Authors: Cynthia Austin
Seize the Day
Still in a daze from the night’s unspeakable events, I stumbled down the narrow cemetery path toward the exit.
As I passed the two large
oak trees, I didn’t even bother scanning their branches as I normally did in search of any nocturnal creatures. After seeing what I just saw, it was going to take much more than a couple of overweight raccoons to jolt me.
My undershirt was drenched in Ray’s blood and I was freezing. I didn’t bother to hide the bloody mess that was my shirt as I trudged down the broken, cracked street and headed back into town.
It was odd to think that just six months prior, Adrian and I had walked this same route together. That had been the first night we met. Ray and I had just begun to spiral out of control and in walked Adrian, with perfect timing. But in hindsight, I guess Adrian had always been there with me, somewhere in the shadows of my life waiting to bring me back into
reality. Where we could live as Eve and Samael.
But where was he now?
I finally saw with my own eyes who I was, and now it seemed as though he had disappeared.
I had so many unanswered questions but he had abandoned me.
Somehow I found myself sitting on the cathedral steps of St. Catherine’s church. It was pitch black as the sun had set behind the golden hills hours ago. I felt like my soul had faded along with the daylight. It had evolved into darkness and enveloped my entire body in its black, mysterious aura. I felt so empty.
The blackness of the night promised to wash away all the sins of the prior day and allow me to start anew when the morning sun would rise, or so I desperately hoped.
If only that were true. If only we could have a do over of this day.
God, I missed him.
I wrapped my arms tightly across my chest and dropped my head into my shivering lap. All I could think of was Ray all alone inside that dark, dank mausoleum. His shimmery blond hair matted in that thick red fluid, his big sinewy neck, gaping open like a gazelle being torn apart by lions.
Adrian was right about that movie we’d watched, but he had the characters confused. Ray wasn’t Tom Buchanan, he was Gatsby. I’d had my Gatsby all along. Everything Ray did, he had done for me. He had accumulated a small fortune, the accompanying fame so he could marry and provide for me. But I refused to see it. Instead I wallowed in self-pity and played the role of sad little Sidney who could never figure out how to be happy. I had ruined it all. It turned out I was just as selfish as Daisy and now because of my choices, Ray was dead.
“Sidney, is that you?” a gentle voice called from behind me.
I didn’t have to turn around to know who the voice belonged to. “Yes, Father Renley, it’s me. I’m sorry, did I disturb you?” I asked as I climbed to my feet, ready to move on and take my loitering somewhere else.
“Not at all, my child.” The good priest paused while he looked me over, his face full of concern. “Are you hurt?”
I touched my head where it had smacked against the marble stairs after Adrian had tried to stop me from leaving. There was a trickle of dried red that seemed to run all the way from my hairline to my neck. My clothes were soaked with Ray’s blood. I could only imagine what an awful mess I must have appeared to the clergyman.
I looked up at Father Renley to gauge his reaction. He had stopped a good distance away from me, clutching his bible to his chest. He looked as if he may have been looking into the eyes of Satan himself, which at this point he very well could have been.
Or, at least his bride.
The last thought hit me deeply as I realized perhaps all this could have been prevented had I listened to Ray and his family in the first place.
“I still haven’t gotten baptized,” I blurted out, wide-eyed and crazed.
“There’s still time for that, Sidney,” the reverend reassured me.
“I don’t want to be forsaken, Father Renley. I want to go to heaven.”
I’ll try to believe. I promise I will.
Of course, my child, of course.”
But Father Renley did not move from his step. I don’t think he understood the urgency of my dilemma; I needed to be baptized
It was the only way for me to be saved. “If I’m baptized, then I’m forgiven, right?”
Now the Father showed great lines of concern in his face as he asked for some clarification. “Forgiven for what, Sidney?”
I shook my head. “Something terrible has happened to Ray,” I said as calmly as possible.
“I’ll call for help right away,” he said as he turned and rushed through the heavy wooden doors of the church. I stared at them as I considered following him. But crossing through those doors seemed to be an impossible task for me; they were the doors to salvation. A place and a concept I supposed would never welcome me again.
I took this time to stand up and silently depart as I continued my journey into the cold dark night.
Bury Me in Black
Once I reached the locked door, I realized that I had left my purse and keys back at the mausoleum with Ray. I stood in the shadows on the porch, banging on the front door of Granny’s house. It looked like someone had taken the liberty to board up the broken front window.
I continued to pound.
Please be home, Chrissy. Let me inside.
Finally, the door swung open.
Chrissy stood inside the doorway staring at me with a look of indifference. I guess she was still deciding whether or not to be angry with me from our earlier spat.
Then she apparently decided to forgive and forget as she rambled on. “Sidney. Thank God you’re okay! I went to take a shower this afternoon and when I got out, the front window was smashed in. Emmy’s just fine, but I was totally freaked when I couldn’t find you. Speaking of your Granny, I have some epic news about her. I’ve been calling you all night, why haven’t you answered your phone?”
Finally taking a breath, she turned to flick the porch light on. Suddenly seeing me under the light, she let out a shriek. I just stood there on the porch, shivering in the cold, unable to provide the answers I knew Chrissy was burning to ask.
“Have you seen Adrian?” I calmly asked.
Chrissy didn’t know how to respond to the question or anything else I would have said, for that matter.
All she could do was stare at my blood-stained shirt as she shook her head, “Of course I haven’t seen Adrian, even if I had, I would have trouble recognizing him. Have you forgotten that he’s your most guarded secret and you refuse to let me meet him?”
I took a step into the house and Chrissy jumped back, afraid to get near the ungodly mess that I was.
“Sidney, you’re freaking me out. Today you went crazy telling me that some kind of evil spirit was after you, and then our front window was broken, and now you’re covered in…what is that?”
I stared at her horror-stricken face. I could feel how dry and bloodshot my eyes were and I wasn’t even sure if I had blinked in the last five minutes. “Blood,” I answered as I dragged my feet over to the couch. I looked up at her and whispered in a conspiratory tone. “Ray’s blood.”
Chrissy stood frozen in the entryway of the front door. “Why is Ray’s blood on your shirt?”
“I don’t know how to explain it.” I said as I remained eerily calm. I gripped my emerald pendant. “It all started with this necklace. When I put it on, it must have summoned someone to me, and Adrian thinks I’m someone else, and I think he might be right.”
Snapping out of her reserved conversational style, Chrissy slammed the front door and marched over to me, exclaiming, “That’s crazy. You’re Sidney Sinclair and I’ve known you since kindergarten. You’re nobody other than that girl. Now tell me, is Ray gonna be okay?”
Finally, my eyes began to work again as I felt them blink a few times. They were so dry. I turned to retrieve some eye drops out from my purse but then remembered I had left my purse at the mausoleum.
“Where is Ray?” I jumped as Chrissy shouted the question into my face.
“He’s in the mausoleum. I need to find Adrian.”
Chrissy gripped my shoulders and started to scream louder as she shook me back and forth like I was the dice inside of a Yahtzee cup. “Snap out of it, Sidney, and tell me what’s happened!”
“Ray’s dead,” I answered flatly. “Adrian killed him.”
I paused as I thought of the best way to explain it to her. “But Adrian is not really Adrian. He’s Samael and he’s been searching for me for a long time, probably for hundreds of years.
He couldn’t let Ray come between us so he killed him. But I think Ray may be someone else too, and he might not really be dead. He just went somewhere else. If I could just find Adrian, he could answer my questions.”
Chrissy let go of my shoulders and took a few cautious steps back as she brought her hand up to her head and wiped the sweat from her brow. “Okay, Sidney. It sounds like you’ve been through quite a bit tonight.” She nervously scanned the room as she continued to retreat. “I’m just going to get you something to drink. I’ll be right back.”
I nodded to my best friend and curled onto the couch. I was so exhausted. Something to drink did sound nice. A shower also sounded nice but I was too spent to move. I closed my eyes and fell into a slumber.
God only knew what kind of dream awaited me now.
Use the Man
“Ms. Sinclair? Wake up.” A vaguely familiar voice brought me back into consciousness.
I opened my eyes and slowly sat up, I must have dozed off on the couch. I searched around for that glass of water Chrissy had promised to bring me but I didn’t see it.
Instead, I was sidetracked by a flashing light that crossed my peripheral vision. I turned my head and glanced out the front window to see the blue and red illuminations of a police car.
I looked over in the direction of the voice that had awakened me and saw that it was Detective Albright’s. Chrissy was standing in the dining room with alligator tears rolling down her cheeks.
“What are you doing here, Detective?” I asked.
His expression was pained as he took a step closer to me. “I’m sorry, Ms. Sinclair, but I’m going to have to place you under arrest for the murder of Ray Ryker.”
Now Chrissy’s tears turned into loud sobs as she gripped the back end of the dining chair to steady herself. I shot my gaze in her direction as I angrily shouted, “I thought you were bringing me some water, not calling the cops on me!”
The detective placed a gentle but firm hand on my shoulder. “I need you to place your hands behind your back.”
“I didn’t kill him!” I yelled, panic beginning to set it. “It was Adrian, I told you that already, Chrissy. What the fuck?”
Detective Albright firmly placed the handcuffs around my wrists and I couldn’t help but wonder if these were the same cuffs Ray’s wrists were in months before.
“Please, Detective Albright, you have got to believe me. I have to find Adrian and see where Ray went. He might not be dead!”
The Detective shook his head as his eyes filled with pity. “Sidney, the county coroner is at the crime scene right now, there is no doubt here, Ray Ryker is dead. I’m going to read you your Miranda rights and I caution you, do not speak until you have a lawyer.”
I couldn’t go to jail. What about Granny? Lilly said that she would be waking up soon.
I looked over at Chrissy and this time, instead of hatred, my eyes were filled with desperation. “What about Granny? Who’s going to take care of her if I’m not here?”
Chrissy took a step toward me, but then she must have remembered that I was a murderous animal because then she took two steps back. “That’s what I meant to tell you. I think Emmy might be waking up.”
Of course she was waking up, just as Lilly had predicted. I exhaled a small sigh of relief. At least, in this horrific series of events, one good thing was certain to come out of it.
Granny will live.
The detective began to lead me out of the house and into the darkness; a familiar place in my life.
I turned to Chrissy with one last request. I suddenly remembered that Adrian had passed his bar exam last month. “Please call Adley and Ayers in Sacramento. I need you to get a hold of Adrian and have him represent me. He’s a lawyer, Chrissy.”
Chrissy shot me a look of indignation while slowly nodding her head in acknowledgement of my request.