#NaNoWarmUp October 3, 2013: Hannah Scott

I don’t know where to begin. Cassandra is so much like me, it scares me sometimes. Not just physically, because she does look a lot like I did when I was a young girl, but her personality too. I was always reading, never had a lot of friends. Just like my daughter. I can relate to her because I think I can understand her better. I’ve been there. She’s a watcher, not a participant. We observe people.

There was this one time when she was in preschool. It was a Saturday afternoon in late Spring, and we had taken a walk to the playground. There were swings available, and a slide, but she didn’t want anything to do with the other kids. No, that’s wrong. I think she wanted to play with them, but she couldn’t for some reason. Fear, maybe. Intimidation. She sat next to me at a picnic table in the shade, but her eyes were focused on the kids. She watched them intently, her eyes panning back and forth. I asked her if she wanted to go play, and she shook her head, but I know she wanted to. I didn’t push her.

Maybe that was wrong. Maybe I should have made her leave her comfort zone. If she gave the other children a chance, she might have made friends. When I asked if she wanted to go home, she shook her hand and slowly took my hand, not taking her gaze from the kids. She liked watching them. She was enjoying herself. She just didn’t want to be a part of it.

I started to get nervous when I realized she was going through puberty earlier than her friends. I knew that there would be teasing about her body, and I wish I could have taken her out of school. She never told me about other kids making fun of her so eventually I stopped worrying about it. It was okay for a while, but then when she was twelve, she didn’t come home right after school like she usually did. Linus didn’t know where she was, he had stayed after school to try out for the track team or something like that.

I called the police and they started looking for her. My husband Ryan and Linus went out together, looking in all her favorite places. The police suggested I stay home in case she called. I sat in a daze, waiting for the phone or doorbell to ring. I prayed to Zeus that he would bring my daughter safely home. After a while Ryan and Linus came home to try to get some sleep, but still I waited.

Finally, around dawn, the phone did ring. Cassandra’s school picture was plastered all over the morning news, and somebody saw it. A police officer told me that there had been an anonymous tip that a girl matching Cassandra’s description was seen the previous evening running away from some older boys, and about a dozen policemen were knocking on doors in the vicinity where she was last seen. I don’t know how, but a police officer found Cassandra lying on a bench in Apollo’s temple, less than two blocks from our apartment.

That’s when everything changed. I ran down the street in clothes I had put on almost 24 hours ago, but Cassandra acted like it was normal for her to be out all night. She confirmed that older boys were chasing her and making rude comments about her body. But the weird part is, she also said some nonsense about Apollo himself saving her from them. She said that Apollo promised to protect her, and that he had given her a gift to be able to see the future.

I didn’t believe it for one second. Nobody has seen the gods in years, they are too busy to let us mortals see them. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I believed that the gods were real anymore, though I liked to think so. From then on she started trying to prove it, but I could never quite tell. Yes, things she said would happen usually did, but it seemed to me that she could have done them on purpose. She swore up and down that she had a vision of her father’s soda spilling at dinner, but then it only spilled because she was careless in placing his glass on the table after she refilled it. How can that prove that she really did foresee it?

It didn’t take long to convince me. By the time she entered high school, she was predicting things that she could not possibly have control over. Something that would be said or done on a live television broadcast. A surprise letter in the mail from a distant relative she didn’t even know. For a while, I really did believe that she had been given an amazing gift. I warned her not to tell anyone, because if word got out to the wrong people they would want to exploit her and her gift. I couldn’t let that happen.

Now, I don’t know what to think. Cassandra says she had a dream of the future and that Jersey will win a war against New York City. Really? Jersey? New York City could never fall to Jersey. That’s preposterous. And anyway, there hasn’t been war fought in this country for many years- the government and our military forces make sure of it.

So if this isn’t true, does that mean it was just a silly dream? Or were all the past “prophecies” a trick? I’m trying to remember every single one, figuring out how she could have known. Maybe she saw something happening in the city during the day and noticed a news crew filming. Maybe the distant relative called while I wasn’t home to get our address. Just as everything seemed real before, now it all seems like they were lies. I hate not believing my daughter, but… Well honestly, nobody has even seen one of the gods in years. That’s ridiculous to think Apollo would have chosen Cassandra, of all people, to appear to and give a gift… Right?

This is an exercise written as part of NaNoWarmUp, a personal writing challenge in October to write 25,000 words as preparation for writing 50,000 words in November. This year I’m using the daily writing goal of 800 words to write ABOUT my Cassandra story from the point of view of other characters. In November, I hope to be prepared to start writing a new first draft of Cursed from Cassandra’s point of view, a more complete story after figuring out how other characters perceive Cassandra, her prophecies, and the Trojan War.