As per mentioned earlier, my dad left my mother and myself when I was some form of teen. In all honesty, I really don't remember how old I was. I know it was a long time ago and I had not been very tall at the time but I really don't think it matters anymore.
I had been standing by the door when he stumbled down the stairs with a number of suitcases under each arm. He stared down at me and I looked up at him, waiting and wondering. For a long moment, neither of us said anything. All you could hear was my mother's incessant shouting and things being thrown about in her rage.
He just continued to look at me as though he were committing my very existence to memory. And I let him. A part of me already knew that he wasn't going to take me with him. It was probably from the lack of any of my things under his arms.
Finally, he spoke.
"I can't take you with me, kiddo. Not yet." He said, lips trembling and chest rising and falling rapidly.
"It's ok." I said and I meant it. Some part of my childlike mind knew that he needed to do this.
I may have caught him off guard with that but he quickly recovered and said, "But I will come back for you. I promise you, kid. I won't leave you here."
Then, he kissed my forehead and left me. This game will take you through two stories, both the same in many different ways. It begins with a dead mother, leaving her daughter to travel an ungodly length to get to her estranged father.
And my question is:
How Will She Get There?
<h3><center>Alicia and The Road She's On</center></h3>
<h3><center>Alicia and The Manner She's In</center></h3>
<big><center>[[Unravel The Story]]</center></big>As the bus screeched to a stop, I stepped on like a diligent little girl, paying my fare and searching for a seat. All but three of the seats were taken. And these were accompanied by three different people. One sat gazing blankly out the window, contemplating some life decision that I could barely fathom. The second was a young woman clad in all black with a veil across her face. She was staring down at her hands as if she had just done something terrible. The last was an old man cheerily smiling at me, waiting for me to sit by him.
I decided to sit next to:
[[The Window Gazer]]
[[The Woman In Black]]
[[The Old Man]]
I tentatively sat beside the man, a statue pondering the existence of humankind. He didn't say anything nor did he register the fact that I sat beside him. He only continued to stare out the window, his reflection a glassy image into his mind.
My lips trembled with a question but I continued to hold it back with the tight grip I had on my singular bag.
I decided to start with something easy.
[["Where are you headed to?"]] I sat down beside her, careful of the black lace spilling out from her dress. She stared at me blankly, eyes a dark void of something I couldn't pinpoint. She looked to be in her mid to late twenties, a beautiful woman with long curly brown hair. But her outward appearance made me pull back slightly, as if she would burn me.
"Hi." I said softly.
It must have startled her because her shoulders lifted rigidly.
"Hello." Her voice was crisp, raw and everything mine wasn't. It was as if she lost something.
"Where are you headed?" I asked, careful to add a smile.
"A funeral," She replied. "You probably should have noticed yourself."
I was taken aback by her bluntness. I had thought that she would have been soft spoken or at least not this straightforward. I guess you can't judge a book by its cover.
"My husband." She answered with a sigh.
[["Oh. How'd he die?"]] I moved to sit down beside him and he instantly smiled at me. I couldn't help but grin back. He had laugh lines stretched around his lips and he had eyes that sparkled childlike and excited. He may have looked old but I could tell that he didn't let his age stop him.
The moment I sat down he asked, "What's a young lady like you doing by yourself on a bus?"
"I'm going to go live with my father." I said softly.
"Your parents divorced?"
I nodded. "They did. My father left a long time ago because he couldn't handle my mother anymore and they just mailed around the divorce papers."
"Oh my. Do you hate him for leaving?" He asked gently as he placed his hand on my arm. It felt warm.
"No. I would have done the same thing he did." I laughed shakily. "He said he would come back to get me but...he..."
"I understand." He smiled and my spirits were lifted instantly.
"Why are you on this bus?"
[["Nostalgia."]] He slowly turned towards me, eyes finally lifting from the vacant glass. I discovered that they were an emerald green, bright and inviting. His body language, however, was an echo of defense.
"What?" His voice was quiet and hoarse.
"Where are you headed to?" The hustle and bustle of the bus kept our conversation private.
He gazed at me for a while before saying, "I don't know."
"You don't know?" I repeated. "You'd of had to have some idea since you got on *this* bus."
"No, I don't." He replied. "I just wanted to go."
"Go?" I asked. Part of me knew that I was overstepping my boundaries but for some reason I really didn't care.
"I wanted to go away." He said softly, eyes looking past me and towards some other object. "I wanted to leave."
My brows furrowed in frustration and my gaze fell from his face to my lap. Something caught my eye as they drifted, lifting back up to his clothes. He wore a finely tailored vest with a symbol adorned just above his breast. It was of a lion standing beneath a shield. He also wore khakis and shiny black shoes. I looked back up at his face and realized how young he looked.
[["Are you running away?"]] His eyes darted back up to mine and his lips trembled as he said, "No. I'm leaving."
"Kid, I'm pretty sure that that's running away." I said with a shake of my head. "Why are you running?"
"I'm not running away!" He hissed. "Besides, you're one to talk."
He looked down at my bag and I frowned.
"You don't know why I'm on this bus. Unlike you, I don't run away from my problems."
"I'm not running away." He whispered before turning around and looking out the window, his reflection no longer visible.
[[It would take a few days for me to get him to talk again.]]Actually, he spoke to me first. We had been at one of our many stops throughout my trip across the country. I had gone to the bathroom, gotten some snacks and gotten back on the bus. I saw him there sitting and staring out the window, just like last time. But this time, he turned to look at me as I walked towards him, eyes blank and cold.
I sat down beside him and returned his gaze. This was the first time he registered my existence after I had called him a runaway. But this look was different, more powerful if that makes sense.
"I'm not running away." He said softly. "I'm...I'm leaving."
"Leaving? You keep saying that but you're denying what this is. What are you leaving?" My hands shook with the intensity of this situation.
I had never needed to care about someone before. The only person I ever did left me and I have yet to figure out whether I still care about him.
"I can't handle my home anymore. It's too sedentary, repetitive and...and I feel trapped."
"Your vest shows that you go to a prestigious private school. That means your parents have money. Why would you want to leave that?"
"Money isn't important if you don't want it."
"While your situation isn't nearly as bad as anyone else's, you have to work with the hand you're dealt. You can't chose your life but you can choose what to do with it. Sure, maybe running away feels like the right thing to do but it's not."
"How do you know?" He screeched, eyes shining probably from tears.
I looked away, gaze training on the back of the seat in front of me.
It was a while before I spoke.
"I just [[know]] and you don't want to know how I know. You can't just change your life so easily. Sometimes you just have to deal."
He closed his eyes, hands coming up to hold his head. I heard him sniffle loudly, rubbing his cheeks as the tears came down. He remained like that for a while even as the other passengers came flooding in. Soon, the driver announced that we had ten minutes until we depart.
That was when the boy's head rose.
"Ok." He croaked. "Ok. I'm going home."
"How?" I asked hurriedly, glancing between him and the street.
"I'll call my mom at the bus station. She'll get me really fast." He smiled sadly.
He scooted past me and started walking away. I silently watched as he left the bus and entered the station. I wordlessly tightened my grip on my bag and sighed.
He'll be fine. Or, at least, I hope he will. At the end of the day I won't know. It's all up to him now.
[[I look around the bus for another seat.]]
[[I sit alone.]] (Only pick this option if you've sat with everyone)"Then go! Just, go. If that's what you want then LEAVE! See if I care!" My mother screeched, pushing me away.
"Fine. If that's what you want." I yelled. "Dad would want *me*!"
"Don't you dare speak his name. He is a coward." She screamed pushing me further.
"Dad! Dad! Dad! You can't tell me--"
She slapped me across the face, silencing me instantly.
Tears pooled in my eyes as I touched my cheek. "This is why he left."
I had run away after that. I spent two nights sleeping under a bench with barely anything with me. After another I had made it to the next city over. Begging on the streets got me nowhere with barely a penny or two after hours of sitting on the sidewalk. I almost resorted to prostitution before I swallowed my pride and went home.
My mother didn't even seem phased, continuing her life as if I didn't even exist.
For some reason, I felt a sudden urge to be around someone else. The empty seat beside me felt eerie and daunting and I scanned around to find another seat. Those same two seats from the beginning were still vacant. The mysterious woman was still gazing at her hands, eyes a shadowy visage of past mistakes. The cheery old man was energetic as always, eyes wistfully travelling over every compatriot.
I sit next to:
[[The Woman In Black]]
[[The Old Man]]"He was murdered by some crazy person in our bedroom." She brushed back her hair with an air of mystery.
"You seem rather...calm about all of this."
"I have no more tears." She said solemnly. "None left."
She turned towards me at that statement but didn't comment on it. Instead she said, "They think I did it."
"That's not surprising. That's like the definition of a detective show." I smiled weakly. "But...did you do it?"
She didn't reply for a long moment. I watched as the trees flitted across the glass of the windows, watching as they became blurs of greens and golds. I looked back up at the woman and was taken aback by the slight spark in her eyes.
"Why don't you see if I did?" She said softly. "I'll tell you everything they know and found about the suspects and I'll let you decide."
My mouth fell open in shock and I blinked at her for an ungodly amount of time. But in the end my curiosity gave in.
[["Ok."]]My mother had graced me with the responsibility of a dog. It was one of the few times she actually was a mother to me. Though, I think this was actually a ploy to get me to shut up and behave. Of course, she made sure the dog was entirely my responsibility. She wouldn't be doing anything for it.
But I was still happy. It was a brown chocolate lab and I named him Charlie.
I loved him like he was my own brother. He was the comfort and sociability I had whenever my dad went off to work, leaving me with my mother. My mother would barely even look at me when we were together. But Charlie never stopped.
It had been a sunny day when it happened. He and I were lying in the grass in the front lawn. I had been languidly petting him as he sniffed the ground with his cute little nose.
Then, suddenly, something in the road caught his eye and he dashed towards it. I wasn't fast enough to catch up to him but I saw the car racing towards him. I called out his name as he took hold of a ball that had been thrown into the streets by one of my neighbors. He turned towards me but it was too late.
He died instantly.
I cried up a storm as I stared down at his motionless corpse. My mother had somehow come up behind me and I was expecting her to comfort me in some way. But all she said was:
"It's your fault."
All my tears stopped instantly.
Even as my dad came rushing home from work no tears left me for the rest of the day. Even as he pulled me into his arms and whispered that everything was going to be ok, that none of this was my fault, I felt nothing.
I had no tears left. "It had been the week of the 29th of March. My husband was found dead in our bedroom with one of our kitchen knives in his chest. The maids had been sent home for the day and I had been out picking up our son from school at the time. When I had gotten home, we found him dead. It was very traumatic for Thomas. He wouldn't sleep for days after. The police had first suspected me and our friend James. We've know him for years but something had changed in him the moment my husband refused to loan him money. The night before, he had been yelling about deserving this money for all of the things he had done for us. Then, he stormed out, claiming that this wouldn't be the end of it.
"Another suspect was my sister Katherine. She had always been the jealous type. She never liked the fact that I had married a man with so much money. She always thought that she would be the successful one. Every time she came over she would always say she would give anything to have what I had. The final suspect was one of our maids, Julia. She hadn't been with the household long but we all knew she was charismatic and charming. But we also knew that she was unhealthily infatuated with me. She would always give my husband an enraged look every time he and I were together. So, who did it?"
I looked away from her in confusion as I slowly absorbed all of the information she gave me. Her face had been completely blank as she told me everything and I still couldn't believe she would let me, a stranger, tell her what I thought about it all.
[[I would need a few days to decide.]] It had been a few days since the woman in black had told me about the suspects. It felt like a strange game of clue. I would need to pick between people I had never met from information I didn't know was true or not. But, she seemed very serious when she told me everything so I chose to believe her.
We were approaching one of the many stops on my journey when she tapped me on the shoulder. I turned towards her as she said, "This is my stop. Do you have an answer yet?"
"I...no, I don't." I admitted, shoulders deflating.
"That's alright. The police still don't as well." She said absently as the bus came to a halt in front of the station. "It was a pleasure meeting you."
She maneuvered past me and filed in line behind the other people who had stood up in the aisle.
I looked back down at my bag in deep thought and hurriedly repeated all of the information she had told me in my head.
All the other suspects seem more likely to have killed her husband. She couldn't have done it. She was picking her son up from school....school....but...it was March 29th. Isn't that...
I quickly pulled out my phone and looked up the date and, taking into account the state we were in, I gasped.
[["Wait!"]] I sat alone, letting everything that happened sink in. This was supposed to be a simple bus ride to my father's house. It wasn't supposed to be a trip through three people's lives that I am a complete stranger to. Though, I had to admit that I wasn't surprised. My screwed up life shaped and molded me into an observer, a listener. My mother pushed down whatever outgoing nature I would have had had she not been my mother. And had my father not left, I would have probably been an amazing person.
So, I'm the silent one. The one in the shadows. I only observe. It's not about me. It was never about me. As much as I try to have it be about me it never is. Life just doesn't want me to. This trip wasn't mine. It was the Window Gazer's. It was The Woman in Black's. It was The Old Man's. It was my father's.
[[And I really don't mind.]] She didn't turn around as I called after her. She was near the front of the bus when I yelled, "You couldn't have been picking your son up from school! It was Spring Break!"
As she descended the stairs, she turned to look at me one final time. A broad smile had touched her lips and my mouth fell open in shock.
Stunned, I watched as she stepped off of the bus and onto the sidewalk. Her gaze never left mine even as the bus began to move again. As I strained my neck to see her, she mouthed something slowly.
I finally turned back around in complete bewilderment.
It looked as if she said:
[[I scan for another seat.]]
[[I sit alone.]] (Only pick this option if you sat with everyone)After that strange encounter, I found the urge to sit beside someone else. I guess I just needed to process whatever just happened. I looked around to see those same seats from the beginning open. The young man was still gazing out the window, vacantly. And the old man was still cheerily sitting at the front of the bus.
I sit next to:
[[The Window Gazer]]
[[The Old Man]] "Nostalgia?" I repeated in confusion.
"I met my wife a long time ago on this bus."
"*This* bus? I don't think this is the same bus you met your wife on." I sighed.
He looked around the interior of the vehicle, eyes gazing over the walls and the seats. Something was off about him as he looked over the bus. I couldn't tell what but there was something off about his eyes. He finally turned back to me and smiled. "All buses look the same to me nowadays."
"So, you met your wife on a bus?"
"Something like a bus, yes." He shrugged his shoulders dismissively. "There were no other seats and I was happy to sit next to such a beautiful young lady. We started talking like you and I are now and things just fell into place."
"Where is she now? Did I take her seat?" I asked quickly.
He shook his head. That same look was in his eyes again. "She died a long time ago."
"Oh. I'm so sorry. How...how did she die?"
"The war broke out and she was working in a hospital for it. The location was taken over and everyone was killed." He sighed softly.
He fell silent after that and I let him curl into himself in nostalgia.
[[It would be a while before I realized I didn't ask him which war she died in.]] It was a few hours after I sat down beside the old man that I decided to bring his wife up again.
The night was starting to creep up on the horizon and I could see his reflection in the window he was gazing through. His eyes held that same 'something' again and I was still unable to pinpoint what it was.
"So, you said you and your wife met on a bus or a bus-thing a long time ago. Well, what happened after that? Since you're on a nostalgia trip I might as well join you." I made myself smile after that. Everyone likes a smile.
He slowly turned from the window and returned my smile. "You're quite the young lady. What's your story?"
"I'm asking about yours. I'll tell you mind some other time."
His grin only widened. "She and I met on one of these contraptions. She wanted to know why I was on the bus and I wanted to know the same for her. She was going to go meet her relatives in the South which wasn't really advised given the-" He stopped himself. That look was there again. "Anyway, I said I was headed that way too and offered to accompany her. She was skeptical of course but she might have relented because I was in uniform."
"You were in the military?"
"Uh-huh," He replied proudly. "We reached our destination and, true to my word, I went with her to her relatives. I asked her if I could meet with her again and she smiled. She said that she would be in town for the next week or so. [[The rest is history.]]" "That's like something out of a romance novel. What was she like?"
"She saw the best in everything. She was that one crack of sunlight through the clouds in a thunderstorm. She thought that there was good in everyone and I tried to believe that too. You could never upset or anger her. She was the shining example of an angel. The world fell into darkness the moment I lost her." He sighed softly, eyelashes fluttering to create that some damn look.
I looked down at my bag rigidly. "And do you still believe it?"
"That there is good in everyone?"
"I try to." He said, voice low and sad. "Do you?"
[["I don't know."]]
"Your story must be very interesting, young lady."
"Yes but this isn't about me."
"Why won't you let it be?"
"Because mine doesn't matter."
"Everyone's does, sweetheart."
My lips trembled as I asked, "What...what war did she die in?"
[[He merely smiled and turned away.]] My dad leaving me was probably the last time I tried to find good in people. Somewhere deep down I knew that I still wanted him to be my dad, to be a *good* dad. I knew that somewhere in him was a sliver of good. I knew that that sliver would make him come back for me and whisk me away to paradise. But I also knew that life wasn't a Disney movie. You get dealt a certain hand and even though its shitty you have to make something of it.
That small sliver of good was all that I would use to make myself believe that he would come back.
"He loves me."
"He wouldn't just abandon me."
"He's my daddy."
"He won't leave me."
But he never came back and neither did that tiny sliver of good. A few days later we had been at a rest stop. Everyone had gotten off of the bus to stretch their legs and get snacks. I looked around to find the old man but he was nowhere in sight. I saw all the other people I was riding along with but not him. He must have been in the bathroom.
I decided to return to the bus and sit down in our usual spot. There were a few other people scattered around the seats and this time I decided to sit by the window instead of the aisle. It would be easier than having him squeeze by me when we reached his stop.
I turned back towards the window and absently watched as the birds danced across tree branches and sung pleasant songs. Poo-tee-weet?
"Whatcha looking at?" The old man asked causing me to visibly jump in my seat.
I turned around to find him casually sitting beside me. I didn't even hear him get on the bus. It would have rocked slightly or I would have at least heard the movement of fabric.
I finally realized what that look was in his eyes. It was as if he wasn't entirely there, as if his mind was elsewhere. In his eyes was something non-corporeal, something long forgotten and I don't know why it took me this long to figure it out. He seemed half here and half elsewhere.
"Nothing really." I sighed. "You still haven't told me what war your wife died in."
[[And again, he just smiled.]]
We reached another stop after a few hours but I didn't really pay attention since my attention was drawn out the window and towards some people standing by a grave in a graveyard just outside of a church. They were all dressed somberly with flowers and sadness in their hands. The entirety of the graveyard was just as solemn. That was expected given the fact that it was a graveyard. No one would be joyously skipping over graves and be called sane.
"It was the Civil War by the way." He said softly. I had barely caught the sentence from the shuffling of people leaving the bus.
"Wait but that-" I turned my head sharply but was startled to see him gone.
I looked around but I couldn't find him. I looked through the group of people leaving the bus but none of them where him.
I let out a huff in confusion and shook my head. The Civil War? That was impossible. That would make him just about 200 years old.
I tightened my grip on my bag, the graveyard a looming presence at my shoulder.
[[I look around the bus for another seat.]]
[[I sit alone.]](Only pick this option if you've sat with everyone)The bus finally screeched to my stop and I filed out with all of the other people who shared this long journey with me. I hailed a cab and rattled off my father's address.
We arrive in about 15 minutes and I emerge from the yellow vehicle with trembling fingers and rigid shoulders.
He lived in a townhouse attached to a dozen others. It looked kind of strange but that was to be expected from the difference between the East and the West coasts. There was a car in the driveway, a sleek, black one that appeared to cost a lot of money. But that also meant that he was home.
I didn't know whether he remarried or whether he's still the same or whether he still wanted me.
I could have laughed at that. I didn't come all this way to chicken out and run away with my tail between my legs.
[[So, I stepped up to the door.]]I raised my hand to knock on the door but I couldn't finish the action. I was frozen.
My bag shook in my other hand and I found that it was starting to get difficult to breathe.
This was stupid. I shouldn't need to be this scared. *I* didn't leave. *He* did. I just don't want him to not want me too. He's all I have left.
Just do it. Do it. Knock. Knock. KNOCK.
And I did.
I heard shuffling from behind the door and the window beside it. The footsteps quickened and I took in a deep breath in anticipation.
The door swung wide open, blinding me with a bright golden light.
<big><center>Alicia and The Road She's On</center></big>
<big><center>[[Epilogue: The Park]]</center></big>I suppose my mother had it coming. I mean, she wasn't a nice person and she certainly wasn't the most generous. She was a bitch. And she got what was coming. No, she wasn't murdered or anything along the lines of that. She died of a heart attack at 45. I know my tone isn't the saddest but she and I weren't on the best of terms throughout my life. I guess that's why my dad left her.
He's the reason I'm standing at a bus stop at the edge of town anyway. When I was around 10 or 14 or some age, he up and left my mother shouting, "I just can't deal with you anymore!" Or whatever it is that adults yell when they want to make a big scene of things. I couldn't blame him for leaving. By then, my mother had thrown at least 12 irons (blazing hot) at him and he must have found that less than [[amusing]].
Unfortunately, my father never came back for me. I spent a long time handling her rage by myself and I don't hate my father for it. Or, at least, I don't think I do. I'll probably know when I stare him in the eyes again. That will be the moment I decide to hug him tightly or punch him fiercely.
I'll know after this trip.
[[Get On The Bus]] The rain pelted the roof of the carriage. It and the sound of horse hooves against the mud harmonized into a solemn tune expressing the rigidity of my mood. I looked down at my hands, shivering due to the chill against the windows. We would be arriving soon.
My father was a well known aristocrat across much of the country. His wealth rivaled that of the king's and his promiscuity rivaled that of the king's as well. That was the reason I existed. One night of passion with my mother resulted in me. Of course, as a bastard, I had no claim towards any of my father's inheritance. It was fine though. I didn't want his money.
I had lived with my mother in the countryside, making a life through the grains in the field and the care of the horses and cows. I was happy to some extent.
But, one day my mother had begun to grow mad. Something in her changed and I was unable to stop it. Her kindness diminished into that of mad ravings and whatever ounce of my mother's sanity soon drifted into something I wouldn't call reality.
However, before her demise, she would always tell me [[tales of my father]], of all the things he had done and of all the things he was. She said I was just like him too, almost in every way. But after her fall from grace, she began to call him a monster, a murderer and a liar.
I didn't know which was right but I did know one thing.
[[He was bringing me home.]] "You are the spitting image of your father." She had said once as she combed my hair.
"Really?" I smiled.
"You share his eyes, his hair, his nose, and his beauty." She said, poking my nose for emphasis. "But what you most share is his personality."
I giggled as she tickled the back of my neck.
"You're both passionate, emotional, determined, and cool-headed. Neither of you would let anything bother you."
"I can't wait to meet him." I sighed.
"You know you can't, sweetheart."
"I know." I said softly as she continued to brush my hair. After my mother died, my father had immediately contacted me. He expressed his desire to finally meet me and he said that he would take care of me. I was the only child he had or at least knew of and wanted to keep me safe. He had said that our family takes care of our own and that that was what he was going to do for me.
I should have been more happy but I had wished it would have been under better circumstances. He had stated that he had first learned of me after he had seen me in the market. He had said our resemblance was uncanny.
[[And now, I was on my way to finally meet him.]]
Large ebony black doors creaked open before me, revealing a darkened foyer with a spiraled staircase at its center. A young woman was bowed before me, waiting for me to approach.
I looked around the foyer and found a low lit chandelier dangling from the ceiling. The dimmed lights brought a steady eeriness over the entire manor, shivering my bones and making me hesitate slightly. But I quickly shook my head of the feeling and approached the woman.
She straightened up as the doors swung shut behind me. Her eyes raked over me like I was an alien. I took in a deep breath, the rain sounding like a far off memory.
"Good evening, young miss Alicia." She bowed again. "I am Genevieve, the head maid of this household. I would like to formally welcome you to your new home."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Genevieve. I...where is my father?" I asked nervously, eyes darting about the room.
"Lord Foster is away on business but will return later into the evening. You weren't expected to arrive until tomorrow. That is why all of the servants were sent home and I'm the only one remaining. Come. Let me lead you to your room."
[[I followed her up the stairs.]] I took hold of the object from the fireplace. Its cool touch countered that of the blazing heat to my left. I looked back up at Genevieve. Her back was still turned to me, silenced by my words. She rested her hands at her hips and I slowly moved towards her.
"I didn't mean it like that. You'd think as the daughter of Lord Foster you would be more sensible." She huffed, shaking her head.
I am indeed the daughter of Lord Foster. Our resemblance is uncanny. Our personalities are joined at the hip. And we share the greatest passion of them all.
She led me into a large bed chamber. A king sized bed with a canopy that rivaled the white of starlight stood at one end of the room. Two wardrobes dotted each side of it and I stepped inside eagerly. It smelt of lavender and vanilla.
"This is beautiful."
"Thank you, young miss. And I must tell you, not to leave your room until your father arrives."
"Why?" I asked, whirling around to face her.
"You have not earned the right to walk amongst the rooms yet." She said bluntly.
"Earned the right...? I'm his daughter. I have the only right." I said, voice rising slightly.
"That is what I fear." She said, slamming the doors closed and locking them firmly.
I ran to them, banging on them roughly. "Genevieve! Genevieve!"
I paced about the room for an ungodly amount of time, weighing my options and mentally cursing the woman. How *dare* she? I had only arrived and she was giving me orders? I am a noblewoman now. I won't stand for this.
I stopped moving and pulled a pin from within my hair. I pushed it into one of the locks and started jimmying it open. I had needed to learn this [[skill]] or risk death at the hands of my mother.
After a silent moment, the door swung open and [[I exited into the hallway.]]
"Mommy! Mom! Mom!" I screamed as I banged at the door.
It was so dark in the closet, so small.I could barely breathe as I screamed for my mother to let me out. I could hear her dancing around the door like a madman, humming a strange tune to herself as she did.
"Please let me out."
"Not until you admit that he's e~vil!" She sung.
"Never! My dad's not evil." I whispered the last part.
"Oh yes he is~"
I sat there in the darkness for a long time as I figured out how to fiddle with the lock. It had taken me about an hour to get it open with a pin that I had put in my hair. As the door fell open, I saw my mother standing in front of it, staring at me blankly.
It took all my self restraint to keep from stabbing the pin into her neck and walking away. I held it tight in my hand, so tight that I knew I would start bleeding.
"I'm sorry." She whispered.
And I placed the pin back in my hair. I stepped into the dark hall and paused. Half of me wanted to go down and find Genevieve and give her a piece of my mind. The other half wanted to explore. And, ultimately, I chose the latter. There would be less conflict in that even though I wouldn't have minded a little conflict.
I could continue down this hall or go even higher up the stairs.
[[Go down the hall]]
I continued down the dark corridor and away from the golden luminescence of my room. Soon, darkness fully surrounded me sans a candle that had probably been left behind by Genevieve in a hurry. I picked it up and went further down.
Most of the doors were closed and all the ones I tried were locked.
Finally, I came upon a door that was slightly ajar. I pushed it open and held the candle at the doorway. I could see books littered across the ground and scribbled on papers fluttered from the door as it opened.
After quietly contemplating whether I should go in or not, I stepped inside. I lit the other candles scattered about the room and they lit it enough for me to see that this was a study of some kind. Shelves lined with books painted the perimeter of the room and at its center was a desk covered nearly entirely in books and papers.
I moved towards it, placing the candle over top of the smallest pile of papers. I touched the books, pushing them about in disinterest.
[[Was this my father's study?]]
I found a candle next to the stairs and started my ascension. It didn't take long for me to reach the third floor. It was about as similar as the second just more spacious. It was just as dark as the rest of the house. Apparently my father had a penchant for darkness. Or maybe it was because there were only two people in the entire house and there was no need for so much light.
I looked around or at least tried to under the light of the candle. I saw to my left a door left ajar, golden light spilling from within the crack. Down the hall to my right, I saw the tinniest touch of light. Whatever it was it was further down than the room to my left.
[[Go into the golden room]]
[[Go down the corridor]]
I slowly sat down in his chair, smiling like a ten year old trying on their parent's shoes. I took in a deep breath and tried to imagine what my father did in here. Perhaps he was a very busy man. I wondered what he was doing out wherever he was.
I kicked my heels, looking down at my feet. The corner of a book caught my eye. It was half stuffed under the bottom of the left drawer, nearly crinkled by the harsh treatment. I yanked it from under the bottom of the desk, sliding the chair back slightly.
While the cover suffered slight damage, it was still legible. And it read:
[[The Art of Murder: The Journey Towards The Deed]] I paused slightly. I had so many questions all of a sudden. Why did he have this book? Why was it so damaged and so well worn? Perhaps Father was a psychologist or something like that. Or perhaps this was just a hobby. A hobby that I wouldn't mind partaking in as well.
I raised my other hand to open it but stopped. I don't want to read it. But...
I opened it completely, flipping through a few pages and reading a few words.
[[Perhaps I'm just as bad.]]
I'm not unfamiliar with death. And I don't mean my mother.
I sighed, placing the book in my lap and pulling open a drawer. Inside was a folded up piece of paper. I unfolded it and was startled to discover that it was addressed to me.
[[Dear Alicia...]]It had been a sunny day at the farm when my mother yelled for me to get the cows away from the crops. I ran out the door, a shovel in hand to ward the beasts off. I screamed incoherently to get them away and it worked. I stopped at a section of the field that they had trampled.
I sighed and began digging up the corn, shoveling up the dirt and piling it somewhere else. It was then that I noticed something approaching me, something large. I turned my head to find one of the dairy cows standing beside me. It mooed loudly and I tried to shoo it away but it wouldn't move.
"Well, I suppose if you don't trample anything you can stay beside me."
I continued digging but was soon stopped by the cow nudging me in the side with its nose. I glared at it but it kept nudging me, mooing as it did.
"Stop." I hissed as I continued digging.
It hit me again with its nose and I raised the shovel above my head. I looked the cow right in the eye as I hit it across the skull. It fell to the ground in a crumpled heap and I hit it another time. And again and again and again until its skull was caved in and its blood dirtied the corn.
I straightened up, wiped the blood from my cheek and continued digging.
I had been 11 at the time. It read:
I know we have yet to meet but I want to know so much about you. In all honesty, I've only just recently discovered your existence. I saw you there, standing in the market one day, and I just knew. I knew you were mine. I wanted to speak to you but you disappeared as soon as I saw you. Like a ghost. That was the only glimpse I had of you and I wanted to see you again just as soon as you left. I wanted to know your name (which I had received from a kind old store owner). I wanted to know what you were like. Were you more like me or your mother? But I knew that if you were more like me then there would be a chance that you would be just as twisted as myself. That was why I didn't pursue you. I could have easily gotten your attention or at least found where you lived but I did not. I did not want to know if you were like me because I knew I would be incredibly and unhealthily joyous. I know that is insane but I've come to accept who I am and knowing that my daughter is just like me would be a gift from the heavens. But if you aren't, then, I can be as normal as you would want. I would do anything for you, darling. But I would have to meet you first.
<span style=“text-align:right”>Your Beloved Father</span>
[[I put down the letter.]]
I silently folded it up and placed it in my pocket, close to my heart. I stood up, tucked the book back into its place and left the room.
[[Go down to Genevieve]] (Don't choose this option until you've gone through all the rooms)I slowly made my way down the stairs, eyes a lonely visage of someone long forgotten. I am a Foster and we don't take lightly to those that upset us.
*"He's a murderer."*
I'm a murderer.
*"He is a monster."*
I'm a monster.
My mother had said this even to [[her untimely end.]]
[[I guess I take after my father.]] I pushed the door open and was immediately blinded by the bright light of a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. As my eyes adjusted I noticed how much darker the decorations were in this room than they were in mine. In this room, the bed was draped in dark silks and satin. Its canopy was a black cloud raining down upon it and the wardrobes were a dark ebony akin to the large doors at the front of the manor.
I moved towards the bed but stopped when I saw what was littered atop it. They were clothes, *male* clothes. I looked around again and saw all of the cuff links and waistcoats peeking through the wardrobe. I was standing in my father's bedroom.
I touched the dark satin robe that was draped over his bed and sat beside it. I took in a deep breath and nearly smiled. It smelt of sandalwood and a faint trace of cinnamon. He would probably smell like this when he came home.
I stood up and walked to the closest wardrobe. I gently opened the doors, gazing up at all of the fantastical clothes lined within. I ran my fingers over the fabric, smiling as it slid past me.
I moved to the other side of the bed and to the other wardrobe.
But then I stopped suddenly.
[[It smelt familiar.]] I move down the darkened hallway until I reached the very end, looking over whatever it was that was shining. The light of my lantern must have reflected off of its metal. I glanced down at the ground to find a small silver key hidden beneath a nightstand of sorts. I picked it up and examined it. It was really just a simple key. I turned my attention to the only other door nearby and put the key in the lock. It quickly openned the door and I stepped inside.
As I lit other candles, I found that I was surrounded by dozens of different weapons. Swords and daggers lined the walls and many other weapons I didn't recognize were under them.
[[I moved forward to find a sword still bloody and stained.]] I took a big whiff of the air and furrowed my brow when I smelt it again. It was barely there, faint and almost unnoticeable. It was a mix of something familiar and something I silently craved.
[[I knew this smell.]]
I moved towards the wardrobe and threw the doors open. I took in another breath and the smell was stronger this time. I pushed through my father's clothes and reached the back of the closet. The wardrobe looked as if it had been bolted to the wall as compared to the other one which was slanted and tilted against the corner.
I knocked the back of the closet and heard the telltale hollowness behind it. I pushed the sheet of wood harder, grunting as I increased the pressure. Finally, the wall fell backwards, revealing a long wooden corridor behind it. I knew it.
The smell was even stronger.
[[I climbed into the wardrobe and into the corridor.]] My mother had asked me to get some meat from the market. We had just received the coin from our most recent crop exchange and she thought it would be great for us to finally have a meal. This had been one of her more saner moments. Though, now that I look back on it, this may also have been where my father first saw me.
I entered the butcher shop and immediately felt overwhelmingly calm. The stench of the hanging meat and the blood dripping from their carcasses danced and formed into a beautiful melody of death and intoxication, swirling around me into a beautiful cloak. I licked my lips, closing my eyes to fully enjoy the scents.
My entire body tingled with excitement but part of me felt that this was wrong, sick. I shouldn't have felt this amazing due to dead corpses.
But I did anyway.
And I liked it. I moved through the hallway. The scent was getting even stronger, so strong that I was beginning to understand what it was. Part of me already knew. I should have run away, turned and never looked back but I wanted to see it for myself. I wanted to *experience* it again.
I finally came to the end of the corridor, revealing a small room filled with discarded corpses, broken bones and bloodied limbs. The scent was at its strongest, drawing me closer and closer until I was standing before the carcasses.
They looked to be a variety of different people but no children. They were all adults or at least older teenagers. I should have run away at the sight of them, ran and left the mansion. But I wouldn't move.
Instead, I closed my eyes and inhaled.
It was beautiful. My lungs expanded into balloons of emotion, relishing the sweet scent of all this death. I didn't want to leave. I wanted to climb in beneath them and stay there for days. But I knew I couldn't.
[[After having my fill, I went back into the room.]] I looked over my father's dresser, casually picking up and putting down his rings and jewelry. One stopped me. It was a deep ruby gem hanging on a silver chain. Underneath it was a small piece of paper that read: *For My Dear Alicia*.
I picked it up, letting the chandelier's light make it sparkle. It looked like the color of blood. I happily put it on and smiled at the feel of it against my chest. After one last look at my father's room, I went back into the hallway.
[[Go down the stairs]]
[[Go down the corridor]]I emerged into the same hall my bedroom was in.
[[Go down the hall]]
[[Go down to Genevieve]] (Don't choose this option until you've gone through all the rooms)All the other weapons were pristine, clean and shining under the firelight. This one, however, was still dripping with another's blood. It made a quiet drop, drop, drop beneath it, a puddle forming.
I moved closer, hand reaching out to touch its hilt. It was bound by leather held tightly together for an easy grip. My fingers drifted downward towards the blade, mingling and combining with the blood. I wonder who's it belonged to. It was probably a servant's. Perhaps my father had-
Why did I assume he struck the killing blow? Or why am I assuming whoever it is died? Why am I thinking this is blood?
Oh. I knew why. [[I just knew.]] Deep down I knew my father took this sword and struck and killed whoever it was that upset him. I'm not surprised.
I hope he suffered. I frowned but let the thought simmer deep within my mind, fester until it poisoned me entirely.
[[I turned towards the other instruments.]]
I dared to pick them up but finally thought against it. I would have much rather had myself intact when my father finally arrived.
I backed up from the weapons, biting my lip to keep from taking one with me. I wouldn't mind returning to this room again. I closed the door and locked it, pocketing the key.
[[Go down the stairs]]
[[Go into the golden room]]I emerged into the foyer where I saw Genevieve hurriedly cleaning a trophy case. I made sure to make noise so as to have her turn around. She jumped slightly but turned nonetheless. At the sight of me her lips turned downward into a frown and she put down the rag she was holding.
"What did I say, young miss? You're supposed to be confined to your room." She said with a shake of her head.
"On who's authority?" I hissed, eyes narrowing into two dangerous slits.
"Mine. I chose to wait until Lord Foster returned to figure out what to do with you. That is why I locked you in your room." I could tell she was lying. Even a child could see that.
"I'm not a pet you can just cage up. You knew that wouldn't hold me for long."
She visibly gulped. "No matter. I must continue cleaning before the Master returns."
Genevieve hurried into another room and I slowly followed after her. I entered a sort of parlor. It was illuminated by a large fireplace, casting shadows over the walls. Genevieve frowned again when she saw me enter.
[["Why do you hate me so much?"]]She turned away from me to continue cleaning. "It is because you are illigitimate. You don't deserve to be in this house."
I smiled. "That isn't all of it, is it?"
Genevieve remained silent for a long moment before saying, "I don't know you. We don't need another-"
She stopped herself. So she knew. She knew he was a monster and she knew that it was possible that I was one as well.
She was right.
I moved closer to the fireplace, looking down at all of the instruments. The poker, the tongs and all the other fire irons. I particularly enjoyed the poker.
"You don't like me because I could be just as crazy as him." I said for her.
"I...I..." She shushed herself, turning back around to clean.
I returned to the fireplace. Its flames were sparking and cracking, creating masterful pieces of art that would burn at its touch.
[[I looked back down at the poker.]]
"But you were right. I am my father's daughter."
I lifted the poker into the air and struck it upon the back of Genevieve's head. She fell to the ground in shock and I hit her again. Again and again just like the cow who didn't do as I said. Her blood littered the carpet and the poker, drenching my clothes in the crimson liquid as well. I must have had it on my face as well because I felt something sticky sliding down my cheek. The scent was intoxicating.
I stood up breathless, dropping the poker in the process. I looked back down at the crumpled mess of Ms. Genevieve and smiled. I began to laugh, shoulders shaking with the intensity of the action. This felt so *good*.
Then, suddenly, I heard the parlor door swing open. Sandalwood and cinnamon filled the air.
I lazily turned towards the voice and saw my father standing at the entrance. They weren't kidding about our resemblance. It was as if I was looking in a mirror.
[[He took one look at Genevieve, and smiled.]] <center><h1>The End</h1></center>
<center><big>Alicia and The Manner She's In</big></center>
<center><big>[[Epilogue: The Dinner Party]]</big></center><h1><center>Alicia and All She Is and Ever Will Be</center></h1>
<center><big>By: Nelia-Sol White</big></center>
<center><big>All Rights Reserved</big></center>
The carriage came to a halt in front of a set of large, black iron gates. I peered out the window to see them swing open and grant us passage. I looked even further ahead to find an enormous mansion set against the backdrop of thundering clouds. It sported dozens of arches and rose windows, reminding me of a renaissance church in the heart of Italy.
I took in a deep breath as the carriage came to another stop. I heard the coachman climb down from his perch and open an umbrella. The carriage door slid open and he greeted me with a broad smile.
"Madam," He said as he held out his hand.
I took it gingerly and stepped onto the mud, the rain continuing its harsh endeavor. As he held the umbrella above me, we walked towards the large wooden doors of the manor.
This would become my home.
[[Enter the house]]The rabbit's carcass dripped with blood as I strung it up on the line. I drove my dagger into its chest, moving upward until I reached its legs. Then, I pulled at its fur, pulled and pulled until it slid off and landed in a heep on the ground.
I took the knife again, eying the blood that cascaded down the blade. I held it up to the light marveling at how beautiful it looked. My eyes flickered back to the rabbit and I grinned. *I* did this. The knife was red *because* of me.
I held it up higher and bits of the blood fell onto my face. But I continued to hold it there, letting the blood fall and fall. I had been cutting up vegetables for dinner when my mother had another one of her episodes of hysteria. They had been appearing more frequently recently. She stumbled into the room and I forced myself to ignore her. She began spouting nonsense that soon bubbled into complaints about my father.
"You two are just the same." She hissed, moving towards me and leaning on my back. "Just the same."
I continued to chop the vegetables, hands trembling with a slow simmering anger.
"You're both twisted. Messed up. You'd rather see blood than sunshine. But there *is* a difference between you two." She breathed, voice close to my ear.
I stopped cutting up the food.
"He's a coward. He hides behind his money. He kills and then hides in his mansion. He's a-"
I swung my arm backward, cutting my mother's cheek with the knife. I turned towards her and she held her bloodied face in shock.
I jumped on her, pushing her to the ground and sinking the knife into her heart. I twisted it, relishing in the sweet sense of blood. She yelled out in pain and I stabbed her again.
I slashed her throat and she finally shut up. I gave her one final once over before standing up and returning to the vegetables.
I didn't mind the blood on the knife."Which one?" I asked quietly as we gazed out at the various people sitting at the table.
My father had thrown a dinner party in celebration of my arrival shortly after Genevieve's sad, unfortunate death. Though, dinner wasn't the only thing on our agenda.
We stood at the head of the table, watching as guests mingled and made casual conversation.
"Her," He said, nodding towards a young woman a little ways down the table.
She was sitting quietly, picking at her food and speaking to no one.
"Why her?" I asked curiously.
He turned to look down at me, placing his hand on my head. "No one will miss her."
I grinned as he moved to address the guests.
"And that concludes our welcome dinner for my daughter, Alicia Foster. Now if you'll please follow the butler out towards your carriages he will get you situated."
The guests began to leave the table and I swiftly said, "Ms. Porter? Would you please join us for a private conversation in the parlor?"
She nodded slowly and entered the room.
My father and I followed with sinister grins stretched across our faces.It turns out my dad *did* remarry. Her name was Lisa and they had another kid. In contrast to me, he was loud, bubbly and energetic. If he could, he'd jump on the walls and sleep on the ceiling. They had named him Theo and he was five years old.
He had insisted that we go to the park and we were soon there. Lisa was running around the playground with him while I sat with my father on a nearby bench. He was a warming presence beside me and I almost smiled at the nostalgia.
"Lisa's sweet." I said, looking out towards my step-mother as she moved about the monkey bars.
He laughed. "Yeah. She and Theo are just about the same in everything."
"Are we?" I asked, turning towards him.
He didn't answer for a long moment, eyes distant as he thought of an answer.
"No." He finally answered. "But we could have been."
"Yeah, we could have." I said quietly, turning away from him.
"But that doesn't matter anymore." He smiled. "We can't change the past, kiddo. If I could, I would."
"If you did, you wouldn't have Lisa or Theo."
"No, I wouldn't." He agree and I looked up at him in shock. "But it'd be worth it for you."
I smiled softly. "But you're right, dad. It doesn't matter anymore. All we have is now."
"Yeah," He sighed as we both watched as Lisa and Theo danced around the playground.