Chapter LVIII

Precognition is understood to be the psychic ability to see future events. While it has been suggested that this ability violates the basic principle of causality, the cause is partly responsible for the effect and the effect is partly dependent on the cause this only holds truth if it is accepted that the world progresses in a linear fashion, but though human beings order their lives in this manner, it is understood by scientists that the concept of time and space are manmade constructs.

Time is a concept of measure; an impression within the minds of human beings who perceive the events of their life experiences as separate incidents occurring in a flowing continuum in the same physical location, and it is only when the individual shifts their perspective that they perceive the existence of time because it is that individual’s relationship to what he or she perceives as being part of their past, present, or future, but if that individual is aware that time is a construct and can understand that events within the human experience existing congruently only within varied vibrational frequencies then precognition might be understood as the psychic ability to see events aligned with another vibrational frequency or occurring in other dimensional plane other than the one the individual is currently dwelling within.

 

It took some time to reestablish some resemblance of order in the small back office of Luminosity, and though Elizabeth Bennet wasn’t upset by the chaotic destruction I had caused, I was. My abilities had been triggered by an unidentified source and I was uncertain as to how or why. I was concerned that there was a possibility that it would occur again without my prior knowledge or consent. Was it possible that Elizabeth Bennet had triggered my ability with her own just as Chloe did that afternoon in my bedroom? I had read about precognition within the pages of Sacred Magick, but had no firsthand knowledge about how it worked so I couldn’t be sure that Elizabeth was the catalyst, but if she was, then how could I stop this from happening again? What was the technique I needed to learn? I couldn’t continue to allow outside influences to trigger my ability. It was paramount for me to be in control of my power, because like it or not, I was the responsible one even if someone or something outside of me triggered it.

Perhaps the solution to this whole fantastical situation was less complicated than I imagined. Maybe I just needed to reconsider my opinion about the medication I had been prescribed my Dr. Worth. As much as I disliked the feeling I had while medicated I needed to consider the well-being of those who were around me: my friends, my family. What if my power was triggered and I unintentionally hurt someone? Or killed them? Would I be able to live with that guilt?

“I’m so sorry about this mess,” I apologized, as I picked up the fragmented pieces of one of the many broken statues that hadn’t yet been placed on the display shelves in the shop.

“It’s really my fault, Angie. I asked you to show me your ability and you did. I just wasn’t as prepared as I should’ve been. I underestimated you,” she said, glancing at my tutor, who was gathering scattered packing peanuts. “I think we all have.”

Mr. Stokes never glanced up from his task. He appeared to be caught up in his own thoughts.

Elizabeth seemed to be more familiar with me than I was with her and I couldn’t help but wonder how detailed was her knowledge concerning me? Did she know who I was that day I first wandered into her shop, the day I purchased the sphere and books? Was she aware of the connection I had with each of the items? Did she know that Abigail Williams was of my bloodline before our discussion about the inscription I found in the copy of Sacred Magick that I purchased from her shop?

“You know what I find funny?” I questioned. “It seems that you know a lot about me, but I don’t know you at all. You know things I share before I even share them, and yes, I know you’ve told us that you ‘read the portents’, and that’s fucking amazing, but I also know that some of the information you know about me came from,” I pointed at my tutor, ”him …”

“Angie,” Mr. Stokes attempted to interrupt.

“… because it’s clear to me that the two of you have some sort of ‘thing’ going on,” I continued, “which is really none of my business, but you shouldn’t include me in your ‘thing’, because I don’t want to be a part of it.”

“You don’t under –,” began Elizabeth.

“Yes I do,” I cut her off, caught up in my own bravado, “I understand more than you know, more than you all know. I am the epiphany of understanding. But you’re right about one thing; you have all underestimated me.”

With a heavy sigh, Mr. Stokes dropped the plastic bag he was holding and the white foam pieces he had captured within escaped their dark prison and reveled in their newly discovered freedom as they danced to the floor. Elizabeth Bennet looked from me to my tutor without speaking. The tension grew weighty as seconds passed in silence.

I wondered what Aunt Rachel thought of Mr. Stokes sharing information with this woman, if she even knew about it. Although I was unclear as to the details of his obligation to our family, specifically to me, I was certain that sharing personal information about me without my consent was breaking some rule. What would the consequences for him be? Did he forget that he was in servitude to the bloodline of Abigail Williams? He betrayed me; by sharing my secrets with this woman, a woman I barely knew even if there was some unseen bond between her and me, he still betrayed me. I would decide what she should know and when she would know it. Not him.

Mr. Stokes removed his glasses and wiped his face with the palm of his left hand before replacing his spectacles. It felt as if he was preparing to offer an explanation, but Daniel returned from a trip to the restroom before he said a word.

“Hey,” my brother greeted as he entered the office. “What’s going on? Something happen while I was gone?”

“No,” I shook my head, retrieving the worn leather bound diaries from their splayed positions on the floor. I smoothed the wrinkled pages before closing each of the books and gathering them in my arms as if they were children. “I think it’s time for us to leave.”

“Please return the diaries to me when you’re finished with them,” Elizabeth requested as she took a step closer to where I stood.

“I will,” I said, clutching the old journals to my chest anxious to leave the shop and begin reading the words that were written on the yellowed pages.

“Angie,” Mr. Stokes cleared his throat before proceeding, “I realize that you’re often discouraged by … well, without sugarcoating it, because I think we’re well beyond that now, so let me just be candid with you here …”

“Yes, please.”

I only ever wanted him to be honest and open with me.

“… your life, but mostly I think it’s the people in your life that frustrate you most because, and I include myself in this lot, we misjudge you. I understand your frustration. I do. You may not believe me, but I do.”

Elizabeth silently nodded from her spot by the desk.

“If I were you, I would be irritated with me, as well,” he slipped his hands into his trouser pockets. “It seems that although I was cautioned numerous times by Rachel to not underestimate you, I did; over and over again, when instead I should’ve been unbiased about your potential. As your teacher I should’ve been encouraging you to explore the depths of your power and guide you in gaining and keeping control of your abilities, but I neglected to do so and I apologize for my failure.”

I didn’t know what to say or think in response to Mr. Stokes’ words so I stood in silence. The sincerity of his expression softened my feelings of agitation and unease with the numerous unknowns that were presented to me. I used to believe that life was filled with boundaries and undeniable truths, but as I uncovered information about the members of my family and our shared history the more I realized my beliefs were naïve.

“I’d like to clarify something, Angie,” offered Elizabeth as she took a step towards me. “It wasn’t Gerald who spoke with me about you.”

I was confused.

“It’s all right,” my tutor said, placing his hand on her arm.

“She should know,” Elizabeth explained. “If we’re going to do this honesty thing then she needs to know.”

“Yes, of course,” he agreed, dropping his hand with a quick nod.

The shop owner glanced at my brother then looked to me.

“It was your aunt,” she confessed. “It was Rachel.”

Aunt Rachel? It was difficult to believe that my aunt was the individual who betrayed me by sharing personal things about me with a stranger. She was the one family member who always acknowledged and valued me as an individual with ideas and thoughts separate from my parents. She knew I had abilities and didn’t refer to me as delusional or paranoid and she never referred to me as being mentally ill. She never labeled me anything but unique. I trusted her. I admired her. I struggled with the idea that she was the one talking to Elizabeth about me.

“She and I are …,” hesitated Elizabeth, “Well, we’re …”

“Lovers?” questioned Daniel.

“Friends,” she continued, her word overlapping my brother’s. “We’ve been friends for years now.”

It was strange the way she said the word ‘friends’ as if the label didn’t quite fit the rapport my aunt and she shared and I wondered if my brother’s assessment of the nature of their relationship was a more accurate one. Honestly it didn’t matter to me who my aunt was sexually involved with, be it a woman or man, but the idea that Aunt Rachel might be currently romantically tied to or had been previously involved in an intimate relationship with Elizabeth Bennet intrigued me, not because she was a woman, but because of the abilities she possessed and how her blood relative, Sarah Osborne was connected to ours.

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Chapter LVII

Until that moment in the back office of the metaphysical shop in Bridgeboro, I understood that time was an illusion, but I didn’t fully appreciate what that meant. Well, I should more accurately explain that I understood it as best I could from a purely academic perspective, but I had never truly experienced the concept expediently. While I could tangibly understand that everything was made of energy, being as I had manipulated the personal energy of more than one physical body at that point in my life and had broken it down to its purest form, the concept of time was more of a struggle for me. I had read about the illusion of time repeatedly in the pages of my favorite occult book, Sacred Magick, in the hopes that I would be able to have a true comprehensive understanding of it, but I was unsure if I believed the suggested idea that all of time is occurring congruently in one moment. I experienced life in a linear way; all human beings do. Each experience is delineated by the hours, minutes, and seconds of each day and how long we’ve lived is counted by years, months, and weeks. It was difficult for my mind to grasp that this rigid structure was a construct by human beings and was in effect simply meaningless, but after experiencing the vision I had when Elizabeth Bennet held my hands that day – I unquestionably understood.

Each night when I crawl into bed and allow my conscious mind to drift from wakefulness to slumber, I am aware of the subtle transition of one state of consciousness to another and often wonder if other people are able to identify that moment, as well. I am easily able to shift vibrational frequencies and align myself with other realms of existence and prior to acknowledging who and what I am, I would listen to the midnight whispers of the women of my bloodline and dance to the dark voices of the composers as they shared their intentions, dreams, and visions with me. Those nightly excursions would leave me drained both emotionally and physically as if I had never slept. Restfulness was elusive to me, and while lingering within the state of true exhaustion, I assumed sleep would only come as Death’s seductive companion; so, often nights just before the transition I prayed for death. She did not answer my prayer. She never came to visit; instead Dr. Worth brought me Klonopin. We had a beneficial relationship, Klonopin and I, and she brought me the restfulness I desired, but it was a relationship that I chose to sever not too long ago so that I might discover who I was, my true identity, a task that seemed mystifying and never-ending.

As I stood there in the back office of Luminosity, I felt myself drowning in the confusion of my mind as the chaotic storm of vivid images of Aunt Rachel, my cousin Christian, the goddess Syn, and a funnel of energy swirling above a reflection of me collided with the scattered fragments of my perceived understanding of the past and present. My intellect was threatened by the twisting insidious doubt of lucidity and the wildness of my imagination as the edges of my sanity began eroding away. The pieces of the puzzle gently fell into their rightful place as my intuition reconciled the shared understanding of reality and the smallest fraction of the greater truth that my human mind was capable of comprehending. I saw the resolution.

I knew the cause of Daniel’s and my lost memories. I hadn’t blanked them out because I was unable to deal with traumatic events that had occurred. I didn’t have a new mental health issue. I was not suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. I was complete. I was whole and I was and had always been in control of my body. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if I was mentally ill at all regardless of what my parents or Dr. Worth believed. It was possible that I would never be able to prove to them that I was sane and they might live their lives with the conviction that I was mentally ill, but I knew better. I knew what was happening with me even if they did not.

I was aware that those lost five days filled with memories that I was missing had been washed away, stolen from me as well as from my brother, though admittedly I had no understanding as to why.

“She did it,” I said. “Mr. Stokes, she took our memories.”

“Elizabeth?” he shot up from his chair, glancing from me to the shop owner. “How?”

“I didn’t,” she protested. “I couldn’t. That magick is beyond me.”

“No, no, not you,” I shook my head as I waved her off. “Syn. It was Syn.”

My tutor dropped back down into his chair as he touched his forehead and began massaging the old scar with his fingers.

“Gerald, you knew this was a possibility,” sighed Elizabeth as she walked behind the desk, putting distance between us.

“What? Seriously?”

I was annoyed, actually I was beyond annoyed. I was furious with Elizabeth’s retreat as well as with the realization that every time I came to a point of self-revelation I discovered that it shouldn’t be; I should already possess the knowledge. It should’ve already been revealed to me, but someone had made the decision to keep it from me, and it seemed, as of late, that Mr. Stokes was the gatekeeper.

“You knew and didn’t tell me?” I glared at him. “Why? Why are you keeping secrets? Why aren’t you telling me things like this when you know they’re important to me? I don’t understand. I thought you were supposed to be helping me, but you’re not. You’re not helping … at all. I mean, you know how fucked up things are right now. You know this and still you say nothing when you know things … important things that could help me fix this colossal fuck up.”

My tutor remained silent and continued to massage the line near his temple.

I was enraged and disappointed and scared. I felt myself tremble as the emotions coursed through my body.

“Angie, I don’t get it,” my brother’s voice was just above a whisper. My outburst at Mr. Stokes clearly distressed him. “If Syn is the goddess that our ancestors worshipped, then why would she do this to us?”

“I defied her when I rescued Aunt Rachel,” I admitted.

I had been cautioned that my actions carried consequences, but I disregarded the goddess’ warning and directly worked against her, so I knew that she would claim retribution from me, but why Daniel?

“But I didn’t,” grumbled Dan cradling his head in the palm of his hands.

I was troubled that he had been caught up in the mess of my life. It was unfair for Syn to punish him for my disobedient behavior.

“I know,” I reached over and rested my hand on the top of his.

As the flesh of my palm touched his hand something deep within me snapped. My mind sprang alive. A collage of images flashed through with a speed that caused me to lose balance and tumble to the floor. I lost focus as my psyche was embraced by the thick feverish liquid of emotion; it covered, encased, and suffocated me. The fount from where it originated gush forth, hemorrhaging power. As this ocean crashed over me, the dark bloody undertow dragged me deeper and deeper within myself. I was sinking.

Was this Syn’s plan all along? Is this how my fate had been written thousands of years ago? Was my destiny was to lose all hint of sanity in the back office of a metaphysical shop owned by a descendent of Sarah Osborne who had died while imprisoned on charges of witchcraft, accused by Abigail Williams, my own blood relative? Was I the blood price for Sarah’s life? My life for hers, was that it?

Cohesive thought became difficult to structure as my essence merged with the formless void of alizarin crimson that churned within me. My mind released its grip on reality and slid further …

My parents had won.

I would be the daughter they always expected of me.

I would embrace my fate.

Embody the paranoid schizophrenic that they morbidly desired.

… downward and inward …

… as I surrendered.

NO!

I was not a coward. I was a warrior, a Valkyrie and I wouldn’t allow myself to give up without a fight. I dredged myself through the steady flow of overwhelming emotions, sorting through them and identifying which were mine and which were outside influences; dissolving the later into nothingness. I diligently searched for my center, the genesis from where this surplus of emotional energy sprang and once I located it, I coiled my mind around it; a viper, lithesome and crafty. I sank my venomous fangs into the succulent fount and gained control of the surging power, spindling it, allowing it to swirl before I forcibly pushed it through my body.

The sound of breaking ceramic and glass in the room around me startled me. My head pounded, my body felt numb, and I was certain I had a fever. Had I come down with the flu? I blinked numerous times as I slowly sat up.

“You alright?” Dan was crouched over me, looking and sounding concerned.

“I have a headache,” I admitted. I was unsure of how to tell him what I uncovered about his memory loss. I wasn’t going to withhold information from him. I refused to be a hypocrite. I pointed to the fresh wound on his brow. “What happened to you?”

He gingerly touched the bleeping cut with his fingertips. “I must have been tagged by something.”

I glanced around the room as my brother helped me to my feet. It looked as though a storm had whipped through the place; paper that had been neatly organized in piles on the wooden desk was strewn about, the shelves were toppled over and their contents was broken and scattered around the room. Mr. Stokes was helping Elizabeth to her feet across from me.

“What happened?” I questioned aloud even though I already knew the answer.

 

Chapter LVI

I looked around the small office at the disorganized wooden shelves and pile of unopened boxes that sat on the floor beside the desk in the middle of the space. Mr. Stokes and my brother sat on folding chairs that Elizabeth Bennet had provided for them while I stood leaning against a counter that ran the length of the room. The shop owner was perched on the edge of the desk with the diaries that we had come to her shop in Bridgeboro to retrieve set beside her. The shop had gotten busy with customers so Elizabeth had encouraged the three of us to accompany her to the private office in the back where we would be able to continue our conversation without interruption, but I was getting restless and wanted to grab the diaries and head back home to study them. While I was interested in this woman and our uncanny bond, I was also agitated by the lack of new information I was receiving.

“Everything is energetically connected; plants, animals, minerals, people, the earth, the air, the water, fire, light, darkness, the sun, moon, stars, heat, sound, colors,” she gestured with her hands, “All things found within the natural world and the things that are manmade. Everything is connected.”

I nodded. I couldn’t argue with her words; they made sense to me, but I was annoyed that she was wasting my time discussing the things I already knew and understood when what I wanted to hear, what I needed to hear was how she knew about our missing time and whether or not she experienced it as well. Maybe this was a key as to how our families had become connected and why it had come to be.

She continued, “It is because of this interconnectedness that human beings are able to manipulate these energies to create change. If you have read any occult books that discuss magick then you are probably already familiar with this concept. The thing is … every human being is born with the ability to tap into this energy.”

“Everyone?” I questioned. I wasn’t sure she had this right. It seemed highly unlikely that my Mother had any such ability.

“Yes, everyone. It’s within our nature to tap into and utilize this energy,” Elizabeth explained. She shook her index finger, “but none of us do so in the same way. Each family bloodline has an innate way in which they are more easily able to do so and is it through this inherited ability that they create change or receive messages, guidance, and insight from the unseen realms of existence.”

“But if what you say is true,” Daniel countered, “then why don’t we hear about this sort of stuff on the news?”

My brother made a valid point. If everyone had these abilities then why did I feel like an outsider? Why were my parents and Dr. Worth convinced that I had a mental illness? Elizabeth’s words seemed much too fantastical to believe. They felt true, but I knew better than to always trust my own feelings; many times they led me to an unwanted dosage increase of my medication or a short stay on the psychiatric ward in the hospital.

“Skepticism is healthy. It’s important to always question things especially when dealing with the occult,” she smiled. “The thing is that some people accept and understand how to use their abilities, but others aren’t aware they possess them or they’re afraid of what they are able to do or hear or see. We are taught as children that everything non-physical is pure imagination, but that just isn’t true. Is it?”

Daniel and I remained silent.

“And lest we forget that some individuals are simply convinced that these abilities aren’t real, that they are just symptoms of mental illness,” stated Mr. Stokes, who had been silent since Elizabeth had shown the three of us into the small back office.

“Or that they are dark gifts or evil powers bestowed upon the individual because they are possessed or made a pact with Satan, himself,” she added. “But we know that is just untrue.”

“Well, maybe not dark gifts from Satan, but they are gifts from other … I don’t know, other gods or spiritual beings.”

“Not always.”

“Yes,” I countered. “Always.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Well, why don’t we agree for the moment that it depends on the individual’s perspective of the Universe and how it works as to where the abilities originate. Does that work for you, Angie?”

Her suggestion seemed fair and I really wanted to move on from the current topic.

I shrugged. “Yeah, sure.”

“What about your family?” Dan asked. “Do they have abilities?”

“As I said ‘everyone does’,” she reiterated, “But not everyone recognizes them. For example, my brother Luke isn’t convinced that he has abilities. He’s more comfortable with logic, and facts, and truths. He’s a man of science and is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon, but he credits his success to years of studying human anatomy and his practical skill with a scalpel.”

I raised my eyebrows. “And it’s not?”

“Education and training were part of it,” she explained, “But our family’s precognitive tendencies and his spirit companion were the biggest influences even if he won’t acknowledge them.”

I was intrigued by her mention of a spirit companion and pondered the implication; was she suggesting that her brother had a familiar spirit or was she hinting at interactions with the Ancestors? I considered that it was possible that her family had a relationship with an ancient god or goddess similar to how my bloodline was indebted to Syn. Perhaps this was the strange feeling of kinship that I had with Elizabeth Bennet. The shared intimate bond was due to the fact that both she and I were human Valkyries of the goddess Syn.

“And what about you?” I asked.

Elizabeth reached out and grasped my hands in her own as she focused her eyes on mine. I returned her stare; the green, gold, and brown hues of her irises swirled around the pupils. We exhaled in unison and soon our breathing fell into resonance. I lazily blinked and when I reopened my eyes my sight had become clouded as images seeped into my mind unfolding an event that occurred miles from the shop, but appeared to be just a few feet before me.

I saw a reflection of me with my head bent down and right hand pressed against the doorframe of the morning parlor in my family home. An ethereal image of Aunt Rachel concurrently drinking a mug of coffee while looking at a magazine and sitting motionless while staring ahead towards the reflection of me sat on the Queen Anne sofa. My spiritual echo took a step towards the spectre of my aunt then looked over her shoulder in the direction where the foyer would have been in our home. As Aunt Rachel’s spectre brought the mug to its lips, it looked up from the magazine and smiled, motioning for my phantasm to join it, while it simultaneously sat immobile focused in the direction of the doorway. The projection of me released her grip on the doorframe and approached the spectre of Aunt Rachel as the scene shifted, as if the frequency of the event had been jolted by some invisible energetic volt.

The ghost of my cousin Christian appeared beside my reflection, but as I sat holding hands with Elizabeth Bennet, I physically felt the grip of his fingers on my forearm. I repressed the urge to vomit as an unseen force pressed upon my physical body and the familiar calliope of organic murmurs emerged from the depths of my mind. I watched as my reflection collapsed to the floor as both the spectre of my cousin and my aunt dissolved. The haunting moans, gurgles, and snarls of the primordial chorus morphed into arcane chants that tickled my physical ears and pressed against my mortal flesh and vibrated my bones. I knew the Ancestors were casting a spell upon my spirit and I felt primordial fear rush through my entire body.

I felt my eyes fill with tears as I watched an apparition appear in front of the Queen Anne sofa that my aunt’s wraith had previously occupied. The tears were not manifestations of my sorrow, though in that moment I understood where my aunt had gone and that it was unlikely she would be returning. I was overwhelmed by fear, fear of the apparition that had appeared before me. The power that radiated from her was both stunning and formidable.

My echo pushed herself into a sitting position as the screeching voice I recognized as Syn demanded that she stand with her eyes open. Wiping away the tears with the sleeves of her sweater, my reflection stood trembling as she gazed upon the apparition.

The dissonant voice of the Ancestors became rhythmic as waves of energy emanated from Syn and surrounded my doppelganger. The space between the two shifted as waves of heat and vibration expanded and contracted creating an energetic umbilical cord. A loud hum filled my mind as I watched my reflection fade and the apparition of Syn grow brighter and more dazzling until my mind was blinded by her brilliance.

I felt Elizabeth release my hands. The vision disappeared leaving me surrounded by blackness. I blinked a few times until the shop owner’s face and physical environment reappeared.

“That,” she explained, “is my ability. What’s yours?”

Chapter LV

In the spring of 1692, the lives of every resident in Salem Village, Massachusetts were dramatically changed as a small group of young girls and women claimed to be afflicted by evil spirits and openly pointed to their neighbors as the individuals responsible for their fits and unusual behaviors. According to the afflicted it was due to the illicit midnight romps with Satan that enabled these Witches to vex them.

Tituba, a slave from Barbados that lived with and served the Parris family; Sarah Good, a short-tempered beggar; and Sarah Osborne, an elderly bed-ridden woman scorned for her romantic involvement with her indentured servant, were the first to be accused by young Elizabeth (Betty) Parris and her “cousin”, Abigail Williams. Initially these three women claimed to be innocent, though Sara Good readily accused Sarah Osborn, but following repeated examinations by the magistrates, Tituba provided them with a signed confession. She admitted to making a pact with Satan by writing her name in blood in his book where she claimed to have seen not only the names of Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne, but the seven unreadable names of other Village residents.

With this confession the wave of hysteria mounted within the colony and other girls and young women (Ann Putnam, Jr., Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, Mary Walcott, and Mary Warren) began experiencing similar fits and accused not only outcasts and misfits of the community, but began pointing to the upstanding members, the families of prominence and power, such as Rebecca Nurse. As the number of the accused rose, the local justice system became overwhelmed, forcing the newly appointed governor, William Phips, to order the establishment of a special Court of Oyer (to hear) and Terminer (to decide) to rule on the pending witchcraft cases.

As a result of the Court’s rulings nineteen individuals were convicted of witchcraft and hanged; the first being Bridget Bishop, who was hung on June 10 at Gallows Hill. Five more people including Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Good were hanged on July 19, five more on August 19 and eight on September 22. In total one hundred fifty women, men, and children, were accused over a span of several months. Seven of the accused died while awaiting trial in jail, including Sarah Osborne. Giles Corey was subjected to peine forte et dure (strong and hard punishment) and pressed beneath heavy stones while repeatedly being asked to enter a plea for his arraignment. He refused and died after two days of this torture.

On October 29, 1692 Governor Phips’ wife was accused of witchcraft; in response he dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer and replaced it with the Superior Court of Judicature, which was instructed not to admit spectral evidence, which had been the predominate evidence in the proceeding cases. Subsequently during the months of January and February fifty-six individuals were indicted, but only three of them were convicted and by May they, along with all others still being reprimanded in custody on witchcraft charges, were pardoned and released. Unfortunately by this time the damage inflicted to the families of the accused and condemned as well as the community at large had already been done.

 

Daniel and I listened as Elizabeth Bennet, the owner of the shop, Luminosity, shared with us her remarkable knowledge of the Salem Witch Trials. Mr. Stokes added clarifying details to her narrative when he deemed them necessary. Though I was familiar with the history, the events became more real and personal as Elizabeth spoke them aloud. This was a part of my story, my family history no matter how dreadful it was when viewed with the modern perspective of morality and basic human rights.

“Hold up,” interrupted my brother as he shook his head and waved his hand, “So are you telling us that Sarah Osborne, one of the first women accused, is your great-great-great-great … however many times, Grandma?”

Elizabeth nodded. “Yes.”

“And she was accused by Betty Parris and,” Daniel looked to me, “Abigail Williams?”

He was now just making the connection that I had already made.

“Yes,” confirmed Mr. Stokes with a nod. “She was.”

“Man, now that’s fucked up,” sighed my brother, shaking his head as he lightly tapped the counter top with his fingers.

It was curious to me that I was intricately tied to multiple people in my life in ways I was unaware of until that moment. We were becoming fused in some manner that I hadn’t consciously intended. It seemed that it was as if someone or perhaps something was continuously drawing our bloodlines together, manipulating the circumstances and events of our lives so that we would meet and form relationships, but to what end and for what purpose?

Was it possible that I had the power to do such a thing or was this all Syn’s doing? The goddess seemed to be the obvious source of such a manipulation, though I wasn’t convinced it was her because Chloe didn’t even recognize her name when I mentioned it. Was it possible that her family bloodline was indebted to a goddess that was unknown to them in modern times?

I contemplated my uncomfortable interactions with The Ancestors and quickly concluded that their actions seemed to be in servitude to Syn and not in a position to demand anything from her so if this was the agenda of either spiritual entity, I would wage my bets on Syn … and yet, something just didn’t feel right with the seemingly obvious conclusion. So then what was it that possessed such power to manipulate the lives of so many human beings?

Maybe Elizabeth could provide some insight on the situation.

“I am friends with a girl named Chloe Putnam,” I offered.

The woman’s eyes widened. “Oh?”

“She told me that she’s the descendent of Anne Putman,” I explained as I traced the stitching of the leather bond diary that sat on top of the others on the counter in front of me.

“Gerald, have you verif –“

“I believe her,” I interrupted, recalling the eerie appearance of Chloe’s eyes vacant of pupil and iris when she gazed at me that afternoon in my bedroom. I had no doubt that the story she shared with me about the Pickman sisters and her claim of heritage to Anne Putnam, Jr. weren’t true.

“Do you?”

“I do,” I raised my gaze to meet hers with the knowledge that with this simple nonverbal exchange I would convince her to believe my words. There was a connection present between us that I was unable to fully grasp. I couldn’t determine where it originated and it made no logical sense that it should exist, but I felt it and with each moment that passed it grew more palpable.

“Then I fear for our future,” lamented Elizabeth with a frown.

“Give it a break,” sneered Dan.

My brother was afraid of what this all meant; the past events, this connection we had with not only Elizabeth, but Chloe, too. There was a tension that surrounded the two of us since he arrived home and the energy of it was becoming intolerable for him.

“I can’t listen to her bullshit anymore,” he scoffed as he turned and walked toward the shop entrance. “I’m going to wait for you in the car.”

“I think you know this isn’t bullshit,” Elizabeth called after him as he passed a tall display case holding a variety of unique items. “What about the missing memories?”

My brother stopped midstride without turning around. As Elizabeth shifted her attention to me, I felt like my dirtiest secrets had been revealed.

Missing memories?

Mr. Stokes; how dare he! It was presumptuous of my tutor to share that information with this … this woman. Even if it was obvious that she was well educated about the occult and might conceivably possess abilities herself, beyond reading portents, I was uncertain as to how much I wanted to reveal to her about my own experiences. I didn’t know if I could trust her, and here my tutor took it upon himself to make such a decision for me without my consent or my brother’s. Who the fuck did he think he was?

I should’ve realized that he would tell her things about me and maybe even about Aunt Rachel because it seemed from the brief interactions I witnessed between the two of them, they had some sort of “thing” going on, a relationship of some sort. I wondered what Aunt Rachel thought of it, if she even knew about it. How did that affect his obligation to our family, to me? Wasn’t he in servitude to us?

I was agitated with the thought that he was sharing our secrets with a woman that I barely knew even if there was some unseen bond between her and me. I would decide what she would know and when she should know it.

I glared at him.

He said nothing, but shook his head as he removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose with the fingers of his right hand.

 

Chapter LIV

Mr. Stokes pulled his vehicle up to the curb directly in front of the familiar shop on East Main Street in Bridgeboro only a short distance from my aunt and uncle’s historical home. It was nestled between two other local businesses; Bay Coast Auto Insurance and Yang’s Martial Arts. As I read the sign above the door and painted gold script on the large glass window, I felt a rush of warmth spread within me. It was if the name of the shop; Luminosity was reflecting the suffused glow of my being. I recalled my previous autumn encounter with the owner, the time when Mother, Dad, and I stopped by to see my Aunt Brenda and Uncle Stephen on our way home from Cape Cod. It was the same visit I purchased the sphere that enabled me to free Aunt Rachel from the vortex that had appeared in the foyer of our home in Rhode Island.

Daniel and I exited the car and followed Mr. Stokes to the door. The emerald green curtains and small white Christmas lights remained the same since my last visit, but the items featured on the display shelves had been altered; the herbal books, Tarot decks, crystal towers, and Egyptian statues were replaced by a large ceramic bowl filled with peculiar looking stones each bearing a naturally formed hole, wooden boxes engraved with occult symbols not only on the lids but also surrounding the sides, amber colored bottles of various shapes and sizes filled with an undistinguishable liquid, and statues of gargoyles and other mythical creatures. Bundles of dried herbs and flowers hung by twine from above the window frame. I was excited to be here again, but restrained myself from pushing aside Mr. Stokes and my brother to be the first of our trio to enter the shop.

The swinging motion of the wooden door awoke the string of small bells that hung from the ceiling and announced our arrival to anyone inside the building. The aroma of spiced incense and sound of flowing water welcomed us. It appeared as if the shop was vacant though I detected the hushed murmur of voices and attempted to distinguish where they originated. It sounded as if there were at least two people engaged in conversation behind the shelf displaying a variety of mortar and pestles, but their volume kept me from understanding the words being said.

Daniel and I followed my tutor and approached the counter where the cash register was located as the familiar middle aged woman with long, curly, black hair appeared from behind the several tall wooden bookcases at the back of the shop, her friendly Siamese cat trailed behind her. As she approached I became aware of the heady scent of roses mixed with a sweet spicy scent of earth, which reminded me of Grandmother Williams’ garden.

“Gerald!” she smiled, embracing Mr. Stokes and placing a kiss on each cheek, “Merry meet and good morning.”

“Elizabeth,” he responded, mirroring her greeting.

“I see you’ve brought friends with you today,” she smiled as she turned her attention to my brother and me and as our eyes met the feeling of kinship washed over me as it did when I first saw her months prior. I found it strange yet somehow comforting. It felt as if we shared an intimate bond; that we were best-friends reconnecting after being apart for years. I wondered if she felt the same way.

“I’m going to assume that since I don’t see a package in your hand that you’re not here to return the sphere,” she winked … or had I imagined that wink?

“I’m not returning it,” I shook my head. “I love it. It’s… well … rather special and unique.”

“Indeed it is,” she nodded. “I think that perhaps it has found its rightful owner. Wouldn’t you?”

I wondered if she knew the power that the sphere held, if perhaps she might be able to access it and use it in the same way I had, or if perhaps she just understood that it held a power that was inaccessible to her. Clearly she held some knowledge that it was more than a mere curiosity.

“We’re here for –” began Mr. Stokes, but Elizabeth finished his sentence for him.

“The diaries,” she said as she walked over to the counter; the three of us following.

Daniel leaned his back against the counter and looked around the shop though I was unsure if he was disinterested or distracted. He seemed to be preoccupied with his own thoughts during the entire car ride and had ignored my numerous attempts at conversation. I hoped that his distraction was due to a girl, but my own insecurities caused me to worry that he was focused on something else, something that would cause him to withdraw from me again. I was pleased with the recent shift in our relationship and wanted to continue to nurture it so that we would become as close as we once were when we were children. I disliked discord in my life especially when it was between Dan and me and I didn’t want anything to threaten our relationship again.

“I have them here,” Elizabeth explained, retrieving the worn leather bound journals from beneath the counter. “I wasn’t sure you were coming today, but I knew you’d be here soon. The portents were undeniable.”

“Portents?” asked Daniel, turning around.

So my brother was paying attention and wasn’t as unfocused as I thought him to be.

“Yes, indications or signs of something,” explained Elizabeth, “Things that foreshadow a coming event.”

“Like an omen?” he asked. His curiosity had been piqued.

“Precisely,” she nodded placing the three leather bound journals on the counter.

I wondered what sort of portents she experienced and whether they were general indications that Mr. Stokes would come to see her or if they indicated that it would be me specifically. It felt as if there was something between us and I didn’t understand it, but knew that if it was an actuality and not something I was fabricating then she would understand it.

“Have you had experiences with omens?” Elizabeth asked.

I watched Dan’s cheeks flush as he took a step back. “Me? No, no,” he shook his head vigorously. “I just watch a lot of movies.”

The shop owner chuckled. “I understand.”

“Why do you have the diaries?” I inquired.

There was a subtle exchange between my tutor and the store owner before she responded.

“Well,” she began, “as you already know, people tend to donate items to me when they find items or books that are occult in nature. These diaries, since they deal with the Salem Witch Trials, fall into that category. But honestly that isn’t the only reason I still have the books in my possession.”

I knew what she was about to say before she spoke the words. I felt it within me;  a stirring, a knowing; the explanation about the bond I felt between us.

“These diaries not only hold information about your descendants, they hold information about mine as well.”

Chapter LIII

I sat at the table in the library and stared out the large windows at Mother’s flower garden, which was bare of all color except the occasional shade of brown due to the early winter season that had set over New England. As I waited for the arrival of my tutor I contemplated the last couple of weeks and the events I remembered, which were very few. I was unable to determine why I was missing such a large number of memories from my life. Usually I would assume that the memory lapse was a side effect from the drugs I had been prescribed, but I knew that in this instance the medication wasn’t to blame. I had purposefully stopped taking all my medication prior to the missing time. And even if it were the drugs, it wouldn’t explain why my brother Daniel also had no memories of the prior week. There was this memory void for both of us that I could not explain. It felt as if someone had snatched the memories right out of my head and left behind a pit of dread. Should I consider that maybe we were both drugged as Daniel had suggested to me earlier? If it were true, if Daniel and I were drugged so that we would not remember what happened, who did such a thing? And why? Why did that person not want us remembering what had transpired?

Fuck. I hated this. I hated this feeling of helplessness. My mind was a chaotic storm of distressing thoughts and fragmented images of Chloe with white eyes leaning over me, Christian standing beside me gripping my forearm, a funnel of energy swirling above me, Aunt Rachel sitting in the morning parlor staring at me, and the statue of my cousin in my aunt’s studio. Which of these were actual memories and which were just hallucinations or dreams, I was uncertain. My intuition told me that The Ancestors had something to do with the lost time, but I possessed no clear images validating my hypothesis. An undercurrent of fear constantly gurgled within me. I was afraid; afraid for myself, my brother, but mostly for Aunt Rachel. Was it possible that I had blanked out my own memories because the events that unfolded were just too traumatic for me to effectively deal with? It was possible, but why did Daniel also have the same missing time?

I sighed and glanced at the antique carriage clock that Mother had placed on the top shelf of the breakfront bookcase. Mr. Stokes would be arriving shortly for our lessons, perhaps he’d be able to help me sort through the problem. He was proving to be more helpful than I ever imagined a tutor would ever be to me.

The trip to Aunt Rachel’s house revealed no mundane evidence to suggest that my aunt hadn’t gone on a trip to Europe, but Mr. Stokes and I knew otherwise. The Ancestors had finally succeeded in claiming her, and though previously their motivation for wanting her to remain with them was unknown to me, I now understood she was retribution for a serious error she made, a lapse in judgment. She misused her powers and that action was viewed as a betrayal to the vow that she made to the ancient handmaiden of Frigg, she who protected our family during the dark time in Salem. It was the same vow that many of the Williams’ family women took with the intention of repaying the old Williams’ family debt. It was the same vow I made, the vow to be a Valkyrie, a Secret of Syn.

I was upset that Aunt Rachel had been taken from me and I still intended to find a way to bring her home, but I finally understood the reasoning behind the actions of The Ancestors. She had unintentionally tapped into her ability and used her powers on an innocent, someone wrongly accused by my aunt herself. Mr. Stokes had witnessed the discretion, he attempted to interfere, but in the throes of anger she merely swept him aside without any momentary consideration of his warning. It was only after her intention had manifested that the realization of what she had done descended upon her in tandem with the hefty weight of guilt and sorrow. She knew she would be required to pay for her discretion and she hadn’t intended to fight The Ancestors when they came for her and would instead willingly accept her fate. All had been revealed to me when my essence had probed the caverns of Mr. Stokes’ thoughts and memories the day we went to my aunt’s home seeking answers to her disappearance. He had intentionally buried the memory, but I forced it to the surface against his wishes. I wasn’t certain what I was meant to do with the information, but I knew that my missing time was directly connected to Aunt Rachel; I just couldn’t seem to find the link.

I opened the notebook that sat on the table in front of me and flipped through the pages searching for the notes I had taken of the previous week’s lectures that Mr. Stokes had presented. I hoped that reviewing them would trigger something in my brain and allow my lost memories to resurface thus bringing forth some helpful information I might be able to use to explain the missing time and perhaps to use to find a way to appease Syn and negotiate Aunt Rachel’s release from wherever she was, which was not Europe, regardless of what my parents seemed to believe.

I reached the last of pages containing my handwriting and scowled. I flipped through again only this time working backwards. I carefully scanned each page making a mental note of the date I had scribbled at the top. Something just didn’t add up for me. Why wouldn’t I have taken notes on those days? I always took notes even if it were just a paragraph or two. The door to the library slowly opened.

“Hey, Ange,” my brother said, as he shut the door behind him. “Isn’t your tutor late?”

“No, Mr. Stokes is never late. He’ll be here soon,” I responded. “What’s going on with you today?”

My brother shrugged then gestured to the opened notebook. “What’cha working on?”

“I’m not really working on anything. I was just looking for the notes I took last week,” I explained turning my attention back to the pages. “But I can’t find any.”

“Is that weird?” he asked, sitting across from me on the table so that he could lean over and look at the pages as I flipped through again. “Do you always take notes?”

“Yes.”

“Seriously?” he raised his eyebrows in disbelief. “Shit! I never take notes. You’re a better student than me. Mom and Dad must be prou -”

I glanced at him before he could finish his thought. We both knew our parents would never be proud of me for being anything, but I appreciated his unfiltered response.

“Honestly I really use the note taking as a way of staying focused on Mr. Stokes’ lectures,” I admitted. “He has this way of speaking that sort of lulls me, encourages me to get lost in my own thoughts, so if I want to learn anything I really have to stay focused.”

“Maybe that’s why you don’t have any notes those days,” my brother suggested as he leaned back. “Maybe you didn’t pay attention and daydreamed instead.”

“The whole week?” I was skeptical. “I don’t know. That really doesn’t sound like something I would have done for every lesson … and I don’t think Mr. Stokes would have permitted that sort of behavior either.”

There was a soft knock on the door as the antique clock chimed the hour. Mr. Stokes opened the door and entered, his leather messenger bag hung from his shoulder, but his usual composed demeanor had been replaced with a subtle tension I knew indicated that his was troubled by something. He pointedly looked at me as he approached the desk.

“Good morning, Angie,” he nodded at me then my brother. “Daniel.”

“Good morning,” we responded in unplanned unison.

I stifled a giggle as I glanced at my brother. It felt good reconnecting with him. I knew I missed him, but I had to admit if only to myself that I had missed our relationship more than even I realized.

Mr. Stokes walked behind the oak desk, but instead of removing his wool coat and unpacking his messenger bag as per his usual routine, he remained standing with his hands casually leaning on his bag.

“At your parents’ suggestion, since your brother,” my tutor gestured towards Daniel, “was expelled from Saint John’s, he will be joining us in our lessons until they make different arrangements.”

This was unexpected, though I wasn’t sure what I was expecting them to do about the situation with him. I hadn’t really considered what their actions would be other than a serious lecture about his lack of discipline. I liked the idea of having him with me during my lessons with Mr. Stokes. It would be a treat to have someone else there. It could be fun. Daniel looked surprised as well though I couldn’t imagine that he expected them to allow him to wander around the house all day with no purpose, no job, or without attending school.

“So with this being our new arrangement, I suggest that the three of us take this opportunity and go on a field trip.”

Oh, now this sounded promising.

“Where?” I asked.

“To see a woman about some dairies,” Mr. Stokes winked.

Chapter LII

From an occult perspective our ancestors pass on to us more than just our physical characteristics. Each human being inherits the essence of their blood relatives, which is a collection of the ancestors’ own life experiences. When considered, the occultist can better understand and explain the natural talents an individual would appear to be born with or predisposed towards. In conjunction with the soul’s memory of the lives it has lived, this genetic factor is a vital part of the retaining and transmitting process that the consciousness undergoes through reincarnation.

Reincarnation is a blending of the memories of previous life experiences that the soul has retained along with the genetic imprints of experiences carried within the DNA of a human being. The soul chooses the next vessel or human body to integrate with by accepting birth through a specific set of parents whether or not these individuals are of an ancestral lineage that the soul has already experienced. If the chosen parents are not of the same ancestral lineage, the soul will access the genetic memory held within the DNA of the bloodline to obtain the ancestral information and apply it to the current life experience.

 

We sat on my bed facing each other as I spoke. I began slowly describing the things I discovered about the voices I heard since childhood; who and what they were and how they enabled me to manipulate the vibrational energy. Though Daniel supported me all those years ago I knew he was skeptical about the reality of them and I wondered as I watched his facial expressions shift if he still held onto those doubts.

I shared the narrative of how Aunt Rachel had been trapped in a vortex by The Ancestors and the events that led to her freedom. From the back of my closet I retrieved the sphere I had purchased from the occult shop in Bridgeboro and handed the wooden box that housed it to my brother, believing it to be tangible proof that what I had said was true and not just some fantasy I had created in my mind. He opened the container and examined the iridescent sphere with both of his hands while I described the ordeal it had been for me to free our aunt.

I could see that he was considering my words and I knew he underestimated me and had being doing so since we were children. He was probably thinking that my claims were too fantastical and even beyond what I claimed I was able to achieve and perhaps he was torn between wanting to support me and enabling what he believed to be my delusions. I knew that as he grew older he became embarrassed about my behavior and it was possible that he still held onto the feelings of shame that I am certain I had brought upon him, but perhaps now he could understand why I acted as I did and be the support I desired from someone in my own family. It frightened me to think that he had the power to send me to the hospital, the place where I endured painful torture and humiliation, but I knew I had already shared too much information with him even if I had any inclination to recant.

“We’re descendants of Abigail Williams, direct bloodline relatives and it’s because of this that I can do things that other people can’t.” I hesitated for just a moment before continuing, “I can manipulate the vibration of sound in a way that allows me to do these amazing things.”

Daniel said nothing. He listened without interrupting.

I gripped onto the hope that he believed my words. I wanted him to believe me. I needed him to, and I hated myself for needing someone like I did in that moment. I felt more lost than I had in a long time, even though Mr. Stokes was proving to be an ally, it just wasn’t the same as having family on my side.

“I use this power to repay the family debt owed to the goddess that protected us during the Witch Trails in Salem,” I explained. “I act as her Valkyrie here on Earth.”

Daniel replaced the sphere in its box and set it on my bed beside him as I opened the draw in my nightstand and tossed my MP3 player to him. My brother caught it in his hand.

“What’s this?”

“Manipulating the vibration of music allows me to shift the energetic frequency of a person,” I said as I reclaimed my spot on the bed next to him. “That MP3 player holds more than music.”

He didn’t respond and I was convinced that he was thinking that I was experiencing a psychotic break and that at any second he was going to stand up and immediately go downstairs to speak with our parents about my claims. Surprisingly he remained where he was sitting on my bed.

“I don’t really understand how this holds more than music,” he said, turning the MP3 over in his hands a few times before handing it back to me. “But what you describe about possessing skills you were never taught, well, that sounds like the definition of Genetic Memory to me.”

I didn’t understand what he was saying. Did he believe me? Was it possible?

“What do you mean?”

“Having a skill, knowing how to do something without ever being taught how to do it, that’s called Genetic Memory. It’s a memory that’s been passed to you from your grandparents or other blood relatives, even as far back as your ancestors, it’s knowledge passed through your DNA,” he explained. “I did a paper on if for my Psychology class last semester.”

I was intrigued by the concept. Was it possible that I had always possessed the expertise to manipulate the vibration of sound successfully? Was it possible that I had been born with the knowledge and skill to do so, but that it lay dormant within me, concealed until I unconsciously triggered it?

“So you think that my abilities can be explained by Genetic Memory?”

“Yeah,” he nodded. “I do.”

“So, do you have genetic memories, too?”

“No, not me,” he shook his head. “You’re the special one, Angie. You’ve always been.”

I laughed. There was no possible way that he was being serious. I’m not special and I’ve never been special; different, yes, definitely, but not special.

“I’m not joking,” my brother said bitterly as he walked to my bedroom window and looked out at the driveway while he continued. “I can’t do the shit you can. I can’t free people from vortexes or manipulate sound. All my stupid ass can do is get lit and get expelled; that’s the extent of my amazing abilities.”

I finally understood the reason for Daniel’s expulsion from private military school. The numerous photos of him with his following of attractive girls at what appeared to be parties and other social events holding beer cans or plastic cups filled with what I only imagined was alcohol in some form were indications of how my brother was entertaining himself while at school. Were his social activities his answer to boredom or were they distractions from something more? I couldn’t help but contemplate the possibility.

“I’m not paranoid schizophrenic,” I confessed. “Mother thinks I am, Dr. Worth thinks so too, but I’m not.”

Daniel shrugged. “I know.”

“You know?”

He turned around to face me, but refused to look me in the eye instead he allowed his gaze to wonder around my bedroom finally settling on the carpet at his feet.

“Angie, I’m sorry.”

I was confused. “Sorry? For what?”

“I know those whispers you heard at night when we were kids were real. I tried to talk to Mom and Dad about them, to explain that you weren’t just hearing things, but they wouldn’t listen to me,” he paused as he lifted his gaze. “I think it was just easier for them to believe that you were mentally ill than to believe you.”

My brother knew the voices were real. He believed me. An overwhelming sensation of relief engulfed me and I welcomed it with a smile. Someone other than Mr. Stokes and Aunt Rachel believed me, so either I wasn’t mentally ill or the four of us were.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear you say that, Dan.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes. It’s comforting to know that you believe me, because right now, with Aunt Rachel missing, I need someone to be my support,” I explained. “And I’m glad that person is you.”

“I’ve always believe you. I never stopped,” he slipped his hands in the front pockets of his denim jeans. “Because I heard the voices, too.”

What? Did Daniel just say that he heard the whispers of The Ancestors when we were children, too? I didn’t understand why my parents didn’t treat him like they did me forcing him into therapy, hospitalization, and pumping him up with Klonopin or some other drug. If they didn’t believe my claims why did his have validation? If they believed that I suffered from mental illness then why were we treated differently, why didn’t they believe that about him?

“At first it was easy to ignore them,” he began, “but once you started listening to them and paying attention to what they were saying, the louder they got and the harder it was to ignore their constant murmuring. And when they got louder – they got scarier.”

I felt a mix of emotions erupt within me.

“I don’t understand. If you knew the whispers were real then why did you leave? Why did you leave me alone here with them?”

I wanted to understand his motives, to get a sense of his perspective of what occurred during our childhood, because I felt betrayed by my brother and the rage associated with his choice to leave me alone was threatening to overwhelm me. I thought that if I could understand his perspective perhaps I would be able to forgive him for abandoning me.

He took a step closer to where I sat on my bed.

“Mom gave me a choice; go away to military school or get evaluated by Dr. Worth,” he sat down next to me and reached for my hand. “I saw what you were going through. I’m not strong like you, Angie. I never was. I knew I couldn’t do it. I ignored them again any way I could. I took cold medicine or Tylenol PM to help me fall asleep and sometimes I would sneak downstairs and drink Dad’s whiskey. And I stopped talking about them with you. I pretended I didn’t hear them anymore and it worked. Once I got to St. John’s it was easier.”

I nodded. I understood.

“The further away from this house,” he paused. “And you, the better it was for me. Honestly being in this house with you now … it scares the shit outta me, Angie. It really does.”