The Purple Daisy

*First short story I've written in a while so bare with me! It's a rather dark topic so if anyone thinks I've done the rating wrong please say!*
For the Reincarnation competition. Occasional strong language.
Demons are parasites, latching onto souls throughout the centuries. Angels are here to rid the world of these demons, but at a price for humanity.

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3. Chapter 3

My eyes are drawn to the largest photo centred on the page. The photo is blurred, but the face is definitely mine. The dark cross on my right cheek, my birthmark, is impossible to mistake. It looks like a dodgy CCTV mugshot, but you can make out the smiles on mine and my parents face. It was a sweltering hot day and my ice cream was melting over my fingers and onto my white top.

I must have been about ten when Dad got the all-clear from his doctor. Mum moans… moaned constantly about having to drive us everywhere since my Dad never learned; I wouldn’t stop moaning about how hot it was and Dad wouldn’t stop moaning about his burnt toast he’d forgotten was on the grill. But as soon as the phone call came, the groans stopped and we were too happy to care about anything. Dad’s cancer was gone and we hopped in the car to drive three hours to the nearest beach to enjoy the sun with ice cream for breakfast. My fists relax at the memory.

My eyes stray to the rest of the page. Above the photo and the first entry on the page, a browning clipping celebrating my first birthday my grandmother placed in the local newspaper was glued in. I had my own copy tucked away somewhere in the dusty attic. My grandma wrote happily and about how I was a miracle child. She loved drilling the story into me again and again, saying my birthmark proved God was watching over me.

Next to that was a school photo of the cheerleading club from my secondary school leaver’s yearbook. Next to that was a poster of me from earlier this year, a proud smile on my face holding my medal from my town’s race day, advertising for all to join in next time to try and beat my personal-best.

I can feel my eyes scanning faster and faster over the rest of the page. My eyebrows furrow.

How did they get these? I mean, none of them are personal photos and they’ve all been available to the public, but why make a collection… on me?

Red reaches over the table and, without saying a word, turns back a page.

A young girl smiles at the top of the page, her ginger hair half covering her blue eyes. Her freckles dance around the same shaped birthmark on her cheek as mine.

Again, the page is littered with photos and articles, anything that mentions this woman’s name or face. Most of them are massive group photos, family and friends smiling back at me.

The page finishes with a photo from a milk carton label, asking if anyone had seen her followed by a phone number and clothes description.

The page ends with a funeral card. She was thirty-two.  Dated eleven years after the missing persons advert.

Eighteen years ago. A few days after my birth.

I toss over another page. The same thing greets me; another different face but the same birthmark. The last article was from fifty years ago. The boy was ten when he was… mysteriously poisoned according to the news article.  

I keep turning the pages backwards. Out the corner of my vision, I can see Red wincing each time I fling a page over, but I can’t stop.

Newspaper clippings of my birthmark on different faces dating back to 1957, 1932, 1901, 1888… Clippings of fires and car crashes and drownings and everything in between. I squeeze my eyes shut and swallow vomit back.

I throw the book open randomly to one of the pages near the end.

My life is followed by blank pages. The lump in my throat almost prevents me from speaking. “and what happens… after me?”

“The soul continues to pass on and you live.” Red talks in a monotone. He’s gone back to his intense staring again.

“And what do the angels want to do with my soul? Why did all these people… die?”

“They will crush it like they wanted to crush these people’s lives.  They will destroy it. You will be nothing.”

I stumble back from the table. My head feels so full. I press my fingers against the pain in between my eyebrows, trying to squeeze the dizziness out.

This is unreal…

No wait… this is unreal… it has to be.

“I think you’re insane.” My voice comes out raspy, exasperated. I can’t meet Red’s eyes.

I let my words tumble away without me, “I didn’t think my life was that interesting to attract some kind of stalker but, wow, you’ve proved me wrong. I’m going to go and call the police and just go back to my relatively uneventful life… which I love very much… which will be long and full and nothing like those people’s. I mean, they’re probably not even real because you are insane.”

I push myself out from the table, away from those pictures.  Knocking the chair over as I stand, I turn in the direction of the door.

But after a couple of hurried steps, I stop.

Why is no-one stopping me?

“If we were murderers, wouldn’t we have done it by now rather than made up this shit? Like, why bother when it’s like five of us against you?”  As if reading my mind, the man at the door speaks. He’s still staring at his fingernails as he scratches the dirt on the mantelpiece, not looking up; not altering his casual stance.

“If you wish to leave, then you may. We want to ask to protect you, unlike those angels who will just take you like they tried to tonight. The evidence is right here before you of your uniqueness.”

“There’s really nothing unique about me. Why am I a threat? This soul can’t do anything… can it?”

My heart thuds in my throat. Do I have a parasite inside me?

A deafening crack spits out from the corner of the room. Heat burns the side of my face. I scream as a sudden fire bursts from the door.

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