by Cherie Ann Turpin
Karen van Vliets was born a shape-shifter, but her abilities did not become manifest until age fifteen during one brutally hot summer. She did not know her true origins, nor did she know of anyone else like her, given the fact that her parents made an unusual decision to adopt a Black baby into a White household. Mr. and Mrs. van Vliets, wealthy descendents of coal and oil industrialists, adopted Karen from an inner city orphanage during their early stage of their soon-to-be multiple philanthropist impulses to give away some of the billions of dollars stashed away in U.S. and overseas banks to less fortunate and less privileged.
She grew up in a posh, fashionable quarter of the city surrounded by German and French philosophy books (both parents were philosophy professors) and a priceless art collection rivaling several urban museums. Her mother and father, emotionally distant and reserved, became distressed at Karen’s inexplicable series of migraine headaches that shook her to her core. Doctors assumed it to be stress-related, and prescribed anti-anxiety drugs that left her lethargic and unable to move from her bed for months.
Her transformation into a shape-shifter became apparent during one of the more extreme migraine attacks when suddenly the pain disappeared like the clearing of a storm. Her mother, who was usually a rather mild, calm woman began to scream hysterically when she walked into Karen’s bedroom and saw a naked woman standing before her who was, from head to toe, an exact copy of her. Then, as if someone had flipped on a light, Karen morphed from a pale white body back to a dark brown body.
Mrs. van Vliets fell to the floor in a moist faint.
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