The Anathema

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  • Published: 30 Mar 2017
  • Updated: 25 Apr 2017
  • Status: Complete
Long ago, demons and hellcreatures invaded earth. Though they nearly wiped out the humans, humans did as always: adapted. Hundreds of years later, the offspring of humans and demons is the norm. Alessandra lives in this world, and is entirely human. Finally, too late to the battle, the angels are determined to get rid of the demons once and for all. Alessandra, though caught in the midst of the battle, is the only hope for the humane side of the cambions...if it even exists anymore...

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1. The Home of the Whites

"Alessandra, prepare the table!" Mother yells to me. I get up from my place in the study, putting down my book. I go into the kitchen, get the dishes, and set the table, all while listening to my mother's nagging. She drones on and on about posture and etiquette. 

"Mother, the table is set," I say.

"And to signal when you're- Oh. Oh, alright." She huffs, and set a large bowl of...brown, flaky mush on the table. "Go wash up, Alessandra." I do as told, then return to the table. Father, Lionel, Marcell, and Katherine are already seated, waiting for me to join them.

I sit next to Lionel. He gives me a half-disgusted look, then turns his eyes to Mother. "My blessed family, I thank you and our great, loving Lord for this meal we have today. I also thank him for our comfortable house and lifestyle, and our pure blood, that has not been tainted by the hellspawn." 

"Amen," my family chants.

"Amen," I mutter, getting a disapproving look from Katherine.

Father ladles out a portion of the brown muck onto each of our plates.

"So, dears, how was your day?" Mother asks us, smiling warmly. 

"My masterpiece, Vincenzo, is nearly finished," pipes up Katherine. She sits up straight in her chair, pushing back her blonde curls as if to say, Of course. Everything I do is a masterpiece.

"That's nothing compared to my ballade, Call of the Angels. While it's only just halfway done, it's gotten to the exciting part where the Angels come to rescue the humans from the hell scum," says Marcell proudly. Katherine pouts at him.

"At least my painting is almost done."

"Quality, not quantity, sister." Marcell smirks, and Katherine looks like she wants to hit him.

"Calm, my children. All forms of art are beautiful, and we shall appreciate each one in due time," says Mother, defusing the situation. The kids nod, but Katherine still looks angry.

"Well," says Lionel, "While my two younger siblings have been dabbling in their arts, I have been making strides in bringing back fresh...fresher...produce. I've almost perfected my machine." Lionel picks up an item that look like a lamp, and puts it on the table. He also puts a potted plant with a sprout growing in it under the head of the object. He turns the thing on, and...it's bright. Very bright. 

Everyone in the family flinches away.

"L-Lionel, why don't you turn your...invention off?" suggests Mother.

"But don't you see?" asks Lionel excitedly, ignoring Mother. "With this invention, I can bring back fresh food. We won't be eating..." He looks to the empty bowl of brown mush, which we all had eaten, though reluctantly. "And if I can get the cambions to buy it, we'll be rich!"

"Enough!" yells Mother. "Turn that blasted thing off! And don't talk about the hellspawn so normally! We're fine as is! The Lord hath provided all we need, so don't be greedy and talk of being rich. Be grateful for what you have." Lionel's eyes drift down, and he turns off his lamp. He puts the lamp and pot back on the floor, and I swear I can see the passion in his eyes die like the little sprout. Without that lamp, both will surely die. "And what about you, Alessandra? How have you been spending your time?"

"Reading," I say evasively.

"Reading what, dear?" pushes Mother. 

"Books."

"What kind?"

"Fiction."

"Honestly, Alessandra, I don't want to play guessing games all night. What book did you read today?" She nearly yells at me. 

"I read Dawn again, actually," I say. In response, my entire family groans. 

"Not that again!" exclaims Katherine. 

"That book is not holy, Alessandra. I don't know why you insist on rereading it," says Mother, exasperated.

"I don't know. I like it," I say defensively.

"Of course you do," sneers Marcell. "You're a freak. You fit in nowhere, so of course you'd-"

Marcell stares at our father, tears welling in his eyes. Father stands over Marcell, rage masked behind his calm demeanor. "Apologize to your sister," he says quietly. Marcell has the same stubbornness as Father.

"No."

"Do it, boy, or I swear I'll whack you again, and I won't be gentle this time." In response, Marcell cups his red, swelling cheek.

Marcell, anger flashing across his face, stands up so abruptly that his chair falls back. "I'm not going to apologize to her! She IS a freak, and you all know it! She-she's a hell-sympathizer! She doesn't think the things are evil! She thinks they're human, even when they abuse her! She has no common sense! She's an idiot and a freak!" Marcell runs into the living room and up the stairs. The slam of his bedroom door is the final sound.

"We don't hit our kids, Tobias," scolds Mother, but a hint of pride shines in her eyes when they flicker to the stairs. When they flicker back to me, they hold disappointment. As the oldest of her four children, I should be the favorite, the most hating of the cambions, the most like her. 

The most normal of her kids. I should be pretty, smart, and artistic. I should be the "purest."

"Dinner's over," announces Mother. "Lionel, clear the table." Lionel nods, still not meeting anyone's eyes. He swiftly clears the table and rushes into the kitchen. I think I spot his eyes rimmed in red. 

"Come, dear. Let's go practice your French," says Mother to Katherine. Katherine smiles.

"Yes, mother!" 

Katherine is obviously Mother's favorite daughter. 

"Alessandra," says Father.

"Yes?"

He looks at me pointedly, his brown eyes boring holes into my own brown eyes - a perfect reflection of his. "We need to talk." He turns, and we go into the study. 

The study is a shuttered, clustered, claustrophobic little space. It's has two desks facing the windows, the curtains drawn. On the right of the desk opposite the door is a bookshelf, crammed with Bibles, history books, language textbooks, arithmetic books, and any other book deemed necessary by Mother. The little green couch which is to the right of the door, is mostly crammed with books, except for a little space in the corner where I sit and read. The entire room is covered in books and dust. 

"Alessandra," Father says, sighing heavily. 

"'Try harder,'" I guess. I swipe dust off a book. Homer's The Odyssey. "'Try to be more like your siblings.'"

"...Yes. It's just that being yourself...makes it much harder for you. Don't you want things to be easier?" asks Father.

"Yes," I start.

"Then stop being yourself," interrupts Father.

"Yes," I repeat, "but I'm not going to pretend to be something I'm not. Mother always says to have faith - faith in her, faith in yourself, faith in God. But what about others? Shouldn't we have faith, have hope, that humanity is somewhere inside them?" 

"Their humanity died when their hellish descendants raped their human ancestors. Everything about them - where they come from, who they are, is evil, Alessandra. That is why we must remain pure."

"'Pure,'" I scoff. "That concept does not even exist anymore. No one is pure."

"We are," says Father.

"We are corrupt with that belief," I say. Father shakes his head, disbelieving. 

"All these books you read about heroes and demigods...they're poisoning your brain. Can't you see that?"

"No," I say, a bit doubtful. What if I'm wrong? I don't think I am, but my family.... "Just because I'm different...," I struggle for the words to say.

"You are different, from them," Father says. "That is not enough. If you are not exactly like us, you are safe nowhere."

"What does that mean?" I ask, a bit angry.

"It means the hellspawn will rape you or kill you. It means that if you are not pure, we cannot protect you from them."

I scoff angrily at him. "I'm done talking to you." I storm out of the room, through the dining room, living room, and up the stairs. The long hall has three doors on the right and two on the left. The three on the right are bedrooms, first Katherine's, then Lionel's and Marcell's, then mine. On the left is the bathroom, and the farthest one is Mother and Father's room. 

I run down to my room, ignoring the muted sounds of French coming from Katherine's room. 

"Elle est un paria. Elle a tort." 

I stalk into my room, my anger rising, and my self-doubt feeding from it.

Maybe they're right...the cambion have never treated you right...But neither have they...But that is because you make it difficult, because you believe that something evil deserves to be saved...But are they really evil?..Who knows...Your family seems to think so, and they are your family...You're probably wrong...It's always your fault...You're the weird one, the freak, the pariah, the outcast [the anathema]...And in the stories, the outcasts are the ones who are wrong or crazy, so your family is probably right...

But why does being like them feel so wrong?

I stare at myself in the mirror, wanting to break the wretched glass. It taunts me, showing me everything wrong with me, everything I am not and everything I am.

I am not pretty, smart, or artistic. I don't have the colorful eyes and hair of my family, the smarts to write ballades or create inventions to help the hungry or the capacity to learn French. I am not pure in any way. My thoughts do not align with anyone's.

am, however, me. I am the skinny girl with brown eyes and hair, who can only read a book to save her life, can only be obedient in the sense to be a servant. My thoughts are wrong, wrong, WRONG. 

I hurl a book at the mirror, but luckily it just bounces off and messes up the makeup arranged on the dresser. 

I can't even break things right!

I slam my face into my pillow and weep, weep until it's dark out.

Then I remember. 

Mother's protest. 

We're going into town tomorrow.

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