The summer before I started school, my mom was hospitalized for an extraordinarily high-risk pregnancy. My dad was pulling double shifts to keep us afloat, which meant no one had time to take care of me.
So they shipped me to my aunt’s house a thousand miles away.
I was excited at first. I was obsessed with the idea of adventure. A real adventure with magical creatures and quests. Maybe this trip would be the catalyst to just such an adventure.
By the time we reached my aunt’s enormous and breathtakingly beautiful mountain property, I fully believed I was about to embark on my very own fairy tale.
The fairy tale dissipated when my father drove away the next morning. I watched his car disappear, trying not to cry and failing miserably.
When you are six years old, a day feels like a week. A day with strangers feels twice as long, especially when the strangers aren’t kind.
Aunt Charlotte didn’t particularly care for my mother and by extension, didn’t particularly care for me. Nor did her children; Charles and Alan loved nothing more than scaring me to death with stories of serial killers and child-drowning ghosts. They also made it extraordinarily clear that I ranked far below them in the family hierarchy…