The castle was draped in black. There was no escaping the fact that the castle was in mourning. Everywhere people went they were reminded of the fact that one of the members of the family had died.
Eveline was sitting on a swinging bench underneath her favorite oak tree. She leaned back, and let the sun warm her face as she gently pushed the swing back and forth with her foot. She needed to get away from it all. Her sense of loss and guilt was overwhelming. It was almost a physical pain.
As she thought about it, the grief she was feeling actually started causing her physical pain. It felt like a load of hot bricks were rolling around in her stomach, and she felt like a two ton boulder had fallen onto her shoulders.
She leaned forward and wrapped her arms around her abdomen. The pain was so intense she started seeing colorful spots rolling around in her vision. The spots grew and slowly blurred together, until she couldn’t see anything else.
She could hear people in the distance. They were talking in rapid, hushed voices. As they came closer, Eveline was able to hear bits and pieces of what they were saying to each other.
“How is the plan?”
“Everything’s fine. The problem has been taken care of.”
“You know what to do.”
The voices once again moved away, and Eveline was left to ponder what had been said in colorful silence.
Slowly, the colors started shrinking and getting smaller and smaller until they evaporated from her view. The weight on her shoulders seemed to ease, and the pain in her stomach started diminishing. Eveline was in a hazy fog. She felt as limp as a wet noodle as she floated around in nothingness.
As time progressed, Eveline’s pain became more and more frequent and more intense each time they happened. There were days when they left her incapacitated and unable to do anything else for the rest of the day. With each time this happened she became weaker and weaker.
“Hey,” Harper said, coming up and sitting on the couch, with her knees up to her chest, “Are you alright?”
“Yeah,” Eveline said, sitting up on the couch, “I’m fine.”
“Are you sure? You look a little pale,” Harper said, concern evident in her voice, “And I don’t know, you just haven’t seemed like yourself since Serephina died.”
“I’m fine,” Eveline said, brushing it aside, “I’ve just had a lot on my mind.”
“Listen,” Harper said, putting her hand on Eveline’s arm, “I know you are worried about what is going on with your family, and you are upset about what happened to Serephina. You feel guilty that you weren’t there in time to keep her from jumping, but,” Harper said, looking seriously into Eveline’s face, “You did what you could. You tried, and nobody could ask any more of you.”
Eveline broke eye contact with Harper and looked down at her shaking hands.
“You can’t let this upset you so much that your health suffers because of it,” Harper said, “Why don’t you try talking about it?”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Eveline said, curling herself up into a ball.
“Come on. I’ve known you all my life. We practically grew up with each other. I know when something is bothering you,” Harper said, patting Eveline’s knee and adjusting herself so she was more comfortable, “Now, what’s wrong.”
Eveline sighed, she knew that she wasn’t going to get any rest from Harper until Eveline told her all about what was going on. Eveline hesitantly started talking about what happened. Once she got started the whole story spilled out of her mouth. She couldn’t keep it in any longer.
“That’s insane,” Harper said once Eveline finished talking.
“I know,” Eveline said, “But it’s true.”
“You aren’t seriously going to go through with this?” Harper paused, “Are you?”
“Of course I am. I have to.”
“No, you don’t. You don’t HAVE to do any of this. Just stop it, please,” Harper pleaded.
“I can’t stop. I HAVE to do this,” Eveline said, her eyes filling with tears, “My relationship with my parents may be a little strained.”
“A LITTLE strained?” Harper said, like she was crazy, “You were sent away when you were five. You see them maybe once or twice a year in some little out of the way castle. This is the first time they have ever asked you here, and it wasn’t even their idea. They would have kept you in the dark if it hadn’t been for Elaine. You call that a LITTLE strained?”
“Alright,” Eveline jumped in, “I get it. I don’t have a relationship with my parents, but I do have a decent relationship with my sisters, and what’s happening is happening to my sisters, not my parents,” tears were streaming down her face, “I can’t have any more of my sisters die when I have a way to stop it.”
Harper leaned in, and they embraced, tears falling down their faces and onto each other’s shoulders.
“I’m scared,” Harper said, “I don’t want to lose you, I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I’m scared too,” Eveline admitted, “I have no idea what will happen if I go through with this, but I’m also a part of this family. What is happening to my sister’s will happen to me too, and then this thing will just go on indefinitely in a never ending cycle.”
“I guess this is just a loose, loose situation.”
“I guess so.”
They were curled up silently on the ends of the couch. There was nothing to say that hadn’t already been said. Eveline had to do what she had to do.