Chapter 1 – Message to Burn

My dearest child,

            If I were a fraction of the parent I should be, I would start with an apology. I might say something sentimental about not being able to pick up a pen for the last ten years because the thought of communicating anything to you after what I had done terrified me. I might even try to justify my actions and explain what happened once and for all. But I think it’s already been established that I’m a failure as a human being as well as a parent, so I won’t do any of that. It’s not really as if I could anyway: there are certain things that, even now I can’t – and won’t – explain. Like always, you’re only going to be getting the bare necessities… if I can even give you that much.

            Something’s going to happen in this decade that will change the world as you know it. I can’t tell you what it is (I know, what else is new), but when the timing is right, someone else will. Wait for him, and when you are needed, he will tell you what you must do. Don’t let your feelings cloud your judgment, Tara – this information is much greater than just us.

Your mother,


If anyone were in the bar watching the girl as she read the letter, they might not have noticed anything amiss. The slight quake of the fingers grasping the paper was mediated by the complete stillness from the rest of her hands up to her forearms. The lines of her upper body streamline into the slant of one leg stretched onto the bench in front of her, the other dangling girlishly from her seat. Up until she sprang up and abruptly thrust the letter into the fire, she had been the epitome of feminine composure.

The girl’s mind, however, was far from still. The bitterness of years of anguish had stewed into a hatred and disgust so powerful it threatened to choke her. Lydia’s warning, she thought, was as useless as the rest of her. Did her mother think that writing a letter, her of all people, writing a letter, would validate anything? The age where Tara hung onto her every word like a devoted, stupid lapdog were long over. Thinking about it, her fists clenched, nails digging into the flesh of her palms. They drew blood, but she didn’t notice. Whatever this plan was, she would decide for herself whether she wanted to take part. ‘Don’t let your feelings cloud your judgment’… how dare she? Those accusations were invalidated simply because they had come from her mouth.

Halting, Tara forced herself to release all the tension from her body with a sigh. There was no point, she decided, in getting riled up over garbage. She had much more important things to do.

Her eyes focused on something in the distance, and in the next second the lone girl in the bar had disappeared, leaving only the cracking of the fire and the door still swinging on its hinges.


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