Chasing Kiarra - Book cover

Chasing Kiarra

N. K. Corbett

2: The Lady in the Picture


I left Marlin’s Diner, slowly found my way to my apartment, and started packing. Well, packing might be too big a word for what I was doing. Packing implies boxes and time.

Putting my clothes into a gym bag, which took less than fifteen minutes, was more like checking out of a motel room.

Before leaving the small space I had lived in for the past month, I made sure I had the important stuff. My golden, heart-shaped locket hung around my neck. It was my most prized possession.

Not in terms of money. I honestly don’t think it’s worth more than twenty bucks. But it has sentimental value. It’s the only thing I have from my parents.

I don’t remember anything about them, seeing as I was dumped on the steps of a fire station when I was 2. But there’s a small picture in the locket of a woman holding little baby Kiarra and staring at me with so much love and adoration that it hurts.

The locket was the only thing I had with me when I was found.

Even though my parents abandoned me, I had to believe it was for a good reason.

The lady in the picture looked like me so much, I assumed she was my mother.

Her deep brown eyes reflected my own, and even though I had dyed the tips of my dark brown hair blonde, our hair looked scarily similar as well.

I had inherited her full Cupid's bow lips, but our noses were a bit different. She had the cute little button nose that most girls envied, and mine was just, well, a regular nose, I guess.

She was stunning, and the love in her eyes for that little baby made me believe she didn’t give me up willingly.

I treasured the locket because it told me that at some point I’d had parents, or at least a mother, who loved me.

I don’t remember much from the first years of my childhood. I just remember hoping that she’d come back for me. When that didn’t happen, I hoped for a family to adopt me into theirs.

That never happened either—but no surprise there.

I had a temper, and no family had had it in them to take up the challenge. So, I had bounced around from family to family, bed to bed, until I had finally turned eighteen and was on my own.

The locket was all I had left of my parents, and nothing would make me give it up.

One time a girl from one of the group homes had found it and wanted it, but I wouldn’t let go of it, not even when they took me away in the ambulance after the beatdown I’d gotten from the other girls.

I laughed a little to myself thinking back to that.

When I came back from the hospital, I’d ended up cutting the girl's long blonde hair, and I may or may not have pushed her down the stairs—by accident, of course. She learned her place after that; she never even looked me in the eyes again.t.

What can I say? I’ve never claimed to be completely sane.

After checking that everything was in my bag, I left the apartment unlocked and the keys at the counter, so they wouldn’t have to break the door down when the rent wasn’t paid on Monday.

I tugged up the hood of my jacket and started heading toward the train station.

Where to this time?

Guess we’ll see what trains leave at this hour.

It was just past ten when I made it to the station. I looked at the train schedule while I stood in the ticket line and tried to decide on a destination.

I overheard the lady in front of me saying the name of a town I’d never heard of and decided: why not?

So, when it was my turn, I repeated the order to the clerk and made my way into a train leaving at ten thirty.

According to the schedule, the ride would take about four hours, so I found a comfortable spot, threw my bag on the seat next to me so people didn’t get any funny ideas about talking to me, and leaned back with my head against the window, falling into a doze.

“Miss, this is the last stop. You need to wake up”

I was awoken by the conductor lightly shaking my shoulder, before moving on. I looked out the window but didn’t see much except the streetlights right outside lighting up the small platform.

Other than that, it was dark. Which made sense since it was almost three in the morning.

I grabbed my bag and got off the train, smiling a thanks to the conductor on my way, and left the platform.

I had absolutely no idea where I was at, but I started walking down the street. It didn't look like a big city, more of a friendly small town.

That’s at least the vibe I got, looking at the small cozy houses with their white fences.

As I walked, the wind seemed to pick up, and the cold autumn air made me shiver and hug myself a little tighter.

I needed to find somewhere to stay, since it would be too cold to just find a bench.

I kept going down the dimly lit streets, looking for something. If there wasn’t a motel, at least this place should have a bar where I could find some warmth and maybe a drink or ten.

It was Friday night—well, Saturday morning, by this point—and the young adults of this town must have had somewhere to go to get their drink on.

I started to notice the scenery change.

Instead of the small, cozy family houses, the buildings got a bit bigger and looked more like apartments. Soon I was walking down a street lined with clothing stores, shoe shops, and exactly what I was looking for.

A bar.

From the looks of it, it was the only one around. It had a big red neon sign out front that said, “Sam’s Bar,” and I heard music spilling from the open front door.

I sighed, relieved to find some warmth in the cold, and headed inside.

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