Summer Kids

When Lucas Tweedle, leader of Left Hand Private Investigators, receives a box containing a film he hasn't seen in years, he is prompted on a road trip across miles and years. He has to save Eva Grey, the only girl that ever loved his teenage self.
She may be in the clutches of the Nemesis Crime Ring but the memories of the summer after college graduation haunt the both of them.

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8. PRAYER

 

CHAPTER SEVEN - PRAYER

EVA

When she awoke the next morning she didn’t know what to do. She woke in white sturdy sheets with coloured light filtering through the stained glass window, there was the clear smell of leaves and toast in the air. The echoes of light made her delirious, making her feel like she was in a hospital rather than the attic of a chapel. Maybe being in a hospital would have been better for her.

The feeling of not knowing what to do was sadly familiar to her. Every morning when she woke up in the cattle shed she would just lie there in isolation until someone shovelled meals through the latch at the bottom of the door. She saw no other women, the faces only came when she was escorted to the box which sat in an adjacent room. She knew that these women probably heard her screams, the rattling of chains and the drip, drip, dripping. She knew they couldn't help her just as much as she couldn't help them. 

This time she could move, this time she had some element of choice on what she would do.

The other women were up, except Kate who still lay curled up like a resilient toddler, wrapped still in her grey dress. A chest now sat at the bottom of Eva’s bed, looking like it was made out of cardboard instead of wood. Tentatively she edged her bare feet onto the floor boards and shuffled to the box, finding white and purple outfits mixed with a few black pants.

“You need to wear white.” Naomi’s voice startled her and she jerked up, knocking her knee caps onto the floorboards as she tried to manoeuvre herself in a way that would face the other woman. “Victor likes the Christening day to be awash with white, he was always one for dramatics.” There was a faint smile to the woman’s lips and her hair was damp from where she had recently bathed.

“Why?” Eva dared to ask.

“He just does, at sundown a bell will toll for you three times and then you need to put the white dress back on and go and meet him down in the chapel.” There were a lot of ands in that sentence but Eva overlooked them in favour of looking at where the dress was neatly folded on the top of the box.

“What do I do now then?”

It was murderous not knowing where she stood even though she technically had all of these possibilities at her fingertips. She may have been blindfolded when she was walked from the Warehouse to the Chapel, where she had gotten ready for the ceremony, but she could tell from then that the compound was large.

“Eat breakfast, there’s toast in the kitchen.”

Naomi went to her bed then and sat with a towel in hand. She said no more to the newer wife and allowed Eva to investigate the kitchen for food.

Melanie sat on a bench, a plate of toast balanced on her knees. She didn’t say anything to Eva as she too entered the kitchen and she didn’t even look in her direction. She looked alone in solitude and almost blank faced. There was a mound of toast on the bench opposite Melanie and even when Eva loaded up her own plate, noticing how this was fancier than any breakfast she had had in the compound, the other girl remained motionless.

Eva ate her breakfast on her bed, getting the crumbs on her pyjamas and not caring. She relished in the taste and when she was done, all too quickly, she washed her plate, dried it and placed it in the cupboard she found. Even still, with the dripping of water and clinking of cutlery Melanie did not stir, still munching on a particularly tough piece of toast.

Taking the advice of Naomi, she stayed in her camisole and pulled on a pair of loose white leggings just to feel comfortable. Comfort had been scarce in the compound so she would take as much of it as she could.

“What am I meant to do now?”

“You pray,” Naomi answered still on her bed, brushing through her hair mercilessly just to give herself something to do. Kate still remained asleep. Melanie still remained in the kitchen, on the bench, motionless like pottery.

Naomi had pointed to a mirror just next to the stained glass window, which sat below a cross on the wall. As soon as Eva had knelt in front of the mirror and below the cross, not knowing what else to do besides gawk and ask more questions, Naomi had turned so that her back was facing the window instead of her front.

Maybe it was an offence to watch someone else pray or maybe it was something that Victor had instilled in her from early on.

Eva had never been a religious person. Religion had never helped her, provided the closure and comfort that people preached about. But this was forced religion and so she knelt in front of a reflection of herself, her legs going numb by the second and she tilted her head to the floor.

She adopted a pose that mimicked prayer and her thoughts whistled around the brain box of her skull until her eyes were wild from going back and forth in their sockets.

What would she think about?

There was no God up there for her to follow. At least not privately. She knew by now that in public her God and her Husband ruled her from the get go.

“Repent your sins,” a sleepy voice echoed from the other side of the room and Eva knew it was Kate. But she didn’t want to open her eyes so that her actions were liable for offence, she knew that religion and prayer were taken seriously here. If she broke prayer than consequences would sure come.

Kate’s voice had been quiet enough to not disturb her but to just poke at the edges of her concentration. Repenting her sins? What sin had she committed?

She was guilty of anger but who wasn’t?

That got her on the subject of her father. In her life her father had done two things which were damnable and unforgivable. Each one of these actions left their marks on her. The first one was too damnable to mention and it hurt her brain to even recall it, this one was perhaps more painful than the box itself.

The anger towards that wouldn’t be dissipated even if God had a hand in it.

The second incident was easier to deal with.

The summer before she started college, when she was at the still tender age of sixteen, she walked into her father’s study to steal a book. It sounded like the start of an elaborate joke. But a joke it was not. His study had the best books because they were handy downs from every corner of his family along with his own tastes. There were so many types of books to choose from so Eva couldn’t help herself.

The heat of summer was sweltering and all she wanted was to take a book, escape through the window of the study and lay in the shade underneath the old oak tree in the back garden. But that wasn’t the case.

The door had been locked but the door was always locked so that wasn’t a problem. A bobby pin and a stuck out tongue sorted that one out in less than a minute. She was ready to commit the best felony, one which she wouldn’t be incarcerated for.

But the sight of her father with a knife to his arm stopped her as soon as she pushed the door quietly open. He had rolled his shirt sleeves up to the highest point they would go and he was attacking his upper arm with vicious lines of red. Eva counted them silently, three lines two horizontal and one lateral and long. The blood washed down his arm as innocently as red paint water and collected into a dish that was poised underneath his arm and wrist. He had planned this. Maybe he had done this before.

He didn’t notice Eva at first so she stood there as he slowly carved his self-inflicted battle scars. She gulped and although she thought it was quiet, it mustn’t have been because her father’s eyes shifted almost drunkenly from the red lines to her red face. The knife dropped, sounding the splattering of blood onto the carpet and he rushed to apply a towel to the lines, stopping Eva from seeing them more than stopping the flow of blood.

“Eva,” he gasped and hobbled over to her, the towel pressed loosely to his arm enough for the blood to drip into the thin fabric of his shirt, but not tight enough to sufficiently stop the bleeding. She didn’t think that her father cared whether or not the blood stopped.

“You mustn’t tell you mother.” He stated and she shouted at him, berated him for wanting to kill himself. She didn’t have control over her own vocal chords and her father didn’t have control over his own anger. He gripped her chin in one tight grip, more blood dripped to the carpet, and he forbade her from telling a soul about what she had seen. She had cried and told her father had he was hurting her, his grip tight enough to bruise her. But he didn’t let up and he made her clean the blood from the carpet as he stitched the lateral cut with medical sutures, berating his own medical knowledge from his grandfather’s teachings back when he was a teenager, and bandaging the other two cuts along with that one. Soon he was unravelling his shirt from where it was bunched near his shoulder and hiding the cuts from view.

Nothing had happened, at least to his knowledge.

He made her clean the knife he had cut himself with, using a wet towel to slide the blood into the sink instead of letting it stick to the blade. Then he told her to get out of his office and go to her room.

She had done, only because she could think of nothing else. She was still seeing the double vision of blood and lateral cuts and the possibility that if she had come an hour later she could have found her father dead, in a pool of his self-inflicted blood.

Her knees were numb. It was a fact, plain and simple.

She couldn’t stand though, since forgiveness did not run through her veins. She knew that her father was unhappy, unhappy with what she wasn’t sure, but his crude behaviour towards her and his mission for silence was hard to get over.

She knew he was in pain but no God would wash away the double vision.

A bell tolled thrice and she started, toppling to the side in the shock of not using her limbs in so long.

The room looked darker and she didn’t know how long she had been knelt in front of the mirror.

Kate was by her side and there were no sight of either Naomi or Melanie. The other woman urged her into the dress, tying the ribbons deftly before shooing her out of the room with a cluck of her tongue. The dressing was done in under five minutes, the short timing making her brain short circuit. She was back in this nightgown of a wedding dress, the cream pumps on her feet, her hair hanging straight and just brushed to rid it from tangles. She would meet her Husband again and he would tell her what her role now was.

Everything was daunting and horrible and she didn’t want to step away from the room that gave her her first signs of comfort. But she had to. Kate wouldn’t let her stay.

So she descended the stairs from the attic of the chapel, to say hello to the devil and kiss him on his lips with unwanted consent.

 

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