© 2002 by Alessandra Azzaroni and Rebecca aazzaroni@hotmail.com http://au.geocities.com/vcastairwaytoheaven/index.htm gypsydanseur@yahoo.com

AUTHOR'S NOTE

Written in Australia and Canada. This story was partly inspired by My Sweet Audrina.

CHAPTER ONE

I was fifteen now. But the sad - well, sad to me, at least - truth was that I didn't remember anything before the age of thirteen.
My earliest memory was at age thirteen. Grandmère Josée, Grandpa Edmund and I were stepping off a plane in Montréal, Canada. That's where Grandmère Josée and her family were from.
Josée Pontchard was my grandmother. Her family was French-Canadian, and we were going to live there. The Pontchard family was rich, and their wealth travelled back generations.
They didn't approve of Grandpa Edmund. His family was what the Pontchard family called "nouveau riche". Grandpa Edmund was a doctor, and his father was a barrister. Together they made a lot of money. But Grandmère Josée's parents couldn't accept that.
We lived there in Montréal for about a year. That's where I got heatstroke. Well, it certainly wasn't in England!
After I was about fourteen, we moved to Oxford, England. That's where my grandfather, Edmund Weston, was from.
I was happy to move to England and escape the hot summers. England was - and still is - notorious for its cold weather. Even in summer, when it was supposed to be roasting us all like chickens in the oven. I quite liked English summers. They had the exact temperature I liked - if I could have it all year round. However, the winters were what my Australian friend in England, Jacqui Wolf, called "floody breezing", and she translated that to "bloody freezing".
Oxford was the kind of England that made you thought of people who speak with the same accents as the British royal family. And it's true. Oxford is world-renowned for the infamous Oxford University, home of the "toffs" - high-society types who speak with posh accents.
I was never too sure what kind of accent I had. When I was in Montréal, I spoke the French-Canadian dialect fluently, as if I'd been doing it for years. And when I spoke English there, I had the same accent as any native French-Canadian. But before then…
I didn't know what language I spoke, or where I lived.
Then when we were in Oxford, I spoke with an accent that sounded just like Grandpa Edmund's and everyone else's there. Except for Grandmère Josée's, who still spoke with a French-Canadian accent.
During the start of our last summer in England, Grandmère Josée and Grandpa Edmund told me that we would be shifting countries again.
I was excited. "Are we going back to Montréal?" I asked. They said no, so I thought of other countries I might like to live in. "Or are we going to France? Switzerland? Australia?"
"No, no, no, my dear," Grandmère Josée answered. "We're going to the USA."
"USA?" I repeated, more than a little let down.
"Correct," Grandpa Edmund confirmed. To Missouri, to be precise."
"Missouri?" I furrowed my eyebrows. Missouri didn't seem nearly as exciting as California, or New York. And I would have loved to live in Georgia, to find out what it was like to be a Southern belle. But Missouri? "Isn't that Dairy County?"
Grandmère Josée laughed freely. "You're thinking of Wisconsin. Don't you remember visiting St. Louis?"
I saw Grandpa Edmund nudge her, as if to silence her, but at the time I thought nothing of it.
I tried to remember St. Louis, or even anywhere in the USA, but I couldn't. "I don't know," I answered.
"Oh, sure you do," Grandmère Josée insisted. You used to love it when we took you there. We'd have dinner in the city, then we'd walk by the water-"
Grandpa Edmund nudged her again. "I don't expect you to remember that, Amber. Don't feel bad about it," he said, when he noticed my disappointment at not being able to remember.
"I don't remember anything before Montréal," I told him.
He took my hand, and squeezed it. "I don't expect you to remember, Amber."

When we moved to Bankstown, a small town in Missouri, life in my family was the same as always. Sometimes Grandmère Josée and Grandpa Edmund would get into arguments over money.
"Well, of course you wouldn't buy it," Grandmère Josée accused. "You nouveau riche won't buy anything that won't further your careers!"
"At least we know what the value of money is," Grandpa Edmund retorted. "At least we don't use our money just to look important."
Grandmère Josée gasped. "Are you implying…?"
Their arguments would always go on like that. It was true that Grandmère Josée was a big spender. It was true that she didn't understand that you had to earn money in order to save money in order to spend money. As far as I knew, I didn't think she even had ever had a job. She just used her inheritance and Grandpa Edmund's money.
At times like their disagreements, I wondered why they were even married. And I wondered what their daughter, my mother, was like. I didn't know why I didn't live with my mother and/or father. Grandmère Josée and Grandpa Edmund had never told me.
I wondered what my mother looked like, if I looked anything like her. My hair was amber-coloured, like the liquor in Grandmère Josée's bottles in her cabinet. Grandpa Edmund had told me that just after I was born, my mother became an alcoholic, and she named me after the colour of the liquid she loved so well. That didn't sound so good, but I knew that he wasn't lying.
My eye colour hovered somewhere between green and hazel. My grandparents both had bright, blue eyes, and I imagined that my mother did, too. So I must've taken after my father in that department.
I had an olive complexion and high cheekbones. Grandpa Edmund's mother was a Native American, who lived in England with the rest of the Weston family, and my grandfather told me that I had got my skin tone and bone structure from my great-grandmother.
Still, I wondered who my parents were, and what they looked like. I was especially curious about my mother, and had assumed it would be easy finding out about her from my grandparents. That wasn't so. I couldn't find a single picture of her anywhere.
Grandpa Edmund was a doctor, who cared about the health and wellbeing of everyone. He didn't tell me why I couldn't remember anything from before two years ago. Maybe it was because he thought it would damage my health and wellbeing.
Grandmère Josée was chatty about almost everything. Sometimes I thought she'd tell me. After all, she did mention that I had been to St. Louis before. But that's as far as she got. Although I never talked to her when she was drunk. She often turned to the bottle when she didn't get her own way. But when she was sober, she wouldn't talk about anything from my past, normally.
And I wondered; I really wondered why I couldn't remember. In Missouri, I talked with an American accent, and it wasn't just because of my surroundings. As I left Oxford on the plane, my voice had somehow lost its English accent and had subconsciously switched. It was almost as if Missouri had been… my home.
But that - like everything else from my past - I didn't know.