Chapter LXIII

I hadn’t expected my Dad to engage in a conversation with me about the diaries when I asked if he knew what they were so I was surprised when he placed his laptop on the table next to them and sat in the vacant chair beside me. It had been years since he and I shared a meaningful exchange about anything other than my mental health and even those few discussions were more instructional than conversational. I was suspicious about my father’s intentions as I felt the finger of paranoia stroke my brain sending the familiar tingles of apprehension and doubt throughout my psyche. What if this was an ambush? Perhaps my Dad was laying a trap for me so that he might collect evidence that I had stopped talking my medication and then he could show Mother and Dr. Worth his proof and they’d send me back to the hospital. Well, if that was what was happening then I would have to be careful with my questions and not freely offer my father information that he didn’t already possess about my current state of being. I was not returning to the hospital. I didn’t belong there and I wouldn’t allow them to put there.

“Does Mr. Stokes have you researching the Salem Witch Trials?” Dad inquired, gesturing to the diaries. His question was innocent enough and he seemed genuinely curious about my reason for having the journals in my possession.

“Oh no. I mean, he has given a lecture about the Trials, but I was more interested in our family history,” I admitted. “And I remembered that you always told me that our family could be traced back to Salem.”

“Indeed it can,” Dad nodded, standing from his chair and strolling over to one of the tall bookcases that lined the room as he spoke. “Our ancestors were some of the first settlers of the most significant seaport in early American history. The roots of our family tree go back to the Williams of Salem.”

I watched as he scanned the books on the top shelf and retrieved a tall leather bound journal that looked old and worn, similar to the diaries I had received from Elizabeth Bennet. He retraced his steps to the table and handed it to me. “Pertinent information about our family’s heritage has been recorded in this journal.”

“It has?”

I was shocked. I had been unaware that our family kept records of anything and to hear that such a document had been shelved in the very room where I spent copious amounts of time with my tutors was an unexpected revelation.

“Yes, it has,” he smiled; his face seemed to glow. “This journal has been passed down from generation to generation so that an accurate record of our family’s lineage could be preserved. It was given to Rachel a few years before your grandmother died.”

“Why do you have it?” I asked. “I mean if it was given to Aunt Rachel, why is it here in our library?”

He shrugged his shoulders as he removed his suit jacket and hung it on the back of the chair he occupied “I don’t recall. It’s been here since Daniel was born. Rachel gave it to me so I could record your brother’s information and then yours. I guess she just never reclaimed it, knowing it was safe here with us.”

I placed the journal on the table beside the diaries and gingerly opened the cover. I was curious as to what sort of information had been documented. Were there simply the names and dates of our family members scrawled in black ink or would I find more detailed information? What had my father written about my brother? About me? I carefully flipped through the book scanning the words written in the penmanship of different individuals on each of the yellowed pages I passed by searching for names I recognized. I soon discovered that some entries documented were simple; date, name, location, weight, length, and hair and eye color, while other entries included additional notations that were anywhere from a paragraph to a page in length.

Dad reclaimed the chair he had vacated and studied me with an expression I had difficulty reading.

“I knew even before you were born that you were going to be special, but I don’t think,” he paused then corrected himself, “No, I know I didn’t understand how special you were or how you would impact our family.”

Was this my opening? He stated that he knew I was special, but what exactly did he mean by “special”? Would it be unwise for me to mention my abilities? Have him listen to my MP3 player and show him what I had done with Josh Keyes, Ryan Fuller, and his colleague, Peter Morrell? Or was there a better approach? Did he know that Aunt Rachel was “special” too?

“Your aunt knew that you were going to be born earlier than your due date,” he explained, reaching out his left hand to absently caress the edge of the top leather journal that sat between us on the table. The face of his wrist watch peeked at me from beneath the cuff of his shirt and I found myself captivated by the ticking of the golden minute hand as he continued relaying his story. “She called the day before your Mother went into labor hoping to prepare her, I imagine, but of course because your Mother is … well, your Mother, she didn’t give any credence to Rachel’s warning and because babies are often born early I, too, was unconcerned. But your aunt, well, she was upset, which seemed rather odd to me, so me, being me, I grilled her about it until she reluctantly told me that it wasn’t just that you were going to be born early, but that she had witnessed a number of other circumstances and events surrounding your Mother’s pregnancy, that when she added them to your premature birth –  it troubled her.”

Aunt Rachel was troubled by circumstances and events that surrounded Mother’s pregnancy and my birth? Something about this thought, this idea that Aunt Rachel was concerned incited fear within me, followed quickly by an instinctual knowing. I held some sort of knowledge or memory of the reasoning for my aunt’s apprehension.

“What do you mean ‘circumstances and events’?” I asked; my heart beating loudly in my chest. I knew what he was referring to even before he revealed anything more.

“I was at the office when your Mother called me,” he continued without acknowledging I had asked him a question, but I didn’t think he heard me; he seemed lost in his memory. “I knew something was wrong because she rarely phoned me while I was at work. She told me that she had made arrangements with Rachel to come by the house and bring her to the obstetrician’s office. She had been awoken by what she believed were false contractions, but once she got out of bed and began moving around, she found that she also had some lower back pain and pelvic pressure and she was concerned that perhaps she was in labor. When your aunt arrived at the house and spoke with your Mother, she quickly made the decision to bring her to the hospital instead of the doctor’s office, a wise decision, because only minutes after arriving at the ER you were born. Three weeks early, just as your aunt predicted.”

“In a pool of blood,” I added, which snapped my father back into the present time with me.

“Did Rachel talk with you about this?”

I shook my head. “No. Daniel was the only one who’s ever said anything about my birth. When we were kids he told me that he overheard Mother talking with Aunt Brenda about how it was hard for her to push me out and that she lost so much blood she almost died.”

“Yes, indeed there was a lot of blood,” Dad confirmed my brother’s words, “and I’m not put off by the sight of it, but I admit I was concerned that morning; everyone in that room was concerned not only about the blood loss, but by the dramatic drop in your Mother’s blood pressure and the spike in her heart rate. There was a general consensus with the doctor’s that she was hemorrhaging and even though they attempted to stop it in the ER she had to be rushed to surgery.”

My Mother’s conduct had been finally made clear to me. Up until that moment I hadn’t understood why she was so harsh with me, so critical and cold. I had internally rationalized her behavior as self-centeredness and a fondness for material possessions, without fully comprehending the source of her cool detachment, but as my Dad explained the circumstances surrounding my birth, I understood that my previous reasoning was inaccurate or perhaps just incomplete. I was to be her only biological daughter and her last child. With my birth any hope of future children had been lost, ripped away from her as I tore myself into this world, and into her life. As I inhaled my first breath I snatched away her choice for more children.

“She blames me for her hysterectomy,” I disclosed to Dad my current revelation. “And she hates me for it.”

“What?” Dad exclaimed in shock. “No, no, Angie. You’re wrong. She doesn’t.”

“Yes, she does, Dad.”

“No, Angie. She doesn’t,” he emphasized. “You misunderstand her. Your Mother doesn’t hate you, she doesn’t blame you. She’s afraid of –”

“Me? She’s afraid of me?” I asked both shocked and angry. I wasn’t convinced that my Dad knew my Mother. Perhaps he was living in a state of denial about what really motivated his wife.

He reached across the table for my hand and squeezed it. “Yes.”

I looked into his eyes. I hadn’t realized how much they resembled Aunt Rachel’s. I felt my throat tighten as I watched the tears gather in his eyes.

“Are you?” I choked out in a whisper.

“Afraid?”

I nodded.

“Yes,” he said. “I am afraid, but not of you. I’m afraid for you. I don’t want you to get hurt and I’m constantly thinking of ways to ensure your safety.” He paused, holding my gazed as the tears slowly spilled down his cheeks. “But I realize that you are no longer a little girl and you’ve grown beyond me, beyond my ability to protect you.”

“Dad,” I began, “I don’t think you ever could.”

Chapter LXII

The nature of a human being is complex; it is not as simple a physical body and a spiritual body, but rather a human being is comprised of seven distinct layers or doyens that, though unseen, all seven are vital to the completeness of a human being. The absence of just one of these layers would be detrimental to the individual and would by its construct be defined as something other than human. All other living creatures that share life on earth with human beings (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians) do not possess seven doyens; they possess only four. While human beings are individualized and upon death retain their memories and personality which are reincarnated into a new physical body, animals are not and upon their physical death return to the group-soul from which they incarnated.

Hauntings and ghostly apparitions can be simply explained as the appearance of the astral body of an individual or animal within the physical realm. The astral body is the evanescent layer of the non-physical body and is the conduit between the physical body and all other doyens of the living creature. This spiritual body develops as the physical body does and accumulates all life experience projecting itself into all realms of existence. Though of ethereal nature the astral body is limited and will only possess the memories and knowledge of the physical body. At physical death the astral body is no longer required to linger within the physical body and will therefore assimilate with the non-physical realms without need to be “crossed over” or “encouraged into the light” by a spirit medium or other psychic individual.

 

I walked through the foyer carrying the leather bound journals I had received from Elizabeth Bennet along with a large spiraled notebook. I intended to settle at the large table in our library where I normally sat for my lessons with Mr. Stokes to ensure that I remained focused and would not be distracted. I wanted to concentrate on the diary entries and absorb all I could about the women and men who wrote them. I planned to learn the secrets of our family that I was certain were being kept hidden within these old journals and being in the library would focus my mind on academic study, which was exactly the approach I desired to take when reading them.

My brother had met me in the upstairs hallway as I passed his bedroom. He was as curious as I was about what was recorded in the diaries and informed me that he would join me downstairs after he had showered. He wanted to learn about our family’s history and what role he was meant to fulfill in regards to our family’s future. I was more than pleased by his interest because it would give us an opportunity to rebuild our relationship and in some ways become even closer than we had been as children.

Daniel entered the closest of the three upstairs bathrooms as I walked towards the stairs hoping that my Mother, who was cleaning the contents of one of her antique curio cabinets that lined the upstairs hallway, would ignore me, but with no such luck. As soon as I was a few feet from her she turned to me, an opaque colored piece of her treasured glassware still in hand.

“Good morning, Angie,” she smiled. “What are your plans for today?”

I shrugged, clutching the journals tightly. I had no desire to engage in banal conversation with her. My mind was filled with the more exciting and mentally stimulating ideas of the occult. The leather bound books I held were written by women who lived during the infamous Salem Witch Trials; these women who were my family, my bloodline, and I was eager to read their transcribed words.

Mother carefully replaced the yellowish-pink glass basket in the vacant spot on the shelf, which she had just finished wiping down. She neatly folded the cloth she had been using and placed it next to the bottle of glass cleaner set by her feet on the hardwood floor.

She pointed to the diaries I held against my chest. “Will you be spending time reading those?”

“Yes,” I responded, determined not to give her any more information than what she requested of me.

Honestly I just wanted to get myself downstairs and into the library so I could open the journals and start reading. I didn’t want to get into a long drawn out conversation with my Mother because she never had anything positive to relay to me about anything I enjoyed. She always found fault with my interests; either they were childish, or morbid, or vulgar. I didn’t want to hear what she had to say about the journals and I didn’t want to have to fight her to read them. I wasn’t sure what she would say if she knew the contents of the old books and I didn’t want to find out.

“They look rather old,” she commented as she reached out her hands and gestured for me to hand her one of the journals. “May I?”

I wordlessly started at her outstretched manicured hands unable to form an acceptable response. I knew better than to be confrontational with her, but I couldn’t find anything agreeable to say.

“Angie. Really?” she sighed, removing the middle diary from the pile in my arms and examining the leather exterior presumably for a title, though she would find none.

She glanced at me before opening the front cover and reading whatever words were written on that first page. I watched her expressions carefully, attempting to determine what she was thinking. Her eyes skimmed quickly over the sheet of parchment as her brow furrowed and mouth puckered. She reached up to turn the page when the sound of a metallic ping filled the air. She looked up from the opened diary and over her left shoulder towards the French styled Louis XV curio cabinet. It was the one positioned directly next to the antique oak breakfront that held the Burmese glassware she had been attending.

While I was considering the possible causes for the noise we had heard, one of the gold trimmed glass doors of the hand-painted cabinet slowly creaked open.

“How peculiar,” she said, clumsily closing and handing the diary back to me.

Mother walked over to the opened door, bent over, and retrieved the small gold key that had dislodged from the lock and fallen to the floor. She closed the door and locked it before attempting to reopen the doors. Satisfied that the cabinet was once more secured, she admired the numerous Royal Doulton and Dahl Jensen figurines she kept on the shelves within, tapping her fingernails against the glass as if vying for the little porcelain figurines’ attention. The interior lights flickered twice then went out. My Mother frowned and reopened both cabinet doors before reaching in and examining the light fixtures on the inside. I knew she wouldn’t be able to determine what was wrong because this incident with the electricity wasn’t a new occurrence, that particular curio cabinet of hers was eerie.

I took advantage of the distraction and scampered down the hallway descending the stairs, eager to settle myself in the library to read. I walked through the foyer, passing the mahogany side table that usually held Mother’s house plants, but instead was now occupied by a large Edwardian silver bowl set on a white lace doily and filled with red and white dahlias from her garden. A large legal sized manila envelope hung slightly off the edge of the table beside the flower bowl. I paused to examine the printed label, but didn’t recognize the name or the Massachusetts address. With a shrug, I continued towards the library, passing the opened door to the morning parlor. I absently hummed along with Mother’s music box as the notes of a song from the musical Les Misérables drifted through the foyer as I passed by.

I paused just outside of the library door; the sound of my Dad’s voice caused me to hesitate. He had left the door slightly ajar and while I hadn’t made the conscious decision to eavesdrop on his conversation the mention of Aunt Rachel’s name caught my attention. My own fears concerning the well-being of my aunt kept me rooted in place and I justified to myself that if my Dad had really desired privacy then he should have ensured it by securing the library door.

“Rachel didn’t know what was best for herself,” I heard him snap. “She couldn’t know what was best for someone else, let alone my daughter.”

I pushed the door opened a few more inches allowing me to peer into the room. My Dad stood at the large windows overlooking Mother’s garden with his back towards me. He wore his usual business attire, dark trousers with a matching suit jacket, causing me to wonder why he was home and not at the office. He held the cordless phone in his left hand while his free hand rested on his hip. His opened laptop lay abandoned on the desk behind him, where Mr. Stokes often sat during our weekly lessons.

“It’s not my problem,” my Dad explained as he flung his free hand out in front of him, pushing the caller’s words away. “Gerald has a responsibility to her now and he will teach her.”

Who was he speaking to and why were they discussing me? Was the Gerald Dad mentioned Mr. Stokes? Who was on the other end of the phone line? Who did Dad know that also had any dealings with Aunt Rachel, me, and Mr. Stokes? I brazenly opened the door a little wider.

“No, she’s not,” he said, taking a few steps to the left while still gazing out the windows. “She’s Rachel’s … And I did, Gerald’s here.”

There was a long pause. I assumed it was because he was listening to the words of the mysterious person on the other end of the line. I wanted to know who that person was, but was unsure of how I would be able to attain that information without just asking my Dad.

“No. Caroline would never allow it.”

Mother would never allow what? What was it that the caller was suggesting?

“Alright. Alright. We’ll be there. The three of us,” he relented then pushed a button on the receiver disconnecting the phone call.

Three of us? Who was ‘the three of us’? Dad, Mother, and I? And where was ‘there’ exactly? I pushed opened the door to the library wide enough for me to walk through and entered the library.

“Dad?” I feigned surprise.

“Angie,” he smiled as he turned and place the phone receiver on its base set on the desk. He closed his laptop without turning it off. “I didn’t think you had lessons today.”

“I don’t. What are you doing home?”

He watched me with apprehension as I placed the diaries and my notebook on the table in my usual spot and sat down in the empty chair.

“Are you okay, Dad?” I asked with hope that maybe I could pry some information from him about his mysterious conversation.

“I’m good,” he picked up his laptop and checked his wristwatch as he walked around the desk and over to where I sat. He placed his free hand on my shoulder. “What about you? How are things with you?”

I looked up at his face, which seemed to have claimed a few more wrinkles since I had last studied him. He was clearly stressed and I contemplated the cause; did the phone conversation concern him or did my brother’s expulsion from Saint John’s stress him? Perhaps he was worried about the disappearance of his colleague, Peter Morrell, because it meant that he now had a heavier work load than usual. Or maybe he simply had too many situations in his life that created stress and what I was noticing was the overwhelming sense of anxiety about life in general.

“Things are good,” I responded. Of course I had my own concerns and yes, the one person I believed could have been a mentor and support for me in dealing with all the unusual shit I experienced was gone, or on a European Gallery Tour depending on who you chose to believe, but overall in comparison to my father’s life, my life looked good.

“Good,” he nodded. “Good.”

I had so many questions to ask him, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to without setting off any of his internal alarms he had about my mental health. How unusual or just plain bizarre could my questions be before he believed I was, yet again, mentally unstable and consult Mother? I didn’t want to be checked into the hospital ever again, but I had a strong desire to know just how much my Dad knew about our family and the abilities the women of our bloodline possessed.

“Do you know what these are?” I asked, placing my palms on the diary in front of me.

Dad glanced at the journals then looked me in the eyes and said with a nod, “Yes, I do.”

Chapter LXI

Daniel and I convinced Mother to allow us to go for a leisurely walk with Chloe around the neighborhood. We assured her that we wouldn’t cross Bayview Avenue and would walk no further than Route One-thirty-six. She reluctantly agreed, clearly because it was a benefit for her to get us out of the house as it was her turn to host her social club’s weekly gathering and I knew she had an underlying fear that I would be the cause of some embarrassing situation for her. With both Dan and I out there was less of a chance that she would be put into a compromising position that would undermine the influence she had been meticulously cultivating within her clique over the years. The fact that the local police detectives had already been to our house twice concerning the disappearance of Josh Keyes must have caused some damage to her reputation and prized position with the group and I knew that it was frustrating for her.

As the three of us walked through the foyer I saw Mother in the morning parlor arranging chairs and setting out her Royal Albert china tea set complete with multiple tiered serving plates upon which she would later arrange a variety of simple sandwiches, petit fours, and scones for her group of female guests. I considered hanging around the house with the hope that I might overhear the conversation amongst the women believing that it might be an opportunity for me to learn more about the police investigation into Josh’s disappearance, but I realized the entirety of the discussion might only be minutes of a gathering that filled the afternoon hours. I was promised freedom that afternoon and I didn’t want to sacrifice it, plus my desire to know the details of that ongoing investigation was rather low on my current list of priorities.

Dan, Chloe, and I left the house in silence. Each of us were preoccupied with our own thoughts as we walked down the long gravel driveway and onto the street heading north towards downtown. Chloe and I were side by side as we walked along the road against traffic while my brother walked a few steps behind us.

“You know, those things are going to kill you,” I commented as Chloe retrieved a cigarette from the nearly empty pack of Benson and Hedges she kept in the inside pocket of her jacket.

“Yeah, Dad,” she scowled. “You take your medication today?”

Touché. I said no more about her unhealthy habit.

She glanced over her left shoulder at Daniel as she carefully placed the cigarette between her red painted lips. “So what did your parents decide to do about school?”

“Nuthin’,” he shrugged, burying his hands in the pockets of his zippered sweatshirt.  “Not yet, anyway. I’m supposed to take lessons from Angie’s tutor for now.”

Chloe nodded as she lit the cigarette and deeply inhaled.

“Do you go to Mount Hope?” he asked, moving beside her. His maneuver positioned him in the lane of oncoming traffic, but being early afternoon on a Wednesday there was hardly any vehicles on the road.

“I did, but my Dad pulled me out after I had a few … disagreements … with my teachers.” Smoke escaped her nostrils as she laughed. “Well anyway, I’m going to Portsmith Charter now.”

“Don’t they have uniforms?” asked Daniel with a nod towards her cigarette.

“Nope,” she smiled as she passed it to him. “There’s a dress code, for sure, every school has one, but theirs is pretty liberal. I can deal.”

“Cool,” nodded my brother, holding the butt with his index finger and thumb as he brought it to his lips. He took a drag then handed it back to her.

She smiled, as she accepted it. Holding his gaze, she brought the butt to her own lips and took a long drag. He chuckled and glanced away.

What the fuck was happening? The way she looked at my brother made my stomach lurch. There was something clearly off with her and in that moment I was even more convinced that she was possessed by a spirit than I had been on the last Sunday night we all hung out. She really was in need of an exorcism. I made a mental note to refer to my copy of Sacred Magick when we returned home. I knew there would be a plethora of information on the ancient rite.

“Angie says you don’t remember anything after Sunday night,” Chloe commented, flicking the ashes from the tip of the cigarette onto the ground before offering it to me.

“I don’t.”

“What do you remember?”

“Havin’ pizza with you,” he said as he brushed her hand with his own.

Did she just blush?! Aaarrrgggghhhh.

He continued, “And then puttin’ my shit away, and then Jacob called and we talked for a while …”

“Jacob?” she asked.

“A friend of his from St. John’s,” I interrupted, handing the cigarette back to her with a scowl. I mouthed, “Knock it off.”

“What?” she pantomimed.

“Then I showered and went to bed and when I woke up and went downstairs Mom was there and she tells me it’s fuckin’ Saturday,” he shook his head. “It was whack. I thought I was crazy or drugged. I mean, ’cause when I woke up I felt kinda out of it, you know, hung over or fuzzy, but I wasn’t.”

Chloe nodded.

The three of us walked in silence for a bit, Daniel falling behind Chloe and I when vehicles passed by, then reestablishing his place beside her. He stole side glances at her as we walked along Hope Street by the harbor. I could tell that she was enjoying the attention, and yes, while I was happy that she felt appreciated by my brother; he was a decent guy, I was irritated that whatever this was between them had the potential of becoming a serious distraction for Chloe and I just couldn’t have that happen. I needed her to be focused on me and the situation we had before us. I had to stop whatever was evolving between the two of them before it became a tangible threat and caused some irreparable damage.

“Angie, you said that you thought that your aunt misused her abilities. Why do you think that? What do you think she did with them?” asked Chloe as she flicked the cigarette filter into the street.

I recalled the uneasy feelings I experienced when I gazed at the synthetic yet meticulously detailed replica of my cousin Christian standing apart from my aunt’s other completed pieces in her home studio. Something about the eyes of that duplicate had convinced me that he was not a molded piece of resin, but a living breathing person that wanted to speak with me. I was reluctant to voice my concern, but I trusted Chloe and Daniel had to be told what power our family bloodline held within it. He needed to know.

I took a deep breath then said, “It’s her sculptures.”

Chloe furrowed her brow. “What do you mean?”

“Her sculptures aren’t inanimate objects,” I explained, kicking a loose pebble. “They’re people.”

“Did you say ‘people’?” he asked. He stopped walking and looked at me, understandably confused by my proclamation.

“Yes. Aunt Rachel has an ability like mine, but instead of using sound she uses feelings,” I began as we perched ourselves on the stone wall that separated the road from the water’s edge; a crumbling stone pier just a few hundred feet away. “She can force a human spirit into The Astral Realm by utilizing the energy of The Spiritual Plane, but instead of doing it with music she uses something physical like clay or resin. She uses touch while I use sound. She can do all the same things I can; syphon energy, store energy, and use the energy for trapping people in the Astral Realm, but …,” I paused before I continued, glancing at Chloe and then my brother, “the people aren’t trapped in songs on an MP3 player. They’re trapped in her sculptures. That’s why they’re so realistic.”

“Shit,” spit Daniel.

“That’s beyond fucked up, Angie,” said Chloe zipping up her jacket.

“But not everyone she trapped was a misuse of her power,” I felt the need to clarify my aunt’s actions as not all necessarily bad. Just as I had trapped guilty parties such as Ryan, Josh, and Mr. Morrell, Aunt Rachel had trapped tormentors. “But even just one innocent spirit breaks the sacred oath we swore to Frigg, to Syn.”

“But how do you know?” Dan asked, “How can you tell the difference between a guilty person and innocent one?”

I shrugged. “I think it depends on the ability. I hear the voices of the Ancestors. They tell me who’s guilty and who isn’t. I imagine for Aunt Rachel it’s by her touch. Maybe if she touches someone or something that belongs to them she can determine whether they’re guilty or innocent.”

My brother nodded, looking out towards Walker Cove. “I get it.”

“So for me,” Chloe said with a glance at Daniel before settling her focus on me, “it would be by what I see; someone’s glow would tell me.”

“Right,” I agreed.

“For you?” Dan questioned, placing his hand on hers.

Chloe sighed and withdrew her hand.

“Yeah. I … well …,” she started. “This is gonna sound crazy, but I have abilities, too. Kinda like your sister’s, but different.”

Maybe this is what would stop the thing happening between them, which for me would be good because then I wouldn’t have to directly do anything to hurt either of them, because I needed them each in my life, but separately. And maybe this revelation about Chloe and her abilities was the motive that my brother needed to pull away from her, to create distance between them. Perhaps it would make him nervous, like he was with me when we were younger, and then he would want to move further away from her physically and emotionally. A girl could hope, right?

“Well, alright. Cool,” Dan nodded. “Sounds like you might have Genetic Memories like Angie does, and I’m just the misfit here.”

Chloe giggled and slapped his arm. “Fuckin’ shut up, you’re not a misfit.”

Damn it. All hope was lost.

 

 

Chapter LX

I hadn’t heard from Chloe since the Sunday she was at our house hanging out. She stayed until after Daniel, her, and I devoured an entire pizza, but that was nine days ago. I was frustrated that I had no way of contacting her. She wasn’t answering her cell phone and my calls weren’t being redirected to voice mail, but even if I was able to leave her a message, I wasn’t sure she would retrieve it. I texted her numerous times hoping that she would respond, but she never did. Over time my frustration had morphed into anger then transformed into concern and at this point nine days later I was simply worried. I knew that something terrible had happened to her just as it had with Aunt Rachel. What I didn’t understand was why the Ancestors pursued her as they did my aunt. Had Chloe disobeyed them? Had she broken a vow? Did she use her powers in a disapproving way? Would I ever know the reason or would I have to glean it on my own as I had concerning Aunt Rachel.

Years ago my aunt had taken the same vow I had made, that all Williams women took, with the intention of repaying the family debt owed to the goddess and her handmaiden, both of who protected the family during the Witch Trails in Salem. We willingly made the vow to Frigg to be agents of Syn and as “choosers of the slain” we swore to be ever vigilant of those who tortured and persecuted the favored and protected, the innocent and lawful, slaying the oppressors when deemed necessary and escorting their spirits to the Astral Plane for Syn to judge. Their spirits would either be allowed to enter the grand palace of Fenislar and spend eternity with Frigg or be escorted to Valhalla where they would be celebrated until becoming the einherhar and fight at Odin’s side in the battle of Ragnarök, but those who were deemed unworthy of either of those fates would be cast aside and sent along to Helvegr with no chance of appealing Syn’s decision. I knew that Aunt Rachel had broken the family covenant with Frigg and had become that which she vowed to be watchful of. She was claimed and drawn into the Astral Realm by the Ancestors just as I had done to Ryan, Josh, and Mr. Morrell. No compassion was offered and neither was a chance given to make amends because like them she had become a tormentor, but unlike them she had made a sacred vow to an ancient deity and a Valkyrie that denounces her oath to the goddess Frigg was deemed contemptible and labeled an Oath Breaker. I knew she was bound to travel The Road to Hel.

Though the motives of the Ancestors and Syn had been unknown to me prior, I now understood that it wasn’t my actions that caused Aunt Rachel’s fate, it was her own lapse in judgment, her own grievous error. Overwhelmed by her fears and emotions, she misused her power and caused immense harm that I was expected to remedy. The responsibility of the family bloodline had been transferred to me during the bonding ritual that Aunt Rachel had done. How was I going to accomplish this task? I was unsure, but I knew that it was an enormous challenge that I felt unequipped to handle alone. I needed someone to aid and support me, which led my thoughts right back to where I had begun: Chloe.

I heard the heels of my Mother’s designer shoes strike the hardwood floor of the hallway as she approached my closed bedroom door. The measure of the raps on the floorboards indicated that she had a specific and perhaps uncomfortable purpose for disturbing me. I rightly assumed it had something to do with the lingering echo of the doorbell chime that hung in the atmosphere of the house. Were Detective Moore and Walker back to visit us again? I sincerely hoped they hadn’t because at the moment I had more than enough on my mind and adding another issue would certainly overwhelm me.

“You have a visitor, Angie,” she said with distain through the closed door after a brief, but loud, knock.

I heard the raps of her shoes retreat down the hallway just as fast as they had approached. I closed the leather bound journal I was reading and left it with the others on my bed, intending to return to them after speaking with whomever it was waiting downstairs for me. I was finding that the penmanship and language that was used in the diaries were difficult to comprehend, something I hadn’t prepared for when I collected the journals from Elizabeth Bennet.

I left the seclusion of my bedroom and walked down the stairs and through the foyer, passing the side table that held Mother’s house plants, all of which appeared to need watering; the tips of their leaves were turning brown. The late morning sunlight filtered through the sidelights and fanlight above the carved wooden door casting shadows on the Oriental rug, but otherwise the entranceway was empty of anyone. I walked through the archway that led to the large formal living room where Mother always escorted the police detectives, expecting to find both or one of them waiting for me, but found the parlor vacant as well.

Huh, alright. So who was here to see me?

I retraced my steps through the foyer and approached the opened door way to the morning parlor and found my visitor standing just a few steps over the threshold with her back to me. She was easily identifiable with her short mermaid dyed pixie hair style and black leather jacket.

“Chloe!” I shouted.

She turned and smiled. “Hey.”

“Are you alright?” I asked, examining her, searching for some injury or physical evidence of a reason as to why she didn’t contact me before now. “Is everything okay? Were you in an accident? Were you attacked? Did something happen to you? Did you lose your memory again?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, Angie. Relax,” she said, holding up her hands defensively. “You’re stressing me out.”

“I’m stressing you out?! Seriously, Chloe?? Seriously??”

She was joking, right? I had no words to express the level of anxiety over her well-being I had been dealing with since the night she left our house. We needed to have an in depth discussion about the lost time and I needed to find out if she experienced it too, but I didn’t want to talk about it there in the house with my Mother lurking around. I knew she had a tendency to eavesdrop on all my conversations.

“Let’s hangout outside,” I suggested.

Chloe agreed and followed me silently through the foyer and onto the front porch, the soles of her black combat boots rhythmically hitting the floor tiles, setting the tempo for the duet we were continuously composing together.

“Why haven’t you returned my calls? My texts?” I demanded as I secured the front door, granting us the privacy we needed. “What the fuck is going on, Chloe? What’s going on?!”

“Hell-llo, Angie,” she said, waving an obviously new cellphone in front of my face. “My phone died and my Dad had to buy me a new one. It wasn’t like I was purposefully ignoring you. I mean, why would I?”

She replaced the cellphone into the back pocket of her denim jeans while she spoke. “So I take it that some shit went down after I left Sunday night?”

“Yes!” I exclaimed, paused calming myself before questioning, “What do you remember from that night?  Do you remember anything?”

“Well, yeah, of course. It was all so fucking weird,” she said as she leaned against one of the four columns of the curved portico, the same spot that Ryan Fuller had favored months ago. “I left your house and walked to the end of the driveway before I realized that I should text my Dad to let him know that I was heading home. When I was texting I felt something, like, pulling me back towards your house. It wasn’t something outside of me, but more like something inside of me. I felt like there was something wrong in your house so I ran back here. I didn’t even knock on the door – I just came right in and as soon as I did … it was fucking intense.”

“What? What was it?” I was anxious to hear what she remembered.

“It felt like I was being sucked in by some sort of vacuum. It pulled me towards the parlor where your Aunt Rachel was reading her magazine, but when I got into the parlor I saw you,” she gestured towards me with her hands, ”floating off the floor, and some other woman, that wasn’t your aunt, standing across from you near the sofa, and there was something … I don’t know … unreal about the woman.”

“What do you mean unreal?” I questioned. Why was it that Chloe recollected the entire encounter while my memory along with Daniel’s had been stolen from us?

“Well … she had … like … I don’t know …” Chloe seemed to struggle for words to describe the woman I knew to be Syn. “Well, I mean she looked like a Viking Warrior Woman, you know a Shield Maiden cosplayer with all the leather and the cloak and face tattoos and spear. I mean I really wasn’t sure if I saw her or if I was imagining her.”

I nodded. Her appearance was something I would always remember; fiercely beautiful and yet terrifying.

“I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to do something so I called your name, but you just floated there with your eyes closed with this woman seriously focused on you.”

“I heard you,” I assured.

“You did?” she smiled. “Well, that’s good; so then I reached out to grab you, stupid I know, but I didn’t know what else to do. When I touched you I was sucked into some sort of air funnel that I realized was holding you off the ground and then I got sucked in, it made me float, too. And then that woman – “

“Syn,” I said with a sigh.

Chloe’s eyes widened. “That woman was Syn? Your Syn?”

“Yeah,” I nodded.

“Fuck!” Chloe cursed, shaking her head. She searched the pockets of her short leather jacket for what I knew was her pack of cigarettes. “Well apparently she thought I was hilarious because she laughed, but I couldn’t hear her laughing, like her mouth was opened but no sound came out. It was fucking creepy. She scared the shit out of me, Angie.”

“She does that,” I agreed.

“Anyway I knew she, Syn, was causing the air funnel and I got the sense that being stuck there was bad so I kept trying to wake you, to make you open your eyes …,” Chloe found the gold pack of Benson and Hedges from her pocket and removed a single cigarette as she continued with her narrative, “for some reason that seemed important. I was so scared that I was failing and something would happen to you. I kept yelling at you to ‘open your eyes’, but you wouldn’t. You just wouldn’t listen to me.”

She lit the cigarette with a black plastic lighter that she retrieved from the other pocket and took a slow drag. I studied my friend’s expressions as she spoke and couldn’t fathom how she recalled it all when I couldn’t remember her even being there. In the vision that Elizabeth Bennet had shared with me there had been no echo, no wraith, nothing of Chloe present.

“I decided to use my power,” she explained with an exhale of smoke. “You were surrounded by a dark indigo glow that had wisps moving and pulsing inside it and when I looked at it, or really more like looked into it, I heard some sort of chant in my head, but I couldn’t understand the words. I think either the wisps or the angels were … singing?”

Did she say angels? Where angels even a real thing?

She offered me the lit cigarette.

“Angels?” I repeated accepting the butt and bringing it to my lips.

“Angels, or something like that,” she said, flicking her lighter. “I don’t know what they were, but they swirled around you all sparkly. It was very beautiful and hypnotic. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

“Those things were probably the Ancestors,” I explained, passing the cigarette back to her with an exhale, “especially if they were chanting.”

“Well, none of it felt right to me so I kept yelling at you and directing you to me. You thought I was your Aunt Rachel, but I kept correcting you and then you started getting scared, which scared me,” she exhaled a lungful of smoke as she spoke. “I moved towards you, but those Ancestors or whatever kept stopping you from coming to me and then something shifted, I don’t know what it was, but I felt you reach out for me so I reached out for you and then we were free of the air funnel. And then when I looked over at Syn with my powers still activated, that’s when I realized that she wasn’t cosplaying. I could tell she was something else. She had a glow that was so bright and pure with no hint of any color. It was just brightness.”

“What did she do once we were free?” I asked.

“She just nodded at me and disappeared. She faded and was gone like she was never there. The air in the house was back to normal.”

“Then what?”

“I helped you upstairs and into your room. You were really out of it so I made sure you got changed into something comfy and I helped you into bed and I left.”

“Where was Aunt Rachel? Where was Daniel?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t see either of them. I assumed Daniel was in his room because his door was shut, but I don’t have any idea about your aunt. I never saw her.”

“Do you remember anything after that?”

“After that? What do you mean?” Chloe asked.

I decided to take another approach. “When did your phone die?”

“Oh, yeah, well apparently during that whole episode, my phone fell out of the pocket of my hoodie and hit the floor pretty hard. When I got home I noticed the screen was shattered.”

“So then you remember what has happened to you every day since that night? Right? You don’t have any confusing or fragmented memories like that night in the woods with your friends Nick and Jack?”

“What?” She grimaced, “No, no. Why? Do you?”

“Well, I don’t just have confusing memories. I have no memories. I don’t remember you coming back to the house. I don’t remember getting in bed. I do remember you leaving and I remember the whole experience with Syn, but that’s because someone helped me remember them, but I don’t remember everything you just shared with me,” I paused. “Apparently there are five days between you leaving our house and me waking up that are a total blank to me. It’s like they don’t exist.”

“Shit, Angie, that’s fucked up” she said, dropping the butt of the cigarette on the porch and crushing it violently with her boot. “Is Dan okay?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “He’s okay but he doesn’t remember anything either.”

“Was it Syn? Do you think she do something to the two of you,” she swallowed hard and whispered. “Like The Pickman Sister’s did to us – Nick, Jack, and me? A transmogrification spell or something?”

Was it possible? Could Syn have cast some sort of spell on my brother and me? I honestly didn’t know. Anything was possible at this point until I could figure it out. There was a reason for what she did, I understood enough about her to know that she had motives, but at that point I was at a loss as to what those might be.

“I know Syn took our memories, but I don’t know how and I don’t know why,” I explained. “Maybe you can help me with figuring it out.”

She nodded with a smile. “Yeah, of course. How can I help?”

Chapter LIX

On the drive home from Bridgeboro Mr. Stokes shared with me more information about himself and his history with our family than he had in the past year he had been tutoring me. While I’ve always known he was well educated and possessed the ability to academically instruct and challenge me, I actually liked him and found him to be an amusing teacher. I enjoyed our lessons and looked forward to our time together. He had skill and tact when dealing with my abnormal and morbid behaviors that were attributed to my mental illness, but I have come to realize that he never viewed them as symptoms and instead was aware of who I was and that I had been born under The Blood Omen, which practically ensured that I would possess abilities. I held respect for him from the beginning of our relationship, but that respect became tainted as each event unfolded over the last few months. With each new challenge I faced I discovered just how much Mr. Stokes had deceived me, holding vital information from me that would have influenced my decisions in some way. I wanted to trust him, but I found myself holding back. I knew that because we had been bonded by Aunt Rachel, he could be of great value to me, though admittedly I was unsure how that would work. He had the knowledge, skills, and experience to teach me how to control my abilities, all of which I knew I needed in order to become more advanced and perhaps fix all that had been broken in my life; beginning with my lost memories and finding Aunt Rachel, but I found it difficult to trust him, to rely on him, to believe what he said, and question what he didn’t.

Mr. Stokes was an entertaining story-teller. His word choices weren’t only compelling, but emotionally charged and impactful. He finally acquiesced to me and told me the story behind the scar on his forehead, which was a memento from the time spent with my Great-Great-Grandmother Catherine Elizabeth traipsing around New York City where the two of them visited speakeasies owned by some notorious crime bosses of the time. Apparently this behavior ceased only after my great-great-grandmother discovered that she was pregnant with my Great-Grandmother Lillian and was forced by the family to tame her wild nature. He explained that in those types of establishments, after consuming a fair amount of liquor, patrons would often unabashedly release their oppressed emotions, which would result in chaotic brawls. One unforgettable evening while accompanying Catherine he was involved in such an occurrence and was whacked on the head with the broken leg of a wooden chair by a man named Charles Luciano. My tutor described the uncomfortable sensations he experienced after being hit as hard as he had been and explained that he had been unaware of the deep gash on his forehead, the result of a protruding screw in the chair leg, until Catherine pointed it out to him. It had required the attention of a physician who had treated it for infection and stitched it closed. While at the time Mr. Stokes noted that he was irritated by the whole chaotic experience, he now allowed the scar to be a constant reminder of his primary responsibility; his human companion, whoever she might be during that current period of time.

He smiled as he described how fascinated she was by Spiritualism and how she enjoyed attending the séances being held throughout the area, some of which were hosted by the most notable mediums of the time. They had been invited to the home of a man named Goddard Crandon, a wealthy Boston surgeon whose wife was a well-known medium who channeled her dead brother, Walter Stinson, and though my great-great grandmother was four months pregnant at the time and my great-great grandfather forbade her to, she and Mr. Stokes took the trip to Boston and attended the séance. There they mingled with prestigious members of Boston’s upper class and Ivy League elite. The Blonde Witch of Lime Street was a disappointment to Catherine, who Mr. Stokes observed possessed abilities far greater as did all the women of my bloodline. Fueled by what she viewed as a mockery of her own gifts, my great-great grandmother, uninfluenced by the fame of the medium or the clout of the gathered audience, contradicted the information that Margery Crandon gave to the group that evening. He assured me that she didn’t relay what she gleaned from the spirits in a self-promoting way, but did so with tactful consideration allowing the group to leave with the available insight, but also with Margery understanding what it was to be an authentic channel and not just a performer. She was never invited back.

Shifting from his tales about Great-Great Grandma Catherine, Mr. Stokes spoke to his appearance and explained that he didn’t always look as he did now, resembling a distant family member, instead sometimes he would adopt the appearance of someone from his human partner’s memory, such as a close confidante or intimate friend, though he stressed the importance of having a corporeal form while in active service to the members of our bloodline.

“Being in a physical body creates a stronger bond between the two of us and makes life less complicated. There’s less explaining to do,” he said as he maneuvered his vehicle through traffic on the highway. With a hint of amusement he continued, “Because the majority of people I interact with are so unaware they don’t even realize I’m not a human being.”

I looked over at him from the passenger seat and studied his physical appearance. I didn’t find him the least bit attractive and would probably ignore him if I were to see him out in public, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t aware. Did it? His eyes were set too close together and were encased by thick, heavy eyelids. His large bulging nose and thin lips were accented by a trimmed mustache, while his almost non-existent chin donned a short goatee. His brown and gray head hair was thinning and receding, leaving him with a larger forehead than he wouldn’t have had in his younger years. His facial skin was wrinkled and sagging, which lead me to wonder if his physical body aged as mine did or if because he wasn’t human it remained in this permanent state. Did his body even work the same as a natural human body? Was he required to eat and drink to live? Did he ever get sick? Would this body he currently inhabited die? What did he look like without a physical body? Would I be able to see him in his true form? Could anyone see him that way? I realized that Chloe being a Tetraprismat would be able to and I began making plans in my head for her to meet him and tell me what she saw when she looked at him.

The sound of my brother’s snoring from the backseat disrupted my thoughts.

“So, what are you?” I asked my tutor. “I mean, if you aren’t human, then what are you? An alien? Angel? Demon? What?”

Mr. Stokes glanced at me before speaking. “Well … I am a trusted confidant … a devoted companion, who be–”

“Because of a blood bond willingly serves, attends, and blah, blah, blah,” I finished. “I get it. I know all that already, but what are you?”

Mr. Stokes frowned as he stopped at a red traffic light. I had made him uncomfortable. It was as if he didn’t want to speak the words aloud. Why was he hesitating? If he said what he was would it make it less true? Would it break some sort of spell or some sort of rule, like in that old movie with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton? Was he not allowed to discuss the nature of his being? If he was truly in servitude to our bloodline, to me, then wasn’t I entitled to know this information? If he didn’t tell me, then who would explain these things to me? Perhaps it was meant to be Aunt Rachel, but she wasn’t here and I wasn’t certain when she’d be returning, if she ever would.

“You know what I am, Angie. You’ve always known, you just never acknowledged it before because you were kept medicated by your doctor at the insistence of your parents,” he paused, “Well, more precisely by your Mother.”

“Tell me,” I insisted, as he pulled his vehicle into our driveway. “Say it out loud so I know I’m not making it up.”

He brought the car to a stop and turned off the engine. My brother stirred in the backseat beginning to wake from his nap.

“I’m your familiar spirit.”

 

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.

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.