Rosemarie's sixth birthday party was the last party her parents ever tried to throw for her. She had always been a troublesome child, moreso than most children her age. Her moods fluctuated from moment to moment in ways her parents couldn't predict. One moment she would be the happiest, bubbliest child either of them had ever met, and then a glassy look would cross over her eyes and she would inexplicably burst into tears. What was supposed to be a twelve week maternity leave for Margaret had turned into an extended stay. She didn't trust a nanny to take care of her newborn, and after fourteen weeks absent from work, she put her dreams on hold to pour all of her energy and attention into Rosemarie. To compensate, Neil had to work longer shifts at his accounting job at the law firm downtown. The first few years of being a stay at home mom were miserable for Margaret. Her independence was taken from her completely as she turned into one of those women who live to take care of their baby. All fantasies of returning to her job in a few years disappeared when Margaret found she was pregnant a second time. Her second pregnancy was far more difficult. Between Rose and the baby she was carrying, Margaret felt more stressed than ever. The moments where her Rosie seemed happy became few and far in-between. The more frustrated she got, the more frustrating her daughter became. It wasn't until Rosemarie was three that Margaret began to insist that something was wrong with her daughter.
Margaret's only consolation was that their second daughter, Delilah, was a quiet, angelic baby, and far easier to handle than Rosie. Though Rose's moodswings were troubling, they weren't as frightening as the moments Margaret would catch her eldest daughter staring off into space. She would sit on the floor for hours on end, almost entirely unresponsive to anything Margaret said or did. When she was paying attention to her surroundings, it was almost impossible to keep her attention. Margaret tried to attribute all of this to the fact that she was just a toddler. After all, she was remarkably intelligent for her age group, developing much faster than the rest of her peers. However that didn't wash away the unnerving way she would sometimes babble to herself when no one else was in the room. Neil assured Margaret that it was normal for children to have imaginary friends, but Margaret would shrug off his reassurances, silently growing to resent him. It wasn't his place to tell her what was and wasn't normal with her child. After all, he was hardly ever there.
He wasn't there on Rose's first day of preschool, watching her sit alone in the corner while all the other children played and learned to socialize. He wasn't there when Rose would have crying fits out of the blue, screaming bloody murder in the grocery store or walking down the street. He wasn't there when Rose was ostracized from her peers. He wasn't there for the meetings with her teachers or the playdates that became disasters. He only saw glimpses of his daughter's strange behavior. He was there on her sixth birthday, though, and the catastrophe that was her party helped push him into the decision to move their little family out of the city. That birthday party was the catalyst they needed to change, and it was the first time Rose spoke of the imaginary friend that would soon become the bane of Margaret's existence: Wally.
The Madden family uprooted and moved out to Marshfield, Massachusetts. It was a small, quiet town where everyone knew everyone, and news traveled fast. Neil continued making the commute into the city for his job, which meant Margaret was spending even more time alone trying to raise her children. Still, the hope that getting out of the busy city kept her spirits up. With fewer people and a quiet environment, the couple hoped that Rose would be able to relax and socialize. At first things improved; being away from such an overpopulated place seemed to be doing Rose some good, but many of her habits remained unchanged. She would still sometimes burst into tears for no reason, and rather than make friends with the neighborhood children, she would continue playing by herself, playing hopscotch doing puzzles with her imaginary friends. Disheartened by Rosemarie's lack of improvement, Margaret found herself pouring most of her attention into their previously neglected younger child. Rosie hardly seemed to notice the shift, still too lost in her own little world.
By the time Rose was seven, she was completely shut out by all of the kids in her year and on her block and the bullying was in full swing. Rose made no effort to hide the fact that she was different, often times expecting everyone to experience the world exactly as she did. The name calling had begun in Kindergarten. The other children graduated from insults to throwing mud clods, and from there they moved onto rocks. Most nights, Margaret received calls from the school and other parents saying that Rosemarie had started another fight. It became routine for them. She was dropped off at school early in the morning, and by the late afternoon she had been sent home again. Rose didn't understand that she wasn't like all of the other kids at first. Even when she had slowly come to realize they weren't the same, she fed into the after school specials and her father's encouragement to continue 'being herself.' Being herself usually ended with bruises and cuts, but she never felt completely unloved and alone. After all, she had Wally.
Rose was eight when she realized all of the friends her mother regarded as imaginary weren't imaginary at all; they were ghosts. They sought her out because she possessed the ability to see and feel beyond what most people could. She realized that the secrets she overheard; the words and pictures that filled her head and the feelings that overwhelmed her own weren't normal. Slowly, she learned to keep those secrets to herself, not comprehending why she was different or why people were so afraid of her for being different. She soon came to learn that being different meant something was wrong with her. After years of fighting with Neil over how to handle their daughter, Margaret finally convinced him to let them find psychiatric help. She was immediately diagnosed as schizophrenic, and spent the next five years numbed by antipsychotics, despite her father's quiet pleas for her to stop taking them.
It wasn't until high school that Rose stopped taking her medication. Everything that she had become so used to as a child jumped back into the foreground of her mind again. The powers that had been shackled and very nearly silenced took over, expanding and strengthening as though working overtime to make up for the set back in their development. Age and understanding made Rose more cautious about exposing her abilities to her peers. She did her best to shut out their invading thoughts, though she could never control what emotions she picked up on. Ghosts began to come back to her, just as they had when she was younger. She devoted her free time to helping them move. Sometimes it was simply a matter of finding out why and how they had died; other times she just needed to bring them closure and acceptance. Most of the ghosts that sought her out were just lost, forgetting who they had been in life and thus unable to move on. The worst of them were the ghosts that lusuted only for revenge. Rose's extreme empathic abilities put her into a unique position to help all of the ghosts that came to her, but there were still some that she couldn't help. They were her lost ghosts, and most of the time they remained by her side just for the company and comfort of being so close to someone who was still alive. Her ghosts helped keep her grounded in herself for the most part, but the lack of any living friends was beginning to eat away at Rose's confidence.
In what little there was of Rose's social life, one disaster led to another, and she soon came to fall into the wrong sort of crowd. They weren't delinquents by any means, but they invited Rose into a life of being high and lazing around. They accepted her and her oddities rather than shunning her like the rest of her school. Bitter over the conniving bullying that can only be mastered by teenage girls, Rose lost herself in marijuana, willingly drowning out the overwhelming voices and feelings that constantly assaulted her. Rose lived in bliss for a few short months, but she quickly came to regret letting herself get lost in the high.
On a quick trip to Boston to buy from their dealer and hopefully peddle to him some of her antipsychotics that she had stashed away, Rose found herself face to face with a creature unlike she had ever seen. Unbeknownst to her, a wraith had become attracted to the significant amount of psionic energy she gave off. It had been following her for years, waiting for her to be vulnerable before it struck. It hungered for her, seeking to devour her soul and add her strength to its energy. It set a trap for her, claiming the body of their dealer in order to corner and attack her. Rose was utterly defenseless, abandoned by her ghosts and unable to fight off the wraith. It began to eat away at her soul, taking her life force and making it its own. If it weren't for the powerful psychic that had been trying to track it, it would have succeeded in killing her. Instead, the attack left her shaken and hospitalized; scarred and blind in one eye. The wraith got away, but that attack became the turning point in Rose's life, and set her onto a course that would forever change who she was.
Rose's savior was a woman that introduced herself as Doctor Casey, and in a matter of moments she was able to tell Rose exactly what she was. She was a powerful clairvoyant; a Jill of all trades that was highly skilled in her abilities, and highly vulnerable because of them. She immediately corrected the misdiagnosis of schizophrenia, and initiated what would become a long road of recovery. Rose's record wasn't unscathed by the failed meeting with her dealer. The BPD couldn't ignore the pot that had been found on her person or the corpse of the small-time dealer after the wraith's attack. With the help of Doctor Casey, Rose's punishment consisted of mandatory community service at the local foodbank in Marshfield. Despite the circumstances surrounding the change in her life, Rose's father was ecstatic. For years he had insisted to Margaret that their eldest daughter was just special, and for years he had let his opinions on how to raise their child be drowned out. Margaret, still embittered by her struggles with Rose, was tougher to convince. Eventually she gave into the new diagnosis, but let Neil take charge of supporting their daughter and the new world that had been opened to her.
On July 9th, 2007 Neil's support was cut short. On the way to get Delilah from her friend's house after picking Rose up at the foodbank, the wraith struck again. Neil swerved to avoid the mass of dark energy that stood before them in the road, slamming on the breaks. They spun onto the side of the road, but for a few short seconds, they were both still okay. A twisted act of revenge drove the wraith to force itself into her father's body, displacing his spirit and taking over. Rose knew he was already dead and gone by the time she pulled him from the car, a sobbing hysterical mess. If it weren't for her ghosts, the wraith would have finally had her, and this time she wouldn't have put up a fight.
After the death of her father, Rose threw herself into exercising her abilities, focusing on growing stronger. She kept meeting with Doctor Casey, seeking to end the wraith once and for all. It was then that Doctor Casey told Rose she believed that Rose was more than what they had previously thought. She was a channel that was highly attuned to the people around her. She was a conduit of power, and if she trained in the right way, she would be able to channel the energy of the ghosts around her and transform it into a powerful force that was tangible to the real world. Armed with this knowledge and the help of fellow patient Jack West, Rose began to train.
Rose trained relentlessly, splitting her time between that and sessions with Doctor Casey. Well-armed to fight the wraith and reclaim the part of her it devoured, she eventually traveled back to Boston. A tense game of cat and mouse led her all across the city, culminating in a battle that nearly cost Rose her life again. She was victorious, but changed. The consequences of the wraith absorbing part of her were so significant, they could not be undone or forgotten.
With her father's murderer taken care of, Rose was able to turn her focus to her senior year of high school with the aims of doing well enough to live up to her father's last hopes for her. Her powers were too big for their town, he had said, and hoped she would attend a college for people who were just as special as her. Rose got into Paragon University, and when fall rolled around again, she moved to Rhode Island to pursue the future her father had dreamed of.