The sky above the Medicherla's house was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel as the clocks struck twelve. Every raindrop felt like hammers in a miniature as they kissed her skin and the wind tapped her cheeks. The heart of the town was gone. Now, Ocracoke island was an abandoned town. Except there still was hope in the heart of the girl still living there.
The sun was covered by the clouds. And it had been raining for two long hours. But Carly didn't care. The clouds were her sisters, the rain was her brother. She loved them as she had loved her family.
Carly bounced across the soggy grass and made her way to the water. She planted herself on a rock sitting by the waves and reflected that just a year ago, this beach was crowded with islanders, including her own family.
The silver water sparkled and the waves built up so they could crash. She sat on this very rock a year ago with her sister Shay beside her. Her parents sat on their beach towels, watching her younger sisters and brothers wander off in the water as they imagined the water was a big race track and they drove their cars across the pavement, speeding their way to the finish line.
The other kids in the town bounced up and down in excitement. "Annie, we finally get to go to the beach today! Oh, what should we do first? We could build a sandcastle, or . . ." Carly heard two young girls shout.
Carly gazed off into the hazy distance and the wind carried her over to the shallow end of the ocean. Her feet sunk into the sand and little waves crashed upon her ankles. Grains of sand stuck between her toes tickled her feet.
Ocracoke was where the child was born, and raised for twelve years. And even if her parents and the whole town were packing their bags, she didn't care. She didn't need a mom and dad and eight siblings to live her life. She could survive on her own. And that was a fact. At least in a twelve year-old's mind, it was . . .
"Mom, why exactly is everyone leaving?" she recalled saying.
Mrs. Medicherla's eyes were wide open as she urged her daughter to sit down on the couch in the old living room with her.
"Carly, right now . . . Isn't the best time to ask this question."
Carly sat still. She wasn't leaving Ocracoke. Ever.
Her mother sighed and lifted herself off the couch and immediately got back to her work.
Carly became interested in this mystery itself. Why would a whole town have to leave an island? And why couldn't Carly know the answer? But she remembered that someone had once told her, "The less you know, the braver you are." But Carly still wasn't satisfied. Couldn't she at least know why she'd need to be brave?
A year had slowly passed, and she was still healthy. She had no way of contacting any human, or getting off the island. Unless she wanted to swim to her family. But that wasn't going to happen. And she wouldn't need them. No ghosts had ever shown up. And the clouds and the rain and the wind would certainly help her understand this whole "spell" thing.
And yes, I did say the clouds, the wind, and the rain would help young Carly . . . have you never heard of the weather helping a child before? Well, now you're going to. And just as I'm telling you this, a small boat is skipping across the water was growing closer than ever to Carly.
Carly's eyes lit up.
"It could be Mom," thought Carly.
Even though Carly wasn't going to leave the island, she wanted to find out some information. A year had passed. Maybe, just maybe, Mrs. Medicherla would realize Carly needed something. She needed to know why Ocracoke was a dead, abandoned town. She could never let go of this town.
To Carly, giving up on this town was like being stabbed in the heart with an extremely sharp sword.