Samara Winters is a genius.
When I was a young girl, my father took me into the city to see a marching band. He he said, “Sam when you grow up, you will be among them. The brilliant and the gifted.” I could see tears shimmering in his eyes. “ Will you defeat them, the naysayers, all the non believers? For all the plans that I have made? Because one day, you’ll leave us, to join the Umbrella Academy.” I watched the band march by, their red and black uniforms somehow ominous in the summer sun.
That was the last significant time I spent with my father. He became a man obsessed. Every hour that he wasn’t sleeping was spent working. He worked three steady jobs and took on whatever extra day labor he could. Everything in our house was strictly rationed. Not a penny spent with out three good reasons for its expenditure. Then when my youngest sister started kindergarten, he sent my mother to work too. All in the name of me getting the very best education.
As the years past, my mother and siblings began to resent and then despise me. As unfair as I saw it, I didn’t really blame them. What hurt me was their inability to see that I was as much a victim of his obsession as they were. My mother saw only that she had to work forty plus hours a week. She didn’t see that I was forced to study at least 50 hours a week. My sisters saw only the lack of fashionable clothes. They didn’t see my lack of anything remotely normal. The walls of their room were covered in posters of their favorite bands and movie stars. I was allowed only one, an inspirational poster. Eat Healthy, Study Hard, Exercise Daily, Sleep 8 Hours. I hated that poster. While they spent nights at friends’ houses and lamented not being able to try out for cheerleading, I didn’t have a single friend and was forced to join the track team.
Everything about my life was carefully monitored by my father to give me the very best advantage. I listened to text books on tape while at track practice and while sleeping. Every meal was planned not with my tastes in mind but with careful consideration as to what a growing girl’s body needed and what was important for the budding mind of a genius. I was allowed only one day off a year, my birthday. My ‘parties’ were dismal affairs. No friends to celebrate with, a family that despised me, and no interests outside of academia. Instead of clothes and toys, I was given the latest editions of text books, language learning CDs and calculus software.
By the time I was twelve, I spoke seven languages and had passed all the high school level courses that my school would let me take. Before I turned thirteen, my father died. My life continued on as before. Strict instructions were left with my mother, and she followed them with abusive zeal, punishing me for my father working himself to death.
The day the black and red bus stopped in front of my house should have been a relief but something sinister seemed to stare back at be from the bus’ heavily tinted windows. I stepped aboard, trepidation dogging my steps. I looked back briefly towards my sullen faced mother and sisters. The unknown suddenly seemed better than the tiny world I knew.