Awake, page 9
"I'm going to Scarlett's, I'll see you later."
He nodded, already engrossed in the contents of the fridge.
Walking to Scarlett's at a faster pace than I usually did, I contemplated what she would do when she found out. Would she believe Eternal Light like Fiona and Donald said? She was their daughter after all. Or would she hate us all, especially me?
Marissa answered the door and sent me up to Scarlett's room, telling me yet again to leave the door open. We always did, but she insisted on relaying the rule every time.
Her door was open, and she was lying on her stomach on her bed, facing away reading a new book. Her chin was resting on her hands, and her legs were in the air. Her hair was still damp from a shower, but she'd not even taken the time to dry it before delving into another fictional land.
I watched her for a minute, carefree with everything ahead of her. Was eternal life worth sacrificing this girl for? Even if we waited another four years, give her one more cycle, to perform the sacrifice it still wasn't enough time for her to properly live this life.
I sighed, and she looked over her shoulder, smiling as her eyes landed on mine. "Hey," she said, sitting up. "I didn't think you were coming until later or at all."
Walking in, I sat on the bed and replied, "Couldn't wait and of course I was coming. I'm sorry."
She smiled. "I'm sorry, too."
"Did you get done what you wanted?"
"No. Can we just relax, please?"
"That sounds perfect. I don't want to argue, I just want to spend time with the girl I love."
"That's sweet," she replied, leaning over for a kiss. "I'll put a movie on."
We got into our usual film watching position - me lying against the pillows and cushions and her lying against my chest with her legs between mine. It was sitting like this that had started the doubt.
THERE WAS NOTHING left to try. What else could I do? It was so hurtful knowing that my parents had the answers.
I could hear them talking in the kitchen, Jeremy was telling them something about extra football practice now he'd made the university team. Jer taught me to kick a ball before I could walk, apparently. Was that a lie, too?
Then I heard Noah laugh. No one had told me he was here. I walked in, and he immediately looked up and smiled. I didn't return it. How could Mum and Dad carry on as normal, laughing and joking around when they were so obviously lying to me? I didn't understand how they could look me in the eye but they did every single day, and that hurt more than anything.
Neither of them cared that I was having a hard time dealing with my flashbacks...or dreams...or whatever they were. They didn't put aside how difficult it was to help me. Wasn't that what you were supposed to do for your child?
Something inside me snapped and boiled over. I couldn't stand pretending anymore. They were telling me now, or I was getting on the first bus to my grandparent's house.
"Are you alright?" Mum asked.
I shook my head. "No. What's going on? I'm sick of not knowing what happened, and I'm sick of you lying to me. I know that Evelyn isn't a bloody doll, so tell me the truth." Mum gripped Dad's hand, her face ashen as if she'd seen a ghost. Fear gripped me. "Stop hiding things and tell me what's going on."
"Sweetheart..." Mum said.
"No! Don't do that anymore. I deserve the truth and you know I do. This isn't fair."
"She's right," Dad said, eyes glazed with tears. "It's time she knew the truth. We can't continue doing this, Marissa. We always said if she remembered we would help her through, it shouldn't be different for part memories. Sit down, Scarlett."
I did as he said and carried myself to a chair with shaking legs. Noah sat, too, his face filled with concern. Mum and Jeremy looked downright terrified.
"Before we tell you this I need you to know we did what we did to protect you."
Gulping, I replied, "Okay."
"Your dreams are memories; you're right. You're remembering what you repressed after the fire," Dad said and sat forward in his seat.
The fire was true?
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mum and Jeremy exchange a worrying glance. Did Jeremy know everything? Of course, he does.
I shook my head, trying to put everything together, but it was like trying to complete a puzzle with pieces missing. "Tell me," I demanded.
Mum pursed her lips, blinking back tears.
"Sweetheart," Dad started, "Twenty years ago we were involved with a cult, although at the time we didn't see that."
My head hurt more. Was he joking? It didn't make sense. A cult. "What...?"
"Eternal Light was a group of people that believed in inner wellbeing, living off the land and harmony. Our faith was put in nature and its ability to regenerate and adapt. We believed in an after life, one with no pain or loss, just peace and happiness. One night there was a fire in the old warehouse building we used for our weekly meetings. A few made it out, and we scattered, to later meet up back at the commune. It wasn't long until we realised how misplaced our faith had been."
That wasn't it. They could've told me that. "You're holding something back. You said you kept it secret to protect me. Where's the danger in what you just old me?"
"Honey, I don't think-"
"No, Dad, tell me everything." How dare he still try to cover things up?
His knuckles and Mum's turned white around each other. "The leaders, Donald and Fiona Mapel, convinced us that the only way we would all find eternal peace in the beyond is by human sacrifice."
My pulse roared in my ears. I stood up, steadying myself on the arm of the chair. Noah was up with me, checking I was okay but Mum, Dad and Jeremy sat dead still.
"Human sacrifice?" Noah said, his complexion paling in front of my face.
"Please sit down, love," Mum said.
Noah helped me sit. But I wasn't sure if I wanted to hear more. Did they actually murder someone? Were my parents murderers?
"I don't understand. You killed someone? You were all going to kill yourselves?"
"No, that's not it," Dad said.
"Than what is it?"
He took a deep breath and licked his bottom lip. "That night was the night we were supposed to perform the sacrifice. For the months previous your mum and I had been having severe doubts. How could you find peace after murdering someone? Things Donald and Fiona said stopped making sense to us. We told no one of our doubt, of course. We feared being thrown out and left unable to intervene."
"What happened that night? That's what I was remembering, right? I remember candles. It was hot. And white, everyone was in white."
"The sacrifice was going ahead and we knew then and there that Donald and Fiona were off their bloody rocker. They were going to go through with it. I stepped in," Dad said.
"An argument," I said, suddenly seeing an image of Dad shouting and wrestling with someone. It made my head pound, but I didn't care because it was another memory. Was he fighting with Donald? People joined in, limbs flailing around as they tried to throw Mum and Dad out of the door.
"Yes," he said. "In the scuffle candles were knocked, and the room was quickly engulfed in flames."
"I remember the heat."
Mum nodded. "I grabbed Jeremy's arm, and Dad picked you up. We made a run for it. One-half of the building was already falling down so we knew it wouldn't be long before the room buckled under the pressure."
"I barely remember anything. Why didn't you tell me before?"
"On our way out, the building started collapsing, timber from the roof fell and we were hit. Not badly, you had a small cut on your forehead. We're not sure if that caused memory loss or if you repressed it. Either way, when you woke you remembered nothing at all."
I knew that I had no memories before the age of four because of a fire, but I was led to believe it was a house fire, not a derelict building because of a cult.
"And you never filled in the blanks?" It still didn't make sense. They'd had years to tell me the tr
"We love you, Scarlett, never forget that," Mum said.
My heart stuttered. "What are you not telling me?" I repeated.
Dad closed his eyes and said, "Donald and Fiona are your biological parents." The air left my lungs in a rush. "And the sacrifice was you."
"NO!" I SPRUNG to my feet, tears welling in my eyes. Everything I thought I knew was a lie. I wanted to rewind ten minutes because the lie was much better than the truth. "I... How could you...? Shit, I was..." I didn't know what I wanted to say. There were too many questions whizzing through my mind to pick one to concentrate on.
They were going to kill me.
"Please, Scarlett," Mum said, standing and holding her hands up. "We're sorry. It was never going to happen; we'd never have let them go through with it. We love you so much. It doesn't matter where you came from. You're our daughter."
She took a step closer, and I backed up, the backs of my legs hitting the sofa. I held my hand up. Over the last few weeks, my head had hurt from trying to remember everything but that paled in comparison to how I felt now. I'd just had my whole world tipped upside down.
"I need to leave," I said and rushed out of the room.
My parents shouted my name, but Jeremy told them to let me go. Noah followed, and I was glad. I didn't want to be alone, but I didn't want to be around someone who had betrayed me.
I collapsed on my bed in a daze. That couldn't be true. It was too... A cult. How could they have been in a cult? One that I was going to be killed in? Surely things like that didn't actually happen? But they wouldn't have made that up. It was far too much.
"Are you okay?" Noah asked, laying down behind me and bundling me up in his arms.
"No," I replied. "I'm not dreaming, right?" I muttered, staring at my wall as I tried to make sense of something that was so senseless.
He shook his head against mine. He'd barely said a word. He was probably thinking of the best way to break up with me and get the hell out.
"You're not dreaming. I wish you were."
"It doesn't make sense."
"No," he replied.
"I think I would've believed them more if they told me we were vampires."
"You can go out in the sunlight," he said, trying to lighten the atmosphere.
"What am I going to do?"
Shrugging, he replied. "I don't know. I can't get my head around what they said. What do you want to do?"
"I've no idea. No, actually I do. I want to rewind time to before the car accident and leave my grandparents house later. I want for it not to be true. I want to go back to a time when everything was simple. I hate this, Noah," I said and started to sob. "I hate this and I just want to be normal."
He held me tighter and let me cry. I completely lost it, sobbing until I could barely breathe. I was scared of what I'd been told, scared of what it meant now and scared that Noah would leave, and I wouldn't have any normality in my life.
"Are you going to run? I wouldn't blame you at all," I asked once I'd calmed down enough that I wasn't gasping for breath anymore.
"No, I'm not going to run. I love you, Scarlett, no matter what. I'm not going anywhere," he whispered into my hair.
I turned around and clung to him, his words setting me off again, and I cried until I literally couldn't shed another tear. My heart was breaking. My parents weren't my parents, my whole life was one big lie, and I was almost murdered as I turned four.
Noah stayed with me until I'd calmed down. He looked stressed and tired, but he'd been amazing, everything I needed. We lay side by side on my bed with him playing and stroking my fingers. It was calming.
"How are you feeling now?" he asked.
"I don't know if there's a word to describe it. Shocked, betrayed, hurt and confused all come close."
"You're going to be alright."
I sure didn't feel like I was going to be alright. I didn't know how to even process what they'd told me, let alone come to terms with it. "Yeah, how do you know that?"
"Because I won't give you another option. I won't pretend to understand how you are feeling, but I know that there is nothing I wouldn't do to make things better."
Closing my eyes, I turned on my side and snuggled closer to him. "I'm going to miss you this weekend. You always manage to put things into perspective for me."
"Do you want me to stay?"
"No, you're excited to see your friends again. Besides, I've got a lot to get my head around."
"I know but if you need me to help you get your head around it..."
He was so sweet, always thinking about me first, but now I had the chance to do something for him and letting him go home without guilt was exactly what he needed.
"I do, but this isn't going to get better in a weekend, Noah. Maybe time alone will help me and when you're back things might be clearer, and then you can help me move on." It all sounded so simple. I didn't even buy my own words so there was no way he would either.
"I still don't like to leave you when you're upset."
"That's exactly why I love you so much. You spend time with your family, and I'll work on talking things through with mine."
He rolled to his side, so we were facing each other. When his fingertips brushed my chin, I took a deep breath. He made me feel so many things all at once and even though sometimes the intensity of those feelings scared me, I wouldn't change it for the world.
"I love you, Scarlett," he whispered and claimed my lips.
IT'D BEEN MONTHS since I'd been home, and I missed everything and everyone. We were such a close community, and I hated how distant everyone was here. I had no idea who our neighbours were, the most contact we'd had was a grumbled hello over the fence.
But we were finally going back to visit for the weekend, and I couldn't wait. Dad loaded up our bags while Mum made food for the long journey. We were leaving in an hour, and I wanted to spend some time with Scarlett before I left.
"I'll be back soon," I said to Dad as I walked down the path.
"Alright, send our regards to Scarlett."
"I will." Stuffing my hands in my pockets, I made my way to her house, not even bothering to try to convince myself I wasn't overeager to see her anymore. I felt what I felt, and I couldn't change it any more than I could control it.
I arrived minutes later, and Jeremy answered the door. He rolled his eyes and told me she was upstairs. I'd become a regular at their house as me and Scarlett went through that needing to be around each other all the time stage that really didn't need to be faked by me anymore. I honestly didn't think I ever needed to fake it. Even before she consumed most of my thoughts, I enjoyed spending time with her.
They shouldn't have chosen me.
Scarlett was laying on her back on the bed when I walked in, just staring up at the ceiling.
"You okay?" I asked.
She didn't look over, but she did smile. "I'm really good." She wasn't, but she was dealing. Having me there helped because she thought I hadn't betrayed her. And I hadn't. Not really. Not yet.
I sat on the bed and started playing with her fingers. "Yeah, why is that?"
Looking over, she arched her eyebrow and replied, "Why do you think!"
Of course, I knew but every time she said something like that she made me feel a hundred feet tall. Hell, every time she looked at me she did.
"But I'm also sad." She pouted adorably. "Two days is a long time."
"It's not that long."
"No," she said, sitting up. "You're supposed to agree with me here because you'll miss me, too."
"I will miss you, too, but it's okay."
"How is it okay?"
"Because there are people out there, living and working so far away from the people they love for months, years even. Time doesn't mean anything, Scarlett, not when you
"Okay, that just made me feel a hundred times better about this weekend."
"Good, because I don't think I'll be able to speak to you much. I'll try going to town a couple times, though."
She shook her head. "No, it's actually okay. Time doesn't mean anything, right? Just enjoy your time with your family and don't worry about leaving your stupid limited service and no internet village and checking in. I'll see you when you get back."
It didn't feel like checking in, not when I wanted to talk to her. I wasn't going out of my way because I wanted that contact. But she was right, and I needed to reconnect with everyone back home because I could feel myself losing touch.
"I'll still try to call. I want to," I said, making her smile.
"Okay, it's not like I'd ignore the call or anything."
I knew she wouldn't, and I loved that she wanted me just as much as I wanted her.
"What do you have planned?"
"Sleepover at Imogen's. I've been a bit of a crap friend since you came along."
"You haven't, you still spend time with your friends." She'd made sure she spent time with Imogen, Bobby and Chris. She wasn't going to Imogen's because she felt like a bad friend, she was going because she didn't want to stay home all weekend.
She shrugged. "I do but not as much as I used to. A girl's night will be good, especially after everything that's been going on."
"Yeah, you deserve some time away from the tension." There was still a lot of tension; Jonathan and Marissa tiptoed around her, and she barely spoke to them. She still had a lot of questions and still didn't know who Evelyn was, but she could barely look at them to ask.
I wanted to tell her but of course I couldn't. Even if I could, I wouldn't. After everything, she deserved the truth when she asked for it. When she was ready.
"Think one weekend I can come with you to visit your family? I want to see where you grew up?" she asked.
"You want to see my tiny, technology neglected island or my aunt's in Dublin? Both are home." I couldn't show her the island, I'd never even been there and only knew enough to answer any general questions. Ireland, where I grew up from the age of seven, she would see soon enough.
"I'd love to see both."
I would love to show her around, too. I would love for us to be normal and be able to live out a life I'd started to fantasize about. She deserved that. I deserved that.
Other author's books:
- Broken SilenceSilenceThe CellarPlayers, Bumps and Cocktail SausagesLie to MeSilent Night
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