I slept. I dreamed.
My eyes were still closed but I knew I was kneeling on a hard floor. Marble by the cold, slick feel of it. I shivered. I did not want to open my eyes. Deep in my bones I knew if I did my life would change profoundly by what I was about to encounter. Good or bad, I was not sure. I squared my shoulders. If I was in the real world and not in the dreaming I would face whatever was coming with my eyes wide open and my stance ready to fight. I could do no less here.
I opened my eyes. The immediate brightness blinded me, causing my eyes to tear up. When my vision cleared those tears became real. I choked on a sob. Mom?
There she stood in front of me bathed in some holy light. The most beautiful vision I had ever seen. Mother Mary had nothing on my mom in this moment. I sat their quietly, unmoving, just drinking in the sight of her. Branding this vision in my memory I hoped to never forget a single detail of it. Her long dark hair blew gently in a breeze I could not feel and the long thin gown reminded me of night gowns women used to wear centuries past. I saved looking into her eyes for last and cried all the harder when I met her stare for stare. The compassion and love that stared down on me broke my heart. I did not deserve what she was giving me. Not at all. I finally broke the silence in an effort to gush all my sins as if I was in confession. Blimey, maybe I was and God took my mother’s face.
‘I don’t deserve your love ma, nor your compassion. Not anymore. I have betrayed all you have taught me, all that you believed in. And your murderers still walk free. I deserve nothing but contempt from you.’
‘Oh my sweet baby girl, you have a heart of gold do not sell yourself short.’ Her voice was like tinkling water and just as soothing. Hearing her again after all these years calmed the rage bubbling inside me instantly. But I still couldn’t help the bitter laugh that her words conjured.
‘I have killed men for money. I have turned my brother into a vampire. I have fallen in love with a vampire! How can I have a heart of gold when I have turned to all that is supposed to be evil. Oh, and I’m a witch too, just like you.’ Bitterness coated my tongue with the last words. Who knows if my mother heard it in my voice? It wasn’t like I was trying to hide my emotions. Not with her.
‘You clean the streets of those who would harm others and saved your brother from true death. But best of all you found love.’ The sigh that escaped her was filled with more than I could interpret. ‘You put others before yourself and you see equality in all races. You never put one above another. You are strong baby. I am so proud of who you have become.”
“But I let you die!” I screamed. My emotional control was gone and I couldn’t hide my guilt any longer. “I let them kill you. I ran!” in a whisper full of self-loathing I repeated myself, “I ran.” I cowered sobbing, waiting for nasty words of rebuttal that never came. When I finally looked back up at the angelic visage of my mother compassion still shined from her eyes. There was no anger or disgust in her gaze. Why didn’t she hate me for leaving her and my father in the fight that took their lives?
“You were a child with no experience in fighting or defending. Had you stayed you would have died right along with us. I would give up my life 100 times over just to see you and Adam safe. Do not belittle our sacrifice for you. Your lives were more important than our own. There was never any blame on you and Adam for running to safety. Please, in love you bear me believe that I would never lie to you.” The pleading in my mother’s voice broke my heart. I wanted to trust her words. I wanted desperately to believe she did not blame me in part for her death. But all the revelations from my grandparents played merry go round in my head.
“Yet you did lie to me. You taught me to look down on this secret world I fight in. And yet you were a part of it, you are a witch. Dad still loved you and you still loved him even though he made you deny what you were and desert your family. Because of who you were. I don’t understand how you could do that. How could you lie to us and teach us to look down our noses at exactly what we are?”
“Love. I loved your father beyond reason. I am sure my mother has told you that. But I did not desert my family, I chose one for another and your grandparents understood. We all hated the situation but we all knew the risks and accepted the consequences. Just like you did when you saved Adam.” I tried to interrupt, to tell her that saving Adam was selfishness on my part but she shook her head at me and continued on. “Your uncle let his bitterness at the underworld bleed into your teachings. I am sorry for that daughter of mine. There are good and bad traits in all the races, just like there are good and bad people in all the races. Trust you judgment Ri. Trust your instincts in the choices you make. You have a heart of gold that shines so bright I can see it each time I sleep.” She smiled and it was radiant. Love oozed from her pores as she gazed at me. My heart soared and the sight of it. Then I noticed her light was fading, everything around me was fading!
“Mom! Don’t go! Don’t leave me!” I jumped to my feet in an attempt to grab her, to hold her and keep her with me. But it was in vain because my hands went right through the fading vision of her.
”I love you baby girl.” Her last words sounded as if coming from far away. Before she could fully disappear I spoke the words I had wanted to say to her for so long.
“I’m sorry mom, for everything. I love you.” Then she was gone. I stood once again, bathed in darkness. The story of my life. Slowly, even I began to dissolve. I sank into the darkness hoping oblivion would take me. As usual, I was not so lucky.
I came to wakefulness weeping.