Adrian

I wish I could have forgotten it all.

If anyone would ask me now, years after it has happened, I would tell you exactly that. I have forgotten those years of abuse. I have forgotten the times they locked me away or beat me. I have forgotten them starving and scaring me all the time. I have forgotten how I got all those scars on my arms.

In a way this would be the truth, but in reality, it is also a lie.

I remember more than people give me credit for.

I remember exactly how it started.

I also remember exactly how it ended because that's really where my life began. The night they died in a car crash during a blizzard when I was sixteen. The cops who came and pulled me out of the freezing basement those people had locked me in, told me they couldn't see anything, so they ended up rolling off a bridge into the water below. And drowned.

The next morning, I was taken from the house I had lived in ever since I could remember to the police station downtown. They tried to tell me they were sorry for my loss. They tried to tell me everything was going to be okay.

I said nothing.

I knew otherwise.

I stayed in a children's shelter for two days and then a hospital for about a week, while the officers, who had found me looked up my remaining family. I knew they found my older brother, Michael, immediately, but I think the main reason they took longer deciding where I was going to live was that they were trying to find someone who was both older and lived just as close as he did.

When they found no one, I was moved from the shelter, to Michael's apartment, which was only a few streets away on Nicollet Avenue. I was able to carry the few things I owned right up to his front door. I learned from the officers he had already heard the night before I was coming to stay with him and why

The officer knocked on the door for me and when Michael answered, his eyes red and puffy from crying, the officer asked, though it was completely unnecessary, since we look so much alike, "Are you Michael Julian?"

He nodded and when he saw me, he took me by the arm and pulled me to his chest, wrapping his arms around me, his tears coming all over again. I didn't cry with him. I didn't say any words of comfort. I just dropped my things to the floor and held him as he was holding me, trying to comfort him without words, knowing he needed it way more than I did.

You're safe now, Adrian, a voice in my head told me.

Foolishly, I believed it and allowed myself a small smile.