Do you have any idea how hard it is to be me? Seriously. Yeah, I know, everyone is fifteen once, even your parents, but it's so much harder now than it was for them. Right? Everyone says that. Well, I've got news. Even if you're fifteen and reading this, you don't know anything about how hard it is to be me. And I know you're rolling your eyes and just gearing up to tell me your sob-story of a tough life.
Well before you go and embarrass yourself, let me tell you my story first. I am Annabelle Marie Lennox. And I hate my father.
You think Nebraska's the middle of nowhere? Forks, Washington? Fairbanks, Alaska? They've got nothing on me. Ever heard of Diego Garcia? My point exactly! It's a military base on a little group of islands in the Indian Ocean. You heard me. Military base. Now normally growing up on a military base isn't too bad because there are civilian cities nearby. Not on Diego Garcia. Every living creature on that patch of earth is there because they're owned by the US or British military in one way or another. What about the natives? They were run off the islands back in the '70's. I grew up on stolen property while the rightful owners spent every penny they could spare to get their ancestral lands back. So how's that for original sin?
And did I mention it's a military base? Yeah. My dad is, like, G.I. Joe. Serious. All special ops and disappearing in the middle of the night to go save the world from demon alien robots. You've heard of them, right? They terrorized the world about ten years back. Uh-huh, those demon alien robots. How's that for 'career day' at school? "My daddy's a colonel, and he could tell us what he does every day, but then he'd have to kill us." Of course, there were only, like, a hundred and twenty other kids in my school, and they were all military brats, too. No, not my grade but my entire K-12 school. My dad was the highest-ranking officer with kids, though. You think you've got cliques and social ladders at your school? Well, military brats are born into it. I wasn't the popular one, I was the one everyone was respectful to, because, well, everybody respected Colonel William Lennox, and so their kids were taught to respect him, too. So I kind of got promoted by association. I never got invited to sleepovers, because officers and enlisted don't hang out like that. It would be disrespectful.
And as if I wasn't already isolated enough, my mom has a thing for the rural life and got us a house a full mile away from the nearest building and half a mile from the nearest paved road. In the jungle. So I'm smack-dab in the boondocks of the middle of nowhere.
Raise your hand if you can one-up me still.
As you can imagine, I grew up in a very adult world. My parents tried to shelter me from the fact that my dad was paid to be an alien robot gladiator, and when I was little, I never would have guessed. My dad and I were best friends. When he was home, he'd read books to me and help me build forts in the living room. We'd go swimming in the ocean or ride a bright-pink motorcycle to the commissary for ice cream. I always thought it was so cool that my dad gave me rides on a pink motorcycle. But the first and only time I swore at my mom, I saw the G.I. Joe side of my dad. It wasn't pretty. In fact, I'm kind of surprised the robots had the ball-bearings to take another shot at Earth after having seen my dad in battle. But I'm wandering way off topic.
My best friends were all grown-ups. There were my mom and dad, of course, and then a few friends of my parents who were co-workers. Epps was always out at the house, and eventually he settled down and got married, but their oldest kid was six years younger than me. I have a few memories of Graham, but he died when I was almost ten. There were also Aaron Hyde and River Christiansen, who went by the nickname of R.C., and they came to visit almost daily. They called Mom Spitfire and me Spitlet, since I was in her spitting image, which was cute until I was about twelve.
When I was eleven, I asked R.C. about her name. "Like the Nile River?"
"No," she said with a smirk. "Like River Tam."
So I googled it and then watched "Serenity" on Netflix, but I didn't get why she'd want to be named after a crazy girl until the end when River went all warrior-goddess and wiped out a whole room full of demonic Reavers. I always saw R.C. a little differently after that.
Her sister, Mia, joined the unit on Diego Garcia when I was eight and she seemed even more, well, special ops than R.C. She was constantly telling us about this or that new gun or missile or grenade that she was testing out for their weapons-engineer, Jack. When my thirteenth birthday sleep-over was a flop (did I mention that military brats don't fraternize with their higher-ranking brats?), Mia showed up the next day after school with an array of side-arms, shooting earmuffs, and some targets. "Sometimes, it helps to just blow something away," she said sympathetically. That day, Mia taught me how to use a .22, both a hand-gun and rifle. To my surprise and her satisfaction, I was a pretty good shot, even from that very first day. And I had to admit, I was enjoying myself by the time she and her shooting irons had to go back to the base. Dad just about had a fit when he found out, but Hyde (as Mom and Dad both called him) talked him down from his tantrum by pointing out every femme (as he called all females) should know how to defend herself.
Hyde was different from R.C. and Mia. He was always just…playful. I wondered sometimes what he and Dad did on the base, because they were kind of in synch and you knew they had to be working together a lot. They obviously had a great friendship, and Hyde was kind of adopted by our family, even more so than R.C. and Mia.
One day when I was almost fourteen, he and dad came home while Mia and I were shooting out back. She was teaching me some tricks about how to manage a higher-caliber weapon despite my smaller size, and Dad couldn't bear to watch, so he went inside to Mom. I caught Hyde staring at Mia and I realized he was in love with her. And then Mia caught him staring and winked. They never held hands or kissed or anything, but it was just plain as day in their eyes that they loved each other and I wondered why I'd never seen it before. It was something of a shock that Hyde could be in love, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Mia was perfect for him. Mom agreed when I asked her.
Dad even roughhoused with Hyde. Often they'd get together a football game and a whole bunch of Dad's fellow warriors from the base would come and fill the front yard with really cool cars. I always loved the back yard football games. The guys were rowdy and fun, especially the twins (there were two sets of them). When I was little, they'd take turns giving me shoulder rides, and when I was too big for that, they would tell me really cool sci-fi stories. And then the game would start. A couple of guys with the nicknames of Prowl and Prime were the team captains and you'd think it was an all-out war they were so serious about it. Even R.C. and Mia would play while Mom would referee. I was the cheering section for whichever team Dad was on.
But yeah, that's my messed up childhood. Nothing too traumatic, just…messed up. No kids my own age to play with, and femme fatales for best friends. I hadn't realized how lucky I was until my dad went and traumatized my adolescence. You see, I turned fifteen a week ago. Apparently, Hyde and his CO thought that fifteen was old enough to be entrusted with matters of global security and my whole world got turned on its ear. I'm still wondering if they're right.
And I really do hate my father.