Within Greek mythology when a human died their soul traveled to the Underworld where they would exist, but with no sense of purpose, for at the moment of death their psyche was suspended. It no longer aged or changed in any sense including experience and understanding. Upon physical death the soul would be required to travel to the Underworld where she or he could be required to bribe Charon, the terrifying ferryman, to guide them across the river Acheron in order to reach the entrance to Hades, therefore the dead were traditionally buried with a silver coin placed over each of their eye lids or one under their tongue. If the deceased did not have silver to bribe Charon he could grimly turn them away, prohibiting them entrance to Hades, and they were left to wander the shores, though he was known to make exceptions for souls carrying a golden bough.
Within the Underworld there existed six rivers; the Styx, the river of hatred, which circled the Underworld, Acheron, the river of pain, Cocytus, the river of wailing, Phlegethon, the river of fire, which lead to the depths of Tartarus, Oceanus, the river that encircled the world, and Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, which boarded Hades and Elysium, a paradise for the souls of demigods or heroes.
Most interesting within the Underworld is the Lethe River, which flowed through the cave of Hypnos where no light was cast by the sun or moon, a grotto where night and day met and no sound dared ever enter; where at its entrance a vast number of poppies and other hypnotic plants flourished. The lulling murmurs of the river induced drowsiness in the souls who drank from its sluggish waters, the souls required to drink prior to their rebirth to ensure that all memories of previous lives lived were forgotten. The only exception were the initiated, who were taught to seek the waters of the river Mnemosyne, the river of memory, thus securing the retention of their memories of previous lifetimes and ensuring the end of the transmigration of their soul.
The weekend passed without a return call from Aunt Rachel, though I left numerous messages on her voice mail, and each time I attempted to contact Chloe to question her about the events preceding the gap in my memory, her cellphone rang endlessly without any redirection to voice mail. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement of the level of stress I was experiencing. Daniel and I spoke, but only briefly about the shared memory loss not because either of us were avoiding the other or the topic, but because most of his time was spent evading our parents, who apparently had not forgotten about his expulsion from school and my energy and time was consumed by assuring both Mother and Dad on separate occasions that I was faithfully taking my medication as prescribed, though I lied. I wasn’t. I needed to be unmedicated and as clear minded as possible if I was going to solve this perplexing situation.
I thought of Chloe and the story she told me about her and two of her friends stealing The Pickman Sister’s grimoire and wondered if our situations were similar in any aspect. She mentioned that she had no memory of what had transpired after that night in the woods and suggested that it was as if someone wiped her memory. Was that possible? And if so, was it possible that someone did the same thing to Daniel and me? Maybe my brother’s idea that we were drugged wasn’t as far-fetched as I might have thought.
The chime of the doorbell echoed throughout the house announcing the arrival of who I assumed to be my tutor. I was completely unprepared for our lessons today … I wasn’t even certain of what I should have been prepared since I couldn’t remember our last five days together. I peeked out my bedroom window expecting to confirm my assumption of the identity of our visitor with the sight of Mr. Stokes’ car in the driveway, but was startled to see a dark SUV with government plates parked there instead. Instinctively I knew the occupants of the vehicle were detectives and assumed that they were revisiting us about Josh’s missing persons case.
The doorbell chimed an additional time as I left the sanctuary of my bedroom and walked through the upstairs hallway. Every door to my Mother’s antique curio cabinets stood opened; a bottle of glass cleaner and microfiber towel lay abandoned on the floor close by. I glanced at Mother’s multiple collections of pretty items and considered the pleasure they brought her. Was there anything that I held in my own life that brought me such delight? As I reflected on my own collection of occult books and paraphernalia I smiled. Of course. But how different our tastes were; my Mother and I, and yet, how similar our desire to fill the void within our deficient existence.
As I descended the stairs leading to the foyer I observed Mother opening the heavy wooden front door. The sunlight spilled through the entryway from outside and onto the Oriental rug. If my Mother was surprised by the appearance of detectives Moore and Walker standing on the opposite side of the door her expression didn’t reveal it.
“Good morning, detectives,” she smiled, methodically dissecting the two men standing on our front porch. “What brings you to our door so early in the day?”
“Good morning, Mrs. Williams,” nodded Detective Moore. “We are looking to speak with Mr. Williams. Is he home?”
Mother shook her head. “Unfortunately no, Detective Moore, he’s already left for the office and won’t be returning until around six this evening. Is there something I can help you with?”
“Well, I suppose you might be able to help us with our investigation,” he began, glancing at his partner who shrugged with a nod. “Would you have a few minutes to answer some questions about your husband’s coworker, Peter Morrell?”
Peter Morrell? I didn’t see that one coming though I should have anticipated that at some point someone who knew him would have reported him missing and that the police would send someone to have a conversation with Dad since they were colleagues and at one time close friends. I wondered if they already knew about my Mother’s affair with the repulsive, lewd man or perhaps that was precisely why they were at our home so early on a week day when most people were at work. From my previous interaction with the detectives I knew they were capable and had probably already calculated the best time to speak with my Mother without Dad around to hinder her responses.
“Of course. Come in.” My mother didn’t hesitate. She stepped out of the way as she pulled the door wide enough for the men to step into the foyer. She gestured to the archway that led to the large formal room. “We can talk in the living room.”
The detectives followed my mother through the foyer. Detective Moore checked his cellphone as he walked behind her, but Detective Walker offered a greeting as he passed by me. I smiled and returned the pleasantry while contemplating whether I should follow them and offer my personal insight as to the asshole that Peter Morrell truly was behind the V-neck sweater and aviator sun glasses and to inform them that whatever might have happened to him was the justice he deserved, but before I could be so impulsive our doorbell chimed again and I was forced to answer it.
I casually approached the entry way and scoffed at the peephole in the door. If there was a stranger on the other side with devious intentions they would unlikely be able to carry them out considering there were two able bodied, gun carrying detectives sitting in our living room just twenty-five feet away, questioning my Mother. I opened the door and was met by my tutor, Mr. Stokes. I opened it wide enough for him to enter the house unhindered.
“Good morning, Angie,” he said as he passed by me carrying his messenger bag in one hand and a Styrofoam cup presumably filled with hot coffee. “How are you doing today?”
“Honestly, Mr. Stokes,” I said, shutting the door and walking beside through the foyer towards the library. “I’m not sure.”
“Does your uncertainty have anything to do with the unmarked police car that’s parked in the driveway?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah …,” I slipped my hands into the pockets of my cardigan sweater. “Well, not really.”
I glanced into the living room as we passed the archway. Mother sat on the sofa with her hands clasped in her lap, facing the detectives who sat in the matching floral printed chairs across from her. Upon her face lingered a look of shame as she nodded in response to a question from Detective Moore that I could not hear clear enough to understand, but presumed by her expression had something to do with the illicit affair she had with Mr. Morrell. I sighed and hurried to the library exasperated with my Mother’s behavior. Honestly if she hadn’t involved herself as she had with that nauseating man, Mr. Morrell would still be alive, well, not that he was actually dead, but he was definitely gone and the police wouldn’t be in our home disrupting our lives.
“So, if it isn’t those detectives that are bothering you, then what is it, Angie?” my tutor questioned once we had entered the library.
I stood by the table and decided in that moment that I was going to just tell him. Tell him everything … well, almost everything. I wouldn’t reveal what I had saved on my MP3 player. But I would tell him everything else. He already knew how different I was, he knew about the bloodline, and knew to some extent the power of my abilities. And even though I was still unclear as to who he was to our family or to Aunt Rachel, I still didn’t believe that he was a longtime family friend, I was going to trust him. I didn’t have many people I could actually trust and I needed someone to work through the missing time with, so I was going to take a chance with him.
“I don’t know if you’ll believe me, Mr. Stokes, I hope you do, but I don’t know if it really matters, but I need someone to sort things out with me, someone who understands my perspective, you know, someone who knows what I am and can appreciate what I am capable of,” I began to explain. “And since Aunt Rachel is currently unreachable I figure you’re the next logical choice. Right?”
After placing his bag on the desk he said, “Right.”
“Okay so since I last saw you … or wait …,” I began again. “Since the last time I remember seeing you, some really weird things have occurred.”
“Weird?” he asked, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the desk. “Can you elaborate on what you mean by ‘weird’?”
“Yeah, of course,” I pulled out a chair and sat at the table. I inhaled deeply and explained the situation. “So, I feel like something’s seriously ‘wrong’, like I’m out of synch with … I don’t know … everyone else …,” I paused and considered the other people I was currently in contact with in my life. “Well, except for Dan and you.”
“Are you taking your medication?” he asked, as he removed his glasses and cleaned them with the handkerchief he had retrieved from his pocket.
I was tired of responding to that inane question that every adult I spoke to felt the need to ask.
“This isn’t about my medication,” I stated louder than I intended. I took a deep breath before I continued. “It doesn’t have anything to do with mental illness. Mr. Stokes, seriously, you of all people know I don’t need that fucking medication. I’m not schizophrenic.”
“Alright,” he conceded, as he replaced his spectacles. “Can you explain to me why you feel like you’re out of synch?”
“I’m missing time. I don’t have memories of anything that happened since the Sunday after my parents’ left for the Bahamas,” I looked at him hoping that he had some idea of how to explain why I couldn’t remember and how to regain the memories I had lost because I had the strong feeling that there was important information for me to possess within those lost memories, perhaps even something to do with Aunt Rachel. “I do remember you leaving Saturday night and everything that occurred Sunday, but then there’s nothing after my memory of Daniel coming home Sunday night, well nothing until two days ago.”
Mr. Stokes frowned as he massaged the scar on his forehead.
“And I think something terrible has happened to Aunt Rachel,” I added.