All you could hear was the faint sound of someone breathing. I kept trying to have the courage to go through, or at least to stop shaking, but that moment never came. Maybe I should start from the beginning. It was October when we got to New York, it has been a long time since we left California to get away from mom’s obsessed ex-boyfriend. But I have to say, it’s been fun meeting the new people and the new cultures in the thirty-plus states we’ve been in since this whole ordeal started. I have no complaints. But getting back to my story, it had been less than a week since we had left Ohio when Mom decided to take Abayomi, Ching, and I to a haunted house in Sleepy Hollow, an hour away from where we were living, for the time being, in New York City. She thought it would be a nice thing to take us to, a place where we could be kids again, even if it was only for a short while. When we got there, there were people dressed in costumes. My brothers and I counted five witches, eight ghosts, and sixteen headless horsemen. The things that people do, it’s hilarious. But even with all the crazy-looking people, people still looked at us cockeyed. After all, my mom was of European descent, Abayomi is African, Ching is Asian, and I’m Latina. If people only knew how weird our family actually was, I fear we would be burned at the stake. Luckily, we never stayed in any Salem. When we entered the house, the floor creaked, the windows shook, and a scream came from one of the upper levels, but this did not scare us. Poor architecture and probably a bat or bird in the attic hiding from the cold. My brothers and I came to that conclusion, but mom, who had no psychic link like we did, played along, acting scared. That was the conclusion we made because mom was strong - she really was - she was not scared by spiders nor snakes nor rats like we were. Frankly, she was amazing, not just in her acts of protecting us, but in the fact how well she took care of us by herself. She is amazing. My brothers and I agreed on that more highly than any other. But let me get back to my story, we got with the tour group, and mom, like always, said, “Stay close to me, okay?” We always tried, but usually failed; we would be better off glued to her than trying. That, sadly, is what happened about halfway through the tour when we got separated from her, like always. Curse moving walls! But that’s what happened. Abayomi found a good-looking book and just had to take it off the shelf. It was definitely a good book, the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, but that wasn’t gratifying enough for our predicament. We walked away from the wall because it didn’t want to revolve anymore. That is when the breathing starting, it scared me. I didn’t like it. We stayed close together: me in the middle, Abayomi to my left, and Ching to my right. Spider webs hung down from the ages, bat slept above our heads, below us the floors creaked wildly, like the wind chimes back home when a big gust of wind hit them, and there was very little light, besides what peaked through the window at the end of the corridor that was covered mostly by shutters. We crept towards it and there was where we met the breathe. According to mom, this was about the time she noticed that we were gone. Meanwhile, we had stopped in our tracks, because it wasn’t just one breathe we were hearing, it was three, enough to carry us out of there without hassle. Once again, we were meet by the actions Nolan Simpleton, his obsession caused many such moments that we find ourselves in, but he never graces us with his actual presence when he did have us kidnapped. We have speculated that the reason why is because he doesn’t want mom accusing him of kidnapping. That isn’t a way to a woman’s heart, he would tell us. He liked pretending that he was a gentleman, always watching his p’s and q’s, sitting and standing straight, and talking condescendingly to us, which got annoying after the fourth state, Washington, we went to.
That stupid, good for nothing, blowhard did it once again! I wouldn’t mind it if it was just Abayomi and me, but Gabriela is where I draw the line. She is too young for this. When this all started, she only just got out of preschool. Abayomi was going on to sixth grade and I was on my way to fourth. I don’t think Nolan ever went to school, his last name is Simpleton for crying out loud. When we found the three men, none being Nolan himself, like always, I was sure I could take them, all three of them at once. The only reason I didn’t was because Bri was squeezing my hand so hard I couldn’t feel my fingers and I knew Bay would tell me violence is never the answer like he always did. We didn’t concretely agree on much, I was his Yin and he my Yang, but he’s fun to play chess with. I could have taken them, instead, in a peaceful Bay way on our part, they snatched us up like it was a black Friday sale. They sped down the stair out a secret entrance, most likely used during the prohibition era. I still think it would have been fun to make a house like that, they don’t make them like they use to, ya know what I mean? Then they took us to a car. Probably? Most likely? I don’t know. I don’t remember much after the stairs. That’s the only thing Nolan is good at, being predictable. I hate that smell, it’s just terrible, but it’s effective. The next thing I knew was a cinderblock room. I hate that, too. It’s just sad: no windows, no proper floor, no life. There are better ways to make a building. It’s so impersonal. And no natural light is just offensive. Anyway, we were laying on a mattress on the floor. That gentleman bas… jerk, who does he think he is? Bay was standing by the door, probably thinking about how Sherlock Holmes would get out of here, I didn’t care to find out I was right. Bri was still asleep, peaceful. She always looked nice when she slept, not to be weird, but she did; she looked like one of those Disney princesses, never a hair out of place. Prettier than Princess Leia and a whole lot smarter than Belle. I took my index finger and rubbed it along her bridge, she smiled. She’s too young for this kind of fate; she should be in kindergarten not being picked up off the street like a rag doll. She shouldn’t have to go through things like that, it just not fair. Then the door knob jingled.
I couldn’t believe it happened again! I’ve got to be the worst mother in the whole world. Losing my children not once, not twice, but over thirty times. There was nothing else to think about when dozens of people are staring at me. “Excuse me, ma’am,” an officer came up to me, “do you remember where you last place you saw your children?” “Um… I believe it was the library.” He took me by the hand and guided me that way. The walls loomed over me, the painted figures’ eyes bored into me like daggers, I felt like Caesar at his last breath. You would think after all these time it wouldn’t hit me like this anymore, but I am being betrayed by someone I had loved dearly. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I never left if I just let him beat me if I could only love a beast, at least my children would be safe right now, but what kind of life would that be? Survival isn’t enough, isn’t right, isn’t sufficient. But he could have changed, or he could have beaten me to death and done away with my children. I don’t know why I still contemplate this, I made the right choice, and I’ll never ever go back. “Ma’am.” We were in the library, I didn’t even notice. “Excuse me.” “That’s alright, you have a lot on your mind. Do you mind helping me search the room?” “That’s fine, thank you.” Books always gave me a calm feeling, they’re adventures to anywhere. That was the major reason he beat me, I would always come home late, he would say he was worried because I didn’t call, more like he was worried about me growing a conscience and was gone forever. I don’t know what I ever saw in him or why I stayed as long as I did? Why was I shivering? I stopped in my tracks. “What room are we above?” “What was that?” “What room are we above?” “The great room I believe. Why?” “This wall isn’t an exterior wall, there are at least eight feet behind this wall, it shouldn’t be this cold.” “That means?” “There’s another room on the other side of the wall.” “Argon, Check the second flo-” “You don’t need to do that the door is right here.” “I don’t see one.” “One moment.” I looked at the book just above Abayomi’s reach. Sherlock Holmes, he couldn’t resist that. I slid the book half way out and the bookcase span ninety degrees. “Brown, what about the second floor?” I always wonder how radio waves worked. “Never mind. I found what I needed.” “Alright.” “Shouldn’t they be here?” I was thinking the same way, the only thing I could say was Not again. “Are you telling me they frequently disappear?” “I would say disappear. They constantly gave in to their curiosity, then some of my ex-boyfriend's friends would find them.” “Then I guess they’re in good hands since they aren’t here. “But, that’s the problem. He isn’t their father, and he doesn’t return them to me.” “Argon, close this place down.” “Why?” “It’s a crime scene.”
When the doorknob jiggled, I jumped back from the door. The first person through the door was the giant, Adrian. Too stupid to know his own last name, but what he lacked in brain cells he made up for in muscle ones. He pushed me back with Ching and Bri. Cement hurts. He laughed until he saw Bri. Ching and me never agreed on much, but we always thought he looked at her in the wrong way. When he did that, it was the only time I wished that I could be like Ching, or just sick him on the big loaf. He would deserve it, though, he liked to watch Nolan beat mom. She thinks we don’t know, but it’s not hard to see, there had to be more of a reason to why she left than that she didn’t love him. I’m a decently peaceful person, but the two of them ruffle my feathers. Nolan followed Adrian in, in his smug way. “How was your trip to sleepy hollow, kids?” He always asks stupid questions, how does he think we feel being kidnapped, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. The great Patrick Stuart said it the best, “I’m not a violent man but I do believe I’m going to have to kill someone.” That was the last movie we watched in California, now I almost feel like I’m living a more sad version of it. Anyway, many more stupid questions followed the first but never had a peep of an answer from us, which slowly made him angry. We liked doing that with a passion, he never hit us, but we knew he secretly wanted to. Hitting is not the way into children’s hearts, he would think so intensely, he was almost saying it. But all of this was in vain, we wouldn’t want him for a father ever. Not to say we don’t want one, just not him, you understand, right? Well, so on, both Nolan and Adrian left us alone, they were never good company, I never understood why mom ever fell in love with him in the first place. Bri wasn’t completely awake, yet, especially after that boring drawn-out Q & A session. She was laying on Ching’s lap, she’s the only soft spot he ever had. They always had a better relationship than I did with either of them. I won’t lie, I was jealous of that sometimes. But that never interfered with our debates, they had two very different opinions. She’s a princess and he’s potent. If that’s the only weird thing we had to deal with. Smoke started to fill the room slowly - not the kind that comes from fire, just smoke - then a sound we hadn’t heard in a long time. “Hooves?” That was the last thing between there and the ambulance.