I stay with Curtis until nightfall. I watched him read book after book, absorbing the information with smiles or scowls. I was too scared to leave the library; I was afraid of facing anyone that I could potentially hurt. Nothing has happened since he came close to me and even though that might mean the delusions have stopped, I didn’t want to risk it. Now I must leave.
“It’s almost eleven,” Curtis says quietly. “Your curfew. You better go before Sam comes looking for you.”
“Right.” I stand from the armchair I’ve been resting in for the last few hours. “But what if-”
“They’ve stopped,” he says. “You would have had one by now if not.”
“Right,” I repeat, walking towards the door. I turn around at the last moment. “Thank you, Curtis. For what you did.”
He smiles at me over his large book. “Thank you for not telling Sam about the amulet.”
“No problem. Your secret’s safe with me.”
“Good night, Theresa.”
“Good night,” I say.
I open the door and leave the library. It’s dark and it’s quiet. As I duck under the archway to enter the recovery chamber, I’m hit with the familiar aroma of boiled vegetables and roast chicken. Peculiar, because that’s what my mother. . . my mother. . . used to. . .
“Where is she?”
The room is brighter, livelier, filled with dimming light from a nearby window. I stand in the kitchen of my home, my hand reaching out for the edge of the door to keep from falling. My mother stands at the stove, stirring her vegetables, as the man I assume is my father crosses his arms and leans backwards against the counter adjacent to her. I was young when he died, I hardly remember him, so to try and recognize him now is a feeling I haven’t yet explored. He is-was-more handsome than I imagined; with silver hair, dark stubble and a towering build that’s almost intimidating. He wears a black shirt with dark jeans, and hides a chain buried beneath his collar.
“We can’t keep doing this,” he says. “It isn’t fair.”
“It wouldn’t be fair if everyone found out and you and I were killed either. At least this way we still get to be in her life,” my mother says. “The Slayers are unpredictable. They’ll kill her without a second thought.”
Are they talking about me? It’s unclear. Why would the Slayers kill me?
“So would Vienna,” he says. “But yet you parade her in front of her.”
My mother shrugs. “The witch in her is more dominant.”
“You and I both know she is more than just a witch,” he hisses. “If Vienna or Amara discover what she is then she will never be safe. Not with me and not with you. But if I talk to the next Malachi, explain to him about what Theresa’s power is, maybe-”
“The Malachi is a child himself. He’s already been brainwashed to hate witches just like the rest of them. They’d never protect her. We’re on our own.”
“Then we give her away to a mortal family to raise.”
My mother’s fist bangs against the counter. I gasp.
“It is the only choice we have,” he says.
“No,” my mother hisses. “They will find her. She is safest with me; I am her mother and I will protect her. She cannot be separated from her magic or her coven, like myself, her loyalties must be with them.”
“Her loyalties? What about her loyalties to-?"
“Do not say it.” My mother twists her head angrily, they stare at each other. “That part of her doesn’t exist. It can never exist.”
“You’re ashamed of her, aren’t you?”
My mother turns away. I slowly step into the room. I circle around them until I can see her face clearly. She is younger, healthier and more vibrant, her face is not yet tainted with the grief of losing him; it is a time I cannot remember.
“Answer him,” I demand.
“I am ashamed of myself,” she says. “For letting myself. . . for being so stupid that I. . .”
“Got caught pregnant?”
She nods to herself, unable to physically admit to it. The world seems different to me now, knowing that I was her biggest regret. I want to know the reason, but I don’t trust this version of her to give me it.
“Yeah well it’s too late for that. Our daughter is here, Caroline, and I’m sick of you denying her. You either acknowledge her or I will take her to someone that will.”
“I can’t do that.”
“You can’t keep the truth from her either. She’s old enough to make the choice for herself.”
My mother bursts out a quick and dark laughter. “You’re bluffing.”
“She needs to know.”
“She doesn’t need to know anything. Where are you going!”
"To tell her everything."
My father walks straight by me, and all I can do is watch, watch as my past unfolds before my very eyes. As my mother, the mother that I loved, adored and aspired to be like, unearths a kitchen knife from a drawer and launches herself at him. The knife penetrates his back, and my father gasps out as he falls to his knees.
“I’m sorry but I can’t let you tell her. Theresa can never know,” my mother says as she stands above him with tears streaming down her face. “I promise I will protect her. I love you.”
I stand still as she plunges the knife into his stomach. But the scream is what breaks my heart. Not from my father, no, but from the little girl with dark curls that stands at the bottom of the staircase. I am hardly even five-years-old in this time, and I have just seen my mother murder my father. The little girl screams for her father and runs to his side, but my mother, who is still in shock, manages to snap herself back to reality and drag the little girl away.
I begin to cry for her, for myself, for my father.
My mother crouches down to the girl’s eye-level and holds her in place by her shoulders. “Theresa, listen, your father loved you okay? I need you to remember that. When the day comes that you remember this day, I need you to know that we both loved you. And this was to protect you, even if it doesn’t look like it.”
“You killed him!” the little girl screams. “You killed my daddy!”
“You’re too young to understand,” my mother says. “But one day you will. For now, you need to sleep.” My mother gently waves her hand over the girl’s eyes and her body flops to the ground, my mother lays her head down carefully. “Do you understand now?”
Her voice is harder. I take a breath as my mother stands and stares at me. I cannot speak, I cannot move. My vision is blurry from the tears.
“Now you know the truth about how your father died, do you understand why it had to happen?” she demands. “To protect this innocent, little girl from a terrible secret, I had to rip my heart in two.”
I swallow, building up my nerve. “W-what secret?”
“I killed him to keep you from it. Do you want his death to be for nothing?”
I narrow my eyes and anger rages through me. “What secret?”
“You think you can trust the Slayers?” she says. “You can’t even trust me.”
I blink, and as a second passes, everything changes. I am back in the recovery chamber, surrounded by darkness and the stiff aroma of cement. My body falls sideways into a chair and I stare into the empty air.
“Your mother lied to you,” a voice whispers. “Your whole life is a lie. You trusted her, you knew her, but did you know her at all?”
I am too numb to reject the voice. I begin to listen now, more carefully than before. I have no doubt that killing my father would have destroyed her, and erasing my memory of him and that night would have been the hardest decision she ever had to make, but it’s still murder. It’s unforgivable and it’s unimaginable.
“You owe nothing to her,” the voice continues. “Why respect her memory—her beliefs—when she didn’t respect yours? She took your father from you, she took the memory of him, the smell of him, the voice of him. She left you with nothing. Now, you have nothing. You don’t know what you are or who you are, and that terrifies you. There’s one way to find out. Find out why your father had to die, find out what you’re destined to be. You know what you must do.”
“I know what I must do,” I whisper.
I rise from the chair and I enter the kitchen. It takes hardly a few seconds to locate a weapon, there’s always one lying around somewhere. I hold the small blade in my hand and the image of my father being stabbed fills my head.
“You are not a murderer if you are preventing more deaths,” the voice says. “The demons will obliterate this world, taking millions of souls. You can save them. You can put everything right. He is exhausted, he has entered the second stage of sleep. Now is the time.”
I clutch the blade tightly and I leave the kitchen. I trek through the blackness of the castle with nothing left in my soul. I cannot see a thing but my senses guide me like an invisible, tugging rope. I arrive at Sam’s door on the silent hallway. I enter slowly, quietly, almost as if I’m not even there. His room is dark too, the only light coming from the moon shining into the balcony doors. Sam is in his bed, his head turned away from my direction. I know that at any moment he can wake, deep sleep or not, I’m just hoping he’s had enough of a tiring day not to. Maybe it’s because of his visit to the underworld that he’s this exhausted, or maybe it’s due to the pressure of almost losing Sophia, but something tells me it doesn’t happen often and this is my only chance.
I creep towards his bed, the blade hidden behind my back. My heart is beating fast and I’m perspiring immensely. I walk around to reach the side he’s sleeping on and I bring the blade to the front of me, lifting it higher.
“Aim for the heart or the head,” the voice whispers. “If you miss, he’ll survive and kill you within seconds. If he wakes, don’t be afraid to use your power. No spells. You know how to access it now.”
I hold the blade with two hands, dangling it above his head. With one sharp movement, the world’s problems could be fixed. The demons will be weakened, the Slayers all over the world will be divided and running scared, and I will join forces with Amara to ensure that the future will be safe.
And that hits me hard. Join forces with the person that screwed up the world in the first place? That murders for a cause only she can see? If I do this, then am I any different than her?
“What are you waiting for? Do it. He deserves it. He’s taken more lives than all the covens put together.”
“He hasn’t taken an innocent life since he met me,” I whisper.
“He will. It’s in his blood. It’s who he is. He’s a killer, Theresa, he’s a trained assassin. No one is safe around him, not even his unit. You are the only person in the world that can get close enough, that can get this close. One life, to save millions.”
I look at Sam. Underneath all that toughness and deadliness, there is a man at peace tonight, that is trusting the witch he shares a room with not to hurt him. Curtis was wrong. This isn’t the drug. The ancestors are manipulating me, using delusions and tragedies of my past to make me question reality and who I am. It almost worked. I lower the blade away and I drop it to my side. I walk over to my mattress.
“What are you doing, Theresa?” the voice hisses. “Go back!”
“No,” I say.
I hide the blade inside my pillowcase and I drag the blanket out onto the balcony. I shut the doors to put a barrier between myself and Sam, and I lay down on the cold platform.
“This isn’t over.”
I stare up at the stars, feeling at peace for the first time all day. “Do your worst.”