“You’re a monster, Charlie!”
The golden light that had blessed his heart had turned to pitch black. It was more than hatred, it was profound disgust. The only person who could really see him, found him hideous.
“I did it for you, Clara” murmured Charlie as tears filled his eyes.
“No, you did it for yourself”, yelled Clara running out the room.
“Mother?”, mumbled Gretchen from under the sheets. “Am I dying?”
“Of course not, my dear. Do you really think that a girl as special as you can be killed by something as simple as a fever?”, replied Mother caressing her forehead.
“But I’m not special”.
“Of course you are, all of my children are out of the ordinary. That’s why I brought you here”.
“But I’m not like the others, I don’t have any super power, I think you made a mistake”.
“My dear child, powers manifest when most needed, you’ll find yours when the time is right”.
Clara stormed into the bedroom: “Mother! Mother, something terrible has happened!”
Doctor Redove took a deep breath enjoying the cold breeze of the night while he was on a smoke break in the garden. He would surely miss his train, but he didn’t mind, in fact he had purposely stalled to be invited for dinner in the hopes of spending some time with the very lovely Clara. She would soon turn eighteen and he thought to himself that such a soft-spoken and well-mannered girl would’ve made a perfect wife. But as he was lost in his own fantasies, Mother came running out of the house and he saw two figures covered in blood appear from the forest.
Norman fell to the ground succumbing to the pain of his wounded leg as the adrenalin rush wore off. Ruth kept running, she had to find Clara.
“Tell me he’s alive Clara! Can you see him?”, cried Ruth as she collapsed in her step sister’s arms. Clara shook her head: “I don’t see him”, Ruth fainted.
Meanwhile the lights in the room where Gretchen was laying started to shift, and shadows of humans, animals and mysterious creatures began to dance on the walls, frightening the little girl.
“No! Go away!”, yelled Gretchen, “You’re not real, it’s just the fever!”
But among the shadows one came closer to her and spoke with a baritone voice: “This is not a hallucination! I am the messenger of the Gods, Gretchen, and you have been chosen. At the dawn of your seventeenth birthday you will come to the temple and become a priestess. You will find all the knowledge you need in this very house. Do not tell anyone about our encounter. We will wait for you”. And all the shadows instantly disappeared.
“The leg seems very badly infected, I’ve applied an antibiotic ointment, but if it doesn’t get better I’m afraid we’ll have to amputate it”, commented doctor Redove as he washed Norman’s wounds.
But Mother wasn’t listening. Charlie’s stuff had disappeared from the house and he was nowhere to be found. As she heard the sound of a train in the distance, she let out a long sigh.
Once everyone had gone to sleep, Ruth came up to Norman’s bed, pressed one hand on the boy’s leg, the other on her own and cured him completely.
“Thank you, Ruth, I’m so glad we made it out alive and whatever happened with Dominc...you don’t have to tell me if...”, said Norman.
Ruth took off her sock and stuffed it in his mouth.
“The doctor is going to get suspicious if he sees your leg like this. It’s one thing if the infection is gone, but bite wounds don’t disappear overnight”, said Ruth as she took something out of her pocket. “Oh, you dropped this in the garden”, and she stabbed his leg with the swiss knife.
“I’ve never seen anything like this! Even the wounds look noticeably different!”, exclaimed doctor Redove as he looked at Norman’s leg. “This is a miracle!”
He then went outside to reward himself with a generous dose of tobacco, but as he reached the garden he realized Ruth had followed him.
“You’re truly one of a kind doctor”, said Ruth as she came closer to him. “Please take me with you to the Village, I want to learn your craft”.
Doctor Redove blushed:“I’m flattered, but I can’t just take you away from your family, your mother has already lost enough children”.
Ruth didn’t care, Clara would’ve taken care of the others, after all she had always been Mother’s favorite.
“She’s not my mother and if I stay here, I’ll die too”, she began to cry and threw herself in Redove’s arms, “Oh doctor, only you can save me” and she kissed him.
She felt his hands tighten around her waist as he succumbed to her advances. “Promise you’ll take me away with you”. A part of her had died that night in the forest, there was nothing left for her at the house, she would’ve done anything to escape.
Maybe it was the shared trauma, maybe something about her unconventional bluntness and fragile state, or maybe the fact that in his whole life he had never felt so appreciated, but something clicked in doctor Redove’s heart:“I promise” he said, holding her closer to him..
And just like that, a new chapter had started.