All the Devil's Greed

“By trying to convince himself I was a devil by nature, my father made me a devil by nurture.”

Mary-Ann Lansfield’s outbursts cause strange happenings in their house, prayers and church visits seem to stir unbearable pain inside her, and her hunger is so insatiable she’s forced to raid the pantry every night just to keep it at bay. It’s no wonder, really, that everyone believes she’s possessed by the Devil.

The more she’s hurt and berated by those around her, the wickeder Mary-Ann feels, and the more she longs for the freedom she’s been denied all her life- the freedom to live however, love whoever, and eat whatever she chooses. Even after everything she’s been told about the evil in the world, what she really wants is to become every inch the monster she’s feared to be.

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Author's note

Hello! I'd just like to stress that this book contains a lot of blood, guts, violence, abuse, and religious themes. My protagonist is extremely morally skewed and her opinions are most definitely not my own. If you're sensitive to anything of this nature, I'd recommend giving this story a miss, but if it sounds like your jam, I hope you enjoy! Jem :)
AA

8. Wildness

Elias Garvey, I am forced to admit when Wednesday plods around, is nice enough. He’s very handsome, in a youthful, angelic sort of way. Brown curly hair. Big, nervous eyes. Chews his nails when his father isn’t watching. Seven, maybe eight inches taller than me, and three-quarters of my weight soaking wet. Tonight, I can’t really be bothered with imagining what he will be like as a husband. The moment we are seated in the dining-room, I rest my chin in my hands and gaze at the ceiling, blocking out the conversation and instead filling my head with thoughts of Catty.

After our meeting in the pantry, we did not part ways until we had reached the bottom of the main staircase. We walked side-by-side, in silence, refusing or afraid to look one another in the eyes, till the time came for me to go to my bed and her to hers. Perhaps we were embarrassed. There was a moment there in the hallway, as she turned to me, I thought we were going to kiss again. But we didn’t. And the suspense has been driving me mad all week. Since our kiss, I have only laid eyes on her once- Margaret was scolding her for breaking a plate in the breakfast-room, and so I could not intrude. I haven’t dared ask her to meet me at night again, and every single night I have regretted it. Today, she was busy in the kitchen, helping Margaret prepare the food for these six stuck-up boring sods. Eight, if you count my parents. Maybe nine. Maybe we are all the same. Maybe we are all nought but nice enough.

The promise of a proper meal tonight was all that kept me up, convinced me to be polite enough to my father that I would not get locked into my room instead. These past few days, my hunger’s been growing and growing inside me, digging deeper and deeper- I feel practically vicious every time somebody so much as dares to glance in my direction. I want to snap. Jump to my feet. Scream, cry… eat. I want to eat. I want to eat so badly. I try to think good thoughts, to distract myself, but in the end, thinking of Catty doesn’t soothe me. It only makes me hungrier and hungrier.

I want to see her, damn it. I want to see her again, and find out for sure whether she was kissing me back or whether I just thought I felt it. I want to kiss her again. Truthfully, I want to do more than just kiss her. The pressure of these thoughts on my mind has built and built over the days my desires have remained unquenched. It makes me nervous, as I fear my father can see what I’ve done in the look on my face. As Elias looks over at me, and smiles nervously before dropping his head back to his plate, I wonder what he’d think of me if he could see it too.

He would probably be afraid of me. Too afraid to want to make me his wife.

The thought of that is delicious.

Father and Cecil, apparently, are trying to negotiate some deal. However, the majority of the work is to be done after dinner, after the ladies have retired to the drawing-room. That means they are currently discussing the weather, and how it has been getting rather too cold for Mother’s taste. Everyone else seems to be finding the conversation fascinating. I’m relieved for multiple reasons when the double dining-room doors open and the servants come in with our food.

Catty is with them. The moment she enters the room, her gaze snaps to mine, and mine to hers. I try to smile, but don’t manage, so all we do is stare. She has a plate in either hand and only breaks the gaze to stoop and lay them in front of my parents. My mother thanks her. My father does not, and my heart jumps into my throat as he looks between us quizzically. I tell myself he does not know- cannot, even. Catty walks past me to leave the room, passing just a few inches behind my chair. It’s like I can feel her there. I imagine bolting to my feet and reaching out and grabbing her and stooping her and kissing her in front of the lot of them. The urge curls my fingers into the edge of the table. Then, I freeze as I feel her hand in my hair.

She barely even touches me, and within a second she’s gone again, out of the door with the other servants. The gesture sends light shivers of excitement down my back and vicious, powerful surges of energy through my gut. She did that in front of everyone. The Garveys could have seen- especially the daughters, who are sat to my right. My mother could’ve seen. My father. But she did it anyway.

As I look down at my dinner, I’m suddenly hungrier than I can bear. How long has it been since I last ate a full meal? Perhaps a year. Tonight, we’re having roast beef and gravy with potatoes and vegetables- my plate is heaped, just like everyone else’s. My mouth waters and I bite it back, waiting as my father says Grace. The moment he’s finished, I eagerly snatch up my fork, not giving a damn what the others think of my greed, and dig it into a potato before bringing it to my mouth and shoving it in. I chew. Once. Twice. I’ve nearly swallowed it, in fact, before I taste the salt.

I struggle to hold back a cough as the stinging taste of the salt fills my eyes with tears. I look away from the table and hold my napkin to my face, hoping nobody is looking at me. Margaret, for all her faults, is a fantastic cook. And my plate- I see it now, in fact- is covered with so much salt I swear I can feel the inside of my mouth numbing. Yes, she did it on purpose. I force myself to swallow my mouthful, and tears begin to leak down my cheeks. From the taste, of course, which makes me feel sick to my stomach, but also from the sinking realisation I cannot eat. I dig at my food, already knowing the salt goes all the way through. As I look around, I see my plate is even more heaped than everyone else’s. She did it to taunt me.

My father is looking up at me as he chews. He told her to do it.

Anger starts to boil and boil and boil inside me.

The conversation at the table continues, long after I’ve pushed my plate away and folded my arms on my stomach, slumping down in my chair. They begin to discuss the food- it, according to Cecil, is excellent. I look at their plates. They won’t eat it all. I want it. I want it so badly I may even be willing to accept the consequences of getting up and snatching it from their plates with my bare hands. Elias looks up at me. He’s clearly ignoring the conversation. He seems to be finding my barely-disguised insolence fascinating, too. The sweet smile he gives me makes my anger hiss, but I still try to smile back. I probably only look ill.

A few minutes later, my father addresses me. I’m thinking, so I don’t look up instantly.

“Mary-Ann!” He repeats.

“Oh.” I say. “Yes?”

“Why aren’t you eating?”

I bite back a snarl and study his face thoroughly. His brow isn’t furrowed in confusion, even though he ought to be intensely confused. His lip is curled slightly. His chin jabbed upwards. He looks proud. Again.

I consider announcing that it’s because that cow of a cook decided to drown my food in salt to make it inedible. Pretend that I don’t know it was him who gave the order.

“I’m sorry. But not hungry.” I say instead, giving him a slight smile. “I’ve eaten all I can.”

He doesn’t laugh this time. Wouldn’t want his colleague’s family to think our family was odd, would he?

“Are you feeling alright?” Father asks me.

I curl my lip, slightly. Don’t think it’s noticeable. The anger is still heating up inside me. I quite enjoy the way it feels- the way it heightens the suspense, tautens the threads holding me to my self-respect. Makes me consider snapping them. I feel livid inside, teeming, poisonous, wicked. Like all the evil is welling up and welling up, all of a sudden.

“Yes, I feel fine, thank you, Father.”

I know I cannot hope to leave the table. After all, there is still the matter of Elias to discuss. Strangely, even after all the odd things I’ve done this evening, Elias still doesn’t appear to be averse to the idea of marrying me. He intrigues me, undeniably. How could a well-educated boy miss all the blatant signs there’s something wrong with me? He’s probably dodging them willingly. Because I’m beautiful and rich, and his Father’s greedy and ambitious. I was clinging to the hope that he’d turn me down, but that’s not looking likely. I’m starting to get a headache.

I will not- I will not- I will not- marry him. I will not marry. If I cannot have Catty I will have nobody. No- I will have Catty. These are the thoughts I wish were running through my head. Instead, I am resigned to the realisation that I’m probably on the cusp of losing everything. I will marry him. I will have no choice. It’s the altar or the asylum.

“So, Henry,” Cecil says, through a mouthful of meat. It looks- smells- so delicious it makes me want to cry. “Were we holding the subject of the wedding until later, or just pretending to ignore it?”

There’s a hearty round of laughter around the table. Elias joins in, and his sisters look at me and giggle. I stare blankly through them.

“No, of course not.” My father puts down his fork and looks up at us. My heart plummets. Wedding. He said wedding.

“Wedding.” I say before I can stop myself.

The entire room turns to look at me. It’s then that I realise they’re nearly the first words I’ve said all evening.

“I beg your pardon, Mary-Ann?” My father says.

“Wedding. Why did you say wedding?”

“You know why.”

“No. I know that you intend to marry me off to a boy. Perhaps this one.” As I glance at Elias I feel a slight prick of guilt as his face falls, but the anger smothers it. “Perhaps another. I know nothing of a wedding. Only a courtship.”

I realise this isn’t a courtship anymore. My father already promised me to Elias, didn’t he? He and Cecil are already God-knows how far into organising the wedding. God, all of a sudden, I could scream. I could kill. I could-

“Mary-Ann.” Father says, glowering at me just barely out of his colleague’s sight. “We already discussed this.”

I’ve changed my MIND! Those are the words I stand up from the table to yell, as the cutlery shakes from the slam of my hands and my father splutters with anger. It’s at this moment- or, I suppose, a few minutes after this moment- that I’m reminded of the day Florrie and Lula were fired, with the blood and the broken mirror.

I go to sleep as I stand up, and the room I wake up in is a heaving and thrashing storm of chaos.

Everyone is standing up from the table- everyone who remains, that is. As I look around, my muscles seeming to burst and deflate as whatever strength I had leaks from me, I register that Cecil’s wife and children are nowhere to be seen. Father is standing at his place, a collision of rage and fear frozen on his face as he looks up at me. Mother is in the corner, her back pressed against the wall and her hands to her mouth, shaking and weeping. She, too, is staring at me. Cecil is still there. His hand is at his mouth and he’s trembling, frozen. He’s closest to me, but he’s too low down. I’m too high up.

I am standing on the table. In the middle of it, arms held out, legs planted wide.

Another episode.

In front of Father’s colleague, and the last man he could’ve hoped to dump me on.

As my father says my name, and I let out a whimper, I look down and behind me, back along the trail of broken plates and bent silverware that leads to my seat. The room, I realise, is a devastated wreck. A painting has fallen from the wall next to the double doors, which are swinging open. No chair is left upright, and one- Elias’- even looks to be upside-down. The cherry-red mahogany tabletop underneath my feet has curdled into black ashes. The candles from the centre of the table are out, the candlestick lying on its side. But they are not what I think of as I see the burn marks on my legs, and feel their ripe hot pain. My skirt has burnt away practically to the knee and hangs from me in paper-brittle black rags. My arms sting, and when I look down, I see them once again scribbled with red scratches and deep cuts. My hair has come loose over my face, in my mouth. I pick it out of the way with a trembling hand.

“M… Mary-Ann?” Father repeats, his voice shaking. He’s afraid, and maybe even crying. I look down at him.

The fear in my Father’s eyes fills me up. My Mother’s tears do likewise, and Cecil’s expression, as he sits down on the edge of the table with a heavy thump and starts to breathe harder. It all fills me and burns my courage from the inside out.

“F-F-Father?” I say, looking down at him.

His expression softens instead of hardening. I look at him. What happened to me? Oh, what happened to me? How long was I gone? What did I do? Say?

“Come down.” Father says, holding his arm up. He wants to help me down. And I want down.

I sob. My knees turn to water and I stumble, nearly falling. I sit down hard on the table, pushing my legs out so they dangle at the side. I can’t muster the strength to push myself all the way off. Father rushes to my side and grabs my hand; I stare at him. Mother runs over, stares at me for a couple of seconds in shocked horror, and then wraps me up into a tight hug. Father hugs me too, I suppose because Cecil is watching. I start to cry hysterically, my voice jarring in and out of silence. Mother hugs me tighter, weeping too. Then, Father grabs her by her shoulder and pulls her away from me. She comes away easily.

“Mother.” I say as I see Father’s face. The way he’s looking at me. She lets go of my hand. “Mother.” I say again. “Pl- pl- pl- please.” Please don’t leave me. Please don’t let go. Please stay with me. I won’t hurt you. I promise.

“Alice, leave the room.” Father says.

“Mother, please.”

Mother ignores me.

“What happened?” I say, looking wildly around from her to him to Cecil. “What happened to me? What happened?”

“Is she alright?” Cecil says from across the room as my mother draws away from us. He doesn’t sound convinced. Doesn’t suggest the doctor. Or even the priest.

“Cecil, get out. Go to Emma.” Father says without breaking our gaze.

“Henry? Wh- wh- are you sure-”

“Get OUT!” My father bellows. I don’t turn to see if Cecil leaves, but I hear the door opening, and then closing.

“Alone again.” I say to him softly.

He’s terrified. More afraid than I’ve ever seen him before. And it’s fear, not hatred, this time, that latches his hands onto mine with such vicious strength it makes me cry out and start to weep again. It’s fear that starts the words pouring from his mouth as he starts to pray again. It’s fear that widens his eyes, trembles his voice, makes him speak faster and faster till I can barely even hear him. As he speaks, I feel my headache growing heavier, squeezing my temples tighter, and murmur, “Father.”

I know the evil has gone from me, because I feel no glee at his fear. Not much, anyway.

“Father.”

At my words, Father steps backward and tugs hard with both his hands, yanking me off the tabletop in a shower of crockery and silverware. “Father, please!” I yelp as I stumble, nearly falling into his arms. He tightens his grip further still, crushing my fingers together, and kneels. Forcing me to kneel too. My legs are bare against the wool carpet, the skin raw and pink, my skirts and stockings burnt away somehow. God, it grates. I look at Father, one eyebrow raised as the hot touch of the ground leaches away my fear. He’s trancelike, his eyes closed, his mouth moving, his shoulders swaying in their weird rigid way. His words bring panic like bile into the back of my throat- panic that these words are poison to my body. That these words to God will claw something out of me. I hear the word demon. I hear the word Satan. I hear the words black magic and witchcraft and unearthly and murderous and lust. My eyes snap wildly towards the double doors, and around the ruined, empty room. What did I do?

“Father.” I say. “Please stop.” My headache grows heavier and heavier, pushing down into my neck. My shoulders grow weak at the pressure. My chest starts to smart. My stomach growls. Every inch of me tightens, tightens, as my pleas grow higher and higher in pitch. Then, the agony in me explodes.

“Father. Father. Father. FATHER!” I scream, doubling over and trying to drag my hands away from his. My body sings and sings and sings. I feel like I’m hardening to the point of cracking, like a bundle of twigs. I start to cry. “Father, please! I can’t take it anymore! I can’t! I can’t! I can’t! He’ll kill me-” No. It is not the Devil who will kill you. It is God. It is- YOU’LL kill me! You will! I’m dying, Father- can’t you see? HEAR ME!” I suddenly snarl in some guttural voice that isn’t mine. “BECAUSE GOD NEVER FUCKING WILL!”

I attempt to rip our grip apart, and to my surprise, he lets go easily. I strike him across the face, hard, as he grabs my other hand back. Then, I watch my hand snatching up a knife from the ground and driving it into his arm.

He screams, and lets go.

My pain dissipates. A long silence follows.

“F- Father.” I say, and I notice as I speak that my voice sounds wrong. It feels wrong, too, in my mouth. “Your prayers will never save you. They will never save you.”

I twitch my lip, and he cowers. I love the way he scrambles back from me. I love his fear. It does not make me afraid anymore. Suddenly, it fills me with pleasure.

We both look down at the knife embedded in the flesh of his arm. He grabs the handle, his expression suddenly devoid, but then chokes back a scream at the pain and lets go.

We stare at one another.

Then, I grab the handle and pull the knife out. It sends a wailing judder of agony through him, but he does not scream again- only hisses through his teeth.

“Kill me, demon.” He says.

I look at him. “Wh… what?”

“Now that you have taken my daughter, I assume you want me too.”

My eyes narrow; my mouth screws up. “I am your- your daughter.”

“That’s not a trick I will fall for.”

“But it is me, Father.” I say.

“It is not.”

“It is!”

I look down at the ground. I can’t prove I’m me. The monstrous energy is gone from me. The anger is gone; the fear is gone; the misery is gone; the glee is gone, too. All that remains is the hunger, bubbling at my core. There’s a half-eaten piece of meat on the ground beside me. Without thinking- perhaps seized again- I grab hold of it, crumple it in my hand and cram it into my mouth. I barely chew. Oh, God, the relief of it- I nearly melt. But eating is not what I should be thinking of now. Father isn’t moving. He won’t stop me if I get up. I should be thinking of the Garveys. What if I hurt somebody? I get to my feet, and Father does nothing but watch. I should be thinking of my mother. I frightened her. And Catty. The servants will hear of this- they all will. And I just drove a knife into Father. I will go to jail for this. Perhaps die. At his hands or the law’s. I walk over to the table- to the single intact plate of food. His. I should be thinking of what happened to me- of the way my body was seized and used, of the pain, the lust, the hunger, the anger. Of the way I burned. Of the things I must’ve said and done. But instead, I start to eat.

Father watches me. In utter silence, he watches me. He gets up himself, after a few more seconds, and takes a step towards me.

I snap my head to him. He stops.

Perhaps the fact the first thing I did after returning from Satan’s clutches was begin to cram my face with food will convince him I am his daughter. He’s afraid of me now, and the consequences of his fear will be direr even than those of his hatred. But I’m driven, for now, by the same thoughts that caused me to stand up in the first place. I will do anything to keep hold of my freedom. I detest him. I know he never loved me, and that from the moment I was born he must’ve been seeking ways to rid himself of me. I suppose marriage was the last option left on his list after the jetty failed.

 

 

I was newly six, and we had just moved into the mansion. This was a rare occasion that Father had excused himself from his work early one Saturday evening to join Mother, Duncan and me for our walk. Because there was a thunderstorm out at sea, Mother wanted to go into town and around the shops. Because there was a thunderstorm out at sea, I wanted to go down to the beach and watch the sky. Normally, Father would have put his foot down, even with Duncan joining me in the plea and even with my whining and weeping annoying him. But he said yes. Strange.

Duncan and I had been to the beach for the first time the previous week. We’d trekked through the sand and pretended to be desert explorers, lamenting the unbearable heat even though in reality the wind was a freezing solid bite on both our faces. Late autumn, it was. Duncan had put me on his shoulders and run with me as I laughed and screamed and clung to his head. I loved him so. Hated Father so. I was afraid to go home. Wanted to stay out on that beach forever.

It may even have been early winter. The sea, when Father, Mother, Duncan and I arrived, was floating with chunks of ice. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it, and the churning, shifting pearl-grey chaos of the stormy sky. The whole beach was in its shadow, silver and black. I don’t remember any lightning, but I remember the pained moaning of the thunder. Duncan and I played together for a while, but he went to talk to Mother, and ordered me not to follow him. To this day, I have no idea what they were talking about. Perhaps me, since the day before I had gone missing for three hours and they had found me sitting in the bare branches of the oak tree that reached up to my parents’ bedroom window, swinging my legs in twenty feet of empty sky. Or perhaps my father, whom I’d claimed dared me to climb out.

I galloped around with my father, trying to get him to play with me. I wanted to be an explorer. He wanted to be as far away from me as possible. I think this made me more determined to stay close to him- when he went down close to the ocean, I followed, lying down in the foamy spill of the waves on the sand and giggling as water crawled up under my back, squealing “It tickles! It tickles!”. Father told me to get up. He didn’t want me getting dirty. I asked him why, since my brother was allowed to get dirty, and pointed to where Duncan was ankle-deep in a rock pool, prodding crabs with a stick. Father told me Duncan was a man. I pouted as I got back to my feet and told Father that I wanted to be a man too. Then, I hugged him, gleefully rubbing his trouser-legs with sand and salt water.

After that, I think, I romped around on my own for a while. I thought I’d lost Father- wasn’t sure where he was, didn’t care much- when I suddenly heard a voice in my ear.

Because of what the voice said, I thought it was Duncan.

It said, “Mary-Ann. Climb that jetty. All the way to the end. If you can do it without your mother seeing you, I’ll give you a chocolate biscuit.”

I gulped, looking out to sea and, for some reason, not turning around. The jetty before me was old and brittle and black, nearly fifty feet long, stretching far out between the waves. It looked like the long arm of a skeleton.

“That jetty?”

A chuckle. “Yes, that one.”

I don’t know why I didn’t know my father’s voice. Another thing I don’t know is why I didn’t recognise it was him, since he had spent the last several weeks bribing me to do ridiculous things. Climb the tree. Sit on the windowsill with the window wide open. Try to eat without chewing. Hold my breath for a minute. Two. Three. And now, climb the jetty. I don’t know why, even at six, I never cottoned onto the fact he was trying to murder me.

When I was halfway down, I realised the wood of the jetty was not nearly so sturdy as it looked. Now that I’ve lived here eleven years, and been to that same beach countless times, I know that those jetties haven’t been used since last century. They were abandoned to the ocean’s will, left to grow soft and rotten. I slipped twice on the way. Giggled as I straightened. The third slip gouged out a piece of my ankle, but I still laughed. Then, a plank of the jetty detached beneath me and tumbled into the ocean. I simply replaced my foot. I kept running, running, running, till I reached the very edge of the jetty. The ocean below me was frozen solid for nearly fifty yards in every direction and I watched the floor of ice float by, so sluggish it was almost like I was moving and it was standing still.

I had only been standing there for five seconds or so when everything beneath me exploded into splinters.

Here’s what was happening back on the land. Father had conveniently turned his back- he went over to my mother, to hug and kiss her in the flighty romantic way he still did, back then. The two of them had won each other’s hearts the old-fashioned way, after all, before he began to go mad. I believe that they only turned back when I screamed, and by then, Duncan was already halfway along the jetty. Duncan had apparently been paying enough attention to spot his curly-mopped infant sister gleefully bounding along the precarious wooden structure above the black waves. He knew I was going to fall before I knew. And when I did fall, he knelt and reached out his hand for me.

You see, when I fell through the jetty, I did not fall straight into the water. I fell onto the ice. And the weight of my six-year old body had not been enough to break the ice- at least, not instantly.

“Take my hand!” He yelled. I looked up, confused, from the shadows beneath the jetty. I couldn’t reach him. I was too far down. And below me, I felt the ice beginning to crack. Looked down, and saw the white spider’s-webs under my shoes. Not growing, but simply appearing. Crack. Crack.

“I’m going to fall.” I said to Duncan, without looking up at him.

His voice was filled with tears as he said: “Reach for my hand!”

I’m not sure what happened in the few seconds between that and the moment the ice broke. I think I may have balled my fists and shaken my head.

And then, there was an explosion and I fell down into a dark empty place which was cold all over. My hair was yanked upwards and my heavy skirts downwards and the air clean out of my chest- I began to sink so fast I couldn’t even scream. The bubbles that streamed from my mouth dribbled upwards over my cheeks, my nose, weaving through my hair and bursting on the white ceiling above me. It was grey and cold. Then, black and numb. Then, nothing.

I died out there in the ocean that day.

Well, a little of me did.

Duncan didn’t give up at the end of the jetty after watching me fall- he, in fact, dived into that same cold black water fully-clothed and no doubt confident in the knowledge we were both going to die. My mother, I hear, was in hysterics on the beach behind us and my father too. He was probably upset because his scheme was about to cost his good child as well as the bad one. Anyway, of course, Duncan got me out. I was blue, he said, and cold and stiff.

“Like a corpse?” I said, awe-eyed when he told me the story.

“Like a corpse.” He nodded. “You were a corpse.”

“Did you think I was dead?”

“You were dead.” And he shuddered again. “Your heart wasn’t beating.”

I looked down at my chest. “I came back to life?”

“You did.”

“Was Father angry when I came back to life?”

I remember the surprise on his face. “What? No. He was ecstatic. So relieved. And Mother? She couldn’t believe it. She said it was a miracle. After three days of you not waking up she’d near given up on you ever coming back.”

He told me he swam all the way back to shore with me in his arms. He told me he took off his cloak and his shirt to keep himself from freezing over, and then demanded that Father do the same so he could wrap the warm garments around me. I would’ve loved to see Father’s face at that. He told me he carried me all the way back to the house himself, despite Father’s continuous demands to hand me to him. He told me I slept for three days, but then I woke up.

I may have woken up, but I’m not convinced I came back to life.

Almost immediately after waking up, I could feel there was something missing from me. I felt clammy and numb and empty, like the world beneath the ice. I felt black and rotten and slippery, like the jetty that’d fed me to it. I felt like a corpse, waterlogged and crawling with bugs. And I never did check my heartbeat had come back.

And Father? He told me- and everyone around us- that he tried to stop me from doing it. Only turned around when I was right at the edge, and called me back, but that I wouldn’t listen to him. Never did. That he couldn’t follow me onto the jetty for fear of breaking it. Didn’t want me to drag him down with me. I was wild, he said- wild as a feral monster- and I couldn’t be controlled.

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