The Child

Chapter 5

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Marie handed him the final pile of crisp clean and pressed shirts and he stacked them inside the leather suitcase. Yesterday he had devoured a considerable amount of bears and slaughtered another considerable amount of deer. All that was left to do now was wait. Wait until the amulet was ready and wait until the documents that read Ethan as the heir of the entire property were analyzed by Mr. Meacham, his father's long time attorney.

The corpse of Mr. Frederick Lawrence Talbot lay in a deep pit in the middle of a corn plantation, in the middle of a labyrinth where no one would be able to find him—not while the workers and the Indians kept their promise. Ethan planned to divide the land equally and let each one have their own, build their homes, raise their families. A small token for their loyalty and a nearly insignificant compensation for their lives' works under such authoritarian and precarious an administrator. And Marie would get the house—sell it or burn it or live in it—she deserved much more, but at the moment it was all that her brother could give her.

"Listen little brother, you will need money, nice clothes and nice shoes for the crossing. No one will recognize you as who you are if you are dressed to the nines. They will think you're just another cotton baron from the south. It's a good thing your beard is longer and fuller, it is good for hiding better your face." Ethan nodded and looked down into his sister's eyes.

Marie was short and rather full, but there was no skin smoother and shinier than her. She was now in her forties and a few strands of gray began to appear amidst the midnight black of her locks… that stretched well past her waist. But she either braided it or kept it up—such length of hair could be a nuisance in the heat of this state. Her dress was rose colored, with lace on the edge of the three quarter sleeves. She wore no corset, no brassiere, nothing. Marie liked nothing refraining her—the clothes were a mere mirror of her persona.

"Marie—have you ever thought of returning to your tribe?" She shook her head.

"My tribe is here, Ethan. I'm not sure if it's good or bad, but it's a certainty I have. I'm not a white woman but I'm also not entirely an Apache. In truth I know not what I am and all my life I have been stuck in the middle of a crossroads—of customs, of language, of everything. If I were to return to my tribe, I would not be an Apache woman but a foreigner, a half-white woman. Here among you whites, I am a colored and primitive woman. I shall die this way such as you shall die a man and also a wolf." Ethan didn't say a word as he sealed his suitcase shut and sighed, looking outside the window of his boyhood room.

"It never stops hurting, does it, to be half something and half another. We never truly are capable of feeling that we belong."

"Well—for most people it's that way, but for you it is not. You belonged in England with her, don't lie to yourself. She was half-light and half-darkness, just like you. You are blessed and fortunate my brother, be forever thankful."

Ethan nodded, trying to keep tears from falling. Once again he was leaving—he was leaving his last family for good this time. He felt eager to be back in London, to be back with Vanessa and tell her how stupid and reckless he was—how he should have just stayed with her, made love to her and should have tried to move on with her guidance and support. The other part of him, the brother part, felt a hopeless agony a sort of anxiety mixed with nausea and a restlessness that made it difficult to know if this was the pain of departure or pure and utter loneliness.

He had been lonely on the ship, on the train ride and the carriage ride here. He had been lonely because he chose to be, for he refused to consider inspector Rusk company—much less a pleasant one. And he hadn't been completely lonely because along the way he spoke to Celeste in his mind—all he had to do was close his eyes. And now she was gone. She had disappeared from this earth and disappeared from his mind.

What he felt now was despair—Celeste wouldn't be there, Marie wouldn't be there, not even Rusk would be there. He would be with himself and him alone and for some reason he dreaded that more than anything in the world.

"Don't worry brother, I'll join you in a while. Someone has to take care of all of those workers—and this house. I too cannot stand to be so alone." Her hands moved to caress both sides of his face, tender black eyes looking into his brown ones. "You are my brother. You are my friend. You are courageous. You are strong. You are protected. You are protection. You are wisdom. And you are love." Ethan could feel his skin tingle beneath Marie's fingers and soon his entire body was taken by that sensation.

It was both a pleasuring thing as well as it burned him from the inside out. He could hear Marie whisper rapidly in her sacred language and begin to sing in a high pitched voice. It wasn't words but different sounds and the temperature of his skin rose with every second. Her hands slid from his cheeks down his shoulders and up again repeatedly. She let go of him and began circling him around the room, dancing and chanting. Her singing became louder and louder as she began too dance even quicker and in more intense manner. The speed with which she moved her body and head made her hair fall down her shoulders and swing from side to side, the rays of the moon reflecting on her dark hair and skin. At the height of the ritual, the force of the power with which Marie meddled, made her fall onto the floor, her hands keeping her from hitting her head. She breathed heavily and rapidly. She wasn't anymore Marie as somehow he knew another had crept into her body.

Very soon she began to rise from the floor and stand in front of Ethan. Slowly the thing circled around him, eyes locked on each other and soon he heard a once familiar voice.

"My son, I'm finally free. My son, you should free yourself too. Embrace the beast and embrace yourself, be kind. I love you, my son." And then a cold wind hit his skin, eliciting from him shivers everywhere. He held his breath in nervously as he knew that once again the spirits shifted. "Ethan—Ethan where are you? Where are you Ethan, I'm on my way. I'm on my way, I'm on my way." He could recognize that husky voice and that accent from anywhere.

His heart raced in his chest and his cheeks became hot from the painfully wonderful knowledge that he had heard her voice—the one that belonged to the woman he most desired and loved in the world.

"V-Vanessa… Vanessa I'm in New Mexico, I'm leaving. I'm leaving early tomorrow. I'm coming home to you Vanessa!" He shouted, hoping with all he had that she could hear him too.

Before he knew it, Ethan felt his body going limp and everything darken around him.

-/-

Thousands of miles away in the middle of the vast and black ocean, a one Corinthia Burton, hair golden and shiny like that of an angel, sat reading the cards for an astonished Vanessa Ives across from her.

"The spirits have delivered, Ms. Ives." She whispered gravely, a hint of a smile gracing her rosy lips.

"Thank you, my kindred spirit." Was the only answer as Vanessa's hands held those of the woman before her. She looked behind her at the peacefully sleeping form of her daughter, sprawled on the large canopy bed.

"We must help each other or who else will?" was the answer. "Your daughter, I can tell, will be following your footsteps, my friend. Prepare her well."

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