The Rebirth Cycle

by Sophia Lindhardsen Dahl, age 13
The Rebirth Cycle Sophia Lindhardsen Dahl is a 7th grade student. Sophia is Danish and American and lives in New York City. She speaks English and Danish and is taking French and Spanish at school. Sophia loves to write and make slime.

“It started again, the rebirth cycle. Once a month, I change into another person. Different age, different height, different me. Now, I am a girl, Maria, sixteen years old and living in Ohio. My high school is called something like New Ohio High School. I’m scared.”

It started again, the rebirth cycle. Once a month, I change into another person. Different age, different height, different me. Now, I am a girl, Maria, sixteen years old and living in Ohio. My high school is called something like New Ohio High School. I’m scared. Whatever happens, love or friendships, after a month, it’ll all go away. What did I do to deserve this? Anyway, I’m tired of this cycle. It has ruined my life in every way. I have to go and start this new life of mine.

On the way to school, I try to avoid everyone. I look down and never look up at anyone. I pull my hoodie over my head and sit down silent and invisible. Feeling invisible felt good, no friendships and no love ruining my life.

“Hey, are you new?” asks someone over my shoulder. The voice sounds sarcastic and scratchy. I turn around, and all I see is a body full of glitter. The earrings, clothes, and lip gloss are all covered in glitter. I lay my head back in the fold my arms are in. I sit there, not moving until she asks me again in an angry voice. I lift my head, trying my best to keep my anger down and not let my anger get my magic out of control. The lights go out, and the teacher locks the door, assuming this was some lockdown. But I know it was my powers that turned off the lights. After my anger fled away, the lights started to flicker back on. I look up, acting surprised, so that no one assumes it was me.

We all go back to our seats. Ms. Johnson points to the board and starts to gabble about science and chemistry. I look back because I felt something hit my head. I hear snorts and giggles from Ms. Glitter Girl. I look behind me and see lined paper crumpled up in a perfect, round ball. I open it up and there, written in pretty, pink cursive is, “Don’t think I don’t know it was you who made these lights go pitch black. Have a bad day. Sincerely, The Best.” I rip it up and throw it into the trash can.

This boy walks over to her. I notice his beautiful, short, curly black hair. His brown eyes matched his precious smile. I look down at my hands, fidgeting on my desk, as I overhear his sweet angel voice say, “Why would you do that? I know what you wrote. You don’t even know her!” I quickly turn my head, trying to hide my smile, as the girl gives me this ugly face and rolls her eyes at me. The boy whispers something so quiet that I can’t hear. When he finishes, he looks at me. I wanted that moment to last forever, the moment that our eyes met. He smiled. I smiled back. It felt special and unique. There are so many words I can put into this moment.

Ring! Ring! I stand up, and so does everyone else. I grab my stuff as I quickly run to my locker. I shove all of my chemistry books into it before they fall out. I have to get home before anyone sees me. I go outside and hide behind the thin pole at the far corner of the school. I open my backpack and whisper into it, “Bring me home.”

As I start to fade, I overhear his voice again saying, “You dropped your — ” He stops and stares at me as I start to fade more. I close my eyes and hope that he will forget about this by tomorrow.

As the next day begins, I want to forget him. I hope he will forget me too. I look down and pull my hoodie over my head. I go to my classes and glance at the normies on the way. I can’t help but stop and stare at him one more time. I try to avoid any questions from anybody that comes my way. I go into class, put my bag down, and look around. Everyone is staring at me and the boy’s empty seat. I’m scared and shocked, but I don’t let it show. Halfway into class, he comes rushing in and stares at me, not talking. I stare back into his dreamy eyes. In every class from that day onward, I can’t help but daydream about some unrealistic fantasy. Days and classes go by, and I miss him for some odd reason. I think about him all the time.

Science class: glass shattering and terrible smells spreading around the room. Students screaming in laughter, girls checking their nails and me. I am doing the task written on the board, my blue goggles tightly strapped onto me, and my oversized white lab coat with my name printed over the top left pocket.

“Ms. Nervig, please report to the principal’s office now.” I hear the cutting beep at the end of the message, the light click of a button. Everyone stares at me, and I hear “Ooh’s” around the lab. My teacher looks at me as if I have done something brutal. I drop my things, throw the thin, blue gloves into the trash bin, and walk out of class. The cold air from the hallway glides past me in a rush. I have questions flying in my mind like paper airplanes. Why am I going to the principal’s office? I stop, everything stops moving, and one question shoots me hard, Have they found out?

I don’t even have to question it. I already know what it meant. Have they found out my secret? The secret that my family has kept for years, that nobody else knows, and that nobody else should ever know, Have they found out? I take a deep breath and push the heavy glass door out of my way.

I see Ms. Lynch setting up boxes and boxes of tissues all around her desk. I am startled, and everything begins to slow down. She looks at me. She isn’t mad or upset with me. She is sad for me. I sit down with my legs crossed and my hands tied. She looks up at me and offers a box of tissues. I kindly decline. She looks up at the ceiling, wipes her tears, looks down at me, and says, “Ms. Nervig, your uncle. Your uncle has um… Has uh… ” I can see in her voice and eyes that this is hard for her.

I hold her hand and say, “What is it?”

She looks up at me and whispers, “Your uncle passed away.”

My mouth drops, and I take a tissue box. Tears go pouring down, and sooner or later, the ground will be flooded with my dreadful tears. I kindly say, “Thank you for the information, Ms. Lynch. I have to get back to class.” I stand up to leave. I clench my fists and yell. The lights on the ceiling flicker, and the ground moves slightly. I wipe my tears as I run out of school and to my house. The tree of my mother was weeping, and the house was darker and smaller. It was silent, and the echo was spreading more. I begin to sulk and cry. The tears were weak.

I am Andhera, Andhera Hacke. I am at the park four blocks away with an old, dusty notebook laying flat on my ripped, black jeans. My thick, dyed black hair is in a tight, squished bun, and my leather jacket gleamed from the sun’s heat. I am lost, scared, alone. There’s a pigeon under the bench munching on my leftovers. Life is filled with different things and animals that people don’t see. The pigeon’s eyes are so precious and glowy. When its feet start to lift up and its light, delicate wings start to flap, the beak is so sharp yet so small. The wings spread wider and wider, and the eyes stare over the skyline as it soars like a sharp feather. I look back down at my father’s book that was left over. I put the diary in my black, ripped bag and pull down my hair to let the breeze flow through it. I tiptoed further into the forest to the abandoned cottage I saw on the way to school. I put on my gloves before I hurt anything or anyone.

Bump! I look up and see a reflection of me, eyes of a stressful past, holding a s’mores frappuccino that is half empty.

“What the fuck are you doing?!” I hear her say. She’s annoyed, and she pushes me to the side and walks ahead. I suddenly realize that I always back down, that I am always worrying about what I say. It was the same when I was in a car crash at the age of six.

I was in the backseat holding my old, sticky stuffed animal. We were on a bridge alone. My mother was in the front seat yelling at me. I could replay those moments on a loop. I had therapy for ten years, and I still struggle with PTSD. That was the last day I saw any family member of mine, and the last words that my mother spoke were, “You are a disgrace to everyone! As soon as we get there, I will — ” Then, we tipped and fell.

“Hey! I didn’t bump into you! You went into my path, bitch!” She slowly turns around, throws off her bag, looks over at me, and says, “What did you just say?” with an evil eye.

I immediately regret what I just said. That wasn’t me at all! I shake my head and quietly say, “Nothing, sorry.” I try to back away, but she turns me around and smiles. I’m confused. I didn’t expect this. As she smiles and shakes my hand, I shake hers back.

I walk back to the bench after school, and I see that pigeon again. I forget to put on my protection gloves and without realizing, I reach out my hands. I bend down and pet the pigeon’s feather wings, and suddenly its eyes turn white and then black and then it falls down. I put my two fingers against its precious neck, and I can’t feel a pulse. I put on my gloves, open my diary, and write, “Accidental Death #563, pigeon dead by touch of wing, time of death: 5:18 p.m. under bench.” I draw a small heart in the corner, lock it back up, and put it in my bag. I put the pigeon in a dark, red, lacy box and dig a hole underneath the tree. I say, “I’m sorry,” as tears pour down my face. I feel so guilty about how my first day in this new place went. I just bounced right back.

***

I tremble further and further into the tunnel underneath the forest. Andhera is crouching and holding tightly onto her bag. Her combat boots are loose, and they make the leaves rustle. “Are you sure about this?” I can see that Andhera immediately regrets this, and she is too afraid to move another step forward.

I sit down in the tunnel and look at her. I say, “Yes, I am completely sure, and we aren’t backing out now.” Andhera looks up, down, left, and right. Then, she looks at me with guilt. I roll my eyes, trying to avoid making eye contact with her puppy eyes as I yell, “Don’t make me regret doing this for us. We have come all this way to finally face this man! Since the day you made me think that you were a stalker, I knew that you could help me and that I could help you to find out who the heck cursed us! So, yes! I am sure about this and whatever you say I will — Andhera?” I can see that she wants to say something, but her mouth is open with no sound coming out. I move closer to her and whisper, “What is it?” She shakes her head and says nothing like it was… nothing. I knew that there was something. She pulls out a piece of paper from her bag, ripped, burned, and with thick ink written all over it. I turn around. The rustling of the leaves stops and everything stays still, pure silence. Tears pour down her face, and suddenly the tunnel is a flood filled with her tears. I read the paper out loud since she handed it to me. It is rusty and old, and it smells like blood.

I say in a low, deep voice, “Dear Andhera, my sweet daughter. I have fought and lost for you. Your mother said that I shouldn’t come home again because of my dangerous uncontrollable powers. I put this note in my old bag because I knew that one day you would be at Southside Racket Forest, looking for me. I gave you this power because I knew that one day you would want to find me. I have to go darling. I love you.”

I realize that we’re at the end of the tunnel. I stand up, and Andhera comes after me. We look at the sign pole, and there are arrows and signs everywhere with names of places. We look high up on the pole, and it says in thick black marker, “You are now at Southside Racket Forest.” We look at each other and then back down at the letter. We can blindly see a small cottage behind all the oak trees and a bloody sign saying, “Welcome to Hacke’s studio.” Andhera runs forward, and I grab her hand.

I tell her honestly, “Your father could be the murderer of mine. Your father gave you this terrible curse, your father made people forget about me after a month, your father — ”

She lets go and screams, “But what if he is actually a good person. That’s what I wanna know!” She lets go as she runs to the cottage. I am now standing here, still afraid for Andhera. I have no hope for her father. I slowly creep behind the cottage, looking through the back broken glass pane window. I see an elderly man hiding next to the door, waiting for an arrival. He looks nothing like Andhera, and he is sliced open on the neck, the blood still dripping, and the bone sliced in half as if it was broken. A knife on the floor, clean as a window wiper. I can hear Andhera screaming. I get out my bow and arrow and drop everything else as I run in. I see another elderly man holding Andhera by the throat with a gun to her head. I can see Andhera struggling to get loose. I try to calm him down, but I am afraid to move to close to the gun. Unfortunately, I am too late. I hear a gunshot, and Andhera’s heart stops beating while my heart turns cold. The only person I understand is gone. I go down to the floor and pull the bow and arrow out of her bag.

I stand back up and scream, “Back off, bitch! Now you live in my world!” Then, he punches me in the face, and the world blacks out. The sounds of an open breeze and the feel of a warm buzzing head on scratchy wooden floors. My eyes are frozen cold and shut closed; the sight of pitch black and the feeling of being unable to move. The voice yelling help and the warm soft feeling of a hand holding mine. And the empty silence of no one coming. And the silent cries of a loved one…

 

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