Chapter 29: Nothing
Unravel Him Playlist on Spotify.
Song; (Message to bears- You are a memory) & (Evolving sound- Death Rattle)
There’s a profound silence that we share for many, many minutes.
In that silence, neither of us move.
In that silence, neither of us speak.
But then she does.
“I didn’t...” Swallowing hard, she clears her throat. “I didn’t do anything,”
I want to believe her.
I want to pretend I didn’t see it.
But how can I?
The tattoo is visible under the light, the design a horrific reminder of what I saw earlier tonight.
Stepping further into the room, I feel her stare on me.
I feel her confusion, her dread, her helplessness of being unable to understand what her daughter is saying.
“Please say something,” She begs, terrified. “Tell me what’s wrong so I can fix it.”
How can she fix it?
How can she fix what’s already broken?
“Was it all fake?” I ask, my voice soft.
And then it’s my turn to be afraid. It’s my turn to hold my breath.
I can’t help but think back about my past.
I can’t help but think back about the time when I had no parents.
I didn’t want that, I just got her back.
I just got her back and I’m scared to lose her again.
“Did you wanted me back as a daughter?”
She froze, dark eyes immobilized in gripping, stacking fear. “I-I don’t understand, of course I wanted you back, why would you think that?”
Looking down at my fingers, I watch the dried blood in silence, feeling something heavy settle on my shoulders as my mind rebounded back to that suffocating place.
Sweet and spicy.
Rows of doors.
Girls, ages young and old.
“Is that blood?” Veronica attempts to reach for me but I leaned back, not wanting her anywhere close.
I can tell she’s hurt by my coldness.
But what could I do, when everything I’ve ever known, has turned against me?
The block in my throat weighed heavier and heavier, icy paralyzing fear has clouded my senses.
Get her to tell you the truth.
But I didn’t want too.
I didn’t, want her to tell the truth.
Because I didn’t want to hear it.
I didn’t want to know.
There’s this, tiny part of me, an almost childish voice at the back of my head that says I shouldn’t ask.
I should just continue believing in what I want to believe.
But this is reality.
I’m not a child anymore.
I’m an adult.
“Tell me the truth,” I’m holding back the tears. I’m holding back an outburst that will destroy me from the inside out.
Get her to tell you the truth.
It’s the only way.
The only way to let go.
“Tell me, the truth, Mom.”
“The truth..?” She frowns, confused and frightened.
She knows something is wrong.
She knows whatever that hangs in the balance between us, is seconds away from snapping.
I raise my index finger and point at the mark on her forearm.
Time seems to slow as she follows her gaze to what I’m pointing at.
The air around us shriveled, turning cold and ignorant.
The next time she raises her head, I see the glimmer.
Then I know it’s real.
This isn’t a bad dream.
It’s a fucking nightmare.
Without a doubt, I know she understands that I was the one that broke into her workplace.
I was the one that caused the emergency.
All the signs were there.
Now there's nothing left but to piece it together.
“This is nothing,” Dropping the files, she tugged the sweater down further onto her arm in hopes of hiding what I’ve already seen. “Vanessa, this is nothing. It’s nothing, I swear.”
But it wasn’t nothing.
It wasn’t nothing at all.
I don’t answer her.
I don’t even look at her.
A hurricane of heartbreak rose from within the depths of my soul. It churned and churned, twisting a cut so deep I could scarcely breath.
“Baby girl...” She states, voice hard, wavering from both fear and her own remorse.
Then, slowly, Veronica’s dark eyes began to water with tears.
It cascades down her eyes, slipping further across her cheeks.
“How could you..?” I finally manage to say, the edge of my tone on the verge of collapsing. “How could you do this?”
The force of my voice is not loud but the pain,
God, the pain...
My own sewn heart broke at the seams.
There was no way out.
There was no way out for me.
No matter how bad, how terrible, how harsh everything has hit me, I have never once given up.
But now... now, I’d do anything, anything, to close my eyes and forget.
“Those girls-” I held my hand out and felt tears gather in my eyes, yet refused to let them fall. “Those girls, I saw them. They were beaten, abused, tortured...”
Wendy’s screams rang in my ears and I shut my eyes, willing the pain away.
But it doesn’t.
It doesn’t go away.
It has taken a hold of me.
It has sunk its claws, deep into my lungs with no intention of letting go.
This is a dream. It’s a dream. Wake up.
“Vanessa...” Veronica walks forward and reaches for me, her gentle hands on my shoulders. “I can explain, let me explain okay?”
The tears keep coming.
The pain keeps rising.
Not again, not again, please.
“Y-You don’t know... this job... it’s good...” She nods vigorously, delusional and on the verge of hysteria. “It’s good for me, for us. The money... we have more money then we ever needed... We don’t have to worry about anything anymore.”
It was always about the fucking, money.
I rip her arms off me and stalked towards the kitchen counter, palms splayed out before me and I’m sobbing.
I’m sobbing because this will never end.
I’m sobbing because I trusted her.
I’m sobbing because I’m in pain and she put me here.
She put me here.
“Don’t you see?” She pleads, loudly. “I’m doing this for you! I’m doing this for you so I can support you! So I can be the mother you need!”
I sobbed louder, finally coming undone.
All those promises.
All those smiles.
All those moments, I believed she was here, she was home, with me.
I told her my story.
I told her my past.
I told her my feelings.
I told her... everything.
“Those girls... they’re nobody. We’re helping them get off the streets. We made sure they didn’t have families, no one will ever come looking-”
“Stop it, stop it!” I shout, whipping around to face her as the tears continued to fall. “I don’t want to hear it! I don’t want to hear what you’ve done!”
“This is what I know, Vanessa!” She yells back, desperate for someone, anyone, to understand her. “After you left me, I had no one! There was no one I could turn to, I was alone...”
Her confession catches me off guard.
I fall silent and for the first time in years, I see it.
The broken woman underneath the mask she wore everyday.
She hadn’t disappeared.
She was still there.
Still waiting for a chance for people to help her.
“All these years...” She mumbled, glancing down at her trembling hands. “The drugs, alcohol, sex... it didn’t mean anything... Nothing, could stop the ache, in my heart for what you’re father did.”
Veronica lowers her palms and locks eyes with me.
But instead of seeing the familiar warmth, the familiar earnest love.
All I saw... was nothing.
Bleak, empty, nothing.
“You left me, Vanessa...” She whispers brokenly, a dark shadow towered over her expression. “You left me on that sidewalk. You walked away from me.”
“I had too.” I clenched my fists and tried to keep myself at bay.
But it’s breaking out on its own.
It wants nothing more but to end it.
“I’m you’re mother... I gave birth to you, I raised you and you... you, left me...”
Yes, I did leave her.
I left her to fend for herself.
I didn’t contact her.
I didn’t care if she died.
I didn’t care if she lived.
I didn’t care at all.
Sniffling hard, I clutch my wrists together, nails digging hard onto the skin. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help you. I’m sorry, I left you by yourself.”
This is my fault. All of it.
“If I hadn’t leave, you wouldn’t have done this. If I hadn’t leave, you wouldn’t have thrown yourself into everything possible to make the pain go away.”
She suffered for years.
I knew she suffered.
I didn’t help then.
I could help her now.
“But don’t you see?” Veronica places her hands on my shoulders and draws me close, eyes alight in joy. “Don’t you see, we can work together, we can help each other, we won’t ever be alone again! ”
“No,” I shake my head, raising my own hands to hold her. “This has to stop. Whatever you’re doing at Esora’s Arts, you need to come clean. I’ll get you the help you need-”
“I don’t need help!” She snaps, releasing me quickly.
Veronica paces the length of the room, hands tugging her red hair with extreme force.
“No! I don’t need help! I need you, don’t you get it? I need you, so don't-” She halts, hands pressed to her chest. "Don't leave me alone again, okay?”
I recognized her desperation.
I recognized her fear.
The fear of being alone.
The fear of being lost.
And I’m so scared, I’m so scared that I can no longer help her.
I am so scared that I’m too late.
I’m so scared that she’s too far gone.
“With you’re title in the underground, we could use this to our advantage, Vanessa!” She picks up the files she had dropped and clumsily threw them in my direction.
“Think about what we can do! We can over turn Esora! I have the files here that we’ll give the police! By the time they take them down, we’ll have everything!
“Mom, let me help you.” I stepped forward, hope in my voice as I held out my hand. “Don’t lose me when I’ve only just gotten you back.”
“No! You’ll see! You’ll see, everything will fall into place! Just wait!”
She continues to throw, paper after paper, file after file, searching for something that I don’t understand.
My surroundings blurred rapidly into one line.
Sight, sound, smell.
Then it’s too much, it's too much!
Everything, is piling up.
Everything, is flooding my senses.
The ringing returns full force and I clutch my hands to my ears, trying in vain to block it out.
Block it out.
Block it out.
“L-Looks... like you can’t... trust everybody...”
“If you can’t even follow a simple instruction, how the hell am I supposed to believe whatever you say anymore?”
“I’m doing this for you! I’m doing this for you so I can support you! So I can be the mother you need!”
“You’re not bad, Vanessa. I know you’re not.”
But I am.
I am bad.
I hurt Ravana.
I hurt Travis.
I hurt my Dad.
I hurt Veronica.
“Stop it.” The memories. The feelings. The confusion. The fear. “Stop it, please.”
I’m not a good person.
I hurt people.
I hurt, people.
But that’s the problem isn’t it?
I acknowledge, that I hurt people.
I acknowledge, that I do this.
But I don’t stop.
Deep down inside,
I don’t want too.
Travis was right.
I'm not being controlled.
This is me.
I want this.
The papers fall by my feet in grim silence as Veronica’s actions go mute.
A deep, yawning void has opened up in my chest.
I’m sinking further into oblivion.
The sun is no where to be found.
A piece of paper flicked over my knee, capturing my attention.
The Graymoore symbol is etched on it, David’s signature at the very bottom.
I recognized that handwriting anywhere.
NorthVille General Hospital.
Patient room 223: Lane, MooreFell Ethan
Next Transaction: xx/xx/xxxx
It only takes a second as the haze disappears, the ringing reduced to a buzz at the back of my head.
I reached for it, fingers grasping the edges.
“What is this?”
It must have been the tone, or something else.
But from when she didn't hear me before, she heard me now.
Veronica looks up, face flushed. She takes a second to scan my face before looking at the piece of paper I held.
There’s only a split nano-second before she instantly paled.
“That’s... that’s nothing.”
“Nothing?” Clutching the paper, I re-stand to my feet. “Ethan’s name, is on this, what do you mean, nothing?”
She scrambles to get it away from me, but I quickly pull it back just before she could.
“That doesn’t belong to you-”
“And it belongs to you?” I frowned at her, well aware that something is wrong. Something is terribly wrong. “Why do you have this? This is an official statement, how the hell did you get you’re hands on it?”
“It’s a copy.” She mutters, nervously wringing her hands back and forth. “I got it from someone.”
I hear the edge in her tone.
She stole it.
Why would she do that?
The document is basic, relaying information on Graymoore and Ethan, however my basic information is also written down on it just above David’s signature.
Ethan had put me down as;
The date on the time stamp above says it was from 3 months ago.
Around the same time, Veronica came to the hospital to see me.
I had always wondered how she found me but thought it was only a coincidence.
But now that I see this...
I wasn’t so sure.
The copy I held, had my new address, my new location and even where I schooled.
So she found me.
But it wasn’t by accident.
“Why do you have this?” The tone of my voice had taken a dangerous turn.
Earlier subdued storm was rising on the horizon, threatening to take control of me.
“I...” She blinks and stutters to respond. “I was trying to find you... and Ethan, Ethan was the only one who knew where you were,”
I raise my brows and pinned her down with a terrifying glare, forcing her to continue.
“H-He won’t tell me where you were. I tried and tried but he just, won’t tell me-”
"What did you do?"
"What I had too!" She snaps, nails digging hard onto her temple.
Something in her eyes swirled.
Like the beginning of a downward spiral.
It felt foreign. Alien. Wicked.
"Ethan... wouldn't, give you, up." She mutters under her breath a sick, maddening smile on her face. "No matter what I did, no matter what, I said. HE WOULDN'T GIVE YOU UP!"
Then I see it.
What he probably did too.
“It’s because he knew what you were doing.”
The words are silent as they come out of my mouth.
An emboldening realization that hits me hard.
Veronica may have stopped all the bad habits but she had found solace in something else.
Solace in selling girls.
“Ethan didn’t want you anywhere near me.”
“He had no right!” She growls, outraged. “I’m you’re mother! I’m you’re only living, parent!”
“That’s why he wanted David as my Guardian.” Breathing heavily, I feel the room spin, the edges of my vision going slack. “Because you were trying to find me and... he... he...”
How can this be?
But when Veronica no longer responds, I know my assumptions are correct.
Oh my god Ethan.
I thought you had washed you’re hands off me.
I thought you had given up.
But you were only protecting me.
It must have hurt him being unable to contact me. It must have made him miserable when the only way he could stop Veronica was to get me out of his life.
God, what did you do, Ethan?
“Well he failed.” Veronica spits venomously.
“Ethan doesn’t love you, Vanessa. I do, I’m you’re mother, I love you for who you are!” She desperately clasp my face to hers, dark eyes burning bright in resolution.
“We can do this together! We don’t need Ethan, we don’t need anyone else!”
Something simmered at the bottom of my abdomen.
Hot, fiery liquid, climbed up my chest, sinking deep into my spine.
“I have it all figured out you see,” She releases me and raises her hands high in the air as though God himself was reaching down to her.
“I couldn’t believe my luck, when I realized you had roped the heirs of both Graymoore and BourneFell, it was perfect!”
Their names sent a lightning bolt straight to my hazy mind, awakening a slumbering part of myself that willed itself to fight back. "Don't, bring them into this."
“Of course, of course!" She nods vigorously, eyes alight in formidable glory. "It took me a bit of time to realized who you were with, but I did it... I did it you see?”
“What are you talking about?” I demanded.
“Baby girl, we need to secure you’re future.” She explains seriously, eyes crazed, hands on her hips.
“An unplanned baby would benefit the both of us,”
Oh my god.
Stunned, I blinked rapidly, unable to catch up with what she just confessed to doing.
I feel the rising panic.
I feel the gripping cold fear.
“What... What have you done?”
“You should thank me,” She closes her eyes and clasp her hand to her neck. “I switched out you’re pills so you’ll be ovulating the next time you sleep with him.”
Bile is threatening to come out of my mouth and I quickly turned, running quickly to the sink where I heaved.
I gagged and gagged, nothing comes out.
Disgust has riddled me silent.
Shock has frozen my veins.
I wasn’t ready for a baby.
Thomas isn’t ready for a baby.
I stayed there, at the sink, the running water bringing no relief as my mind ran it’s course.
This was her goal.
All this time.
She never loved me.
She never will.
“Ethan doesn’t love you, Vanessa. I do, I’m you’re mother, I love you for who you are!”
“Baby girl, we need to secure you’re future.”
“An unplanned baby would benefit the both of us,”
She lied to me.
She used me.
She used Ethan.
The weight of what I thought mulled over me, completely overturning everything else.
I stared at my fingers, watching the blood swirl down the drain. “You... used me.”
The paper I held crumbled to nothing. “You never wanted me back. You only wanted me because of what I can achieve.”
“That’s not true.” She defends, sounding incredibly childish.
My nails dug into my palms, embedding a grip so tight, I felt fresh cuts line across the skin.
You know you can.
I turned off the sink, keeping my back to her as the steady dripping of water tapped across metal.
So do it.
Reaching for the dagger in my jacket, I barely paused for a breath as I unlatched the bloody blade, making it gleam in the white light of the kitchen.
Twisting around, I bring the knife forward, body poised and without warning, I've sliced the blade clean across her left arm, drawing blood.
“What...” She recoils and looks down at the dripping wound, stunned and horrified.
There's a deafening pause.
“What are you doing?”
Hurt her more.
Veronica back tracks and removes herself from the kitchen so she could escape to the living room.
“Vanessa, this is crazy, you don't know what you're doing!"
I watch her quietly through the bar top before gliding around the counter so I blocked her only way of escape.
“Put, the knife down,” She instructs, voice heavy with blinding fear.
No longer is she the woman who threatened to take control off my life.
She doesn’t mean anything to me.
“Travis screamed when I drew his skin,” I explained, voice strangely hoarse as I tilted the dagger so she could see the engraving. “Look familiar, Mom?”
The back of her knees hit the couch and she stumbles, quickly scrambling upwards to put more distance between us as the wound became profoundly clear.
“I was only doing what’s best for you!”
“What’s best for me?” Cracking my neck, I fisted the dagger to my side and circled the living room so she’s force against the bar.
“Did you say that to all the girls you sold? Did you say that, when you switched out my pills?”
Veronica whips her head towards the door before she takes off running, throwing vase and furniture aside.
I watch her from where I stood as she tries to retch the door open only to fail when it didn’t give way.
Holding out the key in between my thumb and forefinger, I jingled it out loud.
“Looking for something?”
She breaths heavily and looks back at me, hands splayed backwards against the surface door.
I threw the key to the far side of the room, where the stairs meet so it’s directly in the middle of where we stood.
“Let’s play a game. If you get the key, I’ll leave you alone. If you don’t? Well...”
Veronica surrenders two hands, one dripping blood all across the floor and approaches the living room with steely resolve. “Baby girl, this is what I mean. I love you for who you are, I don’t want you to change-”
“Doesn’t change the fact that if I get the key, you won’t leave the Apartment.” I cut her off, deter mid to end the chase of cat and mouse.
She pales at my declaration.
There was no way out.
Not for her.
On command, she runs for the key and throws herself onto the stairs. When she finally has a hold on it, she lets out a shaky exhale before pulling herself up.
I’m directly behind her, the next time she turns around and I’m grinning at how easy she fell for it.
She freezes, body locked in a state of shock.
I smiled. “You should have taken you’re chances breaking the door open.”
Grabbing her hair, I kicked her right knee, sending her kneeling across the marble.
She lets out a choked shock before I twisted us around and slammed her head against the wall.
I heard a satisfying crack as something broke but didn’t dwell on that as I proceeded to drag her across the living room, holding her hair, all the while as she screamed, kicking and grabbing anything she could find.
The living room was now a war zone.
Glass and random furniture had been tossed around followed by numerous picture frames, all broken and shattered.
It's a welcoming sight to what was once a beautiful home.
This was never a home.
Releasing her just beneath the chandelier, I sat astride her and put my full weight on her chest, keeping her trapped.
“You wanted to use my title?” I demanded, face inches from hers. “You wanted to use the power I have over the Underground?”
She raises her hands and tries to claw at my thighs but I pin her shoulders with my knees, earning a subtle whimper as she grows weak.
Veronica wasn’t a fighter.
She had no experience fighting in the Ring.
Travis could hold on longer then her because of what he does.
It was going to be so easy, breaking her.
“I...” She grunts, blood streaming down the center of her forehead. “I... love you... you’re my daughter... I only... wanted what’s best for you...”
A deep, maddening laughter resounded out of my throat, echoing the lifeless apartment.
“No, you only wanted to control me and you failed.” Taking the dagger, I situated it directly above her eyebrow.
Her eyes widen, terrified.
I smiled. “Beg,”
The dagger dug into her skin and she trashed, screaming for help as I held no mercy.
Hurt her more.
Gripping the dagger tighter, I forced it downwards, towards her right eye.
“Vanessa, Vanessa, please! Please, let me go! Let me go!”
I hit her eye lash, then her eye socket.
“Let me go! Let me go, please!"
Blood squirted out, tainting half my face.
"N-NO! WAIT! WAIT, PLEASE!"
There was a terrifying scream, a scream so loud then it raises hair at the back of my neck, bringing joy to my soul.
Hurt her more.
“P-Please...” Her fingers managed to reach for my elbow, weak, no longer having the strength to stay upright.
“You lied to me.” I snarled. “I trusted you and you came into my life only to break my heart again. You made me love you,”
There was a choking garbled, her weak fingers grasp the handle of the dagger digging into her eye.
“You should have stayed away. You should have listened to Ethan and stayed, away.”
In a move that confused me, Veronica lets go and twitches beneath me, lips opening and closing like a gaping fish. “He... He...”
I relaxed pressure on the dagger, brows raised at her attempt in trying to speak.
“Ethan...” She chokes, her tears bloody. “Ethan is... sick...”
“He’s very... sick.”