“The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life and the procedure. The process is its own reward.” ~Amelia Earhart

Short curly hair, slightly boyish features, Amelia sleeps in the dark in her single bed.

Amelia Echo woke up slowly, dreams fracturing like broken glass as she transitioned from night to day. She was never sure exactly when she should get up. When was “morning” when the sun was just a distant pinprick only slightly larger than the stars that surrounded her.

Something else, usually hunger, the bathroom, or boredom, would drive her from her bed. Although there were days – the bad ones – when all that was too much to bother with.

Still in darkness, Amelia makes her bed. She is looking down and somewhat uncomfortable.

Today though, the grumbling of her stomach urged her up and she wandered sleepily into the tiny kitchenette. Her dreams clung like spiderwebs, unfocused. It felt like wading through soup. She grabbed a bowl of cereal and sat down heavily.

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As Amelia ate and her hunger lessened, she started to feel better. Yesterday, unable to live with the ghosts of the past, but equally unable to intrude into another’s space, she had frantically cleared out her designated rooms. Removing anything not nailed down and cleaning everything until it gleamed. Today was her fresh start. She could do anything.

Or nothing. That was the fear right? That she would just…stop. “Enough Amelia, you must act,” she told herself. She took a deep breath letting the rising panic go. “Just take things one moment at a time.”

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The place felt empty now and she itched to refill it. But with what? She would start painting, she decided. Then she could cover the walls with her own art. Art that had no memories to catch her eye. There was an easel across the hall. And paints. It wouldn’t be too heavy to carry. She moved quickly across the empty hallway and, bringing the easel back, she set it up in her bedroom.

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A blank canvas was exactly what Amelia wanted. She ignored the voice that tried to remind her how many times she’d attempted to start anew and failed. It would be worse not to try at all.

But what to draw first? She needed something that would make a statement. Endless possibilities almost paralyzed her. “One moment at a time,” she reminded herself and narrowed the focus. Color first, she stared at the paints. Blue? Red? No, Yellow.

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Yellow was the color of chrysanthemums and they symbolized optimism and joy. Amelia had read that once in Gardening for Beginners. That’s why she’d made sure to plant them in her garden. Yellow would be the perfect color for a new start. But she didn’t want to draw flowers.

She needed something stronger. Something to keep her company. A horse? She’d just finished reading Crisis Barn and in that book, the character’s horse, Allegro, had become his best friend and sidekick, even helping him crack the case.

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She spent the morning carefully working on the small painting and was quite pleased with how it turned out. The horse seemed to exude joyfulness. And she’d read somewhere that wild horses symbolized freedom. Had she dreamt of horses last night? She couldn’t remember anymore.

She hung her Freedom Joy Horse picture in the kitchenette where it would remind her of her new determination. This was her decision now and she was going to live her life exactly as she pleased – even if it meant living it all alone.

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Chapter 2: Not-Silence >