Out of the ashes, into the fire

Trigger warning – drunkenness, threats of sacrifice, cult abuse

This is out of context unless the blog has been read in a chronological order.

Guinevere, 5 years old: 

There is still warmth in the air at noon when the sun shines over all of the playground. We played until I got really hungry and then we went on the swings one time more and then I needed to pee and we hurried home. I’ve been to the bathroom now and I enter the kitchen, sniffing for food. I’m waiting for them to ask if I’ve washed my hands. Nobody says anything, so I announce it out loud:

”I have washed my hands!”

”Great”, Eric answers absentmindedly. He is looking at his mother, who’s attempting to cook something in a frying pan while singing cheerily and crying at the same time. Eric’s father took the other siblings to the dentist, none of them wanted to go. We were left at home and Eric walked with me to the playground. 

”Mom, that’s whiskey”. Eric regards the bottle on the sink beside his mother with an expression of incredulity. 

”I just had a phone call!” It’s so strange, her eyes look like someone’s died but her mouth is wearing a big smile. 

”Mom. The food…it’s getting burnt.” 

”Ooops!” She laughs forcibly, tottering out into the corridor. ”I don’t feel like eating anyway”, she calls on the threshold to the bathroom.

”Vomit! Vomit!” I shout, as I hear the sounds of it escaping out from underneath the door. Vomit frightens me. Eric sighs and considers the kitchen. 

”I’ll make something for you…do you like sandwiches…or hot dogs?”

”Hot dogs!” I jump up and down in anticipation. ”I’m hungry!”

”Hot dogs it is!” Eric cleans the frying pan and start making hot dogs instead.

”I think I’ll have some anyway.” Eric’s mother is back but she only gets through half a hot dog before she has to run to the loo again. Eric pauses hesitantly in the hallway. This time she didn’t bother to close the bathroom door. I follow and stand behind him.

”Mom. Dad will be home soon.”

”I don’t care!” She’s wiping her mouth now, lifts up the toothbrush and puts it down again. ”Joaquin just called. He just called…Someone snitched! They know!” Joaquin is my Uncle.

”They?” Eric asks.

”The Society.” All pretense of happiness is gone now. ”They know it all, but they don’t believe it. They say that if it was true…you’d be a martyr.” Her eyes grow big and wild, she points at me:

”And she’d be a saint! You’re only children! And she’s a little demon! But it doesn’t matter…” she starts sobbing again. ”It doesn’t matter.”

”Why doesn’t it matter, mom?” Eric asks carefully. Her response is frantic, agitated:

”They’ll kill you! They’ll murder you! They’ll torture you to death!” Eric sighs.

”I’m not listening to this. Let’s go Guinevere.” But Eric’s mother follows us, clutching at the fabric of his t-shirt.

”It’s true, it’s true! I’ll tell you why before I regret it!” Eric stills. 

”Come, come sit.” She leads us back to the dining table and pours herself some more whiskey. ”Her grandfather”, she nods at me, ”was a Master of Memory!”

”He was good at Memory?” Eric looks dumbfounded.

”No”, his mother responds superiorly. ”No, a Master of Memory! A master of forgetting and remembering. He could remember anything. If she has inherited that…if…then anything she sees or hears…she’s like a little videocamera. Maybe.”

”But what has this got to do with martyrs and saints?” 

”Nothing. Only her grandfather was tortured to death because of his memory.” I can see Eric is growing tired of this conversation.

”How do I know this is not a lie?” He questions.

”You don’t. It’s a rumor. But it’s true he had a great memory – anyone can tell you that.” The glass is empty. She gives up on it and starts chugging directly from the bottle. 

”Mom, think of the headache.” Eric’s mother has different moods. When she’s in a difficult mood, it’s best if her children call her ”Mom”. It seems to appease her.

”I don’t care! I don’t care! If they kill you I don’t care! A headache – it’s nothing!”

”Mom, nobody’s gonna kill us.”

”You!” She exclaims, fixing him with a desperate stare. ”You’re gonna have to be a bad boy. The worst! Do anything bad. Take drugs, seduce everyone you see, join a gang, steal things…anything! You mustn’t let them accuse you of being good. Of being a martyr.” Eric looks at me.

”She can continue biting people”, Eric’s mother smiles, ”and chasing them with knives. Biting their dicks”, she giggles. ”It’s good she has such a reputation already!”

Eric leans back in his chair, arms crossed.

”How do I know all this is not to manipulate me? Manipulate me into training her?” His mother waves at him with the bottle.

”You don’t! But Eric, you’ve already died. How much more you gonna push this?”

”I’m gonna change to my Normal Self, I have homework.”

”You should do it, you know, if you are ever to take his place.” Eric leaves the table.

”I don’t want his grades to go down.” It doesn’t take long for him to switch.  He lies down in his bed for a couple of minutes, snores a little and then wakes up.

”What time is it?” He asks me.

”It’s Day!” I exclaim happily.

”I can see that”, he chuckles and gestures at the window. ”I must have slept a really long time!” 

I talk him into going to the playground with me, because he doesn’t remember he’s already been. Eric’s mother isn’t in the kitchen when we pass it on our way out. In the park, I play so much I almost feel like Bianca. Like a little girl, happy! Or maybe it’s because Eric keeps calling me ’Bianca’. His Normal doesn’t know I am Guinevere. I could be Bianca. She could be me. We could be one girl?

Eric’s siblings are noisy – it’s impossible to miss their arrival. We follow them in through the door. Eric’s father goes first, but stops in the entrance to the kitchen. Everyone crowds in the doorway behind him. On the floor lies Eric’s mother, curled up and asleep. She is wearing a beautiful floral dress, long hair flowing onto the stone tiles like that of a mermaid. The fairytale image is distorted by the bottle she’s hugging to her chest. Eric’s father screams at her but she won’t wake up. They start carrying her away, saying she has to go to the hospital. But once they’re outside she comes to, flails her arms and shouts:

”No! No hospital, no!” Eric’s father puts her in a bedroom and sits on a chair beside the bed, leaning his head into his hands.

We didn’t understand it then, but being labeled ’martyr’ and ’saint’ was equivalent to a death sentence. After what happened in the barn, all who were present agreed on never breathing a word of it. Now someone had called The Society, painting me and Eric as the perfect sacrificial victims. The eldest child present (besides Eric) was Marcus. Some adults said he was the one who’d outed us, but Marcus did not have any reason to do so. Besides, he was too young to come up with so complex a scheme. In other words, one – or several – of the adults had felt threatened by the possibility Eric or I would remember what occurred that day. So threatened they took measures to eliminate us.

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