The Witch of Willow Lake - 1

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Chapter 3



It was the eve before my birthday, and Mary had been nothing short of wondrous.

She’d helped me get a cleaning job in a small apothecary where she worked herself. It paid little, but it was enough to give Mary a little something for the food I ate and the apparel she’d brought me.

Although she insisted I owed her nothing, it felt wrong of me not to give her anything. If nothing, my parents raised me with the moral that you always repaid those who helped you any way you could.

Within just six days, Mary had helped make the small town of Silver Oak like a new home. It could never replace the home I had come from, but I knew there were far worse places for me to start my new life.

I did what I could to help Mary. In the mornings, I would wake and make her breakfast while she readied herself for work. While she was at work, I would clean up around the house and do a small amount of gardening in her front yard. I would join her at the shop later in the afternoon, where I would resume my duties until a little after closing.

In the evenings, she would let me rest a little while she busied herself making dinner for the two of us. After we ate, I cleaned up, doing the dishes before we would sit in front of the fireplace, talking, or reading.

Mary sat on a chair in the quaint lounge as I sat there reading quietly, “So, what would you like to do for your birthday tomorrow? Sweet sixteen, we must do something special.”

White walls surrounded us with just a couple of photos on the mantlepiece above the fireplace and a purple orchid in the center of the small pine coffee table in front of the white fabric sofa.

“I’m perfectly okay with just staying here and reading this book.” I gave Mary a small smile, holding up the book she’d lent me to read.

“Oh, nonsense.” She scoffed as if I’d just proposed the world’s most ridiculous idea. “Only once does a beautiful young lady like yourself turn sixteen. Oh, how I envy your eyes and hair.”

I reached my hand to my hair, gently taking the bottom of my braid, and cast my eyes down, “they’re nothing special.”

Mary swooned. “More nonsense, my girl. That beautiful flowing silver hair, which you keep so neat in a braid, I’ve known no one to have silver hair like yours. Your eyes are magnificent, too. I’ve heard of people with eyes like yours, but never have I seen them before.”

My eyes weren’t like other people’s. Everyone I’d met before had two eyes of the same color; however, my left eye was a deep ocean blue with a darker rim around the iris, while my right was more of a teal blue, with a dark blue fleck in the iris.

“You’re a unique beauty with your hair and eyes. I know that the young boy, Damon, who visits the shop, is very taken with you. He asked me to see if you’d be interested in meeting up with him one evening. He’s seventeen and a charming boy.”

My cheeks warmed as a blush crept over them, “Oh. He seems very sweet.”

“I’ll tell you now, my love; you can’t go wrong with a boy like Damon. His family is one of the richest in town, although money is no matter. He’s always been such a well-mannered, polite boy. You should consider it, but that’s for another day.”

Mary’s long forefinger tapped on her chin as she paused in thought for a moment.

“I think tomorrow I’ll take you to the next town over. They have a beautiful park where we can have a picnic, indulge in a cake and relax a little. I took the day off and arranged for you to have the day off too.”

“That sounds perfect, thank you, Mary. But there’s just one thing.” My voice became small as my sentence trailed off, and I felt discouraged.

Mary’s smile faded, and her eyes saddened, “It will be the first you spend without Zachariah, right?”

I nodded my head slowly, my heart sinking into the pit of my stomach. “I miss him and my parents.”

“Oh, I can only imagine my love, there isn’t a day that passes where I do not miss my dear Henry. We will honor your brother tomorrow and your parents. Now, why don’t you head to bed? It’s getting a little late.”

I looked out the small window of the living room. The sky was dark, littered with brightly shimmering stars in the clear sky, and the moon was full and radiating vividly. There was no sign of cars or movement outside beside the trees and bushes, gently bending in the mild night breeze.

I nodded, placing a paper bookmark in the novel before setting it on the coffee table. “Goodnight, Mary. Thank you for everything you’ve done.”

“Goodnight, Hallie, and as I say every night, there is no need to thank me. I’m glad I can help, and you help me more than you feel you do. Sleep tight.”

I stood, leaving Mary with a light kiss on her pale cheek before I retired to my bedroom.

Tomorrow I would turn sixteen; however, with my village and brother gone, my turning sixteen meant nothing more than precisely what it was. I was just an ordinary girl who was turning sixteen.

***

Enraged reds, oranges, and yellows blocked my view as I watched everything burn. My friends’ and family’s screams pierced my ears as they fought off the enemies and watched their homes ignite under the fire. The young ones were running in a desperate plea to escape and preserve our bloodlines.

The face of a Vampire growling at me came into my view, his eyes red, dangerous, and hungry as his fangs glistened from the flames’ light. He lunged for me, ready to feast on his meal, I was defenseless with no powers.

I curled into a ball, not knowing what else to do, but with a flash, the vampire flew backward, knocked by an invisible force as my brother stood tall in front of me.

“You need to go, Hallie, please.”

“I won’t leave you,” I screamed. I couldn’t leave him, I needed him; life without my brother wasn’t a life worth living.

“Be safe, be free, live a normal life for me.” Zachariah pleaded as his hand stretched out towards me, brushing a stray strand of hair from my face.

“I’m always with you, no matter how far apart we may be. I promise I will come for you one day. One day I will see you again. Now please, go. For always, I will love you.”

“I love you, always.” I sobbed, the tears washing over me like the harsh waves of an angry ocean in a storm.

Before I could turn and run as he wished, he burst into bright red flames.

***

I woke with a start, and a dazzling flash of red light filled the room, blinding my sight for a second. My body felt as if my insides had tightened under substantial pressure and exploded like a bomb.

A loud bang startled me, and my head snapped towards the door.

My eye couldn’t believe what they saw; Mary was lying on the floor, unmoving, blood pouring from her head.

My heart raced, my head pounded as if it was being hit with a hammer. I looked to my hands to see bursts of small red lightning flickering between my fingertips.

I stared at the static, wholly stunned, and bemused as my mind tried to process what had just happened. I wanted to tell myself I was still dreaming. It couldn’t be possible, but everything felt too real.

“Mary, Mary, please.” I moved beside her, shaking her as the tears poured. But she was gone. There was no pulse from her heart as I pressed my fingers against her neck.

Mary had told me I whimpered and cried during nightmares, and she always woke to make sure I was okay. The energy burst must have knocked her and caused her to hit her head when she came to check on me.

I’d killed her. I’d killed the woman who’d taken me and treated me like her own this past week. I’d murdered the woman I was beginning to love in the town where I was making my home. I felt an overwhelming sense of grief and guilt as I let the tears pour.

I wasn’t supposed to gain powers, but I couldn’t deny it as more red lightning flickered violently. I’d seen it happen to Zach on his tenth birthday, only we were expecting it. There was no burst of energy, just the lightning which he’d gained control of quickly.

I couldn’t stay here. No one was safe from me. I didn’t know how to control them as Zachariah, or the others did. I’d killed Mary, and I couldn’t put another’s life at risk.

Emotions whirled wildly inside me, anger, upset, pain, guilt, to name a few.

I threw my things into a small bag as sobs crashed over my little body. I didn’t know what else to do other than run; I couldn’t be around people, and I couldn’t kill anyone else.

“I’m s-so sorry.” I sobbed, looking at Mary’s lifeless body before I ran, escaping under the night sky into the forest.

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