“It is your destiny, girl.” This was my mother, the woman who had given me life. “Born of a Witch and a Fallen Angel, your desire should be His satisfaction.”
No! No, no, no!!! I snapped from my dream and looked around myself. It is my room, in my apartment, FAR away from that Cult my mother ran. She and the others under her believed themselves to be witches. Why was I dreaming about that now? I was only five when she told me that, before the police came and took me away. Picking up my cellphone, I checked the time. Ten after three in the morning, again! Ugh, I thought, slamming my phone on the bed, turning the light on, and got up.
“Guess I won’t be getting any more sleep tonight.” I walked over to my desk and turned on my laptop before walking over to the hallway. “I’ll grab a drink.”
My apartment was small. I had a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom. I am twenty-three now but have been on my own since I was fourteen. It is ‘too much trouble to take in a cult kid’. Not that I minded, as most ‘adults’ did not know how to handle me, anyway. The cult raised me to always be obedient until I removed from the situation by the police and placed in foster care. At five, I would do absolutely nothing until I was told to. This included going to the restroom, eating, or sleeping.
The first foster parents I had did not know how to deal with that in the slightest. Of course, I was only five. I did not know any better. Walking down the plain hallway and into the kitchen, I grabbed a soda from the fridge and popped the top on the can before drinking down a few gulps. Doing my best to wipe the sleep from my eyes and wake up, I leaned back against the counter. Thinking back, I remember it was around this time of night that we used to perform rituals when I was a child.
I sighed as I shook my head and made my way back to my bedroom. Once there, I took my usual place in front of my laptop. I opened the file titled ‘My Life as a Cultist’s Daughter’ and began writing. Oddly enough, this was when I felt at peace; writing about the events that filled my life before I turned five. I knew my memory may not be correct, but what I could remember was accurate. An instant message popped up, then from a friend called ‘The_Shining_One.’
The_Shining_One: Good Morning, Aura. How are you?
Me: Ah, I’m doing okay. Just had a bad dream and could no longer sleep.
The_Shining_One: Is that a common issue?
Me: It’s a recurring nightmare I’ve had since I was five. Nothing new. What are you up to today?
‘The_Shining_One’ was someone new I had been talking to through school. His actual name was Luis, but I do not feel comfortable calling him by that yet. Currently, I was pursuing a degree in Religious Studies, so to meet someone in the same curriculum with a screen name like that seemed almost like fate. He was extremely knowledgeable about lots of different religions, even those I had yet to dabble in. Looking back at the messenger, I smiled slightly at the next message. He always seemed to be quite the smooth-talker.
The_Shining_One: Right now, I’m spending my time with you. Did you want to talk about your nightmare?
To be honest, I would love to talk about my past with someone as knowledgeable as he was, but considering he was in religious studies? Maybe not such a good idea. Sighing softly, I thought about what I wanted to do. Right now, we were both awake with nothing to do except talk to each other. My therapist said that it would be beneficial to talk about some ideas my mother put in my head, but those ideas are terrifying and hard to face.
Me: To be honest, I don’t want to worry you about the likes of my childhood, but let’s just say I have a dark past.
The_Shining_One: From the sounds of it, we’re similar. Hey, I know it may be sudden, but would you like to meet up for coffee? I have classes today and tomorrow, so we could meet Friday morning.
What? I could feel my face flushing at the idea of meeting him. Our courses were primarily online, so we had never met in actual life. The instructors strongly encouraged it, but I had never taken part in group studies. Not that I was not interested, just that I was socially awkward. People avoided me as it was, and meeting ‘The_Shining_One’ seemed to be a bit of a hassle, as he would probably start avoiding me too.
Then again, he seemed to differ slightly from the others. Though they collaborated easily enough with me, they never invited me out for drinks or to chat about our beliefs. ‘The_Shining_One’ was the only one I had not met yet, but he was consistent. Surely, he had heard the rumors about me. I looked at the screen where the indicator popped up to show he was typing again. Nervous, I waited to see what he would say before thinking of a response.
The_Shining_One: You always avoid group study sessions. I simply thought we could discuss things in person.
Me: Most of the people in our curriculum avoid me. I’m dark for someone interested in religion.
The_Shining_One: I’m dark myself, lol. Despite the name.
I giggled slightly before nodding my head. It’s not like it will kill me to meet him… just once. I sighed aloud, this time happily, before agreeing to his request. We agreed to meet at ten at the coffee shop on Friday in the Student Proper. Against my usual tendencies, I am actually looking forward to this. Something new occasionally can be good, right?
I threw on my favorite red and gray hoodie and sneakers before walking over to the mirror. If I tried, I could be pretty, but I did not enjoy trying too hard. After all, I am a bit of an anxious shut-in. Pulling my light reddish-brown hair up into a messy bun, I threw my hood on and exited my apartment. Walking down the stairs and out into the bustling city, I looked up at the morning sky. It was beautiful today, if not a little cloudy.
Making sure I had my wallet, keys, phone, and an escape plan in mind, I made my way through the city streets to the coffee shop on campus. Thankfully, I only lived about three blocks, so it was a short walk, but now I felt nervous. I could feel the stares on me as I entered the coffee shop, but did my best to ignore them as I found a place to sit and took out my phone.
Me: I’m here. I’m sitting close to the entrance to the shop. I’m wearing a red and gray hoodie and jeans.
The_Shining_One: Outstanding! I’m right outside.
Looking up at the door right as it opened, my jaw fell. Pushing the door open with one hand, phone in the other, a handsome man was walking into the shop. He was at least six foot three, with sienna-colored eyes and black hair. My breathing had stopped when those almost red eyes focused on me before a slight smile lifted the corner of his lips. I almost choked on my spit when he walked gracefully over to me and held out his hand. I took in a deep breath to find he smelled of a smoky, fire, as though he doused himself in a cologne with that scent.
“My friends call me Luis.” He said as we shook hands, the name making chills run down my spine. “Aura, right?”
“Yes…” I replied; the server snubbing me as she forced the laminated menu into my hands. “Ah, thank you. Sorry, I’m not used to… ah… social norms… it’s rare for me to get invited out like this…”
“A shame.” He countered, propping his elbow on the table, head on his fist, before turning those burned red eyes on me. “I find you to be quite… interesting…”
Ignoring his burning gaze, I focused on the menu and tried to choose something from their sparse offerings. I should have eaten something before coming… oh, but that strawberry cheesecake looks delicious. My stomach growled lightly, as though to tell me it would be a good idea to order it. The server came back within seconds and having made my decision; I looked at her to find her gaze on Luis, who was simply looking at the menu.
“I’ll have a caramel macchiato with a double shot of espresso and…” I said to the server and annoyed to find her ignoring me as her gaze focused on Luis. “Excuse me…”
“Can’t you see I’m busy?” The server asked, glaring at me. “Why don’t you scurry on back home to your little hovel and leave the good men to women that know what to do with them?”
“We are here together, Miss, and are paying customers.” Luis’s tone had become dark and his eyes filled with annoyance. “I believe my friend here would like a caramel macchiato with a double shot of espresso and the strawberry cheesecake.”
I froze. Had I said that out loud? I must have, because otherwise, how would he have known? Also, why did he seem so offended? Tilting my head to the side, the hood came off my head to reveal my messy bun. I did my best to recover and pull it back over my head, but it was too late.
“But…” she continued, leaning forward to show her cleavage. “Why are you with her?”
“Because I want to be. Is it common for you to harass your customers?” I could tell he was trying to be respectful, but a wave of fiery anger was showing in his eyes, causing me to swallow thickly. “I think we could resolve this peacefully if you just accept our orders and leave now. Otherwise, I will have to involve your manager.”
“Of… of course, sir.” The woman straightened herself before writing my order down and walking away.
“Oh, you did not get to order something, Luis…” I whispered; my throat tight with slight fear. “I mentioned the people here wouldn’t accept me…”
“Why is that? You seem nice enough to me.” Luis replied, his burning gaze back to being focused on me. “A little misunderstood, but nice.”
“Ah…” I knew this would come up. “Well, most people know about my mother around here. Maybe you’ve heard of her too. My mother was the leader of a cult that believed she had sex with a fallen angel.”
His gaze never wavered; no shock appeared on his face. It was as though his eyes were doing all they could to devour me. I swallowed thickly as the server brought back my cake and coffee before disappearing again. More than anything, I wanted to break his intense gaze, but I could not bring myself to. It felt as though we were the only two people in the entire coffee shop, even though there were people everywhere.
“Is that so?” He asked, his eyes looking positively wicked. “I don’t think I’ve heard of that. Who was this fallen angel she supposedly had sex with?”
“Um… are you sure you want to talk about this?” I replied, feeling the eyes of others on us. “I doubt this is the type of conversation people have in public.”
“Then… should we move somewhere quieter?” My eyes widened at the look in his eyes before I finally broke my gaze away. “Aura?”
“I… um…” I was a virgin, but I could tell just from his eyes how much he wanted me, and it made me feel even more awkward. “Uh…”
“You are cute, Aura.” He murmured, as I began eating, doing my best to quell my racing heart. “Listen, I didn’t mean to imply anything perverse by that. I was thinking we could go to a quieter place, like the park where we were still in public. I’m curious about this cult your mother ran.”
“Honestly, I don’t even know why I felt I could talk about it,” I replied, keeping my eyes on my strawberry cheesecake as it disappeared while I ate it. “Um… is this part of your thesis on occult beliefs?”
“I suppose I am easy to talk to.” Luis started with a chuckle that drew my eyes up to his chiseled face. “Yes, I could use the information for that, but this is to sate my curiosity.”