Rosemary MacKenzie, or “Sister MacKanzie” to give her proper title, was not a woman of great stature.

What she did have was a talent for being imposing.

Sitting at her table in the Orphanage's office. She gestured for Yujo to sit down which she did. She looked at Yujo with a piercing maternal stare that shot right though the young woman's mental defences.

“You do know what would have happened if you took that picture to the press, don’t you?”

Yujo tried her best to avoid Rosemary’s stare and look at her feet which were currently under Rosemary’s desk. There was no hiding what she wanted to do with the photograph that the militia had confiscated.

She didn't have to say anything to answer the question.

“So then, why were you going to do it?”

A painful sense of dread fluttered in Yujo’s chest. That was one of Rosemary’s patented ‘Tell me what I want to hear’ questions. It was Rosemary’s signature interrogation technique. One that she had employed since Yujo was old enough to take responsibility for her actions. Every time she answered one of Rosemary’s questions it would be the basis for her to dig deeper with another until she snapped and she was compelled to tell Rosemary the truth.

She looked at her feet under Rosemary's desk to avoid her glare.

“I saw them kill a tiger dolphin. They tore it to pieces.” Yujo whispered. “Then I got angry, figured I could get one over them and left to sell the picture before they noticed me.”

She looked up to see Rosemary’s glare. She wasn’t satisfied with Yujo’s answer.

That was only half of the truth.

Rosemary leaned in, looming over Yujo short stature as she shrunk back into her chair and tried not to fidget.
“Yes. I do remember that you said that to the Sea Guard, Yujo, but you know that’s not the whole of it.”

Yujo’s fingers twitched.

“The fact of the matter is that they had critically injured tiger dolphin before it fled into Area G."

The blush of shame on Yujo's face highlighted her freckles.

"If they hadn’t finish it off it could have caused a lot of damage death throws. They would have gotten themselves into a lot of trouble.”
That one detail turned the selk pod’s actions into an act of damage limitation.
The fidgeting worsened; Yujo now knew she was completely in the wrong.

“I am shocked that you would be so willing to use your talents like this, Yujo.”

Now it was Rosemary who was lying. She knew full well why Yujo would do such a thing. What she needed was for Yujo to accept that, no matter the circumstances, that she was in the wrong.

Yujo closed her eyes, trying to escape her interrogation.

“I have to ask. Why do it, Yujo?”

Yujo whispered her answer, her throat tightening up as she tried to keep to her original line.

“I was angry.”

Rosemary paused, sighed and slumped back into her chair. She was good at getting people to confess by applying the pressure with a barrage of questions. What she didn't have was the endurance required for teasing a confession out of someone when they were being bull-headed.

It was time to try another angle.

“OK then, Yujo. Why were you angry?”

An awkward silence between the two began to fill the room. Rosemary shook her head, regretting the fact that she ever allowed her rebellious streak rub off on her young charge. She closed her eyes and nodded before she started to talk again, this time in a softer tone.

“Yujo, you do know that The Goddess watches over us from the heavens, don’t you?”

Yujo tried to avoid Rosemary’s gaze but eventually gave in, opened her eyes and responded with what she was taught to reply with in her teachings.

“Yes, Sister.”

“And you also know that she does not wish to see her children weighed down by the pain and suffering that comes with the guilt of withholding the truth?”

Yujo could feel her throat tense up. The desperate, awful need to let everything go welling up inside her.


Rosemary opened her eyes and offered her hand. “Then please, my child, tell me why you wanted to sell that photo.”

Yujo reached for the hand, grabbed it and allowed herself to let go.

“I…” she started before she closed her eyes, and squeezed the hand as she and held on to it tightly. “I want the selk to go away, Alright?!”

Everything came out of her mouth like she was throwing up.

“I didn’t want any part of them near me, or anyone else, Rosemary!”

She let go of the hand and then sunk back into the chair. An awful cocktail of pure, unadulterated self-loathing and panic washing over her body as she pulled her legs up to her chin.

The toxic cocktail of emotions created by the fear that Yujo had from her trauma, fed into a mindset that she was deeply ashamed of.

“I…I’m sorry…” Yujo whispered as tears began to stream down her eyes. “I know that I what I did was wrong and how I conduct myself is not in line with the Goddess’ teachings.”

“Oh, Yu.” Rosemary whispered.

She got up, walked over to her charge and softly stroked her head to calm her down.

“I know why you feel like that and so does the Goddess. She always understands why her children cannot always walk the path of light."

Rosemary held back the sheer embarrassment she felt saying such a corny sermon.

"She is always willing to forgive anyone who accepts that they have done wrong and is willing to repent. It doesn't matter matter how long that process takes.”

It was pure canned sermon talk designed to help during the war and to ease the minds of soldiers being asked to kill for their homeland. As corny as it was, she found that it did the trick in helping her charges, Yujo especially, come to terms with their sins.

Sometimes it was the only way she knew how to help Yujo when she felt low about herself and how she felt about the selk.

Yujo unravelled herself from her little ball of depression and looked up at the woman who had looked after her for all these years.


Rosemary smiled. It was when they could call each other by their nicknames, that they both knew that they were in perfect harmony with each other. Yujo would never admit it out loud but it made her feel like Rosemary was the mother she never knew.

“That said, Yu. I do appreciate that you are trying to help the orphanage even if I can’t condone how you were trying to go about it.”

Rosemary sighed as she walked back to her chair to sit down.

“Believe me, I absolutely get why you are so passionate about saving St. Aldrin’s.”

She opened a drawer in her table and began to fish something out of it.

“I will admit, when you came to me and said that you wanted to take up the cloth I was completely blindsided. I mean, you have such a great talent for photography.”

She pulled out a small album and opened it.

Within its pages were a collection of photographs. Some were of the children and staff of St. Aldrin’s and others landscapes capturing Mem’s orange atmosphere.

The rest were of Rosemary herself.

“You could go so far with your talents. Far beyond what you could do here at St. Aldrin’s.”

Before Yujo could protest, she continued.

“But when I see you trying your best to help the children, that tells me all I need to know about why you want to go down this path.”

Rosemary closed her eyes.

“You are a good kid, Yu, and no one, not even yourself, can ever take away what you have done for this orphanage.”

She then shook her head.

“That’s why you need to accept that we cannot continue to fight the inevitable.”

Yujo’s lower lip trembled. She had a feeling that was what Rosemary was going to say and she didn’t want to hear it.

“Nothing lasts forever, Yu. We need to accept that the time has come to say goodbye to this chapter of our lives.”

Hearing Rosemary say that was difficult for Yujo.

Accepting it was impossible.

Yujo clenched her hands ignoring the biting pain of her nails digging into her palms.

“Everyone will be fine, Yujo. You don’t need to-”

Yujo pulled her hands up and threw them down on the table with a thunderous crash. With a single push she stood up. The chair she was sitting on pushed chair away with a loud screech as it scratched the floor.

The action caught Rosemary completely off guard and gave Yujo the advantage. Even if she was unwittingly using it in was in pure anger, Yujo had learning the art of intimidation from the master.

“I haven’t given up on St. Aldrin’s, Rosemary.”

Her stare and tone she took made no attempt to hide the accusation she was making.

The guilt Rosemary felt held her down in place as Yujo turned on her heels and made her way to the door.

“Yujo. Please…”

Yujo swung the office door open, paused and turned around to stare down St. Aldrin’s director, her eyes already puffy and her face marked with tears.

“You told me to not give up when we first met. Do you remember that, Rosemary?”

Rosemary could only stare off to the side, unable to answer Yujo’s question.

“So don’t you dare tell me that I can’t save you or St. Aldrin’s.”

Before Rosemary could begin to protest, Yujo ran out of the door and slammed it shut behind her. Rosemary could only sit there as she heard Yujo running, hrt sandals slapping the ground as she did.

As the sound faded away, Rosemary took her glasses off and slumped over on her chair.

A groan of frustration slipped out of her mouth.


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About the author


  • Scotland
  • Craig A. McLeod

Bio: When he's not bashing out stories on his keyboard, Craig A. McLeod is designing website for clients all over the world.
Avi Art: @lunaofwater

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