My name is Melissa, I’m 10 years old. I have a not so boring life, I think. I can’t really remember much of anything, all I know is I have a family who loves me. I think I have amnesia.

My mother works for the county. She's raising me and my brother all by herself.

I have a big brother, he’s 16. I love him, we’re each other’s friend.

Today, I think my brother has the flu because he’s been hacking his lungs out this morning. We were having breakfast, eggs and rice of course… he came out of his bedroom when mama called. He’s pale with gray circles around his eyes. He didn’t want to talk but I coaxed him to sing the next line of our song. “Love was out to get me, that’s the way it seems disappointed haunted all my dreams.” Then he bellowed “And then I saw her face now I’m a believer” I made him stop, he sounded like a metal door that hasn’t been greased in years.

I have acquaintances tons of them but I have just one friend. He’s been my friend since kindergarten. We spent so much time together that sometimes we’re mistaken as twins. He’s spending his Thanksgiving break with his dad and his stepmom across town. Before he left yesterday, he said he’ll call every day.

I’m all “alone” for the next three days or at least until my brother gets well. So, I have decided to make Christmas presents for my family and my teachers. This year, I’m making pet rocks. Before mom left for work, I told her I was going to the playground across the street to pick up some rocks. She told my brother to keep an eye on me then she told me not to use all the glue gun and make sure we don’t burn down the house.

I headed to the playground with a plastic bag. In it is a piece of paper and a pencil. Might as well sketch and plan these pet rocks while there or I’ll end up with a bag full of rocks that I won’t use.

“Hello. What are you doing?”

I turned around and saw a girl standing next to me. I didn’t see her face at first cause she was standing with the sun behind her. It startled me a bit because first, all I saw at was her wild blond hair. Secondly, nobody comes to this playground.

“Nothing important, just looking for rocks.” I replied. I tried to squint my eyes to have a better look at this kid. I stood up to show her what I have. “I’ve collected a couple I like. I’m making pet rocks.” “Lovely, I make pet rocks too. I’m Charlotte. I live down there”. She pointed to the direction of the house with red bricks which use to belong to the Lozano’s. “I live across the street. I’m Melissa.” Its kindda odd to see a new kid, I haven’t seen her before. Maybe she just moved in.

“Are you new in the neighborhood?" I asked.

“Nah, my family’s been living here for quite a while.” She stooped down to pick up a rock. “Here, this one looks different”. She handed me light colored rock. “Thanks”, I said. Then she ran off. Wired kid I thought.

The wind is picking up. I hope it doesn't rain. I don't want to pick up rocks under soggy leaves. The girl came back. Her wild hair is pulled back. Maybe that's why she ran off, she probably realized her hair is scary. Oh and she's wearing her glasses too. She handed me another rock, it doesn't look like it's from around here. "Melissa, why are you here?" "To pick up rocks" I replied. "Why are you here, Charlotte?" She didn't answer. She just looked at me long and hard. Then finally she asked "How long have you lived in this neighborhood?" It was my turn to look at her long and hard... because I don't remember. Tears were welling up in her eyes. Somebody's calling her name. She blinked, tears rolled down her cheeks and said "I'll help you, I promise. I'll be back." Then she bolted towards her house. 

I sat on the bench, closed my eyes and took a deep breath. That girl sure is odd, I thought. I looked in my bag and realized I only have 3 rocks and the 4th one was on the bench next to me. I can make a mouse, a monster and a frog. And the fourth one a turtle. 

I thought about my dad. I don't remember how he looks like. I concentrated trying to remember my dad. It's coming back to me but not everything. He left. My parents had a fight and he left and didn't come back. The memory is starting to come back, I think. He sent me a card a month ago for my birthday and a check along with it. Yeah, that's the money I used to buy my shoes and the Shrek DVD that me, Adam and my friend watched every weekend.

Adam. That's my brother's name. How could I forget! Am I getting dummer? He's the person who has my back every single day. The one who made me PB&J when mom was sick and couldn't get out of bed. He read to me at night and I sneak in his room when there are thunderstorms... thunderstorms scare me. He walked me and my friend to school and made sure we were safe.

My friend, what's his name... Kevin. Yes, Kevin. We did homework together, played in this playground, we trick or treated every Halloween. He's like my other brother. Mom said he stayed at my bedside when I was in the hospital last year.

Mom, my own mother... how in the world could I forget about her? She's the most beautiful woman who walks on Earth. Her hair as black as night, and her eyes bright and kind. I feel her love for me even when she's away. She is a very talented. She can paint, sculpt and is very good in crafting but she’s not a very good cook. She makes rice and egg every day. I don’t mind though, I think my pallet got used to it.

Out of the blue there's a woman standing next to me. I think she's Charlotte's older sister. She's smiled. I smiled back. "I think it's time for you to go home." she said. "Yeah, I think so too." I replied. We walked quietly, then she spoke again, "Your brother's name is Adam, right?" I just nodded. I'm exhausted.

She knocked on our door. A beared man opened the door. It's my dad! He's back! Why didn't I see him come? Why didn't he look for me? He let us in the house but didn't look at me, nor acknowledged me. As I stepped in the threshold, I felt different. Everything's different! My brain can't grasp what's happening, but I felt peace. 

"It's time for closure. It's been a long time. You need to let go. She's ready to crossover, Adam." the young woman said to the bearded man. And the bearded man broke down. The young woman looked at me, and said "I'm Charlotte, we first met ten years ago a few months after you died. Your had an ahastma attack at the playground. When I gave you that rock, I thought you were a real girl. It was my first encounter with beings from the afterlife. Later on I discovered that I  have a gift of seeing spirits and helping them crossover." 

I'm dead and had been dead? Suddenly, I felt like I've been hit by lightning and doused with icy water at the same time. Then I felt an urge to go home, wherever home is. Charlotte embraced me and I became her. I approached my weeping brother. I wiped his tears and held his face in my hands. I felt his sorrow. He blamed himself all these years for not watching over me that day. I saw his life after I passed away, the sorrow and the torment.. it played like a movie in my head... a sad movie. He looked at me and uttered "I'm so sorry Melissa." "It's ok. It wasn't your fault, Adam. It hurts me to see you like this. I'm going home now, but you have to let me go." I replied. He held my hands and said "Rest in peace now little sis."

A great force pulled me out of Charlotte's body and I felt free.  I turned back to Charlotte and said thank you.

As I walked away, I was met by my mother. She held my hand and led me towards the light.


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