So now it's time for a Tuesday Teaser! Lately I've been working on Rage more than anything else, so I guess that is what I will post for today. Enjoy!
“Natasha, dear. You're shaking. What's wrong?”
I bowed my head. “Mother Dearest, I … I don't know if you'll forgive me for what I did.”
“I'll always forgive you, dear.” She placed one of her hands over mine. “Now tell me, what is it?”
“I went into the forest.” I said it before I could stop myself. I dared to look up, and saw Mother Dearest's gray eyes grow wide.
“Do you mean … ?”
“Yes. I went … far into the forest. It––It was a demon that attacked me.”
A moment ago, Mother Dearest's hand had been gentle and comforting, but now she gripped my wrist with surprising strength and hissed, “What were you thinking?”
I'd never seen her like this––her eyes blazing, her whole body trembling. It took me a moment to get over my surprise and find my voice again.
“I don't know,” I answered hoarsely. “I'm sorry.”
“Sorry?” Mother Dearest repeated the word like it carried a fatal disease. “You could have disrupted the entire balance …” She trailed off, sinking back into her chair again and letting go of me.
I rubbed at my throbbing wrist, my head reeling.
“I'm sorry,” Mother Dearest sighed, but I could see that she was still shaking.
“No, I … You have a right to be angry,” I said. “And I know I should never have gone into the forest. But, listen to me. I––I need to tell you what I saw.”
Mother Dearest didn't protest, but she didn't urge me to keep speaking, either. She only looked at me, her face draining of color until it was nearly white. Although I'd always known she was old, I'd always thought of her as being eternally young and strong. Now, for once, her age showed in every line on her skin. She appeared so small, so frail. I was almost afraid my words would break her apart … yet, I had to tell her. She was the only one who would be able to do something, if anyone could.
“I think … I think maybe the Sacrifices are still alive,” I said.
Mother Dearest still didn't answer. She only gazed at me, the fire flickering in her eyes.
“I met someone in the forest,” I went on, my voice lowering until it was almost a whisper. “It was dark and I couldn't see, but … I'm pretty sure he was a human being. And he knew Caroline. He thought I was her.”
Mother Dearest looked away, holding tightly to the armrest on her chair. The only sound in the room was the fire crackling.
“Please,” I said, at last. “You have to believe me. There was someone in that forest, and … and my sister could be out there, too.”
“I believe you,” Mother Dearest answered, her voice empty of emotion. She slowly rose to her feet, and stood before the fire with her back facing me. “Who else have you told?”
“Did you tell anyone else about what you saw?”
“No, I … only Brandon.”
Mother Dearest turned toward me, half of her face illuminated in the fire's orange glow, and the other half in shadow. “And what did he say?”
“He said not to tell anyone. But, I felt like I had to tell you. I thought you'd know what to do.”
“Hmm,” Mother Dearest murmured. She strolled away from the fireplace, walking along the wall and trailing a hand over her books. “Natasha, you would be wise to listen to your older brother.”
Almost involuntarily, I jumped to my feet. “What?”
“I don't want you telling anyone else about this.” Mother Dearest pulled a book from place and opened it, leafing through its pages.
“But––But I know what I saw!” I burst, unable to contain myself anymore. “I'm not insane. Don't you understand? We need to do something!”
“Like what?” Mother Dearest snapped, slamming her book shut. “Send everyone into the forest with their weapons, only to be slaughtered by demons?”
“Our population is dwindling, Natasha. We can't afford that.”
“But what about the Sacrifices? What about Caroline?” A lump swelled in my throat, choking my words. “We need to try …”
“No.” Mother Dearest turned around briskly, pushing the book back into its place on the shelf. “I don't want to hear another word about this. I don't want you spreading this story of yours throughout the Village, either. I want you to pretend like this never happened, do you understand?”
No. No, it wasn't supposed to happen like this. Mother Dearest was supposed to make everything all right. She was supposed to see that this was our opportunity to go into the forest, to save the Sacrifices, to kill the Monster.
“I'm the only person who's ever made it out of the forest alive!” I cried. “How can you tell me to forget what I saw?”
“Because you were never supposed to see it,” Mother Dearest said. “And your story will only endanger the other Villagers. Please, Natasha. Stay away from the forest, and never tell anyone what you saw there.”
“Promise me.” Mother Dearest's eyes flashed, like a pair of gray storm clouds flickering with lightning.
I looked down, noticing how my dirty old shoes appeared out-of-place in the middle of the intricately designed carpet.
“Yes, Mother Dearest,” I whispered. “I promise.”