of the neighbours and when Jennifer’s father had left; he simultaneously left all the positive feelings from all the neighbours. He was no longer popular with the neighbours and they all wanted what was best for Jennifer’s future. They were like a second separate family to Jennifer and her sisters. Especially the elderly Mrs. John next door had always been like the grandmother Jennifer never got the chance to know. When Jennifer’s father left he also departed from her kindness and every time he was brought up in conversations she would always start to mumble something sounding very much like the word ‘men’ in a rather brusque voice while she snorted and rolled her eyes. Jennifer couldn’t even start to imagine how she would react is she would have to greet Jennifer’s father today.

>>Well, what were you planning on telling people then?<< Sam snapped and looked from Anna to Jack to Jennifer, but neither of them answered her.

>>We could say she eloped with some strange guy?<< Anna suggested timidly and Jennifer was glad Sam could hear the joke in this suggestion as they all started to laugh.

>>Maybe. But let’s resort to that one as our last option.<<

>>How about, just till summer’s out I mean, you could just tell people I was off on some camp?<< Jennifer had suddenly remembered some of the kids from school talking about a summer camp where they were going to spend the summer. >>That sort of thing is for a number of weeks, right?<<

>>That would give us some time to come up with a better explanation for when summer’s out.<< Anna waited for a response from Sam. After all, it was Sam who would have to live in the house with the prying neighbours and would have to fight off all the questions.

>>It sounds like a decent plan. And it does give us more time. So I guess as of tomorrow you’ll be off to camp.<<

>>Right, now that’s taken care of, how does some tea sound?<< Jack headed for the kitchen without waiting for any possible objections and started preparing tea.

Afterwards, Jennifer got her jacket and went outside into the garden. She could hear Mrs. John working next door on one of her many flower beds. When she heard the door close behind Jennifer, she poked her head up over the hedge at once and sent Jennifer one of her usual wrinkled smiles. Mrs. John was the friendliest elderly lady, who had embraced Jennifer and her sisters as were they her true grandchildren. She and her husband never got around to having any children of their own, and when he died some years back her attention span for Jennifer and her sisters only grew that much bigger.

>>Jennifer, my dear.<< She exclaimed joyfully and Jennifer could hear the gardening tools clamber on the ground when Mrs. John dropped them and came to sit next to Jennifer. As always, she smelled slightly of roses and top soil from the many hours she spent in her garden. She was a rather short woman with an arching back from bending over her flower beds, which also resulted in the layer of dirt she had all over her.

>>You’re looking a wee bit sad deary.<< Jennifer couldn’t help notice how Mrs. John exhaled heavily as she sat down, but she pretended not to. >>Come; come tell me what could be this troubling? Nothing’s ever as bad as it seems, I always say.<< You could always count on the usual classic advice from Mrs. John. She placed a warm arm around Jennifer who appreciatively leaned in to her shoulder.

>>It’s nothing too serious, really. I’m just going away for summer camp tomorrow.<< Jennifer said it in the lowest key she could, but nothing got past Mrs. John.

>>Camp? But I’ve heard about no such thing.<<

>>Yes, it was decided just yesterday. And I leave tomorrow.<< As nonchalant as she could, Jennifer tried to shrug it off.

>>Well, now I see why you’re sulking like this. But it’s not that bad. Last I checked these camps don’t last more than a few weeks.<<

That they didn’t, thought Jennifer. It’s not so much that, but the fact that I won’t be coming home afterwards, she added mentally. She didn’t say this out loud for obvious reasons. At least she knew the plan about going away to camp would work.

>>Cheer up, I’m sure it’ll be some great weeks.<< Mrs. John squeezed Jennifer gently before offering her some work to clear her mind; working in the garden always helped Mrs. John in that way. Jennifer chuckled at the offer but accepted it nonetheless.

She would have liked to spend some more time with her sisters but whenever she was around them she was only so much more reminded of her coming departure, a thing she definitely didn’t want to think about. So she followed Mrs. John back to her garden with a heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach. It wasn’t until she was surrounded by the many flowers she remembered her experience with the plant in her window. Very quietly she backed up against the garden gate, which Mrs. John noticed immediately.

>>Come on deary, they won’t bite.<< Mrs. John chuckled at her remark and didn’t pay any further attention to Jennifer. Without even thinking about it, Jennifer had fiddled for her neck where her new necklace would have been. She took a few deep breaths and knelt down next to the rose bed. Her hand was still by her collarbone when she reached out for the tiny shovel. Rather forcefully, Jennifer reached out for the rose and when her fingers where mere inches away, she could feel it. It was the same sensation she had with the plant in the morning, although it wasn’t as powerful.

     The necklace, thought Jennifer and scratched her neck absently. It would have had to turn something on inside her, because no matter which rose she reached for she could feel it exactly like she had felt the plant in her window still. Although she couldn’t feel the roses as strongly, or hear them sigh. Whatever it was, the necklace seemed to have enhanced it. Jennifer put the shovel down and rather hesitantly placed a single finger on one of the rose petals and the instant she touched it she could feel the entire Energy of the rose coursing through her body. She sensed how it thrived in the dry earth but needed more space and it was thirsty. Jennifer couldn’t resist a tiny smile at herself. She let go of the rose and touched the one next to it and felt a similar Energy run through her again. It needed space, just like the first one. Jennifer turned to Mrs. John who was humming to herself while she was gardening. To be perfectly sure, Jennifer touched every single rose in the flower bed and she sensed the same; they all wanted more space.

>>Mrs. John? I think some of your roses are too cramped, and they could do with some water.<< She added as Mrs. John came over to look at the roses with a slight frowning of her nose.

>>Yes, they might be a bit cramped here but I simply don’t have the space to spread them out any further. The hose is over there darling, just give them all the water you feel they need.<<

With the hose in one hand and a finger on the nearest rose, Jennifer watered the entire flower bed and after about a minute she could feel the rose had had enough water. She let go of it and for the first time she tried to see if she could feel the rose without actually touching it. Strangely, she had an easier time feeling it at the tip of her fingers because that’s were she had last had contact with the rose. She rubbed her fingers together and very slowly she could feel the rose’s Energy in her hand. Again, she smiled at herself without Mrs. John noticing anything.

Very subtle Jennifer went through the other flower beds in the same way, with a finger to each flower, without Mrs. John noticing anything. With every time she touched a rose her contact with them grew stronger. After watering the first flower bed she could sense the flowers’ thirst without any direct contact with them. She just had to hold out a hand over the roses to catch their Energies. Jennifer couldn’t help but wonder at this new Gift she had discovered, it was both strange but comforting in a way she couldn’t explain. The feeling of helping the roses in such a simple way by giving them enough water was surprisingly satisfying.

When she’d watered the entire garden, she decided to try one more experiment. She knelt down to the first flower bed she’d chosen, closed her eyes and focused on the roses alone. She could hear Mrs. John in the background but ignored her the best she could. Instead, she tried to get a sense of the roses again. Their Energies were easily recognizable but she couldn’t figure out how to connect with them without touching them. Still with her eyes closed she held out a hand above the place she knew the roses were and at once their Energies felt stronger. She remained like this for some seconds to get the exact feel of the Energies. Then she very slowly retracted her hand, though keeping her attention on the roses. Incredibly enough, she could still feel the roses’ Energies while she moved further away, it was like their Energies flowed through her. It was a funny feeling. Jennifer relaxed again and opened her eyes. The roses looked no different than before, the only difference was to be found in Jennifer. It wasn’t physically visible but Jennifer could clearly feel it. The Energies of the roses ran through her as something completely natural. All of a sudden it was like the roses could recognize her too. Their wish to get more space suddenly changed to a demand. Jennifer shook her head but the demand from the roses only grew stronger, making it harder for her to ignore.

>>Mrs. John, I’m sure Sam wouldn’t mind if you moved some of the roses into our garden. That way they would all get more space.<< Jennifer turned to Mrs. John and as Mrs. John came closer, the Energies of the roses fainted away and Mrs. John’s presence grew stronger. The Energy from Mrs. John became so strong that Jennifer felt slightly dizzy and she was glad she was already sitting on the ground. She closed her eyes to shut out Mrs. John without much luck. Mrs. John’s worry for her roses rushed over Jennifer and when Mrs. John noticed how uncomfortable Jennifer looked, her worries shifted to her. She placed a hand on Jennifer’s shoulder and at once Jennifer was overwhelmed by Mrs. John’s worries. Without any real thought to it, she shook Mrs. John’s hand off and the worry diminished slightly. Mrs. John looked a bit offended, but Jennifer was too affected to pay any real attention to it. She was too focused on keeping Mrs. John’s emotions out and re-focus on the roses. The roses’ Energies weren’t as big as Mrs. John’s and was easier to keep at a distance. It was certainly not easy for Jennifer.

>>Deary, are you all right?<< Mrs. John hesitated to put her hand on Jennifer’s shoulder again, but she didn’t and Jennifer felt grateful for it. She shook her head in silence, bit her lip and didn’t say a word. It took a few long minutes before Jennifer felt capable of speaking again.

>>I’m sorry Mrs. John. I guess I got a bit dizzy for a moment.<< Jennifer tried to close of the Energy from Mrs. John, she didn’t succeed completely but it was significantly lesser and she was starting to feel the Energy from the roses again.

>>Perhaps you should go inside and lie down a bit. The heat must’ve gone to your head.<< Jennifer nodded, but she couldn’t ignore the roses easily. Not the way they were practically screaming at her for more space.

>>The roses?<< Mrs. John looked down at the roses and then to the garden next door.

>>Yes, it’s not like she has a lot of colours in there. If you think she wouldn’t mind you go ahead and move a few of them.<< The minute Mrs. John had given her consent a wave of hope emerged from the roses. Jennifer was flooded by it; each and every rose was now hoping to be moved. Without thinking of what she was doing she schussed the flowers.

>>What’s that deary?<< Mrs. John looked worrisome at Jennifer.

>>Nothing, I think there was a bee or something.<< Jennifer glanced around and hoped Mrs. John didn’t think more of it.

>>A bee? I see, well, just move a dozen or so of the roses to your sister’s garden. Can you manage on your own or do you want me to do it for you?<< Mrs. John was already preparing to dig up the roses but Jennifer stopped her.

>>I’ll do it. Thanks for the help Mrs. John but if it’s all right with you I think I’ll go lie down after I’ve moved the roses.<<

>>Of course. We can’t have you feeling ill before you leave for camp. Say hello to your sisters from me, I see Anna’s visiting these days.<<

>>I will.<< Mrs. John nodded in agreement; she smiled one last time before she turned her back on Jennifer once again. When she was just a few feet away Jennifer could feel Mrs. John’s Energy lessen and Jennifer felt much better. Again the roses felt stronger with her, and their desire to be moved had suddenly grown much bigger, so much that Jennifer felt a need to shush them again, but she refrained.

>>I can’t move all of you.<< She said instead, through clenched teeth as she started digging. She thanked Mrs. John before she went back to their garden to find a fitting spot for the roses. They helped guide her to a spot below the kitchen window. It went far easier than she had expected. The roses helped her more than she could imagine and after only a few minutes they all seemed happy in their new location. Jennifer sat down and felt for the Energies. It had started to diminish from the roses, as they had gotten what they wanted; they no longer felt the need to shout at Jennifer. Just as the Energy from the roses fell away, another more familiar one started to approach Jennifer. She moved away from the flowers and their Energy disappeared completely as she did so, but the new one kept growing. Jennifer recognized the source when Sam poked her head out the window. In the same way it had happened with Mrs. John, Jennifer was flooded with Sam’s emotions, but they weren’t as strong as the worry she had felt with Mrs. John, this was more of wonderment.

>>Jennifer, what are you doing?<< Sam looked down at Jennifer who was slowly creeping away from the newly planted rose bed.

>>Mrs. John gave you some roses, I was just planting them for you.<< Jennifer said with some trouble while she focused on keeping Sam’s Energy away. It was difficult, but she almost had it right until she sensed the skepsis with Sam over the new roses.

>>Remind me to thank her. Dinner’s almost ready, won’t you come in and wash up?<< Jennifer didn’t have to answer and she didn’t get a chance to either before Sam had disappeared inside again, letting Jennifer relax. She breathed heavily and looked first to the roses then to the window where Sam had just been. With a bit of strain she got to her feet, fearing how the rest of the evening would play out. With this Gift, it would be impossible for her not to seem absent the entire night and she didn’t need Sam to worry even more over her. She had already collapsed on the floor once that morning because of the necklace. The necklace she didn’t seem to need anyway.

With one hand on the door she took a deep breath and tried to find something simple to focus her Gift on for the rest of the night.

(Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg)

To be continued in Chapter 8 – New Beginning

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Chapter Six – New Senses

Den første fredag i måneden ankom lidt sent, men I skal ikke snydes af den grund. Så mens mange mennesker render rundt i København til Bogforum ser jeg mig nødsaget til en dag på sofaen med lidt sygdom, heldigvis på vej væk igen allerede, gudskelov det kun var en mindre 24 timers virus. Om alt andet, så er det nu blevet tid til sjette kapitel med Jennifer, og her sker der en hel del forandringer for hende.

 

The first Friday of the month arrived a wee bit late, but that’s no reason to leave you hanging. While many people are enjoying the many joys of Copenhagen’s Bogforum, I’ll just spend the day here on the sofa, nursing a small 24-hour bug while it leaves my system. However, it is time for chapter six with Jennifer, and this time she is in for a great deal of change.

Chapter Six – New Senses

As it turned out; Anna had taken the following days off work. Jennifer suspected Anna for realising her decision before she had realised it herself. Nonetheless she was pleased Anna had taken the time off work. This meant Jennifer could spend her last hours before leaving in the company of her entire family. After their father had left earlier that day, the three sisters had spent the afternoon together and, for a while, postponed the fact that Jennifer would be leaving in a matter of days. Jack had volunteered to look after Susan, so she wouldn’t spoil their sisterly fun. The only problem with this was that it was a deal Susan had not agreed to and she demanded to be with her mother after several crying fits. Jennifer didn’t mind this at all. All she wanted was to be with her family as much as possible before she would be leaving, which was why she was so grateful for Anna staying over the following days.

Jennifer had put the necklace her dad gave her back in the box it came in. She hadn’t given it more thought before she went to bed that night. Just like any other night, she had trouble sleeping, but it wasn’t until she was sure the rest of the house was asleep that she retrieved it from the drawer by her bed.

Lying in the palm of her hand, she hardly felt it, but she had a feeling it meant more than just as a simple necklace. She twirled it around her fingers and watched the moonlight’s reflection. It really was beautiful how it was able to reflect the light as blue then purple and red and the rest of the colours of the rainbow.

It spun around itself hanging right in front of her. She couldn’t say why but it was like the necklace was calling to her. As if it wanted her to wear it. Sometimes it even seemed like it lit up on its own, though Jennifer convinced herself it was just the moonlight hitting it a certain way making it do that. For a brief moment, she considered putting on the necklace but after a moment of thought she put it back in the drawer instead.

Jennifer thought back to what her father had said before he had left that same afternoon.

>>Practice.<<

What had he meant by that? What was she supposed to practice? It made no sense and especially not if she tried to fit the necklace into that equation. Tired from a long day she rolled over and as time went by and more and more mystical ideas popped into her head, sleep slowly overcame her.

 

Jennifer was in a clearing. It was the middle of the night and the only light shone from the moon. Everything seemed strange, yet she had a nagging feeling of having been here before. She walked a bit around the clearing to see if it would trigger her memory but without luck. The clearing was covered by a thick layer of moss, surrounded by large boulders around the edge. It wasn’t until then Jennifer spotted the old man that realisation hit her. He was practically hanging with his upper body over the large boulder as he heaved in air to gain his breath. Jennifer frowned as she suddenly got the sensation that this was much too familiar. The old man was extremely dirty and visibly exhausted. Very slowly Jennifer started to approach him, questioning herself what she should do.

>>Are you all right?<< She asked and bent down a bit to get a better look at him. There was no response and he didn’t seem to react to anything Jennifer did. She straightened up and looked around. Suddenly it started to come back to her. The clearing, the old man. She was in the middle of her nightmare. Jennifer glanced down at the old man’s left hand. Just as she had expected, she saw it was holding onto a small object from a shimmering silver chain. Jennifer heard branches being broken very roughly behind her and then she saw the redheaded woman enter the clearing. Instantly the grip in the old man’s hand tightened around the tiny object.

>>Hand it over!<< Jennifer heard the young woman shout curtly with her hand outstretched. Without further thought to what she was doing, Jennifer stepped between them, while the old man attempted to crawl away in what looked like fear.

>>Stop it.<< She sounded much braver than she actually felt. The woman didn’t react. She looked right through Jennifer and down at the old man.

>>Never.<< He coughed back and made the mosquitoes buzzing go silent for a second. Jennifer watched the scene in fear. She knew what was about to happen and she stared frantically from the young woman to the old man, incapable of stopping it. As she expected the light started to spread from the hand of the old man and blood started to trickle down his fingers. Jennifer looked over at the woman and saw the anger shining from her. The old man had collapsed down on the ground though still holding on to the object. She saw how the young woman took pleasure in seeing the old man in pain and Jennifer felt disgusted. She saw how the tiny object seemed to be burning its way through the old man’s hand, how the circular object shone brighter and brighter as seconds lulled by.

>>Is it worth it? Is it really worth the pain?<< The woman stood solid as a rock and stared despisingly at the pitiful sight the man had become. Jennifer was astounded when he replied in a firm and steady voice and stared right back at her green eyes:

>>Yes.<< In a split-second Jennifer saw how the woman simply by blinking woke the flames and they shot up from the ground encircling all three of them. Jennifer backed away from the many flames licking up her legs. She jumped several feet away and kept bashing her clothes down on her body trying to keep off the flames when suddenly she noticed incredibly enough that neither her clothes nor her long hair had caught fire. Jennifer looked around slightly confused. The flames were even higher now around the edge of the clearing and devoured everything they touched. Still, Jennifer wasn’t touched the tiniest bit by it. She looked back and saw the man lying on the ground shaking. Carefully she stepped closer and then she saw that the woman wasn’t touched by the flames either.

>>You can’t win Teron.<< She said hoarsely as she kneeled down beside him. Jennifer let out a scream of horror as the flames closed in around them. She could hear the man scream in pain but there was nothing she could do.

Her scream kept echoing in the clearing but when she opened her eyes she was back in her bed, in the arms of Sam. Jennifer gasped for breath, covered in sweat and tears.

>>It was just a nightmare Jennifer. Calm down. It’s over now.<< The soothing voice of Sam reached Jennifer very slowly and she started to calm down and her breathing slowed. She felt very grateful for Sam not releasing her hold on her that moment. Through her tear blurred vision, Jennifer noticed Anna and Jack standing by the door both looking very worried. Jennifer closed her eyes only to find herself right back in her nightmare, after which she did her best to keep her eyes open. She sat with her head resting in the arms of Sam, who kept stroking her hair softly. Despite her eyes being bright open, Jennifer didn’t register anything going on around her.

She didn’t see how Sam and Anna both looked sad and frightened for their sister’s condition. Or how Jack kept scratching his neck looking very upset over the fact that he didn’t know what to do or react in a situation like this. The only thing Jennifer could think about was her nightmare and how real it had been that time. She kept running her hands over her arms and legs in the constant fear the flames would engulf her again. She didn’t care about the many tears streaming down her face and soaking the sheets, she couldn’t stop crying. The sense of everything around her had abandoned her. Any other night, she would just have told herself it was a nightmare and tried to go back to sleep, but not this time. Every time she attempted to close her eyes, just to rest them from straining them she was back in the nightmare and the flames. Instantly she would open her eyes again and pull the sheets close to her body. Anna and Jack had gone back to bed but Sam stayed at the end of Jennifer’s bed. She refused to leave Jennifer alone.

>>Was it the same nightmare?<< There was no light in the room yet Jennifer could still see the sad look on Sam’s face in the small amount of moonlight that shone through the curtains. Without realizing that Sam might not be able to see it, Jennifer nodded. Sam moved closer, maybe the better to see Jennifer, she wasn’t really sure of anything at the time.

>>It was much worse this time.<< Jennifer muttered with the covers below her chin and her eyes stiffly on the centre of the bed. For some strange reason she didn’t want to look Sam in the eyes. Jennifer realised she was scared of the green eyes she’d been seeing, even in her own reflection, for so many years.

>>How worse?<<

>>I could feel the flames. The minute I close my eyes I’m right back there and the flames are burning me. I can’t stop it…<< Jennifer paused and pulled the covers further up. Sam didn’t reply, maybe because she didn’t know what to say. What could she say that would help, really? No matter what she could have said it wouldn’t change the fact that Jennifer wouldn’t get any more sleep that night. Sam couldn’t just make the nightmare stop and go away.

>>Why do I keep having this nightmare?<< She looked at Sam, though avoiding her eyes, who opened her mouth to answer but no sound came out. >>The other day when you showed me the locket and told me about dad, why did you do it? What I mean is, what does it have to do with my nightmares?<<

>>As I told you the other day that woman is from our family. She lived many years ago. Jennifer I don’t know much about the exact details, you’ll have to ask dad when he gets here. All I know is that woman is part of our family and that the dream isn’t just that but a depiction of an event that really happened many years ago.<<

>>I just don’t understand how she can be so ruthless to this Teron.<< Jennifer mumbled into her sheets.

>>Neither do I. That’s another thing you will have to discuss with dad when he gets here. Are you sure you won’t be able to get some more sleep?<< Sam placed a hand on Jennifer’s leg. Jennifer sighed. She wasn’t sure if she had the nerve to but she did it anyway. She bit her lip and closed just the one eye. Nothing. Then she closed her other eye and she found herself right back in the nightmare again. Instantly she popped her eyes open again and saw the sad look on Sam’s face.

>>All right. How about we spend the time productively instead of just sitting around staring into the air?<< Jennifer couldn’t help but smile. This was so typically Sam, she had never been the kind of girl to just sit around and relax. She always had to do something and it was clear that Jennifer had to do the same now. Sam turned on the lights and the rest of the night was spent cleaning up Jennifer’s room and dividing her stuff into what she would pack for storage and what she would bring to live with her father.

 

Jennifer sat and watched television absentmindedly, not really paying attention to what was on. Her head kept falling to her chest and her eyes became heavier and heavier by the minute. Ever since her nightmare that night she hadn’t been able to sleep at all. Her room had never looked as clean and tidy as it did these days. She and Sam had been at it practically the entire night. Most of the things Jennifer hadn’t used over the last year or so had been packed in boxes and moved to the ceiling. A few things had been packed for her to bring when she went to live with her father. After a while, she had finally convinced Sam to agree to wait to organize her clothes, because even Sam had begun to yawn as the morning came closer. Jennifer had too, but she kept forcing herself to stay awake in the constant fear of returning to her nightmare. So despite the many yawns she kept working and filled box after box until her room was almost empty. Packing up what felt like her life, and it was a weird feeling seeing everything, all her memories and such, stacked in boxes and wrapped in plastic bags. When Sam had yawned so much she nearly cracked her jaw, Jennifer had forced her to bed to get at least a few hours of sleep. Had it been up to Sam alone she would have kept Jennifer company on the sofa but Jennifer didn’t feel Sam had to suffer because she was having nightmares. After all, Sam had a daughter to look after when it came down to it. Jennifer could hear the clearing of plates from the kitchen but she didn’t have the energy to get up and see who it was. Without noticing a thing she changed the channel, just to get a different sound in the room. She felt the sofa give in and saw Anna next to her with a bowl of cereal.

>>I’m guessing you must be hungry?<< She handed Jennifer the bowl and she started eating the cereal eagerly, and almost too fast, spilling milk down her front. >>I guessed right.<< Anna chuckled as she watched Jennifer gulp down the breakfast. Jennifer just smiled through mouthfuls. >>So you haven’t slept at all?<< Jennifer shook her head, her mouth still full of cereal. >>What shall we do today then?<< Just as Jennifer swallowed her last mouthful, Jack entered the living room with a yawning Susan on his arm. She was rubbing her tiny eyes very hurriedly and hanging close over Jack’s shoulder.

>>Sam’s still asleep, which I would think you ought to be trying too I’d say.<< Jack handed Susan to Anna, whom she was reaching for eagerly.

>>Jack’s right, you can’t go on without sleep until dad gets here.<< Anna did her best to keep Susan away from her hair but Susan’s tiny fingers managed to get well tangled in it anyway.

>>I know, but I can’t. Every time I close my eyes, thinking about sleeping I’m right back in my dream.<< Jennifer put the bowl away and rubbed her eyes, much like Susan had done just before.

>>Jennifer, are you sure….<<

>>I’m fine. I just need to find something to do.<< Jennifer waived off Anna’s hand and got up. She walked up and down the living room, but in the end the looks she was getting from Jack and Anna became too much.

>>If you want anything, I’ll be in my room.<<

She turned on her heels and almost ran to her room. She slammed the door harder than she had intended and only remembered Sam was still sleeping after she’d done it. When she didn’t hear anything for the next couple of minutes, she assumed Sam was still sound asleep. Jennifer moved to sit on her now neatly made bed. She could feel her body was tired, but her eyes refused to give in for the constant fear of returning to her nightmare. She lay down on the bed, but kept her eyes open. Instead she found a spot on the ceiling to stare at, while thoughts whirled around in her mind.

The dream took up most of the space. In her mind, Jennifer kept returning to the old man, Teron. What could he possibly have done to deserve to burn alive like that? She couldn’t fathom that the woman was related to Jennifer in any way. It was hard to understand how anyone in her family could be that ruthless to another human being like that. She tried to remember every little detail from the dream, hoping it could help give an explanation to the many questions she couldn’t answer without her father. She realized even though she would go live with her father he wouldn’t be ready to tell her about it yet. He had made that clear last time he was there. Jennifer sighed and rolled over on her stomach as ideas started to take form in her head. It didn’t take her long to mould an idea of the man Teron. She reviewed every inch of his body and clothes in the search of something unusual. It surprised her how much she was able to remember, and how clearly it stood out in her mind, but logic told her it was only natural given she had had the dream countless of times over many nights.

She saw Teron in her mind, hunched over the large boulder heaving for breath. In her mind’s eye she ran up and down his limping body where she lingered on his left hand. Mentally, she froze the image and focused on his hand, which was unnaturally tightly squeezed around a very tiny object. Jennifer hurried to find pen and paper and she quickly started to draw it from memory. She put the pen down after a short time and studied her drawing. The outline of the object was clearly pressing its way through Teron’s hand but the moment Jennifer recognized the shape, she started to doubt her memory. After all, she had held the very same shape in her hand just before she went to sleep. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. She bit her lip. What if it wasn’t a coincidence? She’d had the nightmare long before her father gave her the necklace. Very doubtfully, she got out the necklace and held it up in the light. The two half-circles spun beautifully in the light reflected around the room. Jennifer looked from the necklace in her hand to the drawing she had just made. She reached up with her other hand and closed it around the pendant. Squeezing as hard as possible without breaking it, she could feel the outline of the pendant pressing against the palm of her hand but she kept squeezing. In a tight grip she moved her hand closer to the drawing to compare. She couldn’t see the outline in her hand as it had been in Teron’s but it was bulging very slightly. It was the exact same shape, if not the exact same pendant. In her dream, Teron had held on to it so tightly that blood had dripped from his hand. Jennifer loosened her grip and the pendant fluttered in the chain dangling from her wrist. She placed the pendant on the floor and rested her head in her hands. Now she had even more speculations to tend to. Her gaze returned to the pendant. Very fast, she pushed the drawing away determined not to think about it anymore. At least not for now. She made sure the drawing was all the way under her bed making it disappear. Instead, she held up the pendant again. She climbed to her bed with the pendant in one hand. It really was beautiful the way it reflected the light from bright to dark and shifted in colours too.

It was as if something forbidden surrounded the pendant. Although Jennifer couldn’t explain why she had this feeling. It was like something at the back of her head kept telling her not to put the necklace on whenever she did think about this. As if it would hurt her to put on a necklace. It was this little notion, which made her look around the room as a precaution before she pulled the chain over her head and around her neck.

The minute she let go of the chain and let it rest around her neck the entire room was in a daze. She closed her eyes at once and was glad that she was already sitting. For some minutes she kept still as she could feel the dizziness wear off. Very slowly, and blinking quite a lot, she opened her eyes only to see nothing had changed. Not the slightest. She sighed. For a brief moment she’d thought the reason for her dizziness had been the reason for some bigger change, on the surface everything looked the same. Jennifer looked down at the pendant around her neck, it seemed to be glowing even stronger now than when she first got it. She stayed on her bed and looked around. She cast another glance down at the pendant with a deep sigh. Years and years of books and films in science-fiction and the supernatural made her test what she knew was impossible. Even with a pendant like the one she had dangling around her neck.

She focused all her energy on the plant in the window and reached out her right hand. She held her left hand in a small ball-like shape, ready to catch the plant when she assumed it would be flying across the room to her. She gave it three tries before she started to giggle at what she was attempting and the plant was still standing in the window still. She turned around shaking her head smiling at her own silliness. It was at that moment she heard a deep sigh. Spinning around in her seat she saw… no one. She moved up close to the wall, giving her a complete view of the room. It only took a few seconds before she heard it again. Only this time, not only did she hear it, it was as she almost felt it too. She didn’t move a muscle but still the sigh went straight through her every time. It came every few seconds. Frowning, she crept of her bed and started to look for the source of the sigh. Even though she could feel the sigh it wasn’t coming from her, she knew that for sure. She moved around the room, almost in slow-motion, and ended up by the window still with the plant. A cool summer breeze blew through the open window as another sigh flooded Jennifer as the plant swayed in the wind. Crouching down, Jennifer kept her eyes on the plant. She could feel the sighs stronger now, which meant she must be close to the source of whatever was making it. It couldn’t be the plant? Could it?

She reached out and ran a finger down one of the leaves. As she did this, she felt as someone was standing behind her and stroking her back. Much startled by this she retrieved her hand quickly and slumped down on the floor. She reached up for the plant to look at. As it swayed in her hand Jennifer felt the dizziness going through the plant.

>>This is not normal.<< Whispered Jennifer. As though the plant had heard her and wanted to answer her, a sensation of understanding suddenly seemed to be going through Jennifer. Involuntarily she closed her eyes and in an instant she knew how every root and leaf on the plant looked and how it grew. Overwhelmed, and very confused, she put the plant down and crawled as far as possible away from it.

But the energy of the plant kept pulsating at the back of her head.

 

Jennifer stayed in her room the rest of the morning. Throughout that short time she always knew how the plant was doing, down to every root or when it moved in the wind. She had crawled as far away as possible, sitting with her back against the far wall but the Energy of the plant was just as strong as it would have been if she was sitting right next to it. She rested her chin on her knees and simply stared at the plant while she tried to come up with some sort of explanation. There didn’t come any answers with reason to her just then.

Towards noon she could hear Sam getting out of bed. As Jennifer looked to her door she could see the shadows below the door stop for a brief moment, only to continue again, most likely to go downstairs. She didn’t think more of it. Not that it wasn’t important; she just couldn’t handle anymore things that would confuse her at the time. She had enough to think about. It didn’t take long however, for the shadows to return under the door and this time they were followed by a knock. The handle turned, the door opened but Jennifer never saw who it was before a flood of emotions and worries washed over her. She knew it wasn’t her feelings but belonged to whoever had come through the door.

Jennifer yanked her hands to her ears, desperately trying to block it out but it didn’t help. She closed her eyes as hard as she could but little good it did. She exhaled a long sigh and a silent squeak before she fell over from exhaustion.

 (Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg)

To be continued in Chapter 7 – Practice

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Chapter Five – Proof

Nu er hverdagen ved at vende tilbage og jeg håber til at jeg kan være lidt mere stabil i min udgivelse af kapitlerne her. Første fredag i september byder på 5 kapitel hvor Jennifer møder sin far for første gang og en del spørgsmål bliver opklaret mens andre opstår.

 

A normal everyday life is slowly returning and I hope to be much more consistent in my posts of these chapters. The first Friday in September offers chapter 5 in which Jennifer meets her father for the first time and some questions are answered, while others arise.

 

Chapter Five – Proof

When Jennifer came down for breakfast that morning it was for one more surprise. Anna was at the table, already having second helpings of scrambled eggs by the looks of her plate. She was joyfully chatting to Sam, who was trying to get Susan to eat her mashed bananas. Susan, on the other hand, was not in a mood for eating and every time Sam came near with the spoon, Susan struck out her hand in the hopes it would fall to the ground. It was Susan who spotted Jennifer first as she was trying to avoid another spoonful. As she saw Jennifer her face spread in a large grin and Sam saw the chance to sneak the spoon in her mouth, resulting in Susan spitting most of it out again.

>>Morning sis.<< Anna said with such spirit. She didn’t seem affected by anything at all, making Jennifer doubt whether she even knew what had been going on for the last few days. Jennifer joined the table without making a word and received a suspicious glare from Anna. She raised one eyebrow beneath her dark bangs and glanced over at Sam, who just shrugged.

>>By God, you two are acting as if someone’s died.<< She burst out and laughed loudly. After a minute or so, when neither had joined in her laughter, she shook her head making her short hair ruffle around her ears.

>>Do you even know what have happened these last days?<< Asked Jennifer tiredly as she leaned across the table in exhaustion.

>>’Course I do. D’you think I’ve only come to see your pyjamas?<< Anna gently poked Jennifer in the side. This was typical Anna. She had always been the positive of the three. Anna was the middle sister and had always been forced to adapt to situations a bit faster. This was partly the reason why she always saw the bright side of everything. Apparently this was no different than any other situation to her. >>Look, Sam called the other day and filled me in.<< Jennifer looked to Sam, who only shrugged innocently.

>>She was going to find out eventually. Anna has every right to know what’s happening as any of us.<<

>>Not like you were going to leave without saying goodbye either?<< Jennifer looked startled at Anna.

>>Who said anything about me going anywhere?<< Jennifer looked at the both of them. Jack was standing by the sink, barely glancing at the three sisters. Very silently he moved to pick up Susan and the two of them left the room.

Jennifer crossed her arms and leaned back in her seat. It seemed her sisters had already made the decision for her. Of course she had decided what to do, but now she wasn’t so sure she wanted to tell them before their father arrived later that day.

>>Come on Jennifer.<< Anna was still smiling. >>We both know you. Honestly, I’d be surprised if you didn’t go.<<

>>What do you mean?<<

>>What Anna mean, is that you’ve been given the opportunity to have some extraordinary experiences. You’ve always been the most adventurous of the three of us, which is why we feel this would be an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up on.<<

>>Have you decided yet?<< Anna interrupted abruptly and shoved her cutlery away. Jennifer kept looking at her sisters. She had no idea how she would tell them. Of course, she had made up her mind. The truth was, her sisters were right, they knew her too well, but that wasn’t something she was keen to admit. After her dream it had been much easier. She no longer felt like she would disappoint anyone no matter what she chose. In the end, it was her choice and whatever it would be, she was doing it for her and no one else.

>>Yeah, I’ve made up my mind.<<

>>So? What is it? Are we going to be stuck with you forever or are you leaving to bug our dad a bit for all the years he hasn’t been here?<<

>>Anna?<<

>>What? It’d do him some good, I figure.<< Anna rolled her eyes, but Jennifer kept focusing on Sam. Ever since their mother died, Sam had stepped in and taken care of Jennifer as a second mother. It was her she feared telling the most. She knew Sam was the one who would suffer most from the decision. She could see this already. Sam was almost holding her breath from pure nerves, bracing herself for what Jennifer would say.

>>Are you sure you wouldn’t want to wait till he gets here?<<

>>Heck no, spit it out!<<Jennifer moved uncomfortably in her seat and tried to avoid Sam’s eyes, but they seemed to have pierced their way through her. All she could do was look at the table as she said it.

>>I’m going.<< There, she’d said it. Anna put her hands together enthusiastically for being right. Sam on the other hand looked like someone had just slapped her across the face.

>>Well, I guess that’s that.<< Sighed Sam and got up. Without another word she left the kitchen and went outside in her bathrobe. Anna looked stunned. Sam had never acted anything like that. Jennifer’s choice had clearly shaken her.

>>Should we go get her?<< Anna went to look out the window for Sam.

>>I think she needs to be alone a bit.<< Jennifer was already heading upstairs when Anna stopped her halfway.

>>Think again you. You, go talk to her and that’s right now. Here, bring her a coat.<< Anna tossed both coats to Jennifer who, although reluctantly, went outside.

It was a cool summer morning; the sun still had some time to show. Sam sat on the large concrete bench in the middle of their little front garden; she had her bathrobe pulled close around her. The wind was still chilled from the night and Jennifer pulled on her coat before she moved to put Sam’s around her shoulders. She kept quiet when Jennifer sat next to her. Jennifer didn’t want to say anything, partly because she didn’t know what to say and partly because she was afraid to upset Sam even more. Instead, they stared at the road and the lone few who’d risen from bed early. Those few, who were up, looked questioningly at Sam and Jennifer as they stepped outside to gather their newspapers.

Sam reached out and took Jennifer’s hand to give it an affectionate squeeze. The minutes passed like this and the sun slowly moved across the sky, making all the flowers wake up from the night and bathing Jennifer and Sam in the sun light.

>>Deep down, I think I always knew that was what you’d choose. I guess, I was just hoping to prove myself wrong for once in my life.<< Jennifer gave a slight twitch at the sound of Sam breaking the silence. >>Even when we were children you stood apart from Anna and me.<< Sam Laughed. >>When mum told us about dad she also said it would change too much if you ever found out. Even when I realized what she meant, I hoped it wouldn’t happen. But I think mum must’ve known it would turn out like this, otherwise she wouldn’t have been so keen on us keeping it from you, unlike the rest of us. I remember when we were young and the stories you used to make up about dad. You were always desperately hoping he wasn’t dead and he would return one day. I remember dreaming that too the first years after mum explained he couldn’t come back. The only difference between Anna, me and you is that we slowly let go of the dream while you held on to it.<< Sam had tears in her eyes by now and Jennifer’s heart ached at the sight of it.

>>I do respect your choice Jennifer; don’t think any less of me. I just can’t believe you won’t be here anymore in a few days time.<< She caressed Jennifer’s cheek softly and Jennifer could feel her tears piling up too, but she forced them back. She would have plenty of time to cry later.

>>You make it sound like I’m never going to see you again.<<

>>Of course you are. It’ll just be really far in the future and not as often as we both would like. It will be strange not having you in the room across the hall. You, on the other hand, will have plenty of adventures and other wildly experiences you would never in a million years achieve here. You don’t have to worry about us, we’ll manage in do time.<< Jennifer leaned in to Sam’s embrace as she kissed her forehead. >>Mum would’ve been proud.<< She whispered and Jennifer had a sudden flashback to her dream.

>>You know, I think so too.<< Sam barely heard it but put an arm around her and Jennifer huddled up close to her sister. She ignored the little voice in her head telling her this might be the last time she would be able to do so, though it wasn’t easy and it made her hold on a bit longer than usual. It seemed Sam was thinking the same thing as she didn’t seem to want to let go either.

The thought of leaving the comfort she had felt for the last sixteen years suddenly seemed scarier than it had done a few days ago. The enthusiasm of leaving had evaporated during the morning, after she had voiced her choice and made it much more realistic. The prospect of her actually leaving was more real and the short time until she would leave appeared frightening.

>>When does he get here?<< Jennifer asked in a hushed voice, secretly hoping Sam hadn’t heard her.

>>Some time in the afternoon. You’re absolutely sure about this?<< Sam scrutinized at Jennifer, hoping she would shake her head and change her mind right there and then.

>>I don’t know.<< Before Jennifer had the chance to continue, Sam heaved a sigh of relief, under false pretences hoping she would get to keep her sister. >>I’ve never doubted anything more in my life, but on the other hand I’ve never been more sure of anything either. It might sound crazy, but I actually want to go. It’s scary but still exciting. I have no idea how to act around our father.<<

Jennifer could see Sam fall back a little when her last hope vanished, although she tried to hide her disappointment. She had said she respected Jennifer’s choice and was happy on her behalf despite how much she was going to miss her.

>>You’ll figure it out as time passes.<< Jennifer got the strange sensation that Sam was talking to herself more than to Jennifer.

Jennifer spent the day with her family. They argued what would happen to Jennifer, or they tried to guess what would happen as neither one had the faintest idea. Anna hadn’t been there the first time their father had visited and had as the first thing demanded a complete re-cap of it. She exploded with questions the minute Sam and Jennifer finished.

>>He said you were going to receive lessons? What kind of lessons d’you reckon they’d be?<< She started to chortle as she picked up the last cookie just before Sam returned the tray to the kitchen.

>>You couldn’t have left some for him.<< Sam returned with a full tray of cookies again and Anna looked at her reproachfully.

>>So, did you pack yet?<< This was Jack shattering the happy mood in the room. This one sentence forced everyone to face the reality of Jennifer’s decision. The fact that it would happen in a matter of hours made the laughter evaporate from the room at once. Jennifer fell back in her seat and lost her tongue. Before, it had seemed like it had been one big game and when those moments arrived and they had to face the reality of it the mood fell several degrees. It still seemed like a dream to Jennifer, one she would soon wake from and laugh about. However, as time progressed, the funny parts became lesser and more indistinguishable. She shook her head and Jack nodded in understanding. Silence followed this small exchange. No words were uttered, as they waited for him to arrive. As Jennifer remembered it, the time moved too slowly, opposed to the past days which had rushed by her. Absentmindedly, she was fiddling with some torn holes in the couch. She had entangled one finger tightly in a few strings when the room was suddenly lit up by a bright light. Instantly she squeezed her eyes tightly shut, blocking out the incredibly bright light. Just closing her eyes wasn’t enough though, and she held up her free hand to cover them too. When the light seemed to disappear she opened her eyes and saw her father standing in the middle of the room with a huge grin plastered across his face. He wore the same robe like clothing as he had the previous time and didn’t look like he had changed much. Though, there was one thing definitely the exact same thing; his green eyes. He had tiny wrinkles around his eyes which Jennifer took as his sign of nerves. Almost instantly, his green eyes scanned the room and settled on Jennifer. This made Jennifer feel most uncomfortable and once again doubt started to creep up on her.

>>Why, Anna?<< Neither Sam nor Jennifer had introduced Anna, not that there was any need for it. Their father had recognized his middle daughter right away. Anna awkwardly got to her feet and went to accept the hug he clearly had ready for her. All the while, Jennifer sat back and tried to blend in with her surroundings. She did whatever she could to prolong the upcoming conversation. Because once it had taken place, there was no turning back.

>>I didn’t expect to see you here. Then again, I hadn’t expected any of this.<< There was a sigh hidden in his voice though it was cheerful. When he spoke again, it had changed, he sounded nervous and full of expectations. >>Well, we all know why I am here.<< Everyone nodded. Sam reached for Jack’s hand for support. Jennifer kept her mouth shut, till the moment he turned to her.

>>Jennifer? Have you made your choice?<< But before Jennifer had the chance to tell him what she had decided, Sam interrupted.

>>If Jennifer should go with you, how would it take place?<<Sam made it sound like she didn’t know what Jennifer had told her earlier. But Jennifer wanted to know the answer to Sam’s question too so she waited for him to answer.

>>If Jennifer decides to come with me, she will as I told you last time, receive lessons in another form than what she is used to. Her education here will come to an end upon her first day in Júzrïe, as will everything else she had any part in here. Coming with me will mean a goodbye to her life here, and the beginning of a new one in Júzrïe. It will be a large transition, I agree not just for you but very much for Jennifer too. I realize people might start to ask questions regarding Jennifer’s whereabouts and I cannot interfere in what you tell your neighbours. Although I doubt anyone will believe the truth.<< He laughed briefly and it seemed to loosen the tension in the room slightly in the aftermath from his bad joke.

>>Should Jennifer choose to come with me, I would not take her with me today. I assume she has people here she wishes to say her goodbyes to and other affairs to sort out. I will do my best to avoid adding more pressure than necessary; I will respect your choice, whatever it might be. I’ve answered your question now Sam and it seems only fair I have mine answered by Jennifer.<< He turned his attention to Jennifer midsentence and she felt very vulnerable as his eyes pierced hers.

In that moment, she realized how much a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would change. She was well aware that she had already told her sisters she wanted to go but that meant nothing. They were her sisters; they couldn’t take her anywhere it was only her father who could do that. Jennifer had trouble breathing as she looked around the room. She knew why neither Sam nor Anna had said what Jennifer had already told them. They knew too that there was still the slight chance she could change her mind and stay where she was.

But it was impossible for Jennifer to return to her old life. Even if she said ‘no’ she had learned too much to go on pretending anything else. By now she was breathing in short fast intakes and she didn’t notice the nervous glances shared between her sisters. She couldn’t’ keep stalling. She took one more deep breath before she uttered the few words that would change her life forever.

>>I’ll come.<< She said it as fast as she could. Instead of looking for a reaction from her father she looked to Sam. Sam’s shoulders had dropped and she looked devastated. Anna on the other hand was smiling; it was a small smile but a smile non-the-less. Then she turned to look at her father. His sparkling eyes were positively shining with joy. He was so happy that the little wrinkles around his eyes seemed to be climbing over each other in pure excitement.

>>I cannot tell you how much it pleases my old heart.<< He reached out for Jennifer as if he wanted to hug her but by the look on Jennifer’s face she was glad he settled for a handshake. He then seemed to pay attention to the effect it had had on Sam. He let go of Jennifer’s hand, which he had held on to leaving Jennifer feeling awkward, and went over to embrace Sam. She sniffled into his shoulder, as she was a child again, but he didn’t look like he cared.

>>It’s fine. I’m okay.<< Sam sniffed after a moment or two and pulled away again.

>>I understand your sadness Samantha, but it’s not a permanent goodbye. Jennifer can always come visit.<<

>>It’s Sam. And yes, I know but that doesn’t mean I can’t miss her.<<

>>I’m sorry. Of course you can, but as I said earlier I won’t be taking her with me today, unless of course you would want to go today Jennifer?<< He turned to face Jennifer again who instantly shook her head vigorously. For a short moment he seemed let down by this but it had been such a short moment she couldn’t be sure. She really didn’t know him that well to tell for sure.

>>I thought so. I will return the day after tomorrow to pick you up Jennifer. Which leaves you with the rest of today and all of tomorrow to take care of what you need taken care of and say goodbye to your family and friends.<< He let go of Sam and went to hug Anna again after which he turned to Jennifer. She got up a bit too fast and stumbled slightly on her feet. He held out his arms to hug her as he had done with her sisters. But before he embraced her, he placed his heavy hands on her shoulders.

>>I realize the pressure I have placed on you the past days and I am sorry about that, it was necessary unfortunately. I’ve been under quite a lot of pressure myself these days and your choice helps to take some of it off me too. The High Council has been breathing down my neck lately but now I can finally let them know what has been bothering me.<<

>>What are you going to tell them?<< Jennifer looked troubled at her father. His lips turned to a smile.

>>Nothing too big. Only they won’t have to worry about me anymore. I intend to save the news of your return to the family for as long as I can.<< For some reason this calmed Jennifer. She still wasn’t completely certain how she felt about this council of old men who, apparently, were already judging her. >>Before I leave I have a small token for you Jennifer.<< He let go of her shoulders and reached inside his robe in one of many pockets from the looks of it. He had a bit of trouble finding what he looked for among the many pockets but when he did he held out a small golden package for Jennifer. >>Consider it a welcome home present.<< He said with a huge grin and held it out to Jennifer, who took it hesitantly. She didn’t have time to unwrap it before he had said goodbye and moved to the large mirror.

>>I’ll see you in a few days. Practice while I’m away.<< And just then the room was lit up by the bright light again and forced them all to look away.

Jennifer was left behind with plenty mixed emotions and the small golden package in her hand.

>>Open it!<< Anna encouraged almost instantly as the last beam of light vanished. She was hovering behind Jennifer looking over her shoulder. The package was no bigger than an apple and didn’t weigh much. Jennifer gently removed the golden paper knowing every eye in the room was on her.

It was a small wooden box with a gold necklace inside. The gold necklace had a pendant dangling from it, the size of an acorn. It was circular with a symbol in the middle which was twirling around it. The symbol was two half-circles barely connection to form the shape of an ‘s’. Both circles were twirling and glinting in the light.

Jennifer placed it in the palm of her hand and it gave her a strange sense of security as it rested there. It was a proof that everything had been true and was really happening.

Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg

To be continued in Chapter 6 – New Senses

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Chapter Four – Decisions

Den første fredag i sidste måned kom og gik uden at jeg fik lagt det næste kapitel ud af min roman. Lidt ferie kom i vejen og det er jeg bange for der også gør i næste måned. Det er derfor lidt med vilje jeg har gemt kapitel 4 til jer, så I kan få det her midt i mellem, og så håber jeg ikke at I sidder derude og føler jeg snydt. I må absolut ikke tro at jeg har glemt jer! Der er en mening med det hele. Nu får I kapitel 4 hvori Jennifer må træffe nogle svære valg, hvis I skal friskes lidt op kan i kigge tilbage på kapitel 3 i mellemtiden.

 

The first Friday of last month came and went without me getting around to posting the next chapter of my novel. A bit of vacation got in the way and I’m afraid it’s the same case for next month. I have therefor, on purpose, kept chapter 4 from you so it would be available to you here in between months. I sincerely hope you do not sit out there and feel cheated of chapters. Do not think that I have forgotten you, because there is a point to everything. Here is chapter 4, in which Jennifer must face some difficult decisions; if you need to refresh your memory a bit you can look to chapter 3 again in the meantime.

 

Chapter 4 – Decisions

  The next morning when Jennifer woke she thought, no she practically hoped, it had been a very long dream. The little amount of hope she had for that vanished when she came down for breakfast and saw the long faces.

>>It definitely wasn’t just a dream?<< Still rather tired she joined Sam and Jack, shaking their heads, for breakfast.

>>I can’t figure out if I want it to be a dream or not.<< Jennifer sighed and pushed her plate away. It was like her normally large appetite had vanished overnight.

Her respect for her mother’s choice, to keep it a secret, had on the other hand grown vastly. By this, her bitterness towards her so-called father had grown too, because he was dumping all this on her. A part of her wished she hadn’t been told and everything was as it always had been. At the same time she knew that was not an option. The bubble had burst. The ideas she had formed over the years about her father had been destroyed by the truth, a truth she apparently still didn’t know half of. Many small pieces of a grander puzzle still seemed to be missing despite all she had learned over the last few days.

>>I wish it was a dream.<< Said Sam and started clearing the table. Jennifer glanced her way with a frown.

>>Why? It’s not you who have to make this choice about giving up your entire life in exchange for a new one in a matter of three days.<< Jennifer banged her forehead against the table in pure despair.

>>This is exactly what mum meant.<< Sam let dishes be dishes and came to sit with Jennifer. Jennifer turned her head, still resting on the table. She didn’t see how she was going to make this decision in just three days.

>>Mum knew how much it would change your life if you found out the truth. I only realized yesterday that’s why she wanted us to continue to keep you in the dark.<<

>>You really think so?<<

>>You heard dad. Anna and I are too old. You’re the only one with the possibility of having a life in Júzrïe, and I think mum realised this before she died.<<

>>Yeah, that’s one thing I still don’t understand.<< Jennifer straightened up and rubbed her cheek gently after it had been stuck to the table. >>Why are you and Anna too old?<< Sam frowned and looked confused again. It was a look that seemed to have settled permanently among the house these days.

>>You have to understand Jennifer; even I don’t know everything about all this. I can only tell you what I know and understand. As dad said, Júzrïe isn’t on any of our maps because it’s not part of the world we know as such. Dad said it sort of belonged to our world. From what I remember it is because Júzrïe is an old country, older than I remember. The reason why it’s not on any map is because it’s hidden, don’t ask me how since I have no idea, dad never told me and I never asked. But it’s something to do with the Mirrors. That’s how you get there.<<

>>What? Through Mirrors?<< Sam nodded.

>>You saw how the living room lit up yesterday when he left. The light came from the Mirror when he left. I tried it once many years ago and it’s not the most pleasant way to travel. You feel dizzy for a long time after and need lots of rest.<< But it wasn’t the means of transportation that had caught Jennifer’s interest.

>>You’ve been to Júzrïe?<< Jennifer had moved further to the edge of her chair and her attention was fully devoted to Sam by now.

>>Once. I didn’t see a lot or anyone. I only went there for a day to sign some papers because I chose to live here with Jack. But Jennifer,<< Sam reached for Jennifer and she suddenly looked sad again. >>All this is not important. How to get there, or where it is, or why Anna and I are too old is insignificant. What matters now is you and the choice you have to make.<< Jennifer was speechless. >>If you choose to, you will learn much more about Júzrïe than I’m able to tell you.<<

>>Sam are you trying to get rid of me?<< Jennifer said indignantly and pulled away.

>>Of course not, not ever. I want you to stay here, but I know you Jennifer. I saw you yesterday, and how you lit up at the idea of a family.<<

>>Sam, you guys are my family.<<

>>Yes. But you have the chance to get to know the rest of our family. And not just meet our family. You would get to experience many things in Júzrïe you would never even get close to experience here.<<

>>So what you’re saying is, you want me to go but you also want me to stay here?<< Sam chuckled.

>>I know it sounds crazy. Jennifer, you know I dearly want to keep you here with us, but at the same time I can’t help to think of other people. I can’t be selfish and keep you forever. In Júzrïe there are many people who wish for you to take dad’s place when he is gone.<<

>>Sam is right Jennifer.<< It was the first time Jack had spoken all morning and Jennifer was surprised to find him still in the room. >>Your dad asked you for a reason. Because, he is counting on you. Not that I want to put any more pressure on you but that is something you have to take into consideration too. He chose to help his family many years ago and now it’s up to you if you want to do the same?<<

>>When I had the choice in front of me, it was all very appealing but not nearly as appealing as certain other things.<< Sam reached a hand across the table and a smile passed between her and Jack. >>All though, I didn’t have the extra burden put on me as the one you’re facing it was still very appealing, but my life here meant much more to me. Jennifer you’re young and as far as I know you have nothing keeping you here. Don’t worry about us. As you said yourself, we’re your family and families stick together no matter what.<<

>>Maybe.<< Jennifer got up. Her head was swimming.

>>My point is,<< Sam hurried to say before Jennifer left the kitchen. >>Don’t make your decision based on other people’s need and wishes. When it comes down to it, it is your choice and you’re the one who has to live with it. Listen to your heart and make the decision you want to. Then the rest of us have to deal with it, whatever it may be.<< Jennifer nodded and retreated to her room again.

She gently closed the door behind her and slid to the floor where she crouched. She sat like that for a long time, just thinking. She thought about the many things she had learned over the last days and what Sam had just told her. Most of all, she thought about her mother. She thought how hard it must have been for her too, to live her life knowing her husband was alive but they were unable to be together. On top of that she was forced to raise their three daughters alone. Jennifer tried to imagine the struggles her mother must have gone through.

She tried to think of her childhood but it was hard to remember anything specific. As far back as she could remember, it had only been her sisters and their mother. She had no memories of her father at all. For many years, she had thought him to be dead and she had always wondered why her mother never re-married. Every time Jennifer asked about her father her mother disregarded it and immediately talked about something else, as if she were too busy to talk about him or she was too tired or some other excuse she came up with. No matter how Jennifer sprang the question on her, she never got a straight answer. Her mother simply refused to talk about him, something Jennifer had never understood. Now she knew why and understood why her mother had never re-married. Because she was still very much in love with her husband and knew he was alive.

Jennifer looked around her room, hoping to find something to help her make her decision. She was afraid to admit it to herself that she had already made her choice almost the minute she’d heard of Júzrïe and therefore she did her best to try and find things to change her mind.

The idea of Júzrïe made her feel excited and happy. She didn’t think about her father, but the rest of the family she had been missing for so many years. The family she had been longing for, and was possibly waiting for her in Júzrïe. She didn’t think about her father, because every time she did so it made her angry. Granted he had explained things to her why he had left, but it didn’t change the fact that he had left. No matter how you chose to look at it, he had turned his back on his wife and children. And now he had placed Jennifer in a similar position. The small things which previously reminded her of a loving father now seemed to mock her about the lie it had been. She grabbed the photos of him, a jewellery box and a teddy bear from the bed and shoved it under the bed, so as not to remind her more than necessary. After this she sat down cross legged and looked around the room. There was no longer anything reminding her of her father. Though he was a large factor in the decision she didn’t want to be reminded of him constantly as she was about to make her choice. She was determined to make him have as little influence as possible.

 

Jennifer was standing on a hill top. The air was sweet with a touch of summer and flowers. Her eyes were closed and she embraced the silence. Beneath her bare feet she could feel the freshly cut grass. There was a familiar presence in the air. It seemed to be caressing her. If it weren’t for the fact that she knew it was a dream, she could have been standing there for a long time. But her sub-consciousness was telling her otherwise. The loving surroundings were merely an aid to her. To help her in the choice she was about to make. It made it seem much easier to her. But she could still feel the struggle inside her about what path to choose.

Behind her, in the southern direction, she had the view of a valley with a little cottage. A woman was walking around in the garden, carrying a child on her arm. A man joined them from the house. They looked very happy. Even from a distance, one as far as the one Jennifer was at; she could almost feel their happiness as her own. She realized the couple she was watching, was Sam and Jack and the child was Susan. She could still feel their happiness and the urge to join them was growing stronger. Yet, something held her back. There was something else tying her to her spot. She turned her back on her family and gazed at the horizon on the northern side.

It was a view more spectacular than anything she had ever seen. A vast ocean stretched beyond the horizon where the sun was reflected in the water as it shone over the country side. The fields and forests stretched for miles on both sides and she couldn’t see the end of them. The wind was in her back now, gently nudging her to go this way. Jennifer remained indecisively where she was.

Exotic birds flew from the forest and sang beautifully in the sky. People were walking around the fields and working, each and everyone one of them ignorant of the battle Jennifer was facing. Both sides were beautiful and alluring in their own way. The big question was, which side she would join in?

With a heavy heart she simply squatted down, not knowing which way to go. She kept looking from south to north, hoping the answer would come to her by chance, but no luck. Leaves blew up from both sides and slowly gathered in a shape in front of Jennifer. Very suspiciously Jennifer watched as her mother stepped up to her. Without knowing why, Jennifer suddenly started to cry. The memory of her mother was too great and overpowered her for several minutes where she just cried and cried. A feeling of someone holding her made her stop for long enough to make out that everyone, both on the southern and northern side were looking up at her expectantly. Jennifer turned in despair to her mother.

>>No matter what path I choose someone will be hurt.<< Stuttered Jennifer between the heavy flow of tears. Her mother kneeled down and smiled lovingly at her daughter.

>>The question you need to ask yourself darling, is which path would hurt you? This is a choice where you have to disregard everyone, but yourself. You are the one who have to live the rest of your life with it. It is all right for you to be selfish this one time. You just have to follow your heart and it will lead you down the right path.<< As the final word echoed, the form of Susan Paris evaporated and the many leaves rushed around Jennifer before they fell to the ground, as the leaves they were. Jennifer stared at the leaves for a long while before she looked one more time at each side of the hill. Determinedly she got up and wiped the dry tears from her face. She took a deep breath and thought about her mother’s words.

Facing west, she closed her eyes and started to feel for her mother’s presence again. She located it in a gentle breeze coming from east and rustled her dark hair around her face. Jennifer could feel a sense of calm finding her heart very slowly. A feeling she had searched for, for many years and had only now started to come about. A feeling that helped point her in the right direction. With that feeling  in her heart, Jennifer took the first step towards her future.

 

Jennifer woke with a heavy heart. The image of her mother lingered with her and seemed more real than it had been. She pulled the covers close and dried her wet eyes on the corner. The dream had left Jennifer with a pleasant memory of her mother and a calming feeling she had not experienced since her mother had died. Jennifer breathed slowly as she remembered the dream in the darkness. It was the night before the third day. The following day her father would arrive, expecting an answer. The only problem was, Jennifer still hadn’t admitted to herself what her choice was. She had spent the last few days in company with no one else but her thoughts. Her room was one big mess after Jennifer had rummaged through it, trying to find things to help her decide.

From the beginning, Sam had told her to make the choice based on Jennifer’s wishes alone. Just like their mother had told her in the dream, to follow her heart. The only problem was that at the moment, Jennifer’s heart was very confused and indecisive. Which was the reason why her brain and logic had taken over lately, not that it had helped remotely. Every time she found a reason not to go seconds later she would think of a reason why she should go. In the morning she would be determined to go but when evening came she would have decided to stay. She changed her mind like this constantly, though without telling anyone about it. Jennifer didn’t want to burden Sam with the worries and speculations she had. If Jennifer eventually chose to go she didn’t want to upset Sam more than necessary in advance. Because Sam seemed to be sad already, as if she expected Jennifer would leave and she was using the last days as her days of goodbye. She cooked all Jennifer’s favourite dishes, despite the fact that Jennifer’s appetite still hadn’t returned. She made sure Jennifer spent a good deal of time with baby Susan, making sure both of them got the best out of each other’s company. To Jennifer, Susan was a joy to be around. When she was with Susan, Jennifer didn’t think about her upcoming decision, or more specifically the lack of it. When she was with Susan, it was just the two of them and nothing else mattered. One element she kept returning to, which always made her change her mind from whatever choice she had made, was her father. For seventeen years she hadn’t had the least bit of connection to him or a memory of him. The idea of living with him brought a whole new amount of doubt to Jennifer. There were so many things she didn’t know but still wanted to find out. For her entire life, while she still believed him to be dead, she had like any other child losing a parent imagined what her father would be like. Now she had the chance to find out. This was scary too, because while she had been given the opportunity to learn who he really was, the chance of him disappointing her in relation to the many ideas she had developed during the years had risen as well. Jennifer rolled over and looked out at the moon shining brightly in the night sky. It was like Jennifer had isolated herself to decide what her future would be like.

Even if she decided to stay with her sister, her life had changed forever. The last seventeen years had been based on a lie and she couldn’t return to the ‘simple’ life she had had before. In the future, the knowledge of her father would be hovering over her. On top of that, she would be thinking of what could’ve happened if she chose to stay. But it would be the same if she chose to go, only backwards. Jennifer heaved a deep sigh and firmly closed her eyes, desperately hoping to go back to sleep; only her brain would not shut down. All her wonderings and speculations roamed around and wouldn’t let her rest. She glanced at the clock, 3.13 in the morning. In less than ten hours everyone expected her to have made a choice. The feeling of a looming dead-line didn’t exactly make things easier. Jennifer thought about her father again. Only the word father didn’t seem to suit him. Jennifer still didn’t feel like she had a father. Being without a father her entire life and having to call him dad now didn’t seem right. She was convinced it was her father though, his eyes proved that. It was more the feeling of having a father that was missing. It wasn’t until three days ago that she had met him for the first time and the fact that she suddenly had someone to call dad seemed unreal. Jennifer thought about all the children she had known and envied for having a father. And not just a father, a family. This was another thing Jennifer had the opportunity to get. Her father had said their family was the oldest where he came from, but he hadn’t mentioned anything about how many this family included. Scepticism rose in Jennifer. Though her family may have been the oldest didn’t mean it was the largest.

She rolled on to her back again and pressed the back of her hands against her eyes to shut out the moon light. Only it started to hurt after a short while and when she removed her hands the room was much brighter than before. With a heavy sigh she sat up. Going back to sleep seemed to be an impossible task. She gave up trying to go back to sleep and went to sit by her desk instead. The drawers were almost empty after she had cleared them out in her desperate search. She managed to find a pen and some paper and got comfortable as she turned on the desk lamp.

Slowly, and with a lot of care, she started writing down pros and cons for everything. She couldn’t think of anything better to do at the time, when sleep was so evasive of her. Twenty minutes later, she hadn’t gotten much down on the paper. The biggest con if she left was, having to say goodbye to Sam, Anna, Jack, Susan and the few friends from school she had, along with life as she knew it. This was primarily the only con, though it was only one, it counted as a very big one. On the pro side, one thing was listed in capital letters: DAD?

The rest didn’t really mean much to Jennifer. The big responsibility he had talked about; her taking over didn’t mean more than the chance she would get to know her father and the rest of her family. Though she was still very angry with him, despite the explanation he had given the other day. In pure frustration Jennifer crumbled up the paper and tossed it aside. Exhausted she rested her head on the table and reconsidered everything once more. As the many pros and cons ran through her head along with images of the people they represented, her head grew heavier and before she knew it, she was a sleep.

Had she known her life would change drastically over the next 24 hours, it is unlikely she would have fallen asleep.

 Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg

To be continued in Chapter Five – Proof

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Scottish Highland Toffee

Jeg har været lidt stille i et par dage her på bloggen, og det er der god grund til. Primært var det bare fordi alle mulige ting lige pludselig ramlede ned over hovedet på mig og jeg skulle nå en hel masse før en hel del andre ting skulle ordnes. Oven i hatten røg jeg så lige i hastemøde forbi lægen, som besluttede jeg da lige skulle på penicillin i 10 dage, jamen tak. I kan tro det er deprimerende ikke at kunne drikke et dejligt koldt glas hvidvin på sin fødselsdag – som var i går, det kommer der et indlæg om på et senere tidspunkt – bare fordi man skal tage sine piller, ja, det lyder som om jeg er omvandrende tosse der skal huske sin medicin. Det var desværre bare sådan den blev, og det gjorde ikke ligefrem tingene bedre for mig, men nu er der ved at være lidt mere ro på. Jeg vil ikke kede jeg med alle de ting jeg syntes der gik skævt for mig i løbet af ugen, det er nok det trak mig ned af trappen til kulkælderen. I stedet vil jeg dele et par små højdepunkter fra de sidste par dage.

I går var om sagt min fødselsdag, men den blev ikke helt fejret som jeg havde ønsket mig – det tager jeg revanche for i morgen når familien kommer til boller og kage. Til gengæld havde vi andet at fejre da Kæresten afsluttede sin Kandidat på Universitetet med et helt vildt flot 10 tal. Jeg er så stolt og det er så fortjent med al den arbejdskraft han har lagt i det i løbet af det sidste år. Men jeg vil også, måske en smule egoistisk, indrømme at jeg er glad for at det er overstået nu. For nu kan vi begynde at få en hverdag herhjemme til at passe lidt bedre sammen end hvad den har gjort de sidste par måneder.

Fordi den slags jo er noget man skal fejre var den centrum i går, og til sådan en anledning skal der jo laves lidt godter. Hans eksamen lå desværre ret sent på dagen – de var først færdige kl 17.00! – havde jeg bare planlagt lidt pindemadder herhjemme, på den lette måde. Derudover havde jeg også lavet lidt søde snacks, blandt andet hjemmelavet Scottish Highland Toffee. Jeg har før købt dem i Normal, men jeg har i et stykke tid haft lyst til at prøve at lave dem selv. Derfor gik jeg i gang med at google og fandt en forholdsvis nem opskrift her.

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Oversat forholder det sig sådan at man bare skal bruge 4 ingredienser; smør, sukker, sirup og kondenseret mælk. Alt efter hvor stor en portion du vil lave skal du bruge lige stor mængde af alle 4 dele. De små dåser kondenseret mælk fra Nestlé man kan købe herhjemme er ca 400 g, så det er et passende mål at gå efter. Hvilket vil sige du også skal have 400 g af hver af de andre 3 ingredienser. Først smelter man smørret og sukker i en gryde, og når det er smeltet pænt sammen tilføjer man siruppen og rører godt rundt inden man til sidste hælder den kondenserede mælk i. Få det lige op på kogepunktet, men skru ned igen så det ikke brænder på. Det skal man også sørge for i de næste 20 minutter hvor der skal røres jævnt og konstant i gryden mens massen karamelliserer og bliver lækker blød. Efter de ca. 20 minutter og den har en passende konsistens hældes den i en form (som er nem at få toffeeen ud af igen bagefter!) og stilles til køl, først bare på køkkenbordet, men senere i køleskabet. Og voila, så har du en lækker, blød og hjemmelavet Highland toffee.

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Har I også prøvet at lave noget lignende og var det her en opskrift der måske skulle testes i eget køkken?

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GEFU Spiralflix, Yes I Won One!

For ikke så lang tid siden deltog jeg i en konkurrence hos LCHF i hverdagen om at vinde en GEFU Spiralflix, og jeg havde ingen forventninger om at vinde whatsoever! Men what do you know? Det gjorde jeg sørme! Du kan tro det gjorde min Pinseweekend bare en lille smule bedre end den var i forvejen. Torsdag formiddag da jeg kom hjem stod den der så, ude på trappen og ventede på mig og gjorde min torsdag lidt bedre.

I dag blev så dagen hvor jeg skulle afprøve den, og jeg siger jer den er sjov! Det er lige før alle vores grøntsager skal igennem den bare fordi de bliver det sjovere at spise og se på. I anledningen forsøgte jeg mig ud i en slags LCHF pølser og grøntsags-spaghetti med pesto.

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Hertil startede jeg med at stege en pakke bacon dejlig sprødt, som jeg så stillede til side. I samme pande, i baconfedtet vel at mærke, stegte jeg først 4 pølser skåret i mundrette bider, tilsatte et par snittede forårsløg og til sidst et lille bund friske asparges skåret i mundrette bider. Som det sidste vendte jeg den mængde squash jeg havde haft igennem Spiralflixen på panden og vendte det et par hurtige gange for at blanchere det en smule så der stadig var lidt bid i det. Som sidste fix på toppen blandede jeg en skefuld pesto og, og vupti! Så var der serveret.

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Jeg vil gerne sige tusind tak til Christoffer og Jennifer for mit fine nye inventar til køkkenet – nu mangler jeg bare at finde skabsplads til den, og jeg håber at min indvielsesopskrift vil glæde andre LCHF folk derude, velbekomme.

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KageBonanza!

I weekenden var det jo Pinse, og i vores familie har vi den tradition at tage i sommerhus og spise en hel del god mad sammen med resten af familien. Det er en slags sammenkomstgilde, hvor vi alle sammen medbringer det ene eller det andet. Nogle ting er dog fastlagt, såsom min mors frikadeller de er fast inventar hvert år – og de bliver altid spist rub og stup.

Til trods for at min mor er blevet stemplet som vores lille families kagekone (hvis du vil vide mere hvorfor, kan du læse mere om det her), fik jeg lov til at bage til kaffen den her gang. Det var egentlig meningen at vi begge skulle bage noget hver især, men jeg fik to gode ideer og kunne rigtig godt tænke mig at prøve begge af så det fik jeg lov til – og i mors køkken! Det er bare lidt sjovere, for til trods for at jeg godt kan lide at bage er det bare lidt sjovere i mors køkken fordi hun har så meget mere bagegrej + en opvasker!

Mit første projekt var en portion mini-cupcakes. Som den bagemor min nu er, havde hun en hel del opskrifter at vælge imellem. Den vi faldt på var fra Julias Cupcakes (mener det er titlen, kan ikke huske det helt præcist) og den var så simpel at jeg tænker at genbruge den senere hen. Du starter med at piske 2 æg med 300g sukker til en dejlig, lys og luftig masse. Heri blander du 300g mel, 3tsk vanillesukker og 2tsk bagepulver sammen med 2½dl mælk. Du kan hælde tingene i skiftevis for at det bliver fordelt ordentligt, eller bare hæld hele molevitten i hvis din røremaskine gør arbejdet for dig. Når det er rørt godt ud vender du forsigtigt 200g smeltet smør i dejen. Det skal ikke gøres for voldsomt for så mister dejen sin smidige konsistens, og den er så lækker at fordele i cupcake formene. I denne omgang bibeholdte vi den simple vanillesmag og lod dem være som de er her, men man kan jo bage tilføje fyld eller smag som man nu behager, skulle man have lyst til blåbærcupcakes hælder man lidt friske blåbær i. For lidt sjov skyld havde jeg købt en god portion funfetti krymmel som jeg rørte i dejen, med det formål at få farverige og glade cupcakes. Mit resultat blev bare ikke helt så vellykket som jeg havde forestillet mig. Farverne var ikke så tydelige som jeg havde tænkt mig, men smagen var lige i plet. De skal bages i ovnen ved varmluft på 175 grader i ca 15-20. Hvis man laver minicupcakes bliver der til lidt over 50-60 stks. Hvis man bare vil holde sig til de almindelig størrelser bliver der til ca 24.

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Som frosting piskede jeg en klat smør, ca 100g Philadelphia neutral med en hel del flormelis og så lige en skvæt hyldeblomstsaft. Og så pyntede jeg ellers bare med lidt fif fra min mor og nogle fondant-pynte-blomster hun havde til overs fra en af de mange kager hun bager.

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Mit andet projekt var både lidt simplere, men også sjovere. Det var hvad jeg vil kalde en M&M’s Surprise Kage. Hertil startede jeg med at lave moussen – gør altid det for den skal stå på køl lidt tid for at stivne ordentligt inden kagen er kølet nok til at smøre den sammen. Så jeg piskede (eller røremaskinen gjorde) 3dl piskefløde til den var som flødeskum. Imens stod 3 husblas og blødte ud i koldt vand, som jeg så smeltede i 1 dl varmt hyldeblomstsaft (et halv minut i mikroovn kan gøre det, det skal bare ikke være så varmt at det ryger når du blander det i fløden). Når husblassen er smeltet røres det i fløden så det er rørt godt sammen. Så stilles det på køl til du senere skal samle kagen.

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OBS! Både min mor og jeg var enige om at der skulle have været mere mousse i kagen, så måske en dl mere fløde burde kunne gøre det.

Til kagen er det nogenlunde samme fremgangsmåde som cupcakesne, dog ikke helt. Du starter med at piske 3 æg med 150g sukker til det er dejlig og meget luftig. Ved siden af blander du 150g mel med ½tsk bagepulver som du vender stille og roligt i æggemassen – pas på ikke at slå for meget af luften ud af dejen, det er det der gør den så lækker.

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Hæld den i en springform og bag den i en 200 grader varm ovn i ca 30 min. Hold gerne øje med den så den ikke får for meget. Tag den ud af ovnen når den er færdig og lad den køle godt af inden du begynder at samle den. Gør det nemmere for dig selv og saml den i springformen efter den er kølet af. Min mor har sådan et smart stykke plastik til at ’fore’ springformen med så kagen bliver endnu mere skarp i omkredsen.

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Du starter med at dele kagen så du har tre lag at arbejde med, altså tre lagkagebunde. Inden du begynder at smøre den sammen tager du de to nederste og lige lægger let sammen. For nu skal det sjove trylles frem i kagen. Det gør du ved at skære at ca 5-7cm diameter hul i de to bunde, lad hulleformen så mens du smører kagen op for at gøre det lidt nemmere. Så smører du den sammen som enhver anden kage. Inden du ligger låg på (fjerner du selvfølgelig hulleformen) fylder du hullet i midten med så mange M&M’s der kan være uden at den kommer til at bule på toppen. Til sidst er det på med låget og så skal den stå på køl noget tid før du kan begynde at dekorere den.

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Mor havde noget chokoladeganache til overs som jeg brugte til låg-pynt. Rundt om kagen sprøjtede jeg bare noget helt almindelig flødeskum (dog tilsat lidt flormelis for at give det lidt stivelse), og så havde jeg lidt frosting til overs fra cupcakesne som jeg brugte til pynt på kagen sammen med lidt M&M’s for at vise den var en M&M’s kage. Hensigten var jo så at når man skar et stykke ville det vælte ud med M&M’s som en overraskelse, og det lykkedes da også næsten som jeg havde forudset det.

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Hvad syntes I? Hvordan lykkes jeres bageprojekter når I bager?

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Chapter Three – Family Revelations

Det er den første fredag i måneden og som jeg har lovet begynder jeg fremover at udgive et kapitel fra min roman, som jeg stadig arbejder på. Sidste måned fik i andet kapitel, i dag er det så tid til tredje kapitel hvor Jennifer Paris møder lidt mere af hendes familie.

(It is the first Friday of the month and as I promised I will henceforth post a chapter from my novel, which is still a work in progress. Last month you got the second chapter, today it’s tome for the third chapter where Jennifer Paris meets a bit more of her family.)

 

Chapter Three – Family Revelations

 >>Jennifer?<< Sam came into the hallway, her heavy steps echoing on the floor. She wrapped a warm blanket around Jennifer as soon as she was near enough to do so. But Jennifer shrugged it off.

>>I’m taking a warm shower.<< Was all she said before she headed upstairs, with the intention to do her best to drown herself in the shower. She didn’t pay attention to how long she spent showering but she still didn’t feel like it was enough once she forced herself to step out. It still felt like Billy’s hands and lips were all over her. She scrubbed especially hard with the towel the places he’d touched her till the skin felt raw. She was momentarily reminded of her dream, and she almost entered the shower again. However, she thought better of it and dressed absently before she went back downstairs. Her neck kept itching where Billy’s lips had crawled over her, like he had given her a rash. She knew, if her usual nightmare didn’t return that night she would experience a new one.

In the kitchen Jennifer could hear Jack putting water on for tea. Sam embraced her again at the end of the stairs and Jennifer let her lead her in the kitchen where she was pushed into a chair next to baby Susan. Susan was sitting in her high chair and had an excellent time smearing her mashed peas everywhere else than into her mouth; this brought a smile to Jennifer. At least Susan couldn’t upset her in any way. Sam didn’t seem to have noticed anything; she kept glancing at Jennifer and running a hand through her wet hair.

>>I think she’s fine now, just let her be for a while.<< Jack gently pulled Sam away from Jennifer and into a chair of her own. Jennifer looked grateful at Jack and sipped her tea in silence.

>>Where have you been?<< Sam asked, and Jennifer guessed Sam couldn’t stand the silence any more. Sam sounded anxious but also relieved to have Jennifer back at the house again, and this fact seemed to slowly calm herself. She still didn’t pay attention to Susan, who by now had progressed to smearing the peas all over her and her clothes. This however, was noticed by Jack who started to wipe his daughter clean but quickly gave up, giving the fact that Susan still had more peas left, and Jack could recognize a lost cause. Jennifer sipped her tea once more before she answered.

>>I took a walk. To the graveyard.<< The silence fell like a warm blanket, covering every person in the kitchen, even Susan seemed to be able to feel the seriousness of it because she stopped playing with her food for a moment. Sam and Jack stared at Jennifer, who moved uncomfortably in her seat. In a situation like this, with every eye on her she felt very uncomfortable and she rested her eyes on the table.

>>The graveyard?<< Sam looked first at Jack and then back to Jennifer, who still avoided any glance from either of them. All she did in response was nod. >>But you’ve never been to the graveyard before? Why today, of all days?<< Sam moved from her seat to the one right next to Jennifer’s, where she took Jennifer’s tea cup. Jennifer shrugged as she tried to explain. She tried to explain how she needed to talk to her mother even though she was perfectly aware she was dead. She tried to explain how she still needed the support and comfort of a parent. She tried to explain every emotion she had experienced that morning, but when she thought of Billy and attempted to explain that particular incident, she couldn’t find the words for it. So she stored that experience for another time to tell. It was too much for her to handle in just one day.

>>Was this all because of what I told you this morning?<< Sam tried comforting Jennifer by taking her hand, but it was counter productive. Suddenly Jennifer’s tongue untangled and she let out all the frustrations she’d held back since morning, frustrations she still hadn’t any direct answers to.

>>Why haven’t mum ever said anything? Wasn’t I mature enough? Didn’t she think I was old enough? Was I just supposed to live the rest of my life without ever meeting my father? Was I just to believe he was dead forever? Why would she keep something like this from us? Was he really so horrible she wanted to keep him from us?<< During her little outburst of questions Sam tried to get a word in, but Jennifer didn’t let her. >>And what the heck is going on with me?! I mean, I really wanted him to get of me but not hurt him like that. Sam, what is going on here? Why have I only heard about this now, because clearly you told Jack long ago giving his not-so-surprised reaction this morning.<< Jennifer stopped to breathe, giving Sam a chance to talk.

>>Jennifer, will you please sit down and I’ll try my best to explain everything?<< She looked quite startled from Jennifer’s blast of questions and information. Jennifer had been pacing the room during her rambling and she walked around the kitchen table a few more times before she sat down again. It was strange how much easier it had been to let out her feelings when she was standing. Yet she sat down to get the explanation she had been waiting for for hours. Sam looked around the room while she took a few deep breaths.

>>I think I’ll take Susan upstairs to clean her up a bit.<< Jack yanked a squealing Susan from her high chair and Jennifer could hear her all the way upstairs till Jack closed the door. Sam turned to look at Jennifer.

>>Why haven’t I heard any of this before?<< Jennifer asked before Sam got the chance to start her explanation. Sam reached out for Jennifer’s hand and grasped it within hers.

>>This morning you told me you’ve been having nightmares for a while. A particular nightmare I’m afraid I’m only too familiar with.<<

>>Wait, what? You mean…?<< Jennifer looked oddly at Sam.

>>That I have had the exact same nightmare. And if I’m not much mistaken you can ask Anna and she will tell you the exact same thing. All of us had it when we were your age. Back then mum couldn’t explain what they meant, so they just remained what they were, nightmares. But they are so much more than just nightmares. They are a part of our inheritance.<<

>>What do you mean our inheritance?<< The explanation Jennifer had hoped would clear up a lot of things only confused her further.

>>The woman in the dream, she is a part of us. She is a part of our family, on dad’s side of course. The dream isn’t just a dream. What happens in the dream really happened to her many, many years ago. That’s all I can tell you about the content of the dream because that’s all mum knew. Mum never said anything else.<< Sam broke of, as though she wasn’t sure whether to say the thing she was thinking. In the end, she apparently chose not to. >>That you are having the dream means you are old and mature enough to be told the truth. The reason why we all believed dad to be dead for all those years was because that’s how he and mum decided it a long time ago. Shortly after you were born our grandfather died forcing dad to return to take over the family business, so to speak. He and mum knew they would probably never be a family again. It was impossible for mum to go with dad to where he lived so they made the choice together. Just because he had to go back didn’t mean we had to. At that time mum removed our lockets and hid them. As I tried to tell you this morning, she planned to keep them hidden for as long as possible but everything changed when she got ill. That’s when she returned mine to me and told me the truth about dad. After some time for me to adjust to the idea, we told Anna and returned her locket. Anna and I both believed it to be a short while before we were to tell it to you too, but that is not how mum wanted it. She still wanted us to keep the truth from you. And I will tell you why in a moment.<< She quickly interjected as she could tell Jennifer was about to rant on again. >>We reluctantly agreed but as the time passed and we all realized mum wasn’t getting any better she changed her mind too. She told us the reason why she wanted us to keep it from you; she said the truth would change so much more for you than it did for us and she wasn’t sure you were ready for it. We promised her we would wait till you were ready. We still haven’t figure out what she meant by saying it would change more for you than for us. Jennifer I’m not sure I’m the right person to be telling you all this and frankly I can’t explain it nearly as well as…<< Again she broke off and looked thoughtfully at Jennifer. She bit her lip, something Jennifer recognized in Sam as a sign of doubt. >>You should know that I’ve contacted our father.<<

>>What?!<< Jennifer leaped from her seat and backed away from Sam as she tried to calm her down again.

>>He’ll be here sometime today.<< It became too much for Jennifer and she put her hands on her head. It felt like her throat was closing up and the room started to spin before her eyes.

>>No. No. No.<< She mumbled as she staggered to the sink to gather herself. She didn’t trust her legs or any other part of her body for the moment.

>>I can tell that all of this is too much for you Jennifer, but it is happening. Dad will be here sometime this afternoon. I would very much like it if you were there too. Anna won’t be able to come by today and I’m sure dad would like to see you very much.<< Sam moved almost in slow motion towards Jennifer but she stopped as Jennifer held out a hand. Jennifer still felt unsure of herself, but the thought of her un-dead father just dropping by that afternoon seemed to put her motion in again.

>>I think I need to be a bit alone again.<< She didn’t look away from the floor and avoided Sam’s eyes. She could slowly feel her anger rise in her stomach and she was afraid if she looked at Sam it would burst out.

Slightly shaking all over she dragged her body to her room upstairs and closed the door firmly. It seemed like the entire world was falling apart around her. She fell to the floor slowly and for the second time that day she felt tears down her cheeks. In resolute determination she relocated the photo album and flickered quickly through the pages. She found the photo she was looking for fairly quickly and yanked out the locket from her pocket. With tears still rolling down her face she opened the locket and stared at the happy faces of her parents. They really did look happy. Jennifer wiped her face angrily on her sleeve and forced the remaining tears to stay away. She didn’t want to be sad, she wanted to be angry. In the picture in the album they also looked happy. Jennifer could tell from the date on the back of the photo and by the size of her mother’s stomach it was a short time before Jennifer had been born. The joy was vivid in their eyes and rubbed off on Jennifer and even made her smile slightly, though not for long. She slammed the album shut and tossed it away. The locket was resting gently in the palm of her hand. It barely weighed a thing as it was resting there but the weight it had on Jennifer’s heart and mind was unbearable. She shut that too but instead of throwing it away as she had done with the album she placed it gently on her night dresser.

She could hear someone stop outside the door. For the moment, Jennifer just wanted to be alone. She moved to the other end of the bed and waited for Sam to leave. She couldn’t say anything anyway that would change what she’d already told her. Jennifer scowled at the locket lying on the dresser. In one swift movement she pushed it down the drawer so it wouldn’t remind her. All she really wanted was to be left alone and everything to be as they always had been. She knew that wouldn’t happen. Her father would visit that same day, and he really wanted to see her, according to Sam. The question was though; did Jennifer want to see him?

It’d stopped raining outside. As Jennifer’s mood had calmed so had the rain it seemed. She rested her head on her knees as she looked at the sad summer weather. Too many things were rushing through her head like the rain washing through the streets. There was one thing she knew however: she couldn’t be here when her father came. She would have to leave and come back once she was sure he had gone too.

She crept downstairs as silently as possible. The voices of Sam and Jack echoed from the living room, but Jennifer didn’t feel like explaining her actions. She just wanted to get away. As quietly as she could she sneaked her damp jacket of the hanger and opened the front door. As she closed the door behind her she could hear Sam’s voice ask for her. Jennifer didn’t hesitate for one second. She turned and ran down the street, away from everything.

 

Jennifer was frozen in front of her own front door. There was no other car in the driveway besides Jack’s so she guessed her father hadn’t arrived yet. This calmed her a bit and her breathing slowed to a normal pace.

She had been walking around without purpose for a while, determined to avoid any places she could risk running into Billy and his gang. At first she had thought about going by one of her friends from school, but then she thought about what she would tell them and the reaction she would get. Anyway, on her way there she had remembered they were leaving for the holidays making the point in going there obsolete. Instead, she had been walking around the streets in her neighbourhood contemplating.

Jennifer had tried to convince herself over and over again that it wasn’t true. Things like that didn’t happen in real life. But deep down she knew it was true. Unlike her mother, they had never had a tombstone or anything similar for her father. Not as much as a memorial or anything. Every time Jennifer or any of her sisters had brought up the subject of her father, their mother always said it was a matter of the past and not something they should talk of anymore. He had been like a ghost in her life. Present without really being there. Now, when he had moved to become almost solid in shape of a real person it was scaring her.

She thought about meeting him. On one hand she desperately wanted to see him because of the simple fact that he was her father. On the other hand she didn’t want to see him because she was still furious with him for leaving her and her family. Though Sam had said he hadn’t had a choice, Jennifer was convinced he did have a choice. You always had a choice, and he had clearly chosen wrong.

She thought about facing her father and letting him know this. She had lived her entire life without any form of father figure. Jennifer finally understood why her mother had never re-married.

Slowly Jennifer opened the front door and tried not to make even the slightest noise. She would prefer it if she could avoid an attack from Sam like the one she had experienced already once that day. To Jennifer’s surprise the kitchen was empty. Jennifer looked around the hallway. There was no spare coat or shoes she didn’t recognize. Yet she could hear voices coming from the living room, including one she didn’t recognize. It was like her heart jumped and lodged itself in her throat. He was here. Her father was in the living room with the rest of her family. Jennifer felt nailed to the floor and at the same time tempted to run upstairs as fast as her legs would carry her and wait till he had gone again. She stood like this, debating herself, for several minutes. In the end her curiosity and defiance won and made her sneak her way through the kitchen to the living room archway. She could hear the adult’s laughter and the childish gibberish Susan was making.

>>Is this your first time meeting the baby?<< She suddenly heard Jack ask. The voice that answered was deep but fresh. It had a friendly tone but Jennifer refrained from making any decisions just yet about the owner of the voice.

>>I’m afraid so. Sam, if I had known in any way I would have visited much sooner.<< He sounded genuinely apologetic, which, thought Jennifer, was something after all.

>>It’s partly my fault. I could’ve contacted you earlier on and told you everything but things have been a bit hectic lately. First we had the arrival of baby Susan and then,<< Here Sam held her breath for a short moment before carrying on. >>Everything with mum happened so fast.<< Jennifer noticed how Sam’s voice lost its energy and bounce as she entered the topic of their mother.

>>Where is your mother by the way?<< He asked as if it was only now he realized she was missing. Silence fell over the room and when Sam finally answered, Jennifer could hear the tension in her voice.

>>Mum isn’t here.<< Her voice was barely audible and Jennifer had to strain to hear her. She also felt the tension that had entered when it almost echoed as he asked for their mother again. Jennifer could, once again, feel her tears pressing behind her eyes.

>>She… She…<< Sam stuttered, unable to speak, unable to put together a simple sentence. Jennifer heard her take a deep breath before she continued. >>Mum passed away.<< Although he didn’t reply in any way, Jennifer could hear the chock he was feeling by his loud gasping noises.

>>When?<< He uttered.

>>About five months ago.<< He sighed and Jennifer could hear the creak of the couch and assumed he had sat down.

>>And Anna? And Jennifer?<< He sounded worried and Jennifer thought she could hear slightly more worry as he asked for her well-being. Why though? Didn’t he think she was able to take care of herself?

>>Both are fine, giving the circumstances. Jack and I moved in here with baby Susan. We are all taking very good care of Jennifer. Anna still lives down town and is coping well, too.<<

>>Baby Susan?<< His voice changed to soft and caring. Jennifer dared herself a glance in the living room. Sam was in the couch with Susan in her lap. Jack was in the chair across the coffee table. In the couch next to Sam, there he was. Jennifer’s heart skipped a beat as she saw him. He was calmly tickling Susan with a huge grin plastered across his face. He was strongly built though you could see the years had worn him and he wore what appeared to be a long chestnut coloured cape draped over his clothes. He looked very close to his picture from the locket. He had the same smile with the same dimples and the slightly crooked teeth. His jaw line was strong and covered in patches of gray stubbles. If it hadn’t been for the gray streaks in his hair Jennifer would never have guessed this was her father. What convinced her completely though, was his eyes. He had the same sparkly green eyes as Jennifer and her sisters had. At the moment, the only difference was, that his seemed to light up the entire room. They glowed of joy at the sight of baby Susan, so much that Jennifer felt very tempted to join the party. But she firmly stayed in her place and listened. For a while no one spoke. All that could be heard from the living room was the indistinctly chatter from Susan. Suddenly he cleared his throat and Jennifer scuttled back in her corner, afraid to be seen.

>>You said you live here with Jennifer now, but where is she?<< His tone of voice shifted from tender to a more serious one, a more business like tone.

>>She’s not home at the moment. We… I only told her this morning. I think it was a bit too much for her.<< Jennifer turned to look in the kitchen window where she saw a slight reflection of the scene in the living room. He was nodding in understanding and then he smiled.

>>I understand. It is obvious that she is not ready to meet me today. I better go again before she gets back.<< Jennifer saw him get up from his seat, and not without effort she could tell from the reflection. All the muscles tensed in her body, readying her to run from her little lookout. He stopped abruptly.

>>But will you tell her I will be back in three days? I would very much like to meet her. It’s been such a long time. I must confess I never thought this day would come.<< His voice had returned to serious but still caring. Jennifer saw how Sam looked surprised but a look of understanding crossed her features as well.

>>Of course. Now I understand what mum meant.<< She heaved a heavy sigh and looked at him. He on the other hand now looked slightly confused. >>Mum didn’t want us to tell Jennifer. We didn’t understand what she meant at the time, but I think I do now. She said too much would change when Jennifer was told.<<

>>It is only natural she would do her best to keep it a secret for all these years. That is what we agreed to do. I was meant to find another but Sam there are none. Just tell Jennifer I would very much like to talk to her and then I will try and explain the rest to the best of my abilities.<<

>>I’ll do that.<< Sam sighed again. Jennifer saw Jack moved over and put his arms around her.

>>Goodbye for now, darling.<< He said in a cheery voice and Jennifer saw him embrace all three of them. She realized he was about to leave and when he did; he would walk this way right past her and see her sitting on the floor eavesdropping on them. There was no way for her to get upstairs in time to hide, but what would she do? She felt paralyzed with nowhere to hide. She heard them move around in the living room, he would spot her any time now. Jennifer closed her eyes and crept as deep in the corner as she could; stupidly hoping he wouldn’t see her. The moment of discovery never came. She sat in the same spot frozen for a long time, neither Sam nor Jack entered the kitchen. She could still hear their voices from the living room, but his was no longer among them. Astounded Jennifer glanced around the corner. The living room was empty, not counting Sam, Jack and Susan. But he had been there, she was sure of it. She had heard and seen him. How could he just disappear like that? She was sure he had been there, this was obvious from the conversation Sam and Jack were having.

>>What should we tell her?< Sam sounded worried and frightened.

>>What he asked us to tell her, I guess. We’ll tell her he’ll be here in three days time and wants to meet her. He’ll have to tell her the rest. We can’t do it nearly as well as him anyway.<<

>>I know. How do you think she’ll react to it? What do you think she’ll do? Jack, I can’t just let her go, mum wouldn’t have wanted that.<<

>>Sam, honey I hate to say it, but your mum isn’t here anymore to make the decisions. Jennifer is 17-years-old. She’s old enough to make a choice like this on her own. And with a little guidance from us she is guaranteed to make the right one.<<

>>Maybe, but I still think she’s too young. Mum chose to keep it from us for a reason, I can’t just ignore that.<< Sam had started to sound slightly hysterical.

>>I know. But you heard him; there is no one else. Jennifer is needed. Once she has all the information it is up to her. You can’t keep her locked up forever.<<

>>Maybe not. But I can try.<< Jennifer could hear from the tone of Sam’s voice that was the end of the conversation and she finally made herself go upstairs.

 

By evening, Sam came to inform Jennifer dinner was ready and she followed her downstairs to a very silent dinner.

>>Where were you today?<< Sam finally asked, rather tense.

>>I went for a walk. I just needed some time to clear my head.<<

>>Our father came by this afternoon. He was asking for you.<< Jennifer almost said ‘I know’, but stopped at the last minute and stuffed her mouth with mashed potatoes instead.

>>He’ll be back in three days and would like for you to be there. He really wants to talk to you.<< Jennifer just nodded. >>I think you should be here next time he comes. He can explain some of this stuff much better than I will ever be able to.<< She sighed as if that had been very hard to say.

>>What’ll happen if I won’t be there?<< Sam dropped her fork and gave Jennifer a suspicious look.

>>What do you mean?<<

>>What if I don’t want to talk to him? What if I just want all this never to have happened?<<

>>Jennifer, you can’t be serious?<<

>>Why not? He abandoned us, it seems only fair I do the same to him.<< Jennifer pushed the remainder of her dinner away angrily, her appetite had suddenly left. She crossed her arms and stared out the window, and saw it had started to rain again.

>>You’re not serious. He’ll be here in three days and I expect you at least listen to what he has to say.<< Sam started clearing the table and practically stole the food out of Jack’s mouth, who hadn’t finished. He didn’t argue though.

>>You can’t make me. If I don’t want to talk to him I won’t.<< Jennifer got up and headed for the hallway.

>>You’ll do as you’re told and you’ll be sitting in that couch when he gets here next time.<< Sam’s voice rose to the extremely highest of notes and Susan started to cry. But Jennifer didn’t care anymore.

>>You’re not the boss of me. You’re not mum!<< She practically screamed in Sam’s face.

All that was heard was Susan’s crying. Sam looked shocked and upset. Jennifer stared back defiantly. She regretted it the minute the words had escaped her mouth. But the defiance in her didn’t allow her take it back. On the contrary, she furiously turned around and stomped upstairs to her room and slammed the door behind her. She threw herself on the bed and almost expected Sam to knock on the door only seconds later, but she didn’t.

 

The following days felt like an eternity. The day after their fight, Jennifer had left the house right after breakfast not leaving any time to talk to Sam. She had patted Susan kindly on the head, but not even spared as much as a look at neither Sam nor Jack. She knew if she looked at Jack he would convince her to stay and talk to Sam. But she didn’t want her fight with Sam to affect her relationship with Susan.

She spent the day thinking about how to deal with everything, including her now lukewarm situation with Sam. She headed for the old tree house she used to retreat to when she was in kindergarten. Usually it was crowded with younger children, but today it was surprisingly vacated. Though she was too big to fit properly, Jennifer climbed to the top and allowed her legs to dangle over the side while she rested her head in her arms.

Jennifer strongly felt it was Sam who had to apologize. Once she did, Jennifer would gladly apologize for shouting at her the way she had.

She tried not to think about her father, but his image kept floating back to her mind. His still young but battered look and how he’d sounded almost pleading in wanting to talk to her. She was torn between wanting to see him and just be embraced in his open arms, like the father she had been missing all those years, and the nagging feeling that was still angry at him for not contacting her in any way for 17 years. She also wanted to see him because it seemed he was the only one able to answer all the questions she had. She had been pestered by the nightmare again that night. Although it didn’t occur after the also expected nightmare about Billy Christensen. Jennifer shuddered at the thought of it and her hands absently moved to her wrists and jaw line. Of course the creepy, pervert bully of the class had to be just that; creepy and disgusting to top it of. In pure self protection she quickly glanced over the area to see if Billy was anywhere near. Once she was sure he was nowhere around she relaxed a bit again. But the places he’d touched her kept prickling.

To divert her thoughts, she returned to think of her father. From the sounds of it, he wanted her for some particular reason. Jack had said she, Jennifer, was needed. Needed for what? What on earth could Jennifer do no one else could do?

By the end of the day, Jennifer’s head swam with ideas and crazy thoughts and her stomach had started to make funny noises as she hadn’t had any food since breakfast. When she got home she found a single plate on the dinner table with food for her. The others were in the living room. Jennifer ate her dinner in silence and spent the rest of the night alone in her room. The next day was much like the other. Jennifer kept to her room where she thought and read books when her head allowed her a break, which was rare. Late in the afternoon someone knocked gently on the door and Sam entered. She sat down on Jennifer’s bed, opposite Jennifer.

>>I’m sorry.<< She said very low. Jennifer shrugged and apologized too.

>>I didn’t mean it. I mean, I know you’re not mum but you’ve been pretty close.<<

>>I know. I think that’s why I feel like I can control you. But the truth is I can’t. Not when it’s to do with this.<<

>>And what is this precisely?<< Jennifer encouraged Sam, who, with a groan, slowly gave up.

>>A choice that will change your life. But I’m not the right person to tell you about it. Our father will explain it tomorrow. That is, if you choose to be there?<< Jennifer bit her lip. She had debated this question over and over again in her head, ever since she heard him say he would return, two days ago. She was still angry with him and because of that she didn’t want to see him. But she also felt confused by a lot of things and knew he was the only one who was able to sort it all out. The question remaining was whether she would keep him at a distance because of something that had happened years ago, which according to Sam had been a necessity, or would she let her confusion and curiosity win?

>>I think I have to be there. If anything, at least to get some answers.<< Sam lit up in a smile and embraced Jennifer.

From the moment Jennifer had agreed to meet her father it seemed time moved quicker than usual. All of a sudden the three days had passed and she knew he would be there by mid-afternoon. From when she woke that morning – after a night of yet another nightmare – time seemed to move even faster than expected. Sometime after three o’clock Sam came to get her from the kitchen where she had been arranging a tray of cookies.

>>Jennifer, I think it’d be best if you waited upstairs till he gets here. I’ll call for you when he’s here.<< This seemed weird to Jennifer. Did Sam not want her there after all? As if Sam had read her mind, she added: >>I think the way he’ll be arriving will have a negative effect on you and I don’t want you more confused than you already are.<< Jennifer allowed Jack to lead her upstairs while Sam remained in the living room.

>>What did she mean?<< Jack merely smiled.

>>Why don’t you keep Susan company and then we’ll call for you?<< He closed the door and went to join Sam. Jennifer stared at the closed door but turned at the sound of Susan’s overjoyed babbling at the sight of Jennifer.

>>So, do you know anything about all this?<< She asked Susan as she yanked her from her cot. >>Did you like him?<< Jennifer had to laugh at her own question. >>Well of course you liked him. You think anyone who smiles and feeds you is nice.<<

It didn’t take long before Jennifer heard Sam calling. Jennifer went to look out the window. There was no car in the driveway this time either. She looked up and down the street just to make sure, but there were no cars she didn’t recognize. She took a deep breath. In the hallway she stopped to look for unknown shoes, but they weren’t there, just like last time. She felt she needed a few more deep breaths before she moved on. Susan didn’t notice any of the distress Jennifer was feeling. She was happily tugging at Jennifer’s long brown hair. It seemed Jennifer had lost all thoughts about breathing and she had to focus very hard to do so.

The living room was very quiet. She saw Sam and Jack in the couch, and judging from their expressions they looked just as excited and nervous as Jennifer felt. She then turned the corner, still holding tightly on to Susan, and there he was. As last time he was draped in the long chestnut cape-thing. As she entered the living room his face lit up and Jennifer got caught in his eyes.

>>Jennifer.<< His voice was rough; she got the feeling he had longed to say her name for many years. He had shaved this time, though it was still visible how gray his beard would’ve been. Sam hastened to take Susan and sat down next to Jack.

Jennifer kept in her place, just as he didn’t move from his. All of a sudden Jack cleared his throat and Jennifer seemed to emerge to the surface again. She averted her eyes and moved to sit in a chair, making it impossible for anyone to sit directly next to her. No one spoke. Jennifer didn’t know what to say in this situation. She could feel his eyes linger on her constantly. But she felt no desire to look at him. She had seen him once before, though of course he didn’t know that. So, she lifted her head slightly and looked him straight in the eyes again. It was like looking in a mirror. Those eyes she had wanted to know the origins of her entire life, and now they were staring right back at her. She suddenly felt out of breath. It was as time had stopped and all eyes were on Jennifer. Once again Jack cleared his throat and brought the room out of its trance.

>>Cookie?<< Sam passed the tray across the table and he graciously accepted one. Sam passed the tray around and the silence crept back. It took a while before Jennifer felt compelled to break the silence.

>>Sam said you wanted to speak to me?<< She said it with a blank expression without meeting his eyes. He straightened up and put the half-eaten cookie down.

>>Straight to the point, I see. Well, yes Sam was right. I do want to speak to you.<< She looked at him. He looked friendly, but she kept hold of the tiny bit of anger she still felt towards him in the pit of her stomach. She wasn’t ready to forgive him even if he looked very friendly. >>But before I tell you what I’ve come to tell you, I believe you have some questions for me? Some in desperate need of answers.<< He made a gesture inviting her to ask anything she wanted. Jennifer could see Sam waiting breathlessly and she hadn’t noticed Susan had stolen a cookie she was eagerly eating.

>>All right. Why did you leave us?<< She might as well start with the worst one. It was clear he had almost expected this question, she detected a shimmer of a smile. He heaved a deep breath and started.

>>I had no choice.<<

>>Bullocks. You always have a choice and you chose wrong. And I’m starting to think I did the same about today.<< She sounded angrier than she’d intended but she couldn’t help it. Watching him, looking perfectly happy made her angrier than she had realized. She’d half expected him to at least appear to be regretful for leaving them all those years ago, but he didn’t. He stared at Jennifer with so much joy in his eyes, eyes so like her own, that she could no longer contain her emotions. She had to look away. She could hear Sam mumble incoherently as Jennifer contemplated whether she should stay or storm out the room, not really paying any attention to what the others were saying.

>>It’s understandable you are angry Jennifer.<< His voice was lamented with guilt and Jennifer looked at him again. >>I’ve been blaming myself for many years, just as you are doing right now. Not a day went by where I didn’t wish to return to you once I went back but it was never an option for me. And if you will let me, I will try to tell you why.<< Sam had nearly stopped breathing from anticipation and Susan, who had now moved to Jack’s lap, stopped sucking her cookie. Jennifer looked at her sister and back at her father. Both were hopefully waiting for her answer. Again, she strongly contemplated just walking out the room but she was still curious to hear what had made her father walk out on his family. She wanted to know what had been so much more important than her and her sisters.

>>Fine.<< She said curtly and relaxed her shoulders a bit. He let out a relieved sigh and started his story.

>>Truth be told, your mother and I never should have met. We are from very different places, but as it happened we did meet and fell in love almost instantly. Shortly after, I left my parents to start a family of my own with your mother. My entire life has been influenced by high expectations of me and I was glad to get rid of them; to live in peace with your mother. Sadly, my past caught up with me eventually anyway. My older brother, your uncle, who should’ve taken over after my father, died at a very young age. It was always planned for him to take on our father’s responsibilities once they became too much for him. But after my brother died, my parents contacted me to tell me it was up to me now. I refused point blank. Tthis happened while your mother was pregnant with Anna. My parents understood my choice at the time and had no other solution than to accept it.

However, shortly after you were born Jennifer, my father died and things changed drastically. With the death of my father problems quickly arose in my home country. I was the only one left in the family to take his place; my mother was too old and tired to take his place, so by then I was forced to return. For a number of years I tried to find the slightest hint of a loophole, sadly without success. Because your mother was incapable of going with me, we made the agreement we have been living with for many years. When your mother fell ill she apparently started to see things differently and told some of you the truth.<< Jennifer felt a strong urge to cut in at this point in the story.

>>But how can it be, that you were the only one to take your father’s place? I mean, I bet loads of other people could’ve done that. And why couldn’t mum go back with you? This makes no sense.<< He held up a hand to Jennifer, who was halfway out of herself to leave, as well as the rest of the people in the room. He gave Sam an apologetic look, after which she nodded with a sad grimace.

>>Do you want the truth Jennifer?<< His voice had grown serious again and it made her hesitate. But she nodded non-the-less.

>>The truth is I am not from here. I was born in a place called Júzrïe. The reason your mother couldn’t return with me was because she had grown too old. People from here can only enter Júzrïe till they reach a certain age. Because I was born there, and you are my daughters, you will always be able to go to Júzrïe. It is all very complicated and not important right now. The point is, I had to go back because there was no one else.<<

>>But why? What was so important for you to take over that you upped and left your family?<< Jennifer crossed her arms again and glared defiantly at her father. He glanced briefly at Sam and Jennifer saw the pained expression on Sam. She was biting her lip hard and her eyes were tense. He kept his eyes on Sam as if they were communication without sound. Suddenly it seemed Sam gave in, her shoulders dropped and her eyes turned to the table in defeat. He was breathing heavily and turned his attention back to Jennifer.

>>Now listen carefully Jennifer. It may happen you will have to be able to remember this. In Júzrïe there are 15 families who are part of the High Council. These 15 families are some of the oldest in the country, which is why they are part of the Council. One of these families is much older than the others and because of this that family has the final word if any disputes should arise. That old family is mine, and thereby yours.<<

>>So what you’re saying is our family is in charge of this council thing and that’s why you had to go back?<< Jennifer grunted and rolled her eyes. In her mind, any person could easily have replaced her father.

>>Not quite. Democracy is thriving and every family has their say in things. Our family is highly regarded in Júzrïe because we are traced through history and many people look up to us because of the things we have done over the years, which is why we all have a responsibility to live up to. Mine was to take on my father’s place in the High Council when he died. The way it works is, every family is represented by the family’s chosen head of the family. When my father died, I was the head of the family.<<

>>Why couldn’t your mother have done it?<<

>>You have to understand that your grandmother is old and when she lost your grandfather it also deprived her of some of her joy for life, not that she’s wishing for death in any way. Some times she’s more energetic than before my father died. Had it not been for the wish of the people she would gladly have replaced me.<<

>>What do you mean?<<

>>The people of Júzrïe help to decide the representatives of the High Council, to a certain degree. The families have a responsibility to live up to and if they do not do this they have to be held account for it with the people and deal with the consequences. Your grandmother announced she would gladly succeed my father, but the people wouldn’t let her. According to them she had done hers and deserved to rest in her remaining years. This is why they sent for me. Things aren’t always as they seem Jennifer. I hope you understand that now, along with why I was forced to go back.<< He opened his hands and leaned back in his chair as if his part in the conversation was over. Jennifer was still processing. Throughout her life the only family she had known was her parents and her sisters. She had barely known, let alone met, her grandparents on her mother’s side. Now she was told her family on her father’s side was the oldest in a place she had never heard of before. It seemed too good to be true and very unrealistic, yet it was also very appealing. She had always envied her friends from school when they left to visit some of their relatives, secretly jealous of their large families. The idea that Jennifer now had other people she could call family and who were perhaps even waiting for, her strangely warmed her heart. There was still one problem though. She knew nothing of this Júzrïe and the concept of her mother not being able to go there still appeared odd.

>>All right. All this doesn’t explain anything about this Júzrïe you’re talking about. What sort of place is it? Where is it? I admit, I’m not the best at Geography but I do all right, and I’ve never heard of this Júzrïe.<< Her father chuckled though Jennifer couldn’t fathom the funny part of anything she had just said.

>>There is a reason why you have never heard of it, or seen it on any map for that matter.<< Jennifer merely raised an eyebrow to make him go on.

>>Júzrïe is not available to just anybody. This is why you won’t be able to place it on any of your maps. Júzrïe is different from the world you know.<<

>>Wait a minute. Are you telling me Júzrïe is another world?<< Jennifer felt her body collapse in her chair and she had adopted a look of desperation. Her father squirmed in his seat.

>>Yes and no. Júzrïe is part of this world but then it is not.<<

>>I’m completely lost.<< In pure frustration Jennifer got up and went into the kitchen. He made a move to follow her but she heard Sam stop him; Jennifer felt a wave of gratitude towards Sam at that moment. She was breathing heavily in her frustration and she couldn’t think of anything else to do then walk around the kitchen table. Events of the past days swirled in her head and mixed in with the new information she had gotten. She thought back to what had started it; her nightmare, and realized she hadn’t asked anything about that. She looked back at the living room. He was twirling a cookie between his fingers. Jennifer leaned on the chair in front of her; she wasn’t sure she still wanted to hear what her nightmare could mean. She wasn’t sure of anything anymore. The chair creaked against the floor as she pulled it out to sit down. Sam came to join her quickly and reached out a hand to Jennifer.

>>Dad wants to know if you won’t come back in the living room again? He has to leave again soon.<< Feeling very tired, Jennifer raised her head and nodded curtly. Sam had an arm around Jennifer as they went back to the living room. This time she squeezed in between Sam and Jack instead of the chair. She felt she needed their support. It was fine to sit between them because they were the only thing she could still understand in the room.

>>Jennifer I can’t stay much longer. I would love to tell you more about Júzrïe another day but I’m afraid I have to leave in a little while. But before I do I have a few questions for you.<< Jennifer reached for Sam’s hand before he continued.

>>It is obvious I am growing old.<< Sam let out a small gasp and her hold on Jennifer tightened, but why she did this seemed weird to Jennifer.

>>The agreement your mother and I made consisted partly in me finding another person to carry on our family, but sadly I have not had any success in this. Both your sisters have grown too old to have a life in Júzrïe but you on the other hand still have this option. I guess my question is this; would you come back with me to Júzrïe and carry on our family and the pride following it?<< Jennifer’s mouth had fallen open and she stared back at her father. She had lost nearly all feeling in her hand from Sam’s tight grip. Before she was able to answer he spoke again. >>I do not expect you to answer right away. It is obviously a big decision not to be made within minutes. I will be leaving in a few minutes but I will return in three days. I’m giving you these three days to make up your mind. I ask you to think it over very thoroughly, consult your sisters if you wish. I want you to know, if you choose to come with me it would mean for you to depart with everything you know here. It would be the beginning of a new life in Júzrïe with me and giving up your life here with your sister. I realize how this might sound as a burden but it is your legacy as part of the Paris family.

You will have to attain schooling, which will prepare you for a life in Júzrïe in the future and learn much more about your family and what a life with me will involve.<< Very suddenly he got up and Jennifer was rather surprised. Sam was still holding her tightly. He moved towards the large mirror and then turned back to Jennifer.

>>I will be back in three days. While I’m gone, think about what I’ve said. No matter what you decide I will respect it. If you have any further questions you will have to ask your sister and if she cannot answer I will do my best the next time I come. Think very hard about what I have said Jennifer.<< He held his hand over his eyes as a sign for Jennifer to do the same. It was as all reason had left Jennifer and without really thinking anymore she did as Sam and Jack besides her and placed a hand over her eyes. She heard her father mumble something she couldn’t understand and next thing the room was lit up by a bright light forcing her to close her eyes tight behind her hand.

When she opened her eyes again and looked around the room her father was gone.

 

 Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg

To be continued in Chapter Four – Decisions

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Parmesan Chicken Bites

Har du hørt om den app/hjemmeside der hedder foodgawker? Jamen, så lad mig da fortælle dig om den. Det er simpelthen den bedste side til at finde inspiration til nye opskrifter og generelt bare til at savle over. Jeg kigger forbi siden fra tid til anden, mest af alt når jeg føler jeg er gået lidt død i at lave madplaner, og har brug for en hel del inspiration. Det fik jeg også forleden da jeg faldt over et indslag omkring nogle sprødstegte parmesan-kyllinge stykker. Det lød utrolig lækkert og jeg tænkte, hmm, parmesan plus kylling kan da kun blive godt. Så forleden gik jeg i gang med at bikse min egen version sammen. Den originale opskrift inkluderede det dersens panko som jeg egentlig ikke helt ved hvad rent faktisk er, og ved at lave mit eget twist skulle jeg ikke ud og købe noget nyt mystisk som jeg sikkert ikke ville komme til at bruge igen.

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Jeg tog derfor en håndfuld græskarkerner og fintblendede med en mindre håndfuld sesamfrø. Herefter blandede jeg lidt over to håndfulde fintrevet parmesanost i, sammen med lidt salt. Jeg piskede så et æg som de mundrette kyllingestykker rulles i før de vendes i parmesanblandingen. Om du herefter vælger at stege dem sprøde på panden i lidt olie er op til dig. Jeg tog dog den nemme udvej og lagde dem på en bradepande, hældte lidt olie let og elegant over dem og smed dem i ovnen. Jeg startede med at give den ca 15 min ved 200 grader alm. ovn. De sidste 15 min fik den 200 grader varmluft for at give dem en dejlig sprød skorpe/kant.

Som tilbehør havde de tilfældigvis friske majskolber i netto og jeg havde dagen i forvejen indkøbt en portion portobello svampe, så dem fyldte jeg lidt hytteost i og vupti, så var der frisk tilbehør næsten som var det lavet på grill.

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De her chicken bites er utrolig nemme og lave (mest af alt hvis du smider dem i ovnen!) og de smager altså også helt vildt godt. Du kan jo selv bestemme og du vil bruge græskarkerner og sesamfrø sammen med parmesanen eller du vil bruge noget helt andet, det er parmesanen der giver den gode smag uanset hvad.

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Spinatlasagne

Igen er det her en opskrift som jeg ikke kan huske oprindelsen på, men det er også mest fordi jeg tilpasser den stort set hver gang jeg laver den alt efter hvad jeg lige har i køleskabet. Uanset hvad, kan jeg love at det er en fantastisk opskrift som enhver der kalder sig vegetar skal prøve at lave. Selv kæresten (der er umådelig glad for bacon i alle slags former) nikker genkendende til denne opskrift og er ikke bange for at tage en portion mere.

Jeg kan huske første gang jeg lavede den, da fulgte jeg opskriften næsten slavisk og den blev simpelthen så lækker og cremet den her lasagne fordi der var så mange forskellige slags ost i – og her kan man selv bestemme hvor mange slags man vil og hvilke det skal være. Siden hen når jeg laver den følger jeg opskriften mindre slavisk og bruger meget af hvad jeg lige har ved hånde, og den bliver ved med at være lige så god som jeg husker.

Til lasagneplader brugte jeg oprindeligt almindelig pastaplader fra købepakken, men efterhånden er jeg begyndt at lave mine egne efter Jane Faerbers opskrift, som du kan finde her. De giver lasagnen en helt anden tekstur og gør den så meget mere lækker.

Når det kommer til fyldet starter du med at svitse et hakket løg og 2-3 fed hakket hvidløg i lidt olivenolie i en høj pande. Herefter tilsætter du omkring 450g frossen spinat og en grøntsagsbouillon som skal tø op sammen med spinaten under låg. Når det er tøet op tager du panden af varmen og lader den stå et minut imens du rører 2 æg sammen med 100g revet ost, som du så rører i spinatblandingen. Herefter samler du din lasagne med hjemmelavede lasagneplader, spinatblanding og 1-2 mozzarella kugler som du river i småstykker til at ligge mellem lagene. I den her version jeg lavede tilføjede jeg et enkelt lag af hytteost i lasagnen for at tilføje lidt anden smag. Om du vælger den nemme løsning som jeg har gjort her (igen fordi jeg lige havde en stående i skabet) med en købe mornay sauce eller du laver din egen bechamel sauce er jeg sikker på begge dele er lige så fantastisk i det endelig resultat. Drys gerne lidt ost på toppen til sidst så den bliver dejlig sprød i stedet for blød i ovnen. Så skal den bare passe sig selv i ovnen i ca. 35-40 minutter ved 200 grader.

Alt imens lasagnen bager færdig kan du rive lidt gulerodsråkost og snitte lidt cherrytomater som tilbehør. Hvis man er rigtig god og effektiv kan man stort set også nå at vaske op imens, og voila! Så er der serveret, velbekomme.

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Nu kan det godt være det ser lidt…. mærkeligt ud på billedet, men jeg lover at den altså smager fantastisk.

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