House of Night

TRIGGER warning  – child sexual abuse, cult abuse.

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

Guinevere:

It’s a solemn looking house, old stone towering so high it blocks out the sun. You’re standing on the first step of stairs leading up to an ornamented door. It’s cold in the shadow. If you knock on the door and the hour is right, a man dressed in livery will open. He will be courteous, asking for your name. In his hand there is a list. If you are on it, he conjures up a tray – or so it seems, the tray appears so fast. Maybe it stood right out of view, on a small table right behind the man. On the tray there are two stone globes, resting on small velvet pillows.

”Please choose”, he encourages you.

Darkness, death, decay, night, evil, left, magic

I was taught what to look for. So was Giselle and the other Selves belonging to the Night. 

But if you’re innocent, you might choose the white, sparkling orb instead of the dull, black one. Just to feel it in your hand. Or you’ll choose fresh grapes instead of moldy. Or when you’re asked:

”Are you going left or right?” You could answer ”right”. It’s possible you prefer the postcard which depicts a sunrise instead of the one showing a night sky. If you do make any of these choices, you’ll be asked to leave. 

”I’m sorry, there was a mistake”, the man explains before shutting the door in your face. How odd. What were you doing on this street, knocking on an unknown door, stating your name with no intended business? You step off the stone stairs, onto the pavement, out of the shadow. Warmth envelopes you. Ice-cream. You were going to buy ice cream. It’s a sunny day, after all.

Guinevere, 6 years old:

We stood outside the House of Night. It was only January and some windows on the street still sported Christmas decorations. But not this building. I glanced up at my father. It was strange, going somewhere with him, as his daughter. Did this mean he’d be a real father now? That he would want me to live…He’d said as much when I asked him. I wanted to believe him, but that is not the same as believing. Father knocked on the door. A man in elegant, old fashioned clothes opened. He was young but his hair was all white and curly. It made me giggle. 

”It’s a wig”, Father explained. I continued to stare at the man’s strange hairstyle. Father gave our birth names, the man nodded and held out a tray.

”Stop staring at his hair, consider these stones instead. Which do you prefer?” Of course, I preferred the white one. It was all shiny and glittering. Darkness, Night. The night is black. I chose the black stone. The man beamed.

”What is your name?” He asked.

”Guinevere”, I replied.

”You’re welcome inside”, he smiled. Father was offered fruits and chose a brown, withered grape. He didn’t need to give his Self name to the man. 

A name can be used to control you. Whoever knows your name, can call you into the body. This is the reason magicians have secret names. In The Society, parents control their children. Parents are told they should know all of their children’s Selves. But children are not allowed to learn the names of their parent’s Selves. The Society keeps lists of all Selves – all alters – of every member. If you’re an adult, and you have a higher status than someone else, you may learn the names and triggers of that person. 

It is forbidden to keep secrets from The Society. 

Out of all secrets, the most forbidden is a Secret Self. 

Inside the foyer we waited for a while. I continued gawping at the white wig. Father sighed. I walked in circles on the floor, tracing the pattern of the tiles with my feet, as Grandfather Harry approached.

”You are six years old now”, he told me in a grave voice. ”It is time you learned how to stand still.” I tried to but as soon as I stopped moving, I felt the need to pee.

”I must go to the bathroom”, I said. The man in the wig volunteered to show me the way. I didn’t quite remember since last time I was here. This house – it had the habit of slipping away, away from the lit halls of my mind, into dark and forgotten rooms. The man did not let me enter the toilet alone. Once inside, he insisted on drying me off when I was finished. While he did so, he tried to touch my private parts. As we exited the lavatory, he carried his wig in his hand. I’d ripped it off his head in a rage and threatened to flush it down the toilet. 

”Take care of your demon”, the man snarled at my father.

”What happened”, father inquired.

”Nothing”, I answered breezily. I knew better than telling the truth – they’d be mad at me, not the man.

”She’s ill-mannered!” The man exclaimed. Luckily, the discussion was interrupted by the arrival of Eric and his parents. Father informed them I’d succeeded in making a bad impression in record time. 

”Guinevere?” Eric sighed. ”Giselle is different.” He touched my waist, and I was out.

Giselle:

I opened my eyes. House of Night. I was leaning on Eric and he was kneeling in front of me.

”It’s time”, he told me in a quiet voice, worry etched on his face.

”I can do it, don’t worry”, I whispered. 

”Scchh”, he breathed. I wasn’t supposed to be able to talk. Did they hear me? I hoped not.  

Later, I’d be Silenced, but not that day.

”Did she talk?” Father snapped.

”No”, Eric stated. ”She just moves her lips as if she does.” I gazed at Eric and remembered his instructions. We kill ourselves inside. Kill our feelings. Today was the day, and I suspected it would kill him more than me. I was here to prove Eric really had trained me. Prove it to the Head of the House of Night, to my father, to Eric’s parents and Grandfather (who was Head of my mother’s bloodline). I needed to be trained in order to register for the Night Trials. The Night Trials were a must. Children born to the Night who don’t do the Trials, or who fail all the tests, are eligible for sacrifice. Unless someone powerful protects them. The way my mother was protected by her father when she failed her exams…

The young, now wigless man, led us to a room that seemed a mix of a salon and an office. In there, we waited for the Head of the House of Night. Meanwhile, the adults talked about how special it was to be six years old – it was the year that would decide my whole future! How incredible! The Night Trials would reveal my strengths and weaknesses. It would affect my survival, who would wish to marry me, my line of work, everything. Father seemed content.

”Six years”, he mused. ”It’s the most intelligent you’ll ever be! Six year olds can learn anything!”

”Teach her how to do a second degree equation and I’ll agree”, Eric chuckled. 

”Schh”, his mother admonished, hauling him off to the side of the room. 

”You promised to be pleasant today”, she whispered furiously. For a moment Eric looked about to cry, but then he shut the door to all feelings. So did I. The Head of the House of Night walked into the room. (I can’t remember how he looked – it’s a relief. It is safer that way.) It was time.

I do not wish to remember the details. Or to write of it explicitly. But I was lead somewhere else and asked to pleasure all the adults I needed to prove myself too. I did my very best and did not give up even though tears streamed down my face. Finally, we returned to the office where Eric was dozing in an armchair. Something must have happened when I was gone. Did they make him sleep? 

Father contemplated me, sighing:

”If only your other Selves could learn from you!” I saw papers signed. I was registered. I’m still standing. Pushing, pushing the door to the feelings closed. Eric couldn’t help me keep myself together, he was snoring. Did he get upset, did he try to save me? I can’t do this – I can’t do life – without him.

Guinevere:

I woke up on the floor. Getting on my feet wasn’t easy. I felt weak and suffered from a bad taste in my mouth.

”Who are you?” Eric’s mother asked. 

”Guinevere!” I exclaimed. ”And I’m hungry.” I needed to have some other taste in my mouth, and quickly! The wig enthusiast peered at me, shaking his head.

”Not that one again”, he moaned. Father laughed.

”I’m taking her to a restaurant”, he declared merrily. ”Seeing that we’re finished here.” We said goodbye to the young man and some old man. Eric’s parents carried him out of the house. Why is he always asleep when I want to talk to him? Father saw me staring after their car, snowflakes swirling as it drove out of view. 

”You should be very careful around that boy”, he stated.

”Why?” I asked, stomping the ice on the sidewalk, making it crack. 

”Because he’s obsessed with you. Nothing good will come of it!”

”If he’s obsessed with me, I’m obsessed with him too!” 

”Ha! You don’t even know what the word obsessed means.”

”What does it mean then?”

”It means he’s crazy about you. He’d do anything for you and he doesn’t let anyone touch you.”

But that’s what I love most about him. I love Eric! I almost said it out loud, before I recalled I shouldn’t say stuff like that. It would make my father jealous – and angry. So I kept quiet. The restaurant was beautiful. I couldn’t take my eyes off the interior design, but Father had other things on his mind. He asked why I wasn’t obedient and well behaved like Giselle.

”I don’t know how to!” I confessed, stabbing at the food with my fork. It was one of the funniest things Eric taught me – how to eat in an unnerving way. But Father wasn’t so easily distracted. He urged me to ask Giselle how she did to obey. I complied, listening inwardly for her answer. 

”She says ’I kill myself’”, I informed him.

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