The Child

Chapter 4

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Ethan sat in silence under the shade of the large oak tree, watching as the sun set in the distance, over the glistening lake.

He knew very well that from the window of the house behind him, she watched him, but he dared not to acknowledge her. The words she had furiously pronounced to him stung and rung in his ears, word by word, and he felt guilty and rotten. It had been his fault, he had been selfish and a downright coward. But couldn't she understand that he had left in order to protect them? But he also knew that Marie was right, that either way he had abandoned his family, his friends and ridden off to the then unknown lands of the East… to France, to England… As far away from them as possible. And hadn't acknowledged the fact that upon his departure—all hell broke loose in the lives of those he loved. He had been inconsequential.

And seven years had passed like a blink of the eye—and Celeste was no more because of him. He had loved Celeste, she had been his only friend apart from the Indians, she had been the one who made him love to read, to appreciate the small and insignificant things of life. Celeste had been his mother after his own died or disappeared or both. At this point it all summed up to the same thing. His mother was gone and had been for almost thirty years. And during those years, Celeste, red skinned, dark haired and eyed, had been his mother. The one who would teach him right from wrong, how to fend for himself, who knew all of his favorite foods and clothes and trinkets. Who taught him the name and use of each little herb and plant, the name of the creatures—those we could see and those we could not. She had taught him to love and respect the eagle… and Usen. Usen, who was the almighty creator of the Apaches.

She died because he left, it was his fault. She had already been an old lady and his father had tried to torture information out of her—information she did not have. And she died, deeply hurt, inside and out, all because he had left. He had broken her heart and for that he would never forgive himself. Another sin and deep regret added to his list.

In the ship, the knowledge of seeing his mother again after all those years was the only thing to keep his mind off of the woman he loved and left behind—freedom—but also the wrath of his father.

Marie was Celeste's daughter. Her other children, all sons, had been Apache warriors who had died honorably in the wars against the Mexicans—leaving behind widows and dozens of children.

Celeste was the only name of his Apache mother's that he knew. It was the name given to her by the Mexican priests and everyone (aside from her people) thought it more appropriate than her true name. She had never revealed it to him. But Marie, unlike Celeste, had that name and it only. She had been born on the property of the Talbot's and therefor it had been Ethan's father who had named her—and later on, disgraced her by taking her by force before she could participate in her coming-of-age rituals—before she could marry an Apache.

And Marie stayed with Celeste until the very end, at the property, and never married or made loved to a man again. She had disrupted nature—hadn't given birth to a child—but Marie was the closest thing Ethan ever had to a sister.

And that's why Marie's words hurt so much. She had blamed him for the suffering and death of their mother and in extension, her own unending pain. He had once, a little boy, promised to Marie that he would never hurt her as his father had done. Ethan broke his promise.

He could feel her light steps approaching, crushing the grass and dry leaves beneath her feet. Wherever she went Marie's scent of wildflowers and sunshine made way for her. He couldn't dare look at her as she stopped next to him and for a moment admired the resting of the sun. She let out a heavy sigh and sat on the ground with him.

"It was much easier to blame you for all of my pain, because the true cause of it comes from a person so strong and so cruel to me, that I would rather avoid his presence—and the very thought of him. You're my little brother, Ethan, always will be. Mother loved you more than the moon and stars, she loved you beyond words. You weren't the one responsible for her pain and death—your father was—and for that one day he shall pay. Usen will properly punish him. Mother always knew that you would one day leave us—for the better or the worse. She knew that one day the curse would fall upon you and none of us would have a choice. I never wanted to believe it, that my brother would transform himself into a terrible beast, hurting others, but most of all, that he would leave and not take us with him."

"But in some way it was my fault."

"Listen, you need to return to England. You have nothing here anymore—your father is now dead, all the bad in the world caused by him has been avenged. Mama has been avenged. Your home isn't here anymore and we both know it. Home is in England, or wherever that woman who has your heart is. I saw her in a dream and mother also saw her. The woman with the blue eyes."

Ethan couldn't help but smile at this.

"And you know it won't take long before everyone finds out what happened and they come after you—the police and the army men. You should leave right after the full moon. I will make you an amulet tonight, of silver, so that you can have more control."

"How do I thank you, Marie?" She shrugged. "By looking into my eyes for once."

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