Lisa woke alone, to the sound of police sirens outside her house. She barely had time to register the sad loneliness of waking without Damien there, not even knowing he had left her in the night or what to think or feel about that, or to cover herself properly with a robe before the door was banging hard and insistent.
When she opened the door two police stood stern and worried on the doorstep. She had the absurd wish to tell them to come in, to not be dwellers on the threshold, but words weren’t really forming properly in her mind. She knew somehow, knew something was wrong, very wrong, and was just starting to tell her mind this must be another nightmare, when she noticed the angry group gathering behind the police
Someone threw rocks at her house, smashing through the front windows, and the police looked back, glowering a warning, and the crowd reluctantly held back, murmuring of discontent and simmering rage.
The police started talking to her, telling her something about Mandy. It was something about Mandy. Something about guns, and the school auditorium, and deaths, lots of deaths. She was having flashbacks of one of her first nightmares, of yellow walls splashed with red, splashed with red.
‘We understand your daughter left the school event early and no-one knows where she was in the night,’ one was saying.
I didn’t know, I didn’t know where she was either, Lisa is thinking, I was too busy,too busy with…with..Damien…I didn’t know where my daughter was at night, I didn’t know!
‘But she returned early this morning with a rifle. Do you have any idea where she might have gotten hold of a rifle ma’am?’
And there’s a memory tugging at her, something about Damien saying that he wouldn’t suggest Mandy used herself as a weapon. But what about other weapons? Other weapons like a gun?
The crowd was getting rowdy again. She vaguely started to understand it was parents, parents dealing with rage and unimaginable loss. The police were telling her that her daughter killed over ten teenagers and wounded up to three others. These were the parents, clearly.
She is so stunned, so shocked, she can’t even move or process this, nor even take in the next thing they tell her, that her daughter then killed herself. It takes a full three minutes for that to register, and then for the wooziness to hit, and the blackness to come as she falls to the floor in a faint.
Over the days to come she has too much time to think. The police have taken her to another house, a safe house they call it, to avoid the wrath of the parents. They have asked her so many questions, so many, and there were answers for none. At one point she looked up at them and said, ‘You see, death follows a sacrifice,’ and they shake their heads at her, not understanding.
‘What is it about that street?” one of them asked the other, ‘All that death.’
‘Wrong name for the street,’ the other agreed, ‘No mercy there.’
All that death, and no mercy there. What had Susan said, that the Death card wouldn’t presage just one death, it would be many? Or something like that. If it was to fit the theory she had. Only now, it wasn’t just her theory anymore, it was Lisa’s, but that was far, far too late.
Just as Lisa was when she went to demand answers from Damien, embracing the theory and the sense he was the still point, the catalyst, the terrible magus with his tarot deaths at the centre of it all. For he was gone, almost as though he had never been there. The ‘for rent’ sign on the house even looked old, not like it had been put up in the past few days.
This feeling increased when she tried to talk to the police about him, saying she thought he gave Mandy the guns and taught her how to shoot.
‘Didn’t even know someone was living there,’ one said.
‘Well, he’s not now,’ Lisa replied, defeated. He’s not now.
Days later again, Susan visited her, having gotten the support of the police as perhaps Lisa’s only friend now in the whole town. By then Lisa’s job was lost, but she didn’t care. She had no money but somehow she’d have to leave, and she would leave, if only she could find some energy, some way to move past the guilt and the grief. Susan offered help, both financially and emotionally, and she took both like a greedy, needy child.
‘I’m sorry,’ Lisa said, ‘I should have listened.’
‘Hush,” said Susan, ‘It was only a stupid theory. It’s not your fault. I’m sorry I even suggested anything like it at all. It can’t have anything to do with this, it just can’t.’
‘No,’ Lisa responded, her voice like ash, ‘Not just a theory. I’ve heard talk, they want retribution, the townsfolk, they say they want balance. So I checked, and the next card from Death, it’s Temperance, and it’s all about balance. But you see, they want me to suffer, or suffer more, for that balance, and I can’t let them have that. I can’t, don’t you see. Not that I want to avoid suffering, I’ll always be suffering now, it’s not that, it’s just I have to stop that card coming to be, do you see?”
Susan shook her head, bewildered, not following her friend’s line of thought at all.
‘It’s the cards, you see,’ Lisa intoned, though she already knew all hope was gone, ‘After Temperance it’s the Devil, that’s when the Devil comes.’
‘So they can’t have their balance,’ Susan responded, understanding at last, but too late it seemed, for both of them together. ‘Because otherwise, it’s the end’
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved
Excellent story. I liked it all the way through. The ending is supurb.
Thanks so much John! I appreciate your support through its serialisation! 🙂 🙂
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Well worth it. Of course, I have trouble sleeping now.