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The Night of Regret
I suppose I should have known from my dream that night that something was going to go wrong. I didn’t know why the dream scared me so much, for I’d had it many times before. I had woken up, shivering, wondering what was so off about that night. The boat was swaying gently back and forth, a rhythm I usually found soothing, but that night is was brooding, like a great storm was waiting on the horizon. I had stumbled up the worn, sagging steps to my deck, and was presented with an enamoring sight. The sea was eerily calm, the waves she stirred barely making their way to the surface. The orange moon was hanging low from it’s string, greeting each wave with a ghostly light. As I stood on my ship, watching this exchange, my heart was still, my usually buzzing mind clouded. The air was dense with a demanding scent, like freshly ground spices or barely ripe fruit. There was a sinister familiarity to it all, like something from a nightmare you hadn’t had since you were a child.
Almost unwillingly, I had walked to the edge of my ship. Each step felt like lead was weighing me down. I was my own Atlas, slowly perishing as burdens were layered on my back. Just as I reached the edge, a huge wave pushed my shoulders, and I was pushed out, into the stars. For just a moment, I was free of my burdens. I was flying through the black velvet above, laughing as I weaved through the galaxies, out into what might be, what could be. And then I was falling, faster and faster to my inevitable doom.
She greeted me with a sneer. Her loud voice echoed in my ears until I could hear nothing but it’s powerful melody.
“So, you have run from me all this time, and yet, you reside with me.” Her cold laugh pounded in my head.
“I knew you were weak. You were just too stubborn to admit it. You ran away.” She paused, as if she was daring me to explain why I was such a fool.
“My dear, I thought you would have learned that I cannot be left in the past. You may have been told that there were ways to move on, ways to find a new path, but alas! The sea is always there.”
She laughed again, causing lightning to flash and thunder to clap in hopes to cover her terrible voice. I cowered, not knowing where to turn, where to go. My body had given up on me, leaving me defenseless and small. I had to face her.
She threw me down, and I rolled through the darkness. I looked at her, trying to see if she was the same as before. Lightning flashed and I could see her spindly figure on my eyelids. How could someone who was once so frail, so small, become so strong and powerful? Why must she haunt my every thought, prodding at the few sore spots in my mind? Why must she destroy my confidence, abolish my status, and leave me with nothing but my forbidden memories of mistakes made long ago? I haven’t confronted this girl for years.
“Ah, so you do remember! Splendid! The alcohol hasn’t quite reached your mind yet. I always did believe you wouldn’t forget me. After all, you promised.”
I tried to see the light once more, to block out her cursed words, but she had her grip on me, and she was not going to let go.
“Do you remember just how much I trusted you, darling? Do you remember how I waited on you, cared for you, loved you, even when you refused to do the same for me? I even obeyed when you said to wait by the old oak tree outside of town. You knew how much I hated graveyards,but you still requested we meet there. I stood there, trembling in my night frocks, holding my small candle, twisting the rings on my fingers. Do you remember what you did, my sweet?”
Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. No air reached my gasping mouth. “You stabbed me in the side, twenty four times. Twenty four!” I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t cry.
She let out a breathy laugh. “And then...you took my rings, you took my candlestick, you even took my night frock! And you buried me in the graveyard, with an unmarked grave.”
I couldn’t see, I could hardly hear, all I could do was smell. I smelled wet dirt, fresh blood, valuable gold. They brought back memories of sins I had tried to atone for, tried to explain.
“When they confronted you, you told them that my father did it! That he killed me to make sure my younger brother got the inheritance! They believed you! You always were good at lying, weren’t you?”
As I struggled, I thought about all that I had done to deserve this. I did deserve it, after all. I don’t know why I thought I could put the misdeeds all behind me, especially now that I reflect on it now. I had witnessed every event she was stating, I had been haunted by the echoes of her cries for help that reached my scared eyes behind my mother’s grave…
With that final thought, I opened my mouth and let the water rush in.