I am awakened by the sweet fragrance of roses and the chirping of the birds. The warm sunlight bathed me as the pleasant breeze flew by. My body finds its strengths and slowly leaves the bed. The intense smell of nature fills my lungs as I reach the window ledge.
‘Ah... What a pleasant smell...’ I could sense the purity of the land, the fresh vivid grass, and the peaceful birds.
“Are you awake milady?” one of my maids speaks from behind the door.
“You may enter,” I answer politely as my fingers touch the soft petals of one of the roses inside a large glass vase.
“Do you have any preference for today’s attire?” Anne asks after walking inside and rumbling through my clothes in the large wooden closet.
“Anything will do,” I noticed the absence of maids but somehow it didn’t bother me, in fact, it only felt natural.
“How about this dress milady?” she picks a light pink dress filled with small pearls on its chest area. The skirt was voluptuous, filled with several layers that made her look alive and compelled by joy.
“That one will do,” I smile kindly as she places the dress onto a small bench at the end of my bed. Then she removes the used sheets and I sit in a chair, resting my arms on a beautiful oak desk.
“Shall I prepare a bath milady?” her thoughtfulness made everything seem so clear, so pure.
“There is no need, maybe later,” she nods and picks up a small object, brushing my crow hair with it.
“I heard Lady Lilith baked a cake today, she woke up especially early for it,” the maid smiles happily but soon her joy turns into pain, “If I may milady... Seeing your relationship makes me feel... jealous.”
“How so?” I question her as her tender hands braid my hair.
“You see milady, I never met my mother and my father died at a young age so I was always alone, sometimes I wonder if she regrets it... Leaving me, that is,” her sad eyes made my heart hurt.
“Anne no one knows what made your mother leave but I’m sure that, no matter where she is, she is thinking about you. We might not be the type of family you’d like but...” as I was speaking she intervenes.
“Milady that’s not it! I care for you and your mother dearly and I’m very thankful for everything you have done for me!” her worried expression made me chuckle slightly.
“I know, calm down,” I place my hands on hers as some tears found their way out of her beautiful light brown eyes, “But we’re not them. You must not forget where you came from because that’s what makes you unique Anne.”
“I know milady, it’s just...” I get up and hug her tightly. Her eyes widen in surprise right before seeing them hold on to dear life. Tears were threatening to leave as if they were the ones in command.
“You know, my mother usually says the best way to deliver your feelings to someone is through singing, that’s why you always hear her whenever you go,” I smile softly.
My voice echoes throughout the room as I sing a soft lullaby about a young girl whose childhood had been tainted by departure and, even after growing old her mind still wandered about those who left, about the souls that disappeared from her presence, while blaming herself for having her dream ripped away from her, right before her eyes.
I place my hand on her short brown hair, patting it softly. Anne sobs, her grip on my nightgown tightens, her tears flow, and her pain continued to be delivered to the Gods. The ghosts that dragged her feet were no longer as heavy, the scars that her heart carried were no longer as deep and, most importantly, her soul was no longer overwhelmed by darkness.
After several long minutes, the song stops, and so do her tears. She places some distance between us right before fixing her appearance. Her gentle eyes were red, her cheeks were blushed and her hair was out of place, however, she looked relieved.
“Thank you, Ophelia,” she smiles warmly right before returning to her chores.
“Your welcome, Anne,” I reply right before getting dressed.
“Good morning mother,” Lilith’s beautiful smile greets me as her pure light blue eyes meet mine. In the wonderful garden, filled with flowers and grass, she sat, gracefully, while drinking a cup of tea. Her long curly ginger-colored hair reflected the sun's rays as her pale skin looked like a porcelain doll.
“Good morning my dear, how was your night? Did you had a good sleep?” I approach calmly and sit in front of her, grabbing her cold hand afterward. The gentle smell of ginger and sugar mixed with the light fragrance of roses and other flowers.
The cup her small hands wielded was beautifully crafted with amethyst details onto the porcelain and, the table was made of very light and soft wood.
“I did mother, how about you?” her weak body always made me worry and, ever since I was born I tried to help her in any way I could.
In my 9th life, everything was the same. I woke up several days after being born, in the body of a baby, however, this time, I wasn't in my baby crib, instead, I was in my mother's arms. At first, I thought I was crazy, that this was nothing more than just my brain playing pranks on me but, when her cold fingers touched me, I knew. This was Duchess Lilith Criswell, my mother.
It was not too much later when I realized she was paralyzed from her waist down and so, she could only move the upper part of her body. I was well aware that it was my fault, that she had lost her legs because I was born but, even then, I couldn't bring myself to accept it. Over the years, my mother took care of me warmly, teaching me all she knew, showing me what she could and, never once, she thought I was to blame.
No matter to who I went, there was no cure for her problem and so, the trivial happiness that I had received soon became an incessant feeling of guilt. I thought I had ruined her life.
“Yes... Don’t you think the roses are blooming beautifully today?” her tender and calm voice made my worries disappear as if they had never been there in the first place.
“Would you like me to get you one?” I question just to be answered by her delicate laugh.
“Do you know what love is Ophelia?” she grabs her cup and places it against her pale pink lips.
“I don’t," without meaning, I answer coldly but, much to my surprise, Lilith just puts down the cup.
“Love is like a rose dear... Your eyes are presented by its beauty but you know it will be painful to touch it...” she drinks a little bit of the ginger tea, "You want to pick it up, keep it to yourself but soon she will wither. Love is being able to watch the roses bloom every Seedling, wanting to harvest them but not doing so."
“I see mother...” I smile as she glances at me cheekily. Her words sounded surreal since I couldn't comprehend the true meaning behind them.
‘Love huh...?’ somehow that thought scared me. It was almost as if there was a missing chunk in my heart, painfully aching whenever I recalled it. I didn't know what it was but I knew that man was to blame, 'Who...?' I couldn't remember his face, his voice, his name, however, the feelings of love I once felt were now nothing more than solitude, despair, and regret. I knew love was a feeling I never wanted to experience again.
“You look troubled, what’s wrong?” those beautiful green eyes knew me way too well.
“Mother... It’s...” I couldn’t bring myself to say it.
“You know dear, when you are older you realize that your certainties are nothing but shells of your pride, shattering at your new perspective," she caresses my cheek gently as I sense her love fill my empty heart, "I don’t know what clouds your soul but you are a strong woman, I’m sure you will be able to figure it out and, if you still can’t, rely on your friends, on your family, and your future husband.”
‘I wish time could stop. Please, don’t go any further. Just let me stay like this... with her,’ even if her hand was cold, even if her laugh was weak, I still wanted to see her, to touch her, to be with her.
“Oh my... Look at the time dear, you should go,” she smiles as her hand goes back to her teacup. Her fingers begin touching it softly.
“I don’t want to go, mother,” I knew this was nothing but a lie. Nothing except my brain playing pranks but I wished so hard for it to be true.
“You have to but remember, I’ll always be with you my dear Ophelia,” her voice echoed right before her lips show me her last kindness. Suddenly, a harsh wind turned everything around into sand, except the table, the chairs, and my mother’s skeleton.
“Of course I have to go... I always have to go because... You are not real... Isn’t that right... Mother?” tears flow down my face rapidly and, the moment I get up, my mother and the other objects were taken away by the sand of time that flew with the breeze. I knew that all of this was nothing but a memory of my past, a mere display of what I truly missed.
My body begins walking forward but there was nowhere to go since I wasn't anywhere. The blue sky, the beautiful garden, the Criswell's mansion were gone and I was only walking in an enormous emptiness filled with extremely bright light.
“Lilith...” I whispered her name as I cleaned my tears, “If only I’d never been born...” my heart felt heavy as my soul carried a large burden.
“Do you think it would change?” I hear a male’s voice.
“Wouldn’t it? My mother wouldn’t die and I would never be...” I grit my teeth as tears blurred my vision once again. The shape of a person appears in front of me, a man, but I couldn’t see his face or even his body, it was almost as if it was a shadow made out of clouds, “Who are you?” I ask but he ignores my question.
“Do you blame her?” his voice is calm but, at the same time, very oppressing.
I shook my head, of course, I couldn’t blame my mother... The reason I was compelled by anger and hatred towards all those men and women, towards all who harmed me was that the person I blame the most is none other than...
“Myself...” I whisper as I feel my knees grow weak.
“If you blame yourself then how come you want them all dead?” I couldn’t understand it myself but this voice was as soothing as a lullaby.
‘Is this what people feel when they confess? This feeling of cleansing their souls...’ I wondered.
“Isn’t it their fault? You are right to blame them. Humans are weak and fragile creatures with hearts devoured by demons of greed and lust, you did nothing wrong, Ophelia...” his voice was alluring. My soul felt light, almost as if my burdens were being lost, forgotten.
‘Is he trying to reassure me? Is he saying that I am not to blame?’ he reaches out his arm and I feel an urge within me to grab it.
"We are the same... We yearn for their pain, we live for it...!" the monotonous tone begins showing its true colors, showering me with the real intentions of this man, “Humans should be filled with despair since they are despicable creatures...” I could sense extreme remorse and hatred coming from this unfamiliar shape, this unknown figure.
Without a second thought, I place the arm on my chest, refusing that thing's help.
“I’m a human too, wouldn’t that make me the same? A despicable creature?” a grin was portraited on my lips as the mist surrounding the figure became thicker. Several minutes pass and no sound was heard.
“Ophelia, do you consider yourself a human after dying nine times?” suddenly the calm voice returns, however, something was different.
'Is he mocking me...?' I could hear the sarcasm in his voice, even then I thought about his words. The silence was overwhelming and my body flinches once I understood his message, 'I died nine times and came back to life... If humans only die once... What does that make me?’
I didn’t understand. My body began shaking uncontrollably as I understood that I was nothing but an ignorant being, a being who knows nothing, a useless person. Pain echoes through me once I scratched my arms hardly and repeatedly. Then, some blood drops begin leaving my body and taint the pearly white floor.
'I can bleed... Doesn't that make me...?' my thoughts are interrupted.
"Humans can bleed, animals can bleed, demons can bleed... Even I can bleed," several drops of bright red blood cover the floor. I couldn't understand. Was he reading my mind?
"I..." doubts echoed in my mind, yelling louder than my fears and my concerns. What was I?
A flaw created by the Gods?
“What am I? You must know right?” the clouds start to dissipate and I panic, I needed an answer, I needed to know, “Wait! Don’t go!”
The mist disappears, leaving nothing behind except the overwhelming brightness from this place, wherever I was.
I thought about what he told me I couldn’t find an answer, it was too confusing, too unreal.
‘Am I really not human...? Or is it all in my head?’ nothing was clear anymore.
✽ ✼ ✽ ✼ ✽ ✼ ✽
「 One week later 」
I wake up and see an unfamiliar ceiling. Around me, were Bradley and Jade, both sitting on a chair but sleeping soundly as their heads leaned on the bed. Slowly I get up and try to find my way out. I realized I was at the Hillgarden's estate and, as I opened the entrance door, I felt a cold breeze touch my face.
The night sky was becoming lighter and I felt the grass tingle as I stepped on the bare grass.
My eyes wandered around the garden just to see everything already cleaned, almost as if the party had never happened as if everything was only an illusion created by fear. My neck was bandaged and my body felt as light as a feather.
I walk towards the plains outside the Hillgarden’s mansion and, for the first time in years, I do something I never considered doing before. When my mother was alive, we would sing together but I would only accompany her. She was the center of attention with her melodic voice as she poured her heart and soul into every word she sang.
"People will change if you give it your all," was one of the things she used to tell me.
I never understood the reasoning behind it, I always felt like it wouldn’t make any difference. But somehow, after seeing her in my dream with her kind smile and angelical aura, I couldn’t help but feel the agglomeration of emotions inside of me, dwelling, weighing me down. So I sang as I walked through the plains, as the green grass filled with dewdrops wet my feet, as the wind blessed my face with its touch.
My lives were nothing but a scary story that parents tell their kids when they don’t want to sleep.
"If you leave the bed the monster below will get you," is what parents usually say.
Everyone knew they were stories and, even if the kids would be frightened of the monster under the bed, once the sun kissed the land, they would soon forget about such meaningless fears, at least until the darkness came. But for me they were not monsters, they were men and women, they were demons shaped like humans who are willing to swallow you whole, ripping you apart by their greed, and leaving nothing of you behind.
For so long, I held myself onto the thin strand of hope that if I would be kind I wouldn’t suffer because ‘what you give the world, the world will give back to you’ but that never happened, instead I was only haunted by ghosts of lust that filled my soul with pain and sorrow.
I had dreams, I had hopes, I had faith. I believed that things would change. I prayed to God and to all superior entities that guide Men into their righteous path.
‘Please, if you are there if you can hear me, please let it end, I don’t want to go through this anymore,’ His silence was more hurtful than any flame that burned my body than any pain ever inflicted.
There had been people who tried to save me, for their own reasons, but their cryings, their hopes, their faith wouldn’t reach me. My soul was too shattered in the deep ends of the abyss filled with a thick mist of sorrows, regrets, and hatred for the world and myself.
And then, one day on a cold Hunting day, he appeared. A man whose hunger was bigger enough to consume a whole kingdom, also gripped my heart tightly, taking away everything I had left, leaving me with nothing but an empty heart, wicked, betrayed, broken. Taking away the rest of my innocence, the rest of my childhood, the rest of anything that could make me a good woman.
As he turned my dreams to shame, my soul became darker, my wishes became nothing but regrets and my hopes were nothing more but illusions created by my despair. No matter how I tried to fix it, the pieces wouldn’t glue themselves together. They didn’t match anymore.
I could still feel the burning hatred for this man, even without remembering anything. I didn't fully know what he did, I didn't know all the important pieces, locked away somewhere, in a locked drawer in my mind, whose key was stolen. I nothing but a dreadful, ignorant being that can't even remember her own memories, almost as if they never belonged to me in the first place.
The man created something bigger than anything he had thought of. He wanted a Rose to himself but instead of withering, she was tainted black, luring every being into them, almost as if she was possessed by a demon. A beast that had to remain hidden from the curious eyes to protect their sanity.
‘But what about my own? What about me?’ I knew that never mattered and, even if I barely had any memories of him, this feeling was still vivid, burning inside of me just like the flames that devour me every night.
“God, please, take me now. Let me go... Anywhere but here. Anywhere but the hell I’m in,” but His silence remained.
And so, as time went by, the flower stopped blooming and I stopped dreaming. My thoughts became filled with despair and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get myself back. I realized that everything would remain the same and that, no matter what I did, my soul would still find a way to come back to me, to haunt me with its memories, to embrace me with its present, and to kill me with its future.
As I arrive at the top of a hill I see the sunrise on the horizon. Tears run down my face while its overwhelming light creates the shadow that follows me anywhere, the shadow that knows nothing of my pain but yet still follows me as if I were nothing but its entertainment.
There is no escape from this loop. I am nothing more than a puppet, being played by something people would call destiny, waiting for the day the ropes break, waiting for the story to be rewritten, waiting for the day I will leave this world for good.
But, deep down, a part of me keeps praying.
Praying for the day where all of these painful memories will be gone.
Praying for the day where all of this sorrow will be replaced by pure emptiness.
Praying for the day where all my childhood will return.