Poison's Bend: Chapter 20
Warnings: None... not like the photobucket-banned pictures of chapter 19! ;)
Catherine was worrying me.
I could tell she was not happy, and I knew it was because Vidcund had moved in and the two of us were now an openly loving, romantic couple living as husband and wife. Legalities be damned.
She was civil enough to him... there were no issues there. In fact, the two of them seemed to interact quite well and she respected him both as a person and a mentor.
Most would think there was nothing amiss.
Yet as her mother, I could tell something was not right.
Many times I came across her unawares, and her facial expression and demeanor was of one who was being pursued by silent demons. She assured me many times that all was well, but I could see she was not being truthful. She was miserable.
After all, I knew those demons as well.
Yet I could not imagine the reasons behind her discontent. Things were different now! I was happier than I had ever been!
Oui, yes! I was!
As the days counted until she could leave for college, Catherine became even more distant and melancholy, and I was getting even more anxious. Vidcund was concerned as well, and one afternoon he came to me and said we had to talk.
“Aerin, I’m very distressed about Catherine,” he said seriously. “I... Well, I hadn’t told you this before, but she has told me some things that are, quite frankly, disturbing.”
“Has she told you what’s bothering her?” I asked with relief. “I know there is something wrong, Vidcund, and I’ve asked her about it. Perhaps she feels she can’t talk about it with me.”
“Well, Aerin... I don’t know how to say this, but....” Vidcund gazed at me with concerned blue eyes. “Dearest, it seems Catherine has the idea that...um...” He sighed and took my hand. “Aerin, she believes all the unfortunate deaths in this house were somehow your fault.”
“My fault?” I was shocked.
He nodded. “Like you’re under some sort of voodoo curse or something,” he mused. “Ridiculous superstition, I told her... but she seems convinced. I don’t know, Aerin... I think it will be good for her to go away to Sim State. There’s been far too many tragedies here. It might be affecting her ability to reason, and...”
He continued to speak, but I could not hear him.
My mind was racing backwards in time.
Back... and further back... sounds and voices echoed, overlapped themselves... then formed into thought and memory. I was eleven years old. I was wearing a frilly pink dress and flowery ribbons in my hair. I was sitting on my bed with its ruffled pink coverlet, and I was talking to...
"What happened to my daddy, Momma?"
"Nothing, cherie. Nothing. He’s just gone. But don't you worry... Momma’ll get you a new daddy real soon."
"I don’t want a new daddy, Momma. Momma?"
"Were those other men my daddies, too?"
"What other men, darling?"
"Those others... there was one who made me breakfast once... and another that played tag with me... and another who..."
**Laughter, and I felt gentle fingers playing in my hair.**
"You’ve been dreaming again, Aerin... Such fantasies you have! Why, there’s never been any other men in this house! Not one!"
But... there had been.
I knew that then, and I knew it now.
“Aerin?” Vidcund’s voice gradually pierced my haze of thought. “Aerin, are you okay?”
I blinked, then turned to him and smiled. “Oui, I’m fine, Vidcund. And you’re absolutely right about Catherine. I think it will do her good to get away. She’s being far too fanciful... left to her own thoughts like that. Cursed? Me? Honestly!” I laughed thinly and tried
to push the thoughts of my own mother out of my mind.
Vidcund clutched my hand even tighter. “Aerin, there’s more. Catherine. She... she told me to go out to that cemetery and open my eyes. She said that she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t warn me. She...” He swallowed heavily and his voice dropped to a whisper. “...she also told me she doesn’t think Lazlo ever left! Aerin, what does she mean by that?”
I pulled my hand away. “Nothing,” I said, frowning. “She’s just being a typical overly dramatic teenager, Vidcund. That’s all.”
Vidcund gazed at me for a moment, his expression unreadable.
“I hope so, Aerin,” he finally said. “... but the way she made it seem ... and I... I always did think it was odd for Lazlo to have just... disappeared... off the face of the earth...” He trailed off and shrugged, looking away.
Tentatively, I reached out and stroked Vidcund’s cheek. I was relieved he did not pull away, but instead caressed my hand and leaned against it, sighing.
“I love you, Vidcund,” I whispered into his ear. “Very, very much. Please believe that.”
“I do,” he replied, kissing the palm of my hand and smiling sadly, “but Aerin... don’t you understand? That’s why Catherine says I need to worry.”
I could not believe it had come to this.
Vidcund meant the world to me. I loved him with all my heart!
I could not let him continue to think the worst of me.
To Be Continued...