The irritation had built up enough inside of me that the cool rain no longer made me shiver under its unrelenting drops. It seemed as though I had ignored them completely as if they had evaporated with the wind. Although the rain had dissipated my tears did not. Everything built up inside of me making me want to scream in protest against it. The confusion was the worst of the pain.
As the rage continued boiling so did the storm surrounding us. Lighting covered the blanket of clouds leaving us encircled in the deafening cries of the sky. Wind ripped violently causing the rain to become daggers against our skin. Just as another bolt stuck I screamed out in frustration. Searching for answers to quiet the rage building inside I looked around at the empty streets. Nearly exhausted from tension in my soul I sat down on the curb once again. This life was killing all of my hope for anything.
There was one thing, only one thing that I knew in this moment. I did not like this person that everything concluded that I had become. I did not know that woman, and I was quite sure that I did not like her. She single handedly ruined my future. That woman that I had converted into did not even deserve this love that is pouring from the man in front of me.
“I’m sorry.” I forced an apology from my lips as Marc sat down next to me. His hand graced my cheek which caused me to look at him again. A red mark lingered across his face making my eyes drop in shame of what I had done. Just as quickly as the storm around us appeared the winds took it away. A light drizzle remained but the sky had still not cleared.
Fearing the silence I parted my lips, but his words came first. “I warned you. I told you that was precarious magic you were playing with. I will leave you just as you willed in the beginning.”
Marc gathered his feet beneath and I could hear a sigh of grief leave as he was I feared just going to disappear. Suddenly my hand grasped his against my own will. The look in Marc’s eyes mirrored my own. “Please don’t leave me here alone.”
Marc’s trepidation faded to pain, “Ashley, just go home.”
Thunder struck again before I could get any other words out. Marc’s hand was ripped from mine and I stared at his back as he walked away. Without not knowing where to go I remained seated on the curb as the storm exploded around me. I had let it continue for what seemed to be hours. However I knew by the number of cars passing by now that the graduation was now over. Fearing that Anthony, Ben, and Matt would be in one of them I mustered myself up began walking. Trying to stay out of sight of the vehicles I stumbled though the alleyways.
It wasn’t long before I became hypnotized by my own footsteps on the damp pavement. The brick walls encased me now. My feet grew heavy underneath me and it took all the strength within me to keep going. Unable to take another step I paused and that’s when everything in around me dissipated.
“Ash,” Matt’s voice cut into my thoughts as I stared into the abyss of what stood in front of me. “One can only assume that you are here searching for a reprieve or death.”
I continued to ignore him as he sat down on the bench beside me. My first intention of coming here was to seek some sort of redemption for what I had done to Blythe and for the future that I had been fated. The longer that I had sat here though I began wondering if I had come here to see if the church still burnt witches.
“You know we’ve all been looking for you for months now. You just disappeared and then blocked us from seeing you. It shocked us all when you blocked Marc from seeing you in any future as well. Those must be some powers that you have.” Matt paused while he got up and blocked my view trying to gain my attention, but I looked right through him. “Ash, Mike told me.”
Matt was cut off by the bells beginning to ring. My eyes rose towards the steeple where they rang beautifully. The Sunday mass was over and soon the priest would be opening the doors to finalize the service. I lowered my eyes to the ground and closed them in respect. “Matt, do you believe in God?”
“Religion, is that why you have disappeared for months? Wow.” Matt seemed shocked as he sat back down beside me. “To think that, wow, I’ve been conceited thinking that you left because you didn’t want me to find out.”
“Matt!” I didn’t want to hear anything that had just come from him. “Do you believe in God?”
“Belief is for those who do not believe in themselves. People who can’t find holiness within themselves search for it within Gods. So to answer your question, no I do not believe in a God.” I was thankful for Matt’s frankness with me, and I hoped that he would continue to be.
“Do you believe in the devil?”
“No, I answered your question now I want you to answer one of mine.” Matt turned from the crowd and pulled my attention towards him. “Have you seen a doctor yet?”
I groaned. I did owe him for being truthful with me. “Yes, several in fact.”
“Several?” I glared through Matt’s question and waited for my answer. After he realized that I wasn’t about to answer he gave in. “Just as I believe that there is no God there is no Devil, but each of us has our own evil that needs to be controlled or released depending on the situation.”
“You weren’t raised to believe such things.” I searched for why he would believe such things now, and perhaps I was looking for something to make his beliefs real.
Matt lowered his eyes to my hands now containing several envelops, “After so many years of never seeing any signs that God does or doesn’t exist I have developed my own beliefs. What are those?”
“Matt, there was once a time when you asked why I didn’t ask you for help. These are why I let you through. I need help now, paying my doctor’s bills.” I handed him all of the envelopes.
“I don’t…” Matt began looking through the stack, “Ash, what kind of doctor’s have you been seeing?”
My heart began aching and his voice called through, ‘Send him away. Ash, send him back now!’
I closed my eyes and concentrated deeply on the sound of his voice resonating inside of me. It was my own that surprised me when it came through. “Goodbye.”
He began objecting but it was all in vain as I sent him back to Michael’s apartment. When his voice stopped I opened my eyes to make sure that I was successful in sending him back. He was gone as I hoped, but standing in front of me was my true reason for sitting here.
Now that he was standing there I could see that he was older than I had anticipated. Time had worn away against his face leaving tiny wrinkles that matched his white hair. A small smile escaped his lips causing more lines to be discovered. Brown eyes turned up slightly due to his smile seemed content, but also full of questions just as Blythe said they would be.
The priest nodded once and turned back towards the church. I got up quickly and followed directly behind him. My eyes stayed directed to the ground while we walked. Blythe had told me never to look where I was led, and never to speak until I was spoken to first. After we had entered the church I was sure that we had gone in circles, but I continued to keep my eyes on the floor that seemed to keep repeating in textures.
“Alright,” The priest’s voice was quieter than I remembered from his sermons, but then again he wasn’t preaching to an entire church. I stopped just as he did and I watched as he walked back around me to shut the door to the room that we had entered. “Blythe had told me about you, but I’m a bit flabbergasted that he told you about me.”
“I think it was more of a last resort rather than just conversation or confession.” The priest motioned me to a seat as he walked around the desk and sat. “He said that you could help.”
He began laughing and I could hear Blythe’s laugh also echoing inside of me. “In all the years that I knew Blythe, never once did he ever ask for help for himself or anyone else. You, my dear, have more powers than I do. So how is it that I can help you?”
“I need help,” My voice trailed into silence. Blythe and I had different notions in my coming here. I wanted to end everything now, where he wanted to change it. I knew that if I let my voice carry what I sought after Blythe would never let me have any kind of serenity.
’In the Vatican…” Blythe started for me.
“Shut up. I am not completely dependent upon you. I can ask for help without you telling me what to say!” I shouted at Blythe out loud without realizing where I was at the moment. Although I had remembered once I saw the priest staring wide eyed at me. “I’m sorry. I need your help in contacting someone from the Vatican. Someone who can understand what I am without wanting to kill me first.”
The priest’s eyes narrowed as he tried not to glare at me now, “If you brought someone here with you without telling me first I must insist that you leave at once.”
“Trust me sir, I did not bring anyone here. It’s just, well, he’s inside of me, and if I could get rid of him I would without a second thought.” I admitted hoping that he would understand.
“I’m haunted by the soul of the man that I had killed, and he refuses to leave.” I directed my words more to Blythe instead of the priest who I was actually answering.
‘Haunted? No, you took my soul into your own. I’m not haunting you. You gave me Heaven.’
“Excuse me just for one more second.” I lifted my finger and looked into the bewilderment on the priest’s face then I proceeded with talking to Blythe. “And to think that there was a time in my life that I actually thought I loved you.”
‘It wasn’t that long ago if you remember correctly.’
“Blythe shut up for five minutes and let me do this.”
“Yes, five minutes.” I waited for a response, but there was only silence. I sighed in relief and opened my eyes back up to find the priest trying not to laugh now. “I have five minutes before he starts again, and trust me he is timing me. What I need is…”
“I think I see what you need.” The priest intervened and was grinning from ear to ear. “You seek to free yourself from Blythe or send him off to the afterlife?”
“No, Blythe is the least of my worries right now.” I started quickly knowing that I had only five minutes to get everything out. “To sum everything up and to help you find the right person within the church just tell them that there is a witch that came to you in confession saying that she holds the downfall of the human race. I personally believe in the equal balances of good and evil, but this evil that I am speaking of will rip that equilibrium between the two to shreds. I have tried to kill this thing, but there is something protecting it. Even being a witch I cannot do it, so that is why I am coming to the church hoping that by some grace of God or miracle this thing will die.”
‘I told you, Ash, I don’t want you to kill him.’
Blythe’s voice angered me to a point where I wanted to tear him out of me, but I knew it was useless. I tried to ignore him, but the priest noticed that Blythe apparently hadn’t given me the five minutes like I had asked for. “He doesn’t agree with you?”
“No.” I hated Blythe’s option through and through.
“Who is this witch that you speak of?” The priest inquired, “And what exactly does she hold that can end the human race?”
‘Do not Ashley.’ Blythe warned.
I took in a deep breath, “I am with a child that holds the key that Norcia is after. I have tried to abort him, but something beyond me is protecting him. You must understand I cannot have this child.”
“I will work as quickly as I can, but you do understand this is your own child, young lady.” The priest took my hand in his and tried to consul me from his words. “When is your child due to endanger all of us?”
I shook my head, “I don’t know for certain, but he will uncertainly be the most powerful warlock ever born. He will be much more powerful than myself, and possibly even Blythe. Please if I could request on more courtesy from the church as well.”
The priest still holding my hand nodded, “Anything for the one willing to save us all.”
“I need a way to end my life. I am plagued like Blythe unable to perish completely. I just continue to come back and gain more power than I had before. Please see if they can cure this for me.”
“I will see it done my dear. Now continue on your journey and continue to have faith in the church.” I tried to pull my hand from the priest to leave with his parting words, but he held me there. Stunned that I had not seen or sensed it, nevertheless I felt it go through the base of my skull.
Unlike the last one, which I had woken up like from a dream, this left me completely numb it seemed. I could see myself falling towards the crude pavement. Unable to stop myself I realized that I seemed paralyzed from whatever vision or dream that was. Wanting to scream and cry out for help seemed useless, but I tried. Nothing worked to push my voice through my throat. I closed my eyes fearing the pain that would endure as I crashed and then I realized I couldn’t even feel the motion of moving.
“Ash?” His voice came from nowhere, but everywhere all at once. I opened my eyes to see Marc’s face worn with misery. I didn’t know where he came from, but it would seem as though he had caught me just before I embrace the impact of the alleyway. I watched as the apprehension faded from his eyes to absolute horror. I followed his glance towards his bloody hand in front of me. I looked back at him almost welcoming the end as his eyes closed forcing out tears. “I will save you. I promise.”
The first thing that I had wanted to see with all that was within me when I had awakened was his eyes. As I focused to the world outside of my mind he was nowhere near. In complete agony I bided my time in the hospital hoping that once I was released he would be once again at the house waiting for me. Anthony, Ben, and Matt had taken their turns watching over me in the hospital. Anxiously waiting for me to tell them everything that had perspired from me running from the graduation, I could not find it within me to speak to any of them.
Once I was back at the house I didn’t rest until I searched the entire house, but he was gone. Everything that he had owned was still gone. I had never given up hope that he would return, but each time I walked into his empty bedroom I was reminded cruelly of our small conversation.
I would have called him if I had the power to. The telephone seemed too complicated to use in this state, but when it came time to give his name I couldn’t bring myself to utter it. Hours would pass before I would finally come to the conclusion that I couldn’t do it. Marc had completely undone me. Something deep inside of me cried out for him. I needed him here with me.
“I have to admit, she has a sense of tranquility to her now.” Ben’s voice echoed inside my mind as I passed through the room. “But what is she searching for?”
Anthony started chuckling tossing a toothpick at me, “Her mind.”
After I was hit by his flying projectile I slowly bent over and picked it up. Tears nearly boiled out of my eyes wishing to break it in half, but instead I walked over to him. I refused to look up into their eager eyes as they stared at me. Carefully I laid down Anthony’s toothpick in front of him and headed back in the direction that I was going.
“That’s it!” Anthony declared aloud from behind me. Even if I didn’t have a delayed sense of reaction there would have been no way for me to stop him. His hands landed on my shoulders halting me as he appeared right in front of me. “What do you need?”
I shook my head and let my eyes land firmly on the floor away from his gaze.
Anthony drew in a deep breath, “This is the third time in the past hour that you have wondered aimlessly through this way. Why?”
Without looking up I tried to turn under the weight of his hands, but they were unrelenting. When I realized he wasn’t about to let me go, I wanted so badly to tell him to get Marc back for me. I wanted to tell him that I had been searching each room persistently in hopes of finding anything that had belonged to Marc to prove to me that he would be back. I wanted nothing more than to look Anthony in the eyes and beg him to help me escape from myself.
“You know it is useless, Anthony. She won’t answer anything you ask her.” Ben beckoned Anthony back to his seat giving me the freedom that I desired. “Has she even said one word since she woke up in the hospital?”
“Not to me.” I could feel their eyes on me as I looked aimlessly through the books on the shelf. “I wish I knew how she got there, and what happened to her.”
“Didn’t you say that she is the one that keeps the phone busy incessantly?” Ben questioned.
“Yes,” Anthony paused as he shifted uneasily in his seat. “She doesn’t call anyone though. She just sits there with it turned on.”
When I had determined that none of the books had moved still leaving empty slots where Marc’s once were I was done. Before turning to leave I ran my finger over the dust building up on the shelf. It has been weeks since any kind of cleaning was done in the house, and it was beginning to show.
“Ashley!” Ben’s shouting caught my attention and I turned around to find him back at the table. I can’t say that I was shocked or even surprised when I found him standing right beside me. This wasn’t the first time in the past few weeks that I had drown out the sound of their voices until they shouted directly at me. This time was different thought. In Ben’s hand that he had stretched out towards me was a phone. “Anthony says its old school, but he dug it out thinking it is just what you need.”
A simple touch screen phone was handed to me with the dial pad already opened. Ben lifted my hand and placed the phone on my palm. After making sure that I wouldn’t drop it he left me and went back to the table with Anthony. I could feel their eyes on me while I stared impassively at the gift just given to me.
Tears filled my eyes when I realized it was just as useless at the other one. I had no idea of what number to dial to reach Marc. My fingers tightened around it in anger and the tears collapsed. Slowly I returned it back to Ben. Without a look or word between us I left the room and went to the front door.
Several times I had tried to leave, but a barrier was placed prohibiting me from stepping outside of the house. I opened the door and placed my hand on the invisible shield hoping that one day it would disappear. Today was not that day.
“Has she used any of her powers?” A voice came from behind me in the room I had just left.
Little did he know, I had tried, but it was hopeless. Perhaps I did not know how to use them since I haven’t any memory of using them. I only knew that I had them from their words. The only power it seemed that I had at this point was seeing useless visions that drove me into dreams. I could tell that the one was a future, as pointless as it was I had no control over anything that happened. The second one, which ended me in the hospital, was the same, except it seemed like memory. In each one, I knew that I had some kind of power inside me. However, in this time, in this life, I couldn’t feel it. So I believe I lost all of it along with all the memories of this life.
I nearly jumped when Ben appeared beside me, but I was so immersed in my thoughts of the outside that I realized I wasn’t that surprised. He probably walked up and had been standing there for quite some time before I noticed him. I sighed deeply and was ready to leave grasping the thought that I was no longer alone with my thoughts. “What would you do if I could help you leave?”
Instantly I found myself staring helplessly at him. If there was any way out of here, I would search for Marc. Then it struck me, I had no clue on where to start. I had no clue of anything at this point, except I felt like a prisoner in this house. I eagerly stared at him wishing I could tell him what I would do. I, however, could not find any words inside of myself.
The back of Ben’s hand brushed against my cheek as I watched his gray eyes darken into a deep blue. It was that sapphire that I remembered from my vision. Out of fear I stepped back away from his touch. Slowly I watched Ben fade from in front of me. The man, Asmodeus, was staring at me now with a grin stretched across his face.
“Did you miss me, my love?” His voice was different that from that of my dream. This one had no accent to it. “I warned you to disappear months ago, but you couldn’t leave. I see now that they wouldn’t let you no matter how hard you tried. ”
Asmodeus spoke as if I had known him in this time, but I’m sure he seen the confused look on my face. Placing his hand on the mystical wall holding me captive I watched as he made it shimmer and shatter like glass. “You are free to go. You memories will forever be mine to keep, but from now on this future is yours to control. Go now and seek all that you have been searching for.”
I fumble for a few moments in my thoughts as I stared beyond my barrier. The last time I had went beyond the door of the house it ended in complete ruin. I had finally gotten what I had wished for I now doubted it. Staring out into the street I wondered what future out there may hold for me. Once I left the safety of this house, there was no coming back. Hesitant of the outside world I decided against it and backed away from the gracious offer that was laid out in front of me.
Asmodeus placed his hand on my shoulder, “I know it is frightening for you, but he is waiting. Not one moment has past, I believe, that he has stopped watching. As soon as you cross this threshold, I promise, he will be there. I can’t guarantee that he will fix all your pain, but he will ease it enough for you to enjoy life once again. I have taken your power, and you have used up all your lives. There is nothing left for you here. Go with Marcus and you two can find happiness together. The peace that you are searching for is with him. Go now before I change my mind and just end your life altogether.”
With his last words Asmodeus pushed me through the front door into the unknown. I no longer feared the outside world as much as I was afraid of going back into the house. Without looking back I continued forward down the steps leading me away from certain death. The panic pushed me until I was to the street. It didn’t subside once I was there until I saw him appear just on the other side of the road way.
My stride accelerated and nothing was going to stop me until I was in his arms. As I watched him get closer I knew that he held everything for me. He was the answer to all my questions. This man with his hand held out would be my release from all of this confusion that haunted me. Marc was the only thing I had in this moment.
As his hand embraced mine I felt him pull me in. The embers in his eyes seemed to be on fire as he drew me closer. I wanted to wrap my arms around him and beg to be taken from this place, but he had other plans. He stopped me and wiped the unnoticed tears from my face. A slight smile curved up his lips, “You’re safe now.”
My lips parted and I wanted to tell him everything that I had just been told. No sound emanated causing tears to flow through me. Marc enclosed me inside his arms and I collapsed against his chest. My sobs silenced his soothing voice as he tried to console me. He held me closer I felt his lips press themselves against my forehead. I tried to match his breathing and calm myself, but my heart was beating too fast to allow my body to calm at the moment. Closing my eyes I concentrated on his voice. Unable to comprehend his words, his voice was tranquil enough to pacify.
An unknown amount of time passed inside of his embrace before I realized I could hear waves crashing against the background of my mind. Slowly I backed up from Marc realizing that somewhere in the past few moments he had taken me somewhere else. We were no longer standing in front of the terrifying home that threatened me.
In amazement of finding myself standing on a beach I realized when they disappeared just how far they could transport themselves. So many times I have seen Matt and Anthony just vanish into thin air. I had just assumed that they could just transfer themselves from one room to another, but here I was standing on a beach. Quite aware that there wasn’t one within hundreds of miles from that house that we had just come from.
I left Marc’s embrace to stare over the endless miles of water stretching in front of me. This was the first time, as far as I knew, that I had seen the ocean. A smile grew on my face as I let the wave wash over my toes. It was breathtaking as the sunlight cascaded off the waves. Perhaps Marc did know me best.
“It is beautiful isn’t it?” Marc asked as he came up beside me. “Another thing that is just as beautiful is the glass.”
I looked over as Marc held up a piece of obscured blue material rounded by the waves beating it across the sand. He lifted it up so that it was glimmering in the sunlight. It was no bigger than a nickel, but he was right, it was exquisite. My eyes dropped looking around my feet in search of more, but none were visible.
Marc’s hand reached for mine and I watched cautiously as he lifted my palm in-between us. Dropping the piece of glass that he was just admiring in my hand he curled my fingers around it. Slowly I brought my eyes up to meet his. He greeted me with a smile as he remained holding my hand. “I hope you like it.”
Bringing up my empty hand I brushed the side of Marc’s face. Tracing the lines of scars I imagined my own. His eyes closed and he allowed me to touch him without resistance. It would seem we were both marked by this cruel world. Slowly my hand fell down and unbuttoned his shirt. I was surprised when he let me continue until the scar just over his heart came to view. Unlike mine his was, or seemed like it was a cleaner cut than mine. I watched as his chest rose and fell with each breath that he took in and released.
I released the glass piece and let it fall to the sand as I took his hand in my own. Slowly I brought his hand up and held it against my matching mutilation. His eyes opened and a sense of understanding exited them. “I know. I am sorry.”
Confusion finally settled me again and Marc noticed it. His hand brushed the side of my face calming me, “That is a story best told on another day. I promise I will help you fill in the vacant spots inside of yourself, but for today, just relax. The beach is yours and I am here for you. If there is anything you need, please let me know.”
What Marc didn’t seem to understand, all I wanted right now was answers. I shook my head in response to his words. When I pushed him away from me and his skin was no longer touching mine, I realized what he was doing to me. Anger tore through my confusion. I was tired of these men just touching me and changing all that I was feeling. Every time they placed a hand upon mine a sense of peace rushed though me. It is clear now that it was some sort of magic being used, and I didn’t appreciate it.
I pushed Marc again so that he was no longer reaching for me. As he threw up his hands in surrender I turned and began walking away. Frustration grew into me pushing me faster through the wet sand. I was determined to put enough space between us as possible so that I could calm myself down without the help of his touch.
“Wait.” Marc called out from behind me. When I heard his voice again it startled me to a stop, “Ashley, I am sorry.”
When his hand landed on my shoulder I turned and pushed him away again. I glared at him for a moment and then continued away from him again.
“What did I do?” Marc called out again. I continued to create a distance between us or so I thought when he began walking beside me. Before I knew it he had pushed himself forward and was now walking backwards facing me. “Alight. Alright, I will tell you everything if you just stop for a minute.”
I had contemplated stopping for a minute to hear what I was searching for, but when his hand once again reached out for me I slapped it away. Completely stunned Marc stopped directly ahead of me causing my feet to halt. This time I pushed him with such force that he had stumbled backwards and fell on to the wet ground. I pointed my finger at him hoping he would understand to just leave me alone to my thoughts.
The look on his face was complete despair. I watched the water come up and around him, but he didn’t move. He just sat there like I had just ripped him completely apart. He lowered his head in defeat. “I don’t understand. Please, Ashley, just tell me what you want.”
I opened my mouth, but no sound emanated from within me. I wanted nothing more than to tell him everything I wanted in this moment. Irritated with myself I searched deep inside, and I still could not find what held my voice. My heart began to race as I fought my mind. Knowing full well that I had a voice, but no hearing it come through me burnt me to the core. Something, perhaps some kind of magic was keeping it from me. As I forced myself to try to scream at this point tears flowed down over my cheeks.
It was then that I saw Marc watching me intently. Not only was the look of despair erased from his face, but he had stepped back from me. I had realized that while fighting inside of myself, my body had completely frozen. It took me several moments to find myself able to move again. Air forced itself into my lungs and I welcomed it wholly.
My legs were beginning to shake and grow weak. Slowly and carefully I lowered myself in to the surf coming on to the beach trying not to fall. The cool water felt like ice against my skin and I almost smiled thankful that I could feel again. I turned to watch Marc once again take a seat on the wet ground beside me.
“I don’t even know where to begin,” He started talking as I turned to watch the waves. “I can’t even comprehend what has happened inside your mind. I know that I’m no longer there, but what else has been taken away is beyond me. I do know that I will not leave you like this. I can see it disturbing you. With your permission, can I look inside of you and see what memories remain?”
Marc held out his hand to touch me, but I slapped it away. Shaking my head I denied him any chance to lay his skin on mine again. I was tired of being manipulated by the magic that they held.
“Alright,” Marc pulled back his hand, “How about something else?”
Shrugging my shoulders I had nothing to lose from just listening to his other option.
“Use both of your hands and place them against my temples. I will not use any power against you other than to let you in.” Marc lifted his hands and placed his fingers on each temple showing me exactly how he wanted it done. “They may not be your memories, but you can see mine. This is something new to me, and I am not sure whether they will be in any kind of order. Some many times they seem jumbled even to me. I wish you luck filtering through.”
Cautiously I lifted my hands and placed just my fingertips onto Marc’s temples. Taking in a deep breath I settled in for whatever may lie ahead. I watched as Marc closed his ember eyes and I followed.
Slowly voices began filtering into me, but they were speaking in a language I did not know. I waited patiently to see if anything would appear, but it all remained dark behind my eyes. Unable to understand the voices and see anything I reluctantly pulled away from Marc.
His eyes dove into me questioning until I motioned with my hands that I could hear but I could not understand. Nodding he seemed to understand then he closed his eyes again. Once more I placed my fingers on his face and leaped inside of his mind.