“Merik,” I could hear Mother calling my name, but I continued to hide behind the tree that sheltered my shame. The forest surrounded me, but I could still hear the waves. I wasn’t sure if I had gone far enough inland so that Mother wouldn’t find me. No doubt Mihai had already taken the fish back and told her that he had caught them all. Now I would be whipped just the same for being late. Mattithyah and his father would be there already which caused my delay even more so.
“Merik?” My mother appeared kneeling directly in front of me, “Why are you hiding?”
Quickly turning my face to hide my swollen eye, but I could not lie to her. No matter how much I always tried I couldn’t find it within myself to lie to her, although Mihai always could with ease. “Mihai hit me and then stole all my fish.”
“I know,” She carefully turned my face so that her violet eyes glimmered into mine, “But why are you hiding?”
My mother had a smile on her face as she carefully examined my eye. I reached up to grace her long brown hair, “Because I don’t want to shame you when Mattithyah and his father come.”
“Oh, my little love,” She pulled me into her arms and the smell of fire was in her hair. “You could never shame me. Please come and help me cook all those fish you caught.”
She lifted me up to my feet then took my hand in hers leading me to the house. “Mum?”
“How did you know that it wasn’t Mihai that caught all the fish?” I stopped causing my mother to as well.
She knelt down beside me, “Because Merikano you are my little fisherman and Mihai is my little hunter. You are far better at fishing than Mihai. You always have been.”
She nodded when she seen the smile appear on my face.
This was the perfect moment I thought to myself as I spied him sitting there alone. I listened as my heart pounded inside me chest and my stomach ached with each step that brought me closer to him. Stand up straight, Merikano. Don’t let him see you slouching. Hold your head up high. “Sir?”
A slight curl appeared at the corners of his mouth. His eyes remained fixed on the sky, “Yes, Merik?”
“Sir,” Breath Merikano, just breath, “Are you my father?”
His eyes fell down from the sky but they retained the same color. They tore through me as if he were reading my soul. “Tell me Merik, what makes a man a father?”
“I’m not quite sure, Sir.”
I watched as the look on his face withered into something stern. “Then what makes you ask if I am your father?”
“Well, Sir, you are my brother, Mattithyah’s father.” Breath Merikano, “And you provide for both Mihai and I like a father would. Mother says that I have no father though. She told me that Mihai and I came from the ocean to keep her from being so lonely here. I don’t believe her though, Sir.”
The smile on his face disappeared for only a moment resurfaced undoing my alarm. “Merik, how old are you now?”
“Twelve,” He seemed to contemplate the number for a moment when his placed his hand on my shoulder. “You have no need for a father at your age. Are you the one that provides for your mother when I am not here? Are you the one that would protect her and Mihai from what evil may come to your home? Merik, you are the father of your own family. I have always trusted you to look over this family when I am not here. You are more of a father to this family than any man would be even I.”
“Mihai, what did you just do?” I yelled as we both ran from the crime behind us. I could still picture the man’s lifeless body as the tree branches continued to rip against my face. “Mihai?”
Slowing down I realized that Mihai had stopped somewhere behind me. I rushed to turn around to see what might have happened to him when I heard him viciously laughing. By the time that I had returned to his side the laugh turned into something hideous and I was nearly afraid to go near him. The look in his eyes was wild and I was becoming fearful of going near him after what he had just done to that man.
“Mihai, are you alright?”
Mihai stretched out his limbs and his eyes grew wider, “I took his power. I can feel it pulsing through my skin. It tingles all over Merik.”
In horror I watched as Mihai began using this stolen power. A huge hole opened up between us and as I stepped closer to just see how far he had gone the man that he had just murdered lay at the bottom. Mihai began kicking the dirt over top of dead body laughing.
While backing away from the madness that he was becoming I stared closer at Mihai’s eyes and watch them fade from our brown to a most sinful color of red. His hair slowly darkened until it was the color of Mattityah’s. While I was preparing to turn and run he disappeared while the hole was completely filled.
I pulled my fingertips from Marc’s skin. None of those memories that he was showing was any help. I understood how old he was now seeing him growing up in the wilderness of a time long ago. Blythe was there and he was just as I remembered so it was just as he had told me in whatever vision that was. He seemed to be older than time itself.
Marc opened his ember eyes, “What’s wrong?”
As I watched the pain flicker through Marc’s eyes I could still feel a connection with him. It echoed inside my soul telling me of his love. There was such pain attached to an enormous amount of love calling out to me. Closing my eyes again I tried to pull the entire feeling to the surface. I wanted to know what all it held inside. I wanted to know this torment inside his soul that he had so willingly handed over. I listened to it carefully.
This sensation was new to me although it was familiar. It was a never ending torment that suffocated me with agony. Dominating every feeling I had ever known, it ate into everything that I could ever remember. This emotion cried out to return to me as if I had lost it in a distant memory that I no longer held.
Desperation drove my heart in to each cascading ache that rose to the surface. Tearing through me I watched in despair of his memories of me. Hundreds of times I envisioned myself throwing, pushing, and tearing at Marc forcing him from my sight. Extreme anguish wallowed through my eyes each time I watched myself casting pain his way.
The sting from the hit did not register on a physical level. Each and every strike that landed on Marc I knew was pure emotion. I was casting him from my sight because each and every time it drove daggers through my heart. The pain from loving him wounded me in a way that could not be explained.
It was clear now that an unwanted love was pushing him from me. It killed me every time that I looked into his eyes knowing that I loved him so deeply. Unwilling to allow myself to feel that love enter into me I threw it back at him. I threw my love along with all the pain that he had caused me and making me suffer such agony.
One thing was not clear to me in each moment that drew into my memory. I dwelled on it hoping that the reason would surface, but it became clear that I had never let him know as to why it caused me such pain. It wasn’t long before our short conversation at the graduation surfaced. I slowly wallowed in my own memory instead of his.
He had said I was afraid of love, but I don’t think that he was quite right. There was no fear inside everything that I had felt through him. It was pure agonizing torment that I felt pouring through me. It was so familiar that I knew what I pushed towards him was my emotions that he caused within me.
I was not afraid of loving him, but rather it was killing me. It was as though every time I looked into his eyes I knew that loving him would end my life. I think feeling this now and quite aware that this pain was still inside my soul from years past that my love for him was killing me. My soul ached as I could feel this hollow void opening inside of it. My chest began caving in on itself as the pain etched itself into the tears now freely flowing.
Slowly the feelings of the unwanted love subsided allowing the memories to follow freely. From behind my eyelids I watched over what seemed to be an endless battle between the both of us. It became clear that these were not actual memories, but visions just as I was plagued with. Scene by scene they played out in my mind with the ending all the same. Hundreds of them flashed beyond my touch and I could see us wrapped in this daunting battle of love and death. It was a never ending slaughter caused by our love for one another.
It was a relentless struggle between both of us to just have one love the other with the ending always being catastrophic. It was clear that Marc had stopped seeing these visions a long time ago and given up on any sense of future together. Everything that flourished showed him a young man not much older than me.
Something did happen between us no so long ago, and I needed to know what. I opened my eyes for the truth just to find Marcus staring straight back inside of me. His fingers pressed themselves against my cheeks clearing my face of the tears. Lifting my hands once again to his temples I inhaled as deep as I could, bracing myself for what I would see. I wanted to see the last time we had met just before my memories were stolen away. He needed to reveal to me why he had, in Matt’s words, ‘Ended my life quite sadistically.’
A low growl erupted through my throat as I crumbled up the last sheet of paper in my possession. She had literally broken me down to nothing at this point. No words could pass through my lips to ease this suffering that I had caused and now I couldn’t even find the words to tell her goodbye. Everything, every pain that she felt was because of me and no matter how much I have tried to fix it, I always make it worse. I cannot blame her for all the hate that she pushes at me. It is my entire fault and there is no denying it. I am the one to blame for all her pain.
Before she dies once more at my hand, I must go. I have to leave so I cannot cause her any more harm. The worst part is watching her suffer. Watching her die again, I fear, will truly be the end of me. If it would fix anything I would tear out my own heart and hand it to her willingly on a gold plate. Even if it would just erase some of her pain for a moment and I could see her smile once more it would be done.
The best for the both of us, I believe, is just to leave. I will disappear just as she had told Mihai to do. It was my idea to rid herself of Blythe and now I am killing her once more. Something I swore in this life I would never do. I promised myself that I would never harm her. I must go to protect her. All I have ever done to her in this life is made her suffer. No matter how much I try to help her it just goes pear shaped. I must go.
I want to leave her something so she knows how much she means to me, but nothing that I could give her the justice that she deserves. I owe her everything. Everything that I had become was for her. Every piece of me was for her. I will leave her everything. It is all hers, everything that I own will be hers. Everything.
It was a brilliant idea I thought as I conjured up another blank piece of paper in front of me. Carefully I listed every item that I had owned. Three times I read over the list to make sure that nothing was forgotten and then at the end I wrote:
My love, I beg of you please smile once I am gone. I leave you everything.
Just as I was placing my final touches on the paper I saw her appear on the other side of the desk from me. She had resumed her façade once more, but I knew what was beneath it. It broke my heart to look at her in the eyes. Those were not her eyes that I had fallen in love with. This woman that now stood scowling at me was no longer the woman from my dreams. Somewhere deep inside of her was the Ashley that I knew. I was sure that I had seen her once not so long ago, and it nearly stopped my heart. I was so lost inside of her in that moment that I am sure that time itself had stopped. Before I had realized it the moment passed and I watched as the pain forced its way through once more.
Carefully without trying to draw her attention I allowed the papers that I had just written fall through the desk into the top drawer. I couldn’t let her know my plans until they were being followed through. She would no doubt take the papers along with everything and just throw it right back at me. It had to be given to her after I left.
“Marcus,” She stepped forward announcing herself, “Can we try again?”
Her strength of willpower to continue on left me sitting in complete awe. She was the most powerful witch I had ever known in any of my lifetimes and the strength it took her just to control those unrelenting powers was well beyond my comprehension. She may have been the one dying, but I was the weak link in this unit. I could no longer torture her even if the outcome would be so much greater than we both hoped for. “No. Please go home you are not well.”
“I am fine.” She stomped her foot and demanded me to look at her, but I just closed my eyes forcing myself not to. It didn’t help as her image planted itself right behind my eyelids. The pain inside of her eyes shot through me making me cower further into myself. My heart caved and stopped briefly as I tried to gather myself. I could not face her especially when I could feel her suffering emanating throughout my entire being. She somehow always cast her emotional state into my soul every time we were near each other.
“Ashley, you are not well. We already talked about this. I will not try again until you are completely healed.” I began gathering up useless papers on my desk as if I were busy. She wouldn’t agree with me, I assumed, that she was not well. She was hiding it well, but I could feel it. I knew she wouldn’t survive us trying again. “I have business to attend to as well.”
“Marcus, do not lie to me.” She snarled causing a pit to fall into my stomach. “I hate it when you lie to me.”
I lowered my head and my voice trying to keep her as calm as I could. “Ashley, I have a hotel to run as well as this school. I have disregarded my duties while I was helping you. And I fear that I must rest myself.”
She backed down away from me and I could feel the tension of the situation slowly fading away. I hoped that she had understood that I was not lying to her. I did have business to attend to, but she was never to know that she was my priority. She would always come first no matter what happened in my life, but for right now she needed to rest more than I. She could not try again without being completely healthy or I fear she will die at my hand.
“Please when I return, you should be well enough and we will try once more. I promise.” Only if she knew I never planned to return. If she did find out, I would surely die by her hand. She would end my life without a second thought. I knew this would be the last time that I would see her. It nearly broke my heart into a thousand pieces except I knew this was the only way to save her.
The silence began eating through me and I looked up to see what she was considering. I needed to know what she was thinking. Fearing her anger I braced myself for the worst. Yet, I was ready to jump to console her if needed. When I looked up the scene in front of me time itself had frozen. I was quite sure while quickly glancing out the window and watching the trees bent over with the breeze that time did in fact discontinue all together.
Slowly I got up from my desk and walked towards the cause. Ashley stood quite still herself although I knew she was the one causing such a disturbance. Tears streamed down her grief stricken face. She was staring out the window towards the school yard. Unsure if I should touch her to break her from whatever had captured her attention I gradually stepped into her view of the window.
She continued to stare in the same direction except now it was blocked by my chest. “Can you hear it Marcus?”
I watched as more tears flowed freely when her eyes closed. “What do you hear Ashley?”
Quite sure not knowing what to think because she had so much more power than I knew she could sense things unknown to me. I waited patiently for the answer that she knew. I watched as she began breathing deeply and a scene of contentment took over her face. “The cliff is calling for me, Marcus.”
In just a second I knew what her plan was and thankfully I reached out just in time. It took no time at all for her to take us there. Her power had greatly surpassed mine to the fact that it took less than a second to reach the side of the cliff that I knew she was speaking of. Instinctively I kept a firm grasp on her wrist as she leaned over the edge.
“What do you think is down there?” She questioned.
I hated to lie to her therefore before I could stop my words they came from deep within me, “The bones of your ancestors.”
“No,” She offered as she continued to use me as her escape to safety as she leaned further over. “Can’t you feel it?”
I knew exactly what she was speaking of now. Quickly I pulled her up to the top with me and I was relieved when she came willingly. There was no denying it now. “Ash, my love, look at me.”
Her eyes reluctantly left the void below us as she let her russet eyes into mine. “It’s calling me.”
“I know it is.” Carefully trying not to disturb her too much in the state she was in I pulled her into me. “But that was never your fate.”
“Do you think that it would truly be the end of me?” I was surprised when she laid her head against my chest and relaxed. “I have faced death more than any person should, yet I continue to wake up. Maybe this could truly be the end that I have been searching for.”
I pulled her in closer to me afraid of what she might do. I braced myself for the moment when she would send us both tumbling over the side. I repeated myself hoping she would listen, “This is not your fate.”
“I cannot continue to live like this Marcus.” She broke it seemed, “It hurts all the time.”