By the time that I had arrived home it was late. I could hear the TV on downstairs announcing that my dad was indeed home. I made my way quietly back to my bedroom, but I’m sure when the shower started my dad was aware that I was back. I had just hoped to avoid him because if he was home it was past my curfew. I knew he wouldn’t be happy.
I sighed and quickly dressed myself as his footsteps made their way up the stairs. Completely exhausted I fell into my bed as he opened the door. “I know dad. I’m sorry.”
“As long as you know.” He laughed, “So where were you tonight?”
“Rome.” I sighed.
My dad started laughing even more. “Rome. What’s so important in Rome?”
“That’s where I’m now going to school remember.” I rolled over now feeling able to face him.
“Yes, sweetie, but why were you in Rome so late?” He had now gotten serious. “It is morning there I’m sure, and you said your schedule will run on our time.”
I tried to think of something quickly, “Just soaking in the culture and seeing the sights without being stuck in the crowds if you know what I mean.”
“I suggest you buy a watch.” My dad didn’t lose his seriousness, but the smile came back. “Good night. You have school tomorrow.”
“I know.” I smiled back sleepily, “Good night.”
Just as my eyes closed and I yawned one last time my mind went blank.
“You’re late.” Blyth announce from the kitchen as I arrived.
I walked out and brought up my new watch for him to see, “No, I’m not. It is eight o’clock exactly.”
“Unless you are five minutes early, you are considered late.” Blyth stood up letting his plate disappear. “Now let’s get to work figuring out these things you are seeing.”
I was glad that the look in his eyes was back to normal just as I had planned to look on him. Like I had said last night I just wanted something with no strings attached and it was perfect. Quickly I pushed the thought of it to the back of my mind.
The music lowered as Blyth guided me back out to his living room. “So start explaining what you saw in the hallway yesterday.”
I sat down and watched Blyth sit right beside me, “That wasn’t the first one though.”
Blyth kicked his feet up relaxing back into the couch, “Start from the beginning then. We have got to figure this out.”
“Alright, they are more like seeing the future or my fate than dreaming. I know what I’m feeling in that moment and nothing more. It is like living a different life.” I began trying to explain more of how I felt inside of them rather than what I had seen. “There is a different past that goes with each one. At the moment that I am know that past, but not really. The first one that I saw was more like this future except I fought to change it. I knew I didn’t want to end up with that future. The one that I had seen in the hallway was different, extremely different.”
“How so?” Blyth’s blue eyes dug into mine for information reminding me of the deep blue that I had let swallow me in the field.
“It was you, but not you. Not like you are right now.” I tried to bring back everything that I could feel in that vision, but it was so short. “It was dark and we were falling. All I remember really from it was that I was free from Marcus. We landed in the ocean and then you took me to some field laughing like a mad man. I don’t remember what we were falling off of, but I knew that you had saved me from whatever Marcus had planned. When I looked at you lying in the field it was odd. You were nothing more than a stranger to me. Plus you had some hair there.”
My finger circled around his mouth as he spoke. “A different past, perhaps.”
“Maybe, but the one that I saw yesterday was a future, but a different future. My mom was there with my dad at my wedding that,” I shifted through the memories that I felt, “Took place seven years from now. I remember declaring that we were together for seven years, but he still refused to even though we were married.”
“Seven years.” My eyes fell on Blyth who turned his face and started chuckling. I couldn’t hold back when I sent the back of my hand against his chest. He stopped laughing but the smile on his face let me know what he was thinking. “Ouch. Alright, I’m sorry.”
“So what are they? They’re not pasts or futures. Am I finally losing my mind?” I tried to change the subject hoping that he wouldn’t bring it up. I did not want to discuss last night at all.
“Okay,” Blyth finally turned to me letting the seriousness take over, “I want to try something. Clear your mind and I’ll be right back.”
“What? Where are you going?”
My eyes followed him as he stood up and walked out into the kitchen. “Don’t worry about what I’m doing just clear your mind.”
I turned around and stared at his fireplace trying to figure out why he wanted me to clear my mind. Was he going to do something like Marcus and get into it or something? I shook my head and closed my eyes trying to do what he wanted. I repeated over and over, “Clear your mind.”
“They say that death is an absolute, and there is no turning back once you’ve died.” My body froze immediately after hearing the man’s foreign voice. I wasn’t sure what accent it was, but I knew it wasn’t from within the continent. His voice remained formal as he continued allowing me the chance to hope that he didn’t mean any harm. “Or are you one of the Bowerstone children and permitted a second chance?”
Although he was not from around here it seemed that he knew about the connection with my ancestors and this cliff. “I wasn’t going to jump.”
“I didn’t say that you would, but this cliff does seem to attract those who want to die or have already done so.” I looked over to the man who was talking as he stepped up beside me, but the moon had disappeared leaving no light for me to see him. “So I can only assume that you are the latter.”
“And which are you?”
“Neither actually. So may I ask if you are not going to jump, what are you doing out here when it so cold?” I could hear the man as he sat down, and I made sure to slide quietly from him.
“I was thinking that is all.”
The stranger was quiet for a few moments and as the moon peered back out around the clouds he spoke again, “Were you running from someone no more than twenty minutes ago?”
He must have been the one that Marcus was yelling at. “More like avoiding.”
“Are you avoiding the others as well?” His question caught me off guard. When I looked at him finally his head was turned. I looked in the direction that he was and saw their lights coming through the trees.
“I’m sorry. I have to go.”
“Wait. Do you want the chance to change your destiny, change your fate?” I got to my feet quickly ready to run, but the man grabbed Marcus’ coat stopping me. My eyes went looking for his in this darkness, but all I could see was the outline of his body. “I don’t know what it was that you saw, but I can help you find a new life.”
“Who are you?”
The man turned his head in the direction of the lights again, “I am nothing. You must make your decision quickly or you won’t be able to avoid them much longer.”
I looked at the lights again and they were getting closer. It wouldn’t be more than a minute than they would see me I’m sure. I bit my lip trying to find the right decision. However I realized that my answer lay within the answer to a question, “Will I ever see them again?”
The man released the jacket and reached for my hand, “If they will see you in the future, you will be only a ghost to them or they will pass it off as a recollection of days gone by.”
Marcus would not ever be able to have me and Michael could become just a faded dream. I had my answer, “Take me.”
He kept his eyes on the lights, “I’m sure they’ve seen us. Why are they still running?”
“They have no power near me. It is their only option, to run.” I stared at the lights myself almost waiting for them to disappear too, but I knew it wouldn’t happen. But it was like he had said they did see us. My eyes went to his face again now that the lights were on it. His hand went up shielding it, but I could see dark hair coming down just above his eyes, eyes that were covered by shadow. Just below the darkness of his hand I saw a mustache with a small patch of hair just below his lower lip. A plain white dress shirt was undone enough to allow several necklaces visible on his bare chest.
“No power?” I heard a simple confusion come over him as he looked down at me. “Who are they?”
I tried to think of what I could call them, something that would clue him in on what who they were, but only their names came to mind, “Michael and Marcus.”
Now his confusion ran through me, “You know them?”
“Only from a past life,” The stranger tightened his grip around my hand as he turned and faced their lights. “We must go.”
“Then what are you waiting for?”
My eyes shot to his as he removed his hand and stared directly into the lights. “What?”
“Back up.” He repeated taking a step back away from them.
I did as he said, but not so much that I would be stepping off of the cliff. “If I go any farther, I will fall.”
“Exactly, they must watch you must die,” The stranger looked down on me, and I swore I knew him, “Or they will forever look for you.”
Now I gripped his hand as tight as he held mine. “You won’t let me die though, will you?”
“Never. It seems that you have answers to questions that are now arising inside of me.” With his words he stepped over the edge himself dragging me along.
“NOOO!” Michael and Marcus, both held back from leaping over the edge. I thought about waving goodbye to them, but it didn’t seem right. Instead I just smiled as their light shined down on us as we continued falling into the night air with the snow.
I reached out and grabbed Blyth to stop the feeling of falling even though I was sitting here stationary on his couch, “It happened. What is it?”
“What did you see?” Concern flashed through his eyes as he pushed my hand from his leg. “You have to tell me what you saw.”
“But how am I seeing these things?”
“Your mind is wondering when you aren’t busy just as I had assumed.” Blyth rolled his eyes, “That is why I told you to keep busy yesterday morning when we arrived. I figured that you were seeing things.”
“Family history, right?” I questioned hoping that is how he figured that I was seeing things as he so plainly put it.
“Yes, now tell me what you saw.”
“I was sitting on the cliff. I don’t think I was going to jump, but then you showed up saying something about death being absolute and stuff. When Marcus and Michael started coming through the woods towards us you asked if I wanted to change my fate. Then you back me up and we fell from the cliff.” My eyes shot straight to his. “That was the beginning to the falling. I’m not seeing everything in order.”
“Wait.” Blyth held up his hand as he got up and began pacing, “We didn’t know each other, but you were sitting on the cliff. I assume that you were drawn there after seeing your fate. Were you turned?”
I remembered turning to run away, “No, I was going to run from them.”
Blyth stopped right in front of the door and stared at it momentarily before he turned to look at me, “You don’t run from them.”
“They have no power near me. It is their only option, to run.” I repeated. Understanding what Blyth was thinking about. I repeated the words again hoping that they would give me some clue about what I saw. “They have no power near me.”
Blyth threw himself back into the couch running his hands over his face as though he was completely mystified. “But I did. They didn’t and I did. How is that possible? Are you sure it was me?”
I glared at Blyth. I knew it was him there was no way that I could mistake him for anyone else. My eyes fell over him letting the image of the Blyth that I had seen become him right now. Blue eyes, his hair was shorter, facial hair, necklaces, and last the shirt. I pulled the mirror from his bathroom and let it hover just in front of him, “It was you.”
Blyth looked himself over and apparently liked what he had seen. He messed with the necklaces one by one then adjusted his shirt. “Now get the crystal off my dresser.”
What point was he trying to make? “I told you I can’t get things that I’ve never seen before.”
I sent the mirror back to the bathroom and looked over him. I had thought about changing him back, but decided if he wanted to go back he could. At least this image of him he looked like older. He ran his thumb and finger over his mustache down to the goatee.
“This whole look, all these are mine except with this I wear these as well.” Blyth flung out his wrists making several beaded and hemp bracelets swing around them. I watched rings appear on his fingers as well. He leaned back against the arm of the couch and looked me over. His voice came out of my vision, “And the accent as well.”
“Yeah,” I leaned up hoping that him discovering what I had seen him like would help unfold some more of what I was really seeing, “Where does that come from?”
“Seville,” Blyth grinned, “Just where the rest of this wardrobe came from.”
I scowled at him realizing that is where he expected me to get the crystal from. It wasn’t even here. “Okay, so why am I seeing these things?”
“Right,” Blyth sat up straight and I watched as the image that I had just created fade back into the old Blyth. “They seem to be different fates from different pasts. Marcus had engineered your future into this one. Maybe they are visions of what your lives would have been or different visions that Marcus has guided you from.”
“Why are you seeing them? I don’t know. Honestly I don’t really see how it is possible since these were obviously thought of years ago. You did mention that your mother was alive so these were coming from well before she died.” Blyth paused as he seemed to be considering everything, “In one you turned, one you didn’t. How about the first one that you saw? Did you turn?”
“Yes, I had the bite on my leg and it was infected badly. I had these lines coming up from around it. It was horrible looking.” I looked at my hand remembering feeling completely numb, “I also had a cut over the palm of my hand. I don’t remember how I got it though. So I had just assumed that it was something from this future. Now the infection is completely gone so it isn’t this future now.”
Blyth stretched and rubbed the back of his neck, “Since these don’t really seem to hold any importance to this future I suggest that you just keep your mind busy. Don’t worry about them. When they come, are you in control in any way or do you just flow with them?”
“I don’t even realize that they are happening really until I come back. As soon as they happen that is my life. This one doesn’t mean anything.” I realized what he wanted me to do, “I can’t just stop it.”
“They seem harmless enough, so unless something truly sticks out in your mind let me now otherwise ignore them. It takes you a second to see everything, so don’t worry about them wasting your time.” Blyth glanced at the table in front of us as some paper appeared. He lifted them up studying the words, “On other topics that I want to talk about today. What do you know about the spell?”
“What you made a whole list of things that we are going over?” I raised my eyebrow hoping he didn’t plan on going over everything written on the even just the first page.
“No these are my theories about the spell. I’m sure though in your future, well, I know that in your fate it caused you more pain than I would even want to feel again.” I was reminded of when Blyth had put the spell on me to fear the very sight of me that he went deeper. I knew that he knew my pain from it, but felt it that part I didn’t know. “I want to know how it works. How do you find it to even feel it there?”
“Find it?” I had to stop myself from laughing at him. “Find it? That’s the easiest part. Of course I first thought it was just them being magical and stuff, but it was clear after I turned. I could see it pushing them apart and pulling them back together again. It was like they were both magnets fighting each other’s own pull.”
Blyth began tapping the papers on his leg looking at me completely confused, “What do you mean that you found it? It isn’t something you can see. I’ve tried.”
Now I laughed at him, “It is right there lying on top of their skin. It’s almost like a glow surrounding them. I mean it wasn’t until I turned that I realized what it really was. That thing is a beast in its own sense.”
Blyth began crumbling the papers in his hand. As he tossed them over his shoulders he leaned in, “Okay, today you are the teacher it would seem. Tell me everything you know about it.”
“Well, it is simple. It surrounds them each, and completely unbreakable. I fought to pull it off of Marcus, and when I finally got it free of him it stretched and bowed. I tried everything I could to break it, but it just bent under my power.” I instinctively curled into a ball, “Since I couldn’t break it I pulled it into myself freeing Marcus. It ripped at me from the inside out. The spell and I weren’t created for each other so it killed me slowly. I had no more than a year to either cast it from my body or let it kill me. Either way it was going back to Marcus. I can’t break it.”
Blyth’s hand landed softly on my shoulder causing me to shudder, “You can do it this time. This time you will have nearly five times the power, and we also have, you have…”
“I don’t know how he is going to help with this,” I hated to bring up the subject of Matt with him, but there was no way around it. “I honestly didn’t know who he really was. I just thought he was a boy from school. He has no powers and he fights just to stay alive as it is.”
“He fights to stay alive?” The torment in Blyth’s voice was clear and I knew this was why I didn’t want to bring up Matt.
I lowered my head further so that I couldn’t even see Blyth in my vision, “He really isn’t alive. I don’t know what he is. All I know is that somehow the spell is keeping him alive, but if he doesn’t keep his heart pumping blood then he is nothing more than a corpse walking around. Blyth, I’m sorry but I don’t know how he fits in with all of this. I can’t even see the spell on him like Michael and Marcus.
That is what I fear most, Matt and Marcus are working together. I’m also afraid of when I break the spell that it will take all the life that Matt does have. But he said that Marcus is working on a way to fix it. I don’t know how he means to do it, but the plan is to give Matt a normal life.”
“On top of this book I have left you part of the key to lift the spell that I will place upon my remaining children. My remaining children. No the spell isn’t on him.” Blyth lost the torment and now became intrigued, “What you have to do is find out what is keeping him alive. I’m going to talk to Marcus and see what he knows. We have five months to figure this out and break the spell. Our main priority is to keep Matt alive so that you can have that wedding whether it is seven years from now or not.”
“I really don’t think we’ll be getting married.” I chuckled lightly.
“Ash,” Blyth lifted my chin and eyes to his, “Do you remember what I told you that night? What did I tell you to do for me?”
“To love him.”
“Yes, love him like only you can.”
My eyes fell instantly to the floor. I did love Matt from our future before, but this was a different one. “But Marcus wants me to love him too. I’m afraid of what he’s going to do with that. Look what happened the last time he wanted me to love someone. I died and left pain running through all the cracks. Blyth I’m sorry. I do love him. He was my first love and he always will be. There is no way to take that love back. I will always love him, and that is torture knowing Marcus will use it against me in some way.
I mean I loved him in the beginning only to have Marcus threaten him using Michael. I willingly left Matt so that he was no longer in danger. I left to spare his life. Why couldn’t Marcus of just let me stay there and love him if that’s what he really wanted?”