- Vol. 04
- Chapter 02
Image by Julien Menier
HomecomingThey said she wouldn’t feel anything when she returned. Too much time had elapsed. Her body had undergone a series of transformations, her memories altered beyond repair, her brain pulpy mulch.
They were right.
Standing beside the sea, facing Hunter’s Rock – the name suddenly blitzing her mind like a lightning strike – her body is numb, emotionless. She forces herself to feel something, anything at all but nothing comes. She is a void, a vacuum.
Her mind aches, pulsing from all of the shocks she has received. She closes her eyes and concentrates on her breathing. The air wraps her in its icy embrace, raking invisible claws through her hair and ravaging her skin. If you want to remember, there is always a way. Forget your surroundings and focus.
I am not here, she thinks. I am far from here. Somewhere far far away. Existing in another galaxy.
Her mind suddenly explodes with starlight, platinum brilliance bleaching her vision. She winces, fighting the urge to open her eyes and undo all of her progress.
She focuses again, this time her ears fattening on cries bleeding into screams, picturing fingers stabbing away at the air, someone spitting at her and labelling her a witch.
Why a witch? What had she done?
A baby’s cry pierced the air and she found herself peering down on a fair-skinned girl. The baby looked almost doll-like with her set expression and closed eyes. But something was wrong, very wrong. The baby in her arms was stiff, her limbs weren’t moving, her chest wasn’t rising or falling.
HomecomingAnd then a door burst open onto the scene and a harried woman snatched the baby from her.
How did she get in? This wasn’t her home. What was she doing to her baby?
Before she could think of a reply, she fled through the streets, her feet striking the ground like flint, her breath jagged thorns in her chest. She knew what fleeing meant: it meant her guilt but what else was she supposed to do?
She could already picture the villagers waving their flaming torches above their heads, the notion of eternal damnation present in every word they hissed toward the witch passing herself off as a common woman. No, she mouthed. The baby was already dead when I got there. I wanted to save her but I was too late. Please, please believe me. I beg you.
But her words fell on deaf ears. The villagers didn’t want her snivelling excuses, they wanted her blood. Tears streamed down her face as she teetered on the edge of Hunter’s Rock. She didn’t bother wiping her tears away nor did she look down at the midnight abyss waiting for her below. She had accepted her fate. Hunter’s Rock was where everything had changed, where she had jumped off the precipice and felt the invisible hands of innocence saving her.