A. E. Worth
Book 2: The Lost Sheep
By A.E. Worth
Based on True Events
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are used fictionally or are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to real places or people are purely coincidental or fictionalized.
Copyright © 2021 A.E. Worth
All Rights Reserved
Chapter 1: The Return
I didn’t cry about what happened. Not for a long time. I got on the airplane like I was told and flew home to Michigan, wondering what awaited me when I arrived. James hadn’t given me any information.
I assumed my mom would be there to pick me up from the airport and yell at me. No one waited for me in the airport lobby, so I followed the main horde of travelers to the baggage claim area and found the luggage carousel that matched my flight information. Several people stood around it already, waiting, and I recognized one of them.
“Grandma!” I shouted, filled with relief to see a familiar face.
As she hugged me and I inhaled the scent of dogs and mold, the reality of everything that happened in California sank in. Making it home had been my only focus, and now there was nothing to distract me from it.
The toll from the weariness and stress hit me, and my legs almost buckled. I didn’t realize until then how hard the last few weeks with James had been on me. The constant arguing and worrying about what he could do next had turned me wary, and I felt sleep-deprived from his late-night lectures.
“Angel, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” Grandma asked quietly.
I reluctantly let go of her. A couple people gave us curious looks. I squinted my eyes at my grandmother until she realized her mistake and apologized.
“I’m fine,” I told her, smiling weakly, “just tired.”
We collected my luggage when it appeared on the conveyor belt and walked out of the airport. The air outside felt wet, even though it wasn’t raining. Dirty snow and slush covered the ground. It was a drastic difference from California.
I wished I had boots and a coat on. The frigid wind cut through my sweater, but we found Grandma’s car in the parking lot, and I felt better once the wind couldn’t get to me. We were soon driving down the expressway with the heater blasting, and I fought the urge to lean my head against the window and go to sleep.
“Are you hungry?” Grandma asked, making me blink several times.
I realized I was starving, rubbing my stomach at the ache caused by the mention of food. I couldn’t remember the last time I ate anything. I nodded sleepily, and she pulled into a Tim Hortons drive-thru to get me a bagel, a muffin, and hot chocolate to drink.
She got a mocha for herself, and I wondered what it tasted like. It looked good. Coffee could probably help me stay awake.
Grandma woke me up when we arrived at her house, and I groaned wearily, wanting to be left alone to sleep. She helped me carry my things inside, continuously yelling at the dogs to settle down and stop barking.
“Do you want to call your dad and let him know you made it here safely?” Grandma asked once it quieted down in the house.
I shook my head, “I don’t think he cares.”
“I’m sorry, Angie. I tried to tell you that it might not work out. Sometimes people have to figure things out for themselves, the hard way. Your mother did the same thing when she was a little bit older than you. She went to Alabama thinking that things would be better with her father, but she could have saved herself a lot of heartache if she listened to me in the first place.”
I wanted to tell her about Chris but feared that she would disapprove, the way my father did. I couldn’t think about anything besides sleeping, so I asked if I could go upstairs to bed.
I slept hard, waking up groggy the next morning to the sound of dogs going berserk. I planned on ignoring them and trying to fall back asleep, but I heard voices downstairs, so I reluctantly crawled out of bed. No one ever came to my grandma’s house to visit.
I descended the staircase, still in my clothes from the previous day, halting when I turned the final corner. My mother stood in the living room with her hands on her hips, arguing with my grandma.
“Can you at least give her a little more time?” Grandma asked. “She just got back last night.”
“Mom?” I asked, bringing their conversation to an abrupt end. “What’s going on? Are you here to take me home?”
Mom scowled and shook her head. “No. We’re going for a drive. Go get ready.”
I rushed to change my clothes and brush my hair, wondering if we were going out to breakfast. I didn’t think my mom missed me, partially due to the fact that she hadn’t called to check on me once during the last four months, but she had come to Grandma’s house pretty fast once I got back, so perhaps she did.
If she didn’t come to take me home, the only explanation that made sense was that she wanted to spend time with me, but not inside Grandma’s aromatic house. Eager to spend time with her, I slipped on my shoes and coat and followed her outside to her car, crunching through the snow.
She drove, staying in the city, and asked me about California and my father. I told her that he started out nice and generous but revealed by the end that he had serious issues. Mom nodded knowingly and pulled into the parking lot of a large building.
It wasn’t a restaurant, but I didn’t recognize the building. A big sign on the front read HAVENWYCK.
“What is this place?” I asked timidly.
Mom didn’t answer me, and I hurried to catch up to her as she walked toward the main entrance. I thought maybe we were there to see somebody, and we were, but not in the way I envisioned. The building turned out to be a mental hospital where Mom asked for me to be evaluated, put on meds, and enrolled in their day-program.
She said I could stay with my grandma if I agreed to do the program and take the medicine they prescribed. I didn’t hear the part about having a choice in the matter and felt lucky to be able to stay at my grandma’s house in the evenings instead of living with my mom and Ron.
The doctor at the mental hospital, an old man with a short, grey beard, put me on two different medications. He described the first as an antidepressant called Effexor and the second as an antipsychotic called Risperdal. He said I had to take them every day and that within a few weeks, I would start feeling less depressed and withdrawn.
He asked me close to a million questions before he prescribed them, including whether I ever experienced thoughts of hurting myself or other people. I denied it, but everyone that worked there asked the same question repeatedly, including the counselor and the group therapist. Every person in the program received one-on-one and group therapy daily.
They did exercises to teach us how to control our impulses and emotions and how to live our lives free of drugs and alcohol. They talked a lot about the twelve-step program even though I never tried drugs or alcohol.
I met a girl around my age in the group named Helena and befriended her, sticking close to her through the daily activities. I asked if she had an illness because her pale, pasty skin made her look terminally ill. She had short brown hair, as short as a boy, and wore a light scarf wrapped around her head.
She shook her head when I asked her but smiled kindly and told me that she recently got out of the hospital for trying to kill herself by overdosing on aspirin. My heart broke when learning that her life was so horrible that she wanted to commit suicide at such a young age.
I wondered what happened to her to make her feel that way, but I didn’t ask because it would be rude. If she wanted to tell me, she would tell me. I learned in group therapy that her mom died shortly after Helena started preschool and that her father abused her physically and sexually. It sounded similar to what I went through with Burt, except Helena didn’t have a mom to save her from the abuse.
I went to the program at the hospital for two weeks. Instead of going to school and learning math and grammar, we learned ways to cope with depression, sadness, and anger. Grandma told me when she picked me up on the last day that my mom agreed to let me continue living with her.
The news didn’t come as a surprise. My mom had been happy about me going to California, and she didn’t seem happy at all about me being back. She didn’t act as if she wanted anything to do with me at all for that matter. She didn’t have custody of Devin anymore, and didn’t want me clogging up her space.
“Your mother doesn’t want you going to school here, so I’ll have to drive you to your old school and pick you up after.”
I groaned. I much preferred going to school in the city. I wanted to argue that I didn’t have any friends or fit in at that school, but I didn’t want to upset my grandma. She said she couldn’t do anything about the school situation because my mom had legal guardianship over me, and she dictated what I could and couldn’t do.
On my first day back at my old intermediate school, I felt like a ghost roaming the halls. No one greeted me, paid attention to me, or commented on me being back. I felt completely alone in a school full of hundreds of students. I kept to myself and didn’t talk to anyone, eager for the school day to be over with.
I fought the urge to nod off in my classes and had difficulty paying attention to the lessons because of it. I started becoming moody and withdrawn and even got into arguments with Grandma sometimes, especially in the morning when she tried to wake me up. I listened to my CDs on the way to school through my headphones and on the way home. Grandma didn’t listen to music in the car, and the silence drove me insane.
Music is the only thing that made me feel okay, and I liked to sing when no one else was around. I enjoyed matching my voice to the person singing to imitate them. I spent most of my free time in my room, writing poems and lyrics for my own songs and staying up late to record songs from the radio to sing over. I knew that I wanted to do something involving music with my future, but I didn’t know what yet.
I turned thirteen while living at Grandma’s house. We didn’t do much since I couldn’t have a party or friends come over to her house. I didn’t have any friends to invite anyway, even if I had a cleaner location to have a party.
We went out to eat for dinner, but it didn’t feel special since we did that every day. Grandma asked what I wanted for my birthday, and I told her a sketch pad or more CDs. She took me to the store to pick out my gift, then she took me to the movies, and she said we could see whatever I wanted.
Many of the movies had already started, and some didn’t start for quite a while. I chose Save the Last Dance since it started soon and the description sounded interesting. I liked to dance when fear and self-consciousness didn’t paralyze me. The movie touched a nerve, and on the ride home, I stared out the window with my jaw clenched, unable to speak.
“Angie, what’s wrong?” Grandma asked with a touch of impatience. “I did everything I could to give you a good birthday. I’m sorry your mother didn’t call you or come visit.”
I started crying. Not hearing from my mom bothered me, but something else bothered me even more. I didn’t want to tell her, but she eventually coaxed it out of me, promising that no one would be in trouble.
“I miss my boyfriend in California.”
“You have a boyfriend in California?” she repeated with raised eyebrows.
I nodded. I missed Chris so much that I could hardly stand it. I cried myself to sleep every night thinking about him and lie awake reminiscing when I should have been sleeping, wondering if I would ever get to see him again. It would be five years before I turned eighteen and could go back to California and find him.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Grandma asked once I stopped sobbing.
She looked sympathetic, and she didn’t tell me that I was being dumb or ridiculous. She wasn’t mad at me for falling in love with someone, and she didn’t try to tell me that I was too young to understand what love entailed like James had.
“I didn’t think you would understand,” I told her quietly. “Everyone is always telling me that I don’t need a boyfriend, and I should be focused on other things like school. Nobody wants us to be together, and my dad hates him because he isn’t Caucasian.”
Grandma did understand, though. “Angie, I don’t care what color the person is that you want to be with. He could be blue, orange, or green, as long as he makes you happy and treats you good. That’s all I care about. You’re turning into a young woman, and you are going to have feelings for boys. No one can do anything about that. I know from experience that telling someone not to do something only makes them want to do it more.”
I looked at her somberly, and she smiled. “Thank you, Grandma. I just miss him so much. I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone else the way I love him.
"It’s really hard, not even being able to talk to him.”
“He doesn’t have a phone?”
I gave her a sideways look. “Of course, he has a phone. I didn’t think I could call him, though.”
“How old is this guy?” Grandma asked.
“Would you feel better if you call him when we get home?”
Excitement flooded through me. “You would really let me call him?” I grabbed a napkin out of the center console to wipe my tears. “You know it’s a long-distance call, right?”
Of course, she knew. My grandma might be a lot of things, but dumb didn’t make the list. “Yes, I know,” she assured me. “You can talk to him for a little while. It will be okay.”
“Thank you so much, Grandma! You really are the best.”
I smiled at her and wiggled in my seat, anxious to get home. I felt bad for giving her such a hard time earlier. She was the only person on my team that wanted me to be happy. I practically busted down the door to get inside when we got home, beelining to the phone.
The dogs barking furiously, so Grandma let them outside. My hands shook as I dialed the number. It rang several times before a man with a deep voice answered.
I suddenly felt very nervous. “Hello. Is Chris there?” I asked him, feeling like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I was sure he was going to say that Chris wasn’t home or didn’t want to talk to me.
“Yeah, just a minute,” the man replied, sounding irritated. “Christopher! You have a phone call!”
A moment later, I heard his voice, and tears sprang into my eyes. “Hello?” he asked.
I could barely talk for fear of sobbing. “Chris,” I whispered.
The phone rattled around on the other end as if he dropped it. “Angelique?” he asked urgently. “Please tell me it’s you.”
“It’s me,” I said, tears rolling down my face, happy to hear his voice.
“Are you okay? I didn’t think I would ever hear from you again. You had me so worried.”
“I’m sorry,” I told him. “I know it took a long time. My mom wasn’t exactly happy about me coming back and made a huge deal about it. I have to take antidepressants now, and I’ve been staying with my grandma. Things have been crazy.”
We talked about everything that happened since we had last saw each other and I told him that I miss him half of a dozen times. He was just as happy to hear from me as I was to talk to him, and I was relieved to know that he still loved me, even though I lived so far away. Grandma said I could call him once a week, and I thanked her profusely.
One week when I called Chris, Jared happened to be at his house, so I got to speak to my best friend for a few minutes as well. Jared said his mom didn’t mind if he made long-distance phone calls, so he offered to call me from his house. I agreed, glad to have a friend to talk to. He promised to call me the next day.
Due to the three-hour time difference, I gave him specific windows of time to call in, so I would be home. Nine o’clock in the evening in California equals midnight in Michigan, so I made sure he understood that he couldn’t call me any later than six pm his time.
I didn’t feel good the next day, having tossed and turned sleeplessly all night, so after school, I told Grandma that I needed to go upstairs and lie down. She knew I expected an important phone call, and I asked her to wake me up when it came. It was late and dark outside when I sat up and rubbed my eyes. It was definitely later than nine o’clock.
I ran down the stairs, anger boiling my blood. Grandma sprawled on the couch, reading a book with a blanket over her lap. She sat up quickly, startled by my sudden appearance as if I caught her doing something wrong. I pointed at the phone with a shaky hand.
“Grandma! Why didn’t you wake me up? Did he call?”
Grandma gave me a strange look and sat her book down on the couch beside her. “Yes, your friend called. I told you, but you told me to leave you alone.”
“What?” I stammered, completely shocked. “I did not! I’ve been looking forward to that call all day. I didn’t tell you to leave me alone.”
“You sure did,” Grandma insisted, pursing her lips. “You sat up, looked me right in the eyes, and said to leave you alone. I told you that your friend from California wanted to talk to you, but you said you didn’t want to talk to him and to go away.”
“There’s no way,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief. “I didn’t say that. I wanted to talk to him!”
“You must have been talking in your sleep.”
“No.” I didn’t believe her.
It didn’t make any sense. I decided that she must not want me to talk to Jared for some reason. I stomped back up the stairs and went into my room. I couldn’t close the door, because it was already closed.
The ancient house had worn doors, and the whole middle was missing from this one. I could easily step right through it, which was more convenient most of the time than fumbling with the old, loose doorknob and risking pulling it off. There was no need for all that since the hole took up most of the door.
I stayed awake and sat by the phone all evening the following day, in case Jared called again. I didn’t want grandma to lie and tell me that I refused to talk to him again. The phone rang, and I answered it, happy to hear his friendly, familiar voice on the other end.
I found it easier to converse with Jared than with Chris. With Chris, hearing his voice served as a painful reminder that I couldn’t see him, touch him, or be with him. It had become awkward because I could only tell him so many times how much I love and miss him and how unfair the world is before it became repetitive and painful. Jared and I didn’t have that awkwardness between us.
We talked about random things, and Jared asked what book I currently read, recalling that I always had a book in my hand. He paid attention to stuff like that, caring enough to remember and to ask. I told him Vittorio the Vampire by Anne Rice.
“I know you love my cousin, but if I was a vampire, I would suck your blood,” he laughed.
I didn’t quite know how to respond to that since I definitely didn’t want the blood drained out of my body until I collapsed as an empty husk on the ground. I suspected that Jared had a crush on me, but he knew that I loved Chris, and I made it clear from the beginning that nothing inappropriate could ever happen between us. I didn’t feel that way about him, even if I didn’t love Chris.
Grandma must have been able to hear him talking through the phone from her spot on the couch because she suddenly piped up. “Tell him that we’re witches, so he won’t be able to suck your blood,” she inserted without looking up from the book in her hands.
I raised my eyebrows, wishing she could hang out in another room but repeated what she said. Jared laughed again. “Ooh. Are you going to put a curse on me?”
“Maybe I will,” I told him, going along with the joke. “I just need a magic wand first.”
Jared laughed, but Grandma piped up again from the couch. “You don’t need a wand, dear. Just focus your energy.”
I rolled my eyes. This wasn’t the first time I Grandma mentioned something similar to the effect of being a witch or having powers, but I only cared about talking to my friend and didn’t want to hear her crazed nonsense right now.
“Grandma, stop, please.” She could be weird later when no one else could hear us.
She nodded, and I finished my phone call. Once finished, I hung up and turned to her with my hands on my hips. “Alright, Grandma. Please tell me why you think we’re witches and why you want my friends to think we’re crazy. What magic powers do you have?”
I sat down on the couch next to her, eyebrows raised expectantly, and waited for her response. Some of the stories I already knew. Ghosts lived in the house, the prankster and the woman in the white dress. Grandma heard my mom say something about her shoes from miles away. Aunt Jen spoke to a ghost with a Ouija board and frequently misplaced her belongings.
None of that equaled having magic powers or proved that magic existed.
Grandma took a deep breath before responding. “I used to read tarot cards, but I can’t anymore. I-I won’t. I saw things I didn’t want to see; things I can’t unsee. Everything I predicted came true.”
“Like what?” I asked doubtfully.
She shook her head. “I can’t talk about it. You don’t want to know.”
“I do want to know, hence why I asked.”
“No, you don’t, trust me,” Grandma asserted firmly, “but there are other things I can tell you and teach you if you’re ready.”
“Like how to do spells and make potions?” I asked curiously. “Can we put spells on people?”
Grandma shrugged uncomfortably. “You can, but I don’t advise it. You have to be extremely careful.”
“Of things you don’t understand yet. There are entities in this universe more dangerous than you can imagine. White witches only use our magic for good. We don’t put spells on people unless it’s to help them.”
“Do you have any tarot cards?” I asked, wondering what they looked like. I knew what they were and what they were supposed to do, but I never saw any before, other than on TV.
Grandma shook her head. “No, and you are not to bring any into this house, either. Or a Ouija board. I forbid it. They’re dangerous, and they only bring trouble.”
“Okay,” I nodded, silently questioning her sanity.
I heard the story about my Aunt Jen using a Ouija board here many years ago to speak with the prankster spirit. I listened intently, and I didn’t think that she made the story up, but it was still hard to believe that she talked to a ghost. It was much more likely that one of her friends manipulated the cursor with their hands to make it appear as if a ghost moved it.
“What can I do with my powers?” I asked, wondering what the point of having powers was if we couldn’t use them.
“Anything you desire, my dear,” Grandma smirked.