Girl of Nightmares

Page 96


After I realized that the blood didn't matter, it all went so fast. I just cut and cut and didn't think. And they all left. Around us now, everything feels empty.

"It's not empty," Anna says, even though I'm pretty sure I didn't say anything out loud. "You set him free. You let him move on." She puts her hand on my shoulder and I look down at the athame. The blade shines bright, brighter than anything else here.

"He's moved on," I say. But part of me hoped he would stick around. Even if it was just long enough for me to see him. Maybe to tell him-I don't know what. Maybe just to tell him that we were okay.

Anna wraps her arms around my waist and rests her chin on my shoulder. She doesn't say anything comforting. She doesn't tell me something that she doesn't know for certain. She's just here. And that's enough.

When I take my eyes off of the athame, everything is different. With the Obeahman gone, the landscape is changing. It wrinkles and reforms around us. Looking up, the dark, bruised void is brighter. It looks clearer, and I can almost make out the faint twinkling of stars. The rocks are gone too, and so are the cliffs. There are no more sharp edges. There are no edges at all. We're standing together in the middle of something beginning.

"We should go," I whisper. "Before Thomas gives me a nosebleed."

Anna smiles. The dark goddess is gone, receded back under the skin. She's just Anna, looking at me curiously in her plain white dress.

"What's going to happen now?" she asks.

"Something better," I reply, and take her hand. She looks beautiful here. Her eyes sparkle, and the sunlight warms the color of her hair to a shining, chocolate brown.

"How do we get back?" she asks. I don't reply. Instead I stare over her shoulder, at the changing landscape. I don't know if I'll be able to remember what it was like to see this. If I'll be able to remember what it was like to watch creation. Maybe it'll all fade, like a dream after waking.

The world behind her rises out of the mist, only there was never any mist. It comes upon us, up and around us, like watercolor spilling across a blank page. Sunlight beams down on uncut green grass, grass that I could fall down on and sleep for hours . Maybe days. Farther off are trees, and on the edge of that, there's the Victorian, Anna's Victorian, standing white and tall and unbroken. It never looked like this when she lived there. It never, ever looked like this. So bright and straight in the sun. Not even when it was newly built.

"Cas? Is it Thomas? Do we have to hurry?" She looks into my eyes, starts to follow them. I grab both of her hands.

"Don't," I say. "Don't look."

She doesn't. Her eyes widen and she listens, trusting me, afraid of what she might see if she does. But I can't hide the feel of the breeze as it moves through our clothes. I can't muffle the sound of warm things, of birds singing and insects buzzing in the flowers near the house. So she looks. Her hair falls over her shoulder, and I expect to feel her fingers pull loose from mine any second. This is her place. Her other side. The blemish of the Obeahman is gone. She belongs here.



"I don't belong here." She squeezes my hands, tighter than before. "Let's go back."

I smile. She crossed over death to call me. I crossed through Hell to find her.


We both look toward the sound of my voice. There's a silhouette in the open doorway of the Victorian.

"Cas?" she asks uncertainly, and the figure steps out into the light. It's me. It's impossibly, completely me. Anna smiles and tugs at my hands. A small laugh escapes her throat.

"Come on," he calls. "I thought you wanted to go for a walk."

She hesitates. When she half turns back and sees me, the real me, she looks confused, and squeezes her eyes shut.

"Let's go," she says. "This place lies. For a minute I-I didn't remember where we were. I didn't remember you were here." She looks back toward the Victorian again, and when she speaks, her voice is far off, almost there already. "For a minute I thought I was home."

"Come on," the other me calls again. "Before we have to go meet Thomas and Carmel."

I look back over my shoulder. The candlelit room is still there. I can see Thomas, kneeling on the ground, his hands working frantically. I don't have much time. But everything is happening too fast.


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