The Lingering Shadow: Chapter 2
Posted April 30th, 2022 by Ninasilverrose
in British Columbia
There was not a moment wasted on grieving. Before the hideous liquid could trickle further towards me, I compelled my frozen limbs to sprint as fast as humanly possible.
"MOTHER SUPERIOR!! MOTHER SUPERIOR?!" My perturbed cries were met with eerie silence, my vision growing ever so hazy. The maze-like hallways seemed to stretch on for eternity, their once calming familiarity turned foreign and distorted. The darkness blanketed almost all in its path. Darkness? But wasn't it dawn? I made haste to the nearest window and gaped at my surroundings. My entire world was crashing and crumbling before my very eyes. The crimson landscape gazed back at me mockingly, cradling the silver moon. My legs akin to jelly, I collapsed in the corridor, humbled before the unholy skies.
Had I at last transcended to Hell? I could only weep in this nightmarish world. Who would heed my cries for refuge? None shared in my sinful existence. As I tasted the bitter saltiness of my failures, I never once turned away from prayer. Thou shalt not perish. The melodic voice pierced the suffocating atmosphere all at once, causing my words to get caught in my dry throat. Thou shalt not perish, child. It grew muddled the closer I lent my ear, growing distant and uncertain.
"Sister...sister Freya!!" I jolted where I lay, a deep aching taking root in my chest. "Oh thank the Goddess and Her glory! Are you unharmed, Sister?" As my vision began to clear, I recognized the plump, freckled face of Addison gazing down at me worriedly.
"I, I believe so..?" I answered, dazedly lifting myself from the cold marble floor. The room was spinning dangerously, white and blue walls twisting into each other. As I strained to sit without toppling over, Addison's expression turned grim.
"Pardon me for this impudence, Sister, but what is the mark sitting upon your bare shoulder?" At her words, my heart sank. I bore no mark on my shoulder. In her narrowed grey eyes was a strained emotion, something I could not quite pin-point. I swallowed down my anxiousness and inhaled deeply.
"Surely you Jest, Sister Addison." A forced laugh escaped my lips, as I refused to meet her gaze. I still had difficulty processing the fact of Addison standing before me, alive and well, her golden locks in the braids she always wore. Her lifeless, glassy eyes were fresh in my mind still. Addison's uncharacteristic seriousness did not falter. In fact, her brows only furrowed together in the most stern manner possible. Without so much as an explanation or word, she grasped my thin wrist in her callused hands and dragged me towards the main hall. I did not protest. Instead, I simply balled my skirt in my fist. I had no strength nor desire to inquire about her strange behavior.
Mother Superior still sat on the very same bench she had been on before, twiddling her fingers about. Dread overtook my being as I sank down next to her. She eyed me and Addison, and a certain realization came upon her features. The aura of the cathedral darkened considerably.
"It's the mark, isn't it?" I chewed my lips, my tone oddly steady. They exchanged looks of pity and my face fell. Albeit I was not the least bit surprised. We all knew it would soon manifest itself. "How much longer do I have, Mother Superior?" She pressed her lips tightly together in response, and began to quiver. "I said, how much longer do I have? Answer me." The tears slid into her matted chocolate hair, tangling it even further.
"100 days, Freya. Only 100 days." She began to cradle her head in her hands, unable to contain her sobs. Addison watched me carefully in case I broke down, but I numbly stared down the statues adorning the hall instead. I had lived as a fool, to think that I could atone for my sins. A bitter smile curved on my colorless lips. You can never escape your darkness, no matter how far you flee. I was certain of it, now. Though it did not matter what I thought. I would soon be banished to eternal damnation, as I deserved to be a long time ago. "Forgive this old crone, my dear child. I could not offer you console." I tuned out her mindless rambles and rose from my seat, patting down my wrinkled skirt. I had heard enough.
"You will find me in the east wing, if you ever need me." And with that, I left the two women with their sorrow. My stiff bed and crooked mirror greeted me in my room, the familiar crampedness sickening. The bed creaked beneath me loudly, and the mirror reflected the glowing mark spreading on my body. The twisted vines seemed to move and writhe on my skin as if taunting me. I had the urge to shatter the mirror then and there, but I knew better.
"Oh, Michael. My prayers were answered. You are not here to see me wither away." A thousand sighs would not express my weariness. A glint from the nightstand caught my eye, and I gently lifted the picture frame. A young girl grinned back at me, her eyes glittering like the stars. And then it was on the floor, the glass flying in the air. Hot, wet tears streamed down my worn cheeks. No more. The guilt had already swallowed me whole, I had no need for such a thing. I had no need for any belongings. Although, that was the only thing I had brought with me. It was all that was left of that day. For the life of me, I could not understand my thoughts when I decided to keep it. The shattered frame was a reminder of how I would always be. Broken and unrepairable, and any who attempted to pick up my pieces would bleed.
The rage burned within my very soul. The mark should have appeared on that dreadful day. The very day I threw my life away. Why was I allowed to live with myself day after day, why was I allowed a chance at salvation when there would be none? It seemed to me as if the Goddess enjoyed playing a game with the people as Her pawns. Or perhaps there is no savior, and no Goddess to atone for anyone's sins. Perhaps there is only evil and nothing more.
Perhaps, at the end of the day, we are all the most sinful creatures that ever came to exist.
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