My insides shudder and twist with anxiety. Mind undergoing a constant tug-of-war.
On one side, guilt and irrational fear; to be safe and comfortable in my bubble of unchanging days. The other, a simmering desire to get rid of this stalemate…
The odd homesickness that lingers in my heart although I have never left the estate. I forgot- No, buried the feelings and spent months at an impasse. I had pushed it all to the back of my mind. But now, I could feel a yearning bubble up, like a dam about to rupture.
Trembling, I reach towards the door, stopping before I can push it open. I don't want to hesitate, but I also can't… I just can't… Even though I have to…! Yet, my body refuses to move.
Miserable, I lower my hand and angrily stare at the ground. Tomorrow, I think. I will have more courage tomorrow I convince myself.
About to walk away, the journal in my hand pricks at my palm. My eyes quickly flick towards the poppies that suddenly glow bright red. Surprise grips my chest and I yelp as the emblem flickers for a second before stopping.
Confused, I hold it at arm's length and stare at it. Before, the double-doors swing wide open.
This time I yelp even louder, “F-Father…!”
He looks surprised too. I must look so pathetic, trying to scrunch into myself whilst timidly holding a book. “What… Are you doing outside my study?”
U-uuu, those are the first words you say to me? Dumb father… I mutter silently.
The emblem grows hot red again, this time confirming the prickling on my skin wasn't just my imagination. I don't even see him as he strides over and slaps the book out of my hands.
“W-Wha-!” I'm livid, “That's mother's-!”
Before it suddenly emblazons in flame. Shock wracks my brain before I cry out, “No!” I try to throw myself over the fire, hoping it would smother it out. Father immediately grabs me before I can do so. “No, let me go! It's mother's diary!”
I don't turn around, but his arms only grip me tighter. The force of it digs into my stomach. Helplessly, I see it turn to ash.
“Foolish little blossom!” I hear him start, “Did you not see how the flames did not affect anything else!? It must have been magick and would burn you up along with the pages if you tried to stop it!”
Tears form in my eyes, I'm the one who should be angry-! But I can barely choke out words from my disbelief and fury. The thoughts barely forming in my mind before I feel his head hit my back.
“How could I bear it if I lost you too…!”
My heart stutters at the words. Looking down, I notice his hands tremble. Or it could have been me shaking. I could not tell.
Something surging against my chest causes me to choke up. Turning to face him, everything else leaves my head as I see the pained expression on his face.
“Uuu-!” My hands round into fists, shoulders drawing upwards. “You dummy-! Dummy, dummy, dummy!” I thump him repeatedly on the chest, my vision of him slowly growing warm and foggy.
He ignores it and wraps me in his arms, “I'm… I'm so sorry Aeriea…! I could not save her… Or you…!” His words coming in bursts of tears and anguish.
“That dreadful night, you looked at me with such hope in your eyes, yet I couldn't do anything… You, you looked so small, pushing at her cold body, completely soaked in her blood. You- had to… Had to see your own mother in that state… had to lose her like that…. Seeing the light go out of your eyes Aeriea… How could I face you...”
I've never seen my father cry before, it hurt my heart to see it. All this time, he didn't blame me… He blamed himself.
Sobbing in earnest now, I just keep repeating over and over the lines - “I’m sorry, dad...!”
“I almost lost you too… You were unresponsive to everything, as if you rejected life itself… It was because I couldn't save Eve, couldn’t protect you…! Yet, even though it was my weakness that caused you to decay to such a state... To not even face you as you lay dying. I am a failure… I'm a failure as a husband and a failure as a father…!”
I didn't know what to say. Of course, I want to say mother's death wasn't his fault, because it… Just wasn't!
Hearing him say it sounds so ridiculous, that I almost understood what all the maids were going through when they said those exact same words to me weeks before.
No, it was because I experienced them all saying those words that I could understand him now. How could he believe it wasn't his fault, when I couldn't truly believe it wasn't mine either.
“Then…” The words painfully scrape through my throat, through the sobs and snot, “Let's bear the burden of it being both of our faults.” I look him in the eye, “Together…!”
Surprise swirls in his eyes. Yeah, I note. His eyes are a beautiful juniper-green, mom.
“Of course, the person who killed her is the most at fault though.” I place my hands on my hips and huff out. “But, he's dead now too.” Resignation lacing my voice.
Sniffling, we stand there and say a lot of unintelligible things like this for a long, long time.