Emma Jones was never average. She has a secret gift, the ability to read minds and move things telepathically. She grows up with her grandparents after her parents die in a horrific crash that sent their car – with Emma inside it too – off a bridge and into the icy ocean. Three year old Emma survived the accident, but she was now different.
Emma had slept when it happened. Jon Jones had grabbed his wife’s arm and she started screaming. The metallic green Ford Explorer groaned and thudded as it went over the pavement and through the barricades. The Ford hit the bridge railings with a loud screech.. The roaring Russian River just outside Healdsburg swallowed the huge SUV in one gulp, and the force of the floodwater rolled the five thousand pound SUV downstream like a tumbleweed in an afternoon breeze.
When the flood subsided, they found Jon Jones’ body stuck between broken rental canoes on the picnic terrain in Healdsburg. It was believed at the time that the body of Jenny Jones, his wife, was washed away by the Russian River into the Pacific Ocean, and search parties combed the ocean between Jenner-and Goat Rock Beach for three days before giving up.
How three year old little Emma Jones survived, remained a mystery. She went over the side into the icy river with her parents. The freezing water alone should have killed her within a minute or two, but somehow it didn’t. Emma was found nestled under a tarpaulin sheet left by hikers who fled the rising waters. She just sat there, quietly, waiting. Rescuers commented afterwards on her demeanor. They all agreed. None of them ever saw such a composed toddler in such tragic circumstances. And, some added, those eyes? When she looked at me I could swear she knew what I was thinking.
CHAPTER ONE: AFTER THE ABYSS
“Nancy!” Emily Bradford-Jones looked exasperated as usual. “Nancy, bring Emily down for dinner right now, hurry up. The guests are arriving, come-come.”
Come on child, lift up your arm, no, the other arm dummy, that’s it. Now you look like a real little lady don’t you?” Nancy had a voice that reminded Emma of nougat with cream and nuts, and her heavy Scottish accent mesmerized her.
“I want to stay with you.”
“Good one lassie. You think Emily will feed me before she kicks me out if I disobeyed her.” The two laughed.
“Nancy, for the love of God, bring down the child.”
“You hear that?”
“I’m the child” Emma laughed, mimicking her grandmother’s crisp New England accent.
“You most certainly are my dear, you most certainly are. And remember that tonight, would you? None of that, remember?”
“Oh, alright then” Emmy responded, mimicking a little grown-up. “I’m not a children anymore am I? I’m nine. Almost ten.”
“Child. Not a child anymore. But you’ re still my little girl.” Nancy was portly, and she grabbed Emma and hugged her with all her strength.
“Nancy! Don’t make me come upstairs to get her. Now!”
“Ah, darling there you are.” Richard Bradley-Jones chomped on a Monte Christo Cigar, and he made unconscious spitting sounds whenever he blew out clouds of cigar smoke.
“No, your cigar actually smells very nice Grandpa.”
Richard looked surprised. “I was just wondering. One should rather not smoke in the company of such a beautiful young lady.” He took his cigar out of his mouth, and pointed with it towards the lounge where Emily was laughing a bit too loudly. “Tell that to Emily.” Richard came towards Emma with a conspiratorial look on his face. “She wants to ban me to the terrace, but I’m holding out.” He laughed and took Emma’s hand. Come, let’s go in.
Emma, dressed like a little doll in a cute frilly white dress with little matching shoes and a small tiara in her and all, looked very much like the heiress of the Bradley-Jones fortune. She sat quietly on her grandmother’s favorite antique couch, her feet not quite touching the floor.
“Some barley-Water for you my dear?” Grandpa asked. For some reason or other, her grandparents gave normal everyday things exotic names. Nothing ordinary was ever allowed into the Bradley-Jones mansion. Emma still had difficulty translating all their uppity jargon, but she knew Barley-Water very well by now. That was Grandpa’s name for Lemonade. “Yes please Granddaddy” she smiled sweetly.
“With just one ice cube, coming up.” Grandpa was a big man, well over six feet three, and he was still trim and fit. Emma enjoyed the ‘Barley-Water’” It was really not like ordinary lemonade.
It was easy enough for Emma to blank out those who were closest to her, but she had great difficulty blanking out the voices when she met strangers. She sat facing the arches that led out towards the huge dining room where an old ship’s table was decked out for more than twenty guests. This way she could avoid eye contact. Hearing the vices made her blush, and made her shy beyond belief. Old people had very strange thoughts indeed.
She pretended to look away, but her eyes turned to the guests that were enjoying their drinks. Mrs. Raider met her eyes and waved, and the voices told Emma stuff.
“I was just as old as Emma when uncle Dan took off my panties behind the Oak tree at Mendocino…Shame, she is so pale…I wonder if she will have boobs…she’s very thin…”
Emma blushed, and when she finally figured out why Uncle Dan took Mrs. Raider’s panties off, she spilled her Barley-Water all over Emily’s French antique couch, and chaos erupted.
During dinner Emma was hungry, and this blanked out everybody. She remembered the first time she heard the voices. She sat waiting under the tarp, shivering. Her mommy and daddy were dead, she knew, but she felt strangely dead inside. And then the Park Ranger appeared.
“No ways anybody can survive that. I’m getting wet for nothing. Man, that waitress at Stars Diner has the raunchiest…FUCK!”
The Ranger picked Emma up and ran to his Crown Victoria. He rolled her up in a thick woolen blanket, and poured her some hot coffee, but just the smell of the stale coffee made her barf all over the front seat of the car.
Nevertheless, the voices never went away again. Hunger, fear, illness and real love. Those were the only voice-blockers Emma encountered so far. When she was ravenous, or craved something like a chocolate brownie, the voices were silent. When she was ill, they were quiet too. And Nancy. Nancy’s love for Emma smothered the voices completely. From day one, she heard no voices emanating from her.