I scrambled to meet mother at the top of the staircase. Silently, she took my hand with surprising gentleness and led me to my grandmother’s room. I had never been sucker punched before, but I assume that the pain of the punch is miniscule in comparison to the pain of being caught off guard. I felt like a vacuum had been shoved in my lungs and sucked out all the oxygen in me. My grandmother lay on her bed with her hands resting by her sides. I could almost believe that she was asleep if it wasn’t for the unnerving tension in the room. My mother collapsed to her knees and heaved sobs that shook her thin body. My heels snagged on the plush carpet as I stumbled towards my grandmothers’ body. I touched her thin hands; they were still warm, but there was no pulse.
“Wake up” I whispered through my tears. “Nani, please wake up.” I shook her frail shoulders gently, but she eyes remained closed. “Please don’t leave me alone.” I buried my head into the crook of her neck and all my strength left my body. The bed shuddered under the force of my cries.
“I found her like this, not twenty minutes ago.” Jaya explained. She had taken a seat beside me and was rubbing soothing circles on my back. “Her pill bottle was open, but she never takes her pills without my supervision.”
There was a knock at the door and the last person I wanted to be in the same room with spoke. “Everyone has left the premises Dr. Roy. I saw no one of questionable character at the party.” I slowly lifted my head up from my grandmother’s shoulder. I wiped the tears from my face and turned to glare at Crowley.
“You.” I snarled. I stood on my shaky feet like a newborn deer. “How dare you come in this house?” Crowley didn’t even have the decency to look ashamed. “You killed her, didn’t you?” I pointed a boney finger at the large man. “You should crawl back into the hole where you came from you cockroach.” I lunged for his thick neck. I dug my nails so deep into his pink skin that wine colored blood dripped onto the white carpet. I jabbed him in this jaw causing him to grunt in surprise. My head pounded in rage at the audacity of this man. No, he wasn’t a man, he was a spineless, cowardly snake. He wrapped his thick arms around me. I thought he would snap me in half, but as if I was a china doll he tenderly lifted me up and put me down on a chair. His face registered no anger. His eyes were filled with an emotion much worse. “Don’t you pity me!” I was screaming my throat raw, but I didn’t care. If I had to tear my own body apart to make this man suffer I would. His face was so close to mine that I could see his pulse throbbing in his veins. “You are a pathetic excuse for a man.” I growled. “You’re a liar and a murderer. I saw you kill an innocent woman with my own eyes.” Then I slapped him sharply across his perfect face leaving a nasty souvenir on his cheek. I expected him to wrap his meaty hands around my neck, but instead he whispered to me.
“I didn’t kill her Myra and I didn’t do this Myra.” His blue eyes pleaded with me. I lifted my hand up to give him a matching scar on his other cheek, when my father grabbed my hand. My father’s under eyes were dark and baggy. He shook his head.
“He didn’t do this Myra.” His eyes drifted to my mother who slumped against the wall. She looked like a deflated balloon. Her breathing was haggard. Her ashen face was alien to me. Never had I seen my mother so broken.
Regardless of what happens tonight, don’t be late. His imperious face swam in my vision. His forest green eyes popping against his snow skin. “The Chancellor…” I trailed off. Crowley left my side and began to inspect my grandmother’s body. I studied him for any sign of malicious intent, but he exuded nothing more than sober grief.
“This is a warning. They struck a blow on a night that was significant for your family and they made sure to strike where the wound would bleed the most.” Crowley’s gravelly voice barley reached my ears. He was hunched over the night stand where the pills were littered across the table. “Suicide is the ultimate sign of weakness. Any surviving family members are judged based on the actions of the deceased. It is a sign of weakness, of mental instability, of impurity. They are tarnishing your family’s name.” My mother stood up with great difficulty. She began to remove her jewelry. Her trembling hands couldn’t undo her necklace, so I got up to help her. My mother was covered in cold sweat that stubbornly clung to her fair skin. “They sensed a threat, so they attempted to seal the cracks in the system.” Crowley turned to face us. “Myra, what did he say to you?” I felt like someone had stuck me in the freezer. My hands and feet turned to ice and my body became numb.
“He taunted me about Evan Stewart.” The words coming out of my mouth tasted like expired milk. “He wanted to know more about the woman you killed this morning. He told me to report to the genomics laboratory tomorrow, regardless of what happened tonight.” My mother pulled me into her embrace. I wish I could stay there and remain ignorant to anything outside of her reassuring hug.
“Then that is what you must do.” Her voice was hoarse. She pulled away from me and went to stand by my father who was slouched over in a chair. Fuzzy spots fluttered in my gaze and I leaned my head back against the cool wall.
A large hand enveloped mine and steadied me. “Myra, they came after your family because of the sympathy you showed toward Evan Stewart, a man who was not what he claimed to be. And because of the Tainted woman. You were the only one empathized with her.” I tensed my hands, ready to claw into him again. He noticed my body stiffen and let go of my hand. “Regardless of what you think you know about me Myra, I did not speak a word of anything I saw. I would never hurt you or your family.”
“Why the hell do you care so much? You’ve been harassing me for as long as I can remember, you pig” I spat. He winced at my sharp words. “I have no reason to believe your intentions to be good.” I stepped so close to him that I could see flecks of gold in his eyes. “I loathe the air you breathe.”
“Myra, my girl” My father’s shattered voice broke through my rage. “Whatever you believe this man to be, I know his true nature.” He glanced at my mother, who quickly looked at the ground. “We don’t have much time, but you must trust us my dear.”
My heart sunk in despair. “How can you say that father? Do you know what this man is capable of? What vile words he has said to me?” Just as I thought my tear ducts had completely drain, a fresh batch began to cloud my vision.
“Myra” My mother cleaned her face free of her tears. “Please, trust us. We are your parents and we will not lead you astray. Tomorrow it is imperative that you be on time. Do not show them that you have lost.”
Her words made no sense to me. I couldn’t rationalize what anyone was saying to me. My eyes drifted back to my grandmother’s body. “I killed Nani” I sobbed, “she is gone because of me.” My body was convulsing as if I had gotten electrocuted by 1000 volts of pure agony. Mother wrapped me in her arms again and I breathed in her familiar Givenchy perfume.
“My child, you did no such thing.” She began to massage my aching head. “She would not want to see you like this. She would want you to be strong and fight back. This cannot break you Myra.” Mother wiped away my tears with her soft fingers and pushed my hair out of my face. “Now, you go to sleep. Jaya will fix you something to help with your headache.” She kissed my forehead. “I must see to the Greys downstairs; make sure they clean properly.” She stopped in the door way and turned back to address Crowley. “I expect you will take good care of her.” He placed his hands behind his back and straightened himself to his full height.
“As I always do.” I had no idea if they were talking about me or my grandmother. Enforcers did overlook the cremation of bodies. My mother nodded in satisfaction and beckoned for my father to follow her. With a deep sigh he struggled out of his chair. He gently kissed my head before attending to my mother.