Read Tomorrows Child Online

Authors: Starr West

Tags: #adventure, #fantasy, #dreams, #magical realism, #postapocalypse, #goddesses, #magic adventure

Tomorrows Child (26 page)

“No I’ll tell
Libby later, but I’m ready, I need this. I’ll do whatever it
takes.”

“Alright then,
we’ll start today!”

“No, she won’t.
We have other plans today.” Tahinah had been listening. It was true
we did have other plans and the binding wasn’t something I could
ignore.

“Yes, we do,
but there might be time this afternoon.” I said.

“If you’re
serious about this, we’ll sort something out.” Ruben patted me on
my back and left. I was surprised that Phoenix had not said
anything, but neither had Navarre. He just smiled. His warrior
tribe of one was just about to become a tribe of two.

~~~

Butterfly sat
in the middle of the table like a guest of honour at her own
execution. While I loved her and the memories she held, I had
trouble feeling affection for her this morning. My memories of
Butterfly were tightly woven with memories of Mum, my childhood and
my dreams. I knew I would grieve again over the death of this
doll.

I recognised
Libby’s sourdough bread baking as the tangy aroma reached my
tastebuds. Libby and Tahinah were already sitting at the table when
I arrived. Tahinah considered my death to be a real possibility.
Perhaps the doll was the only thing keeping me alive, but I no
longer wished to die nor was I afraid to die. However, if I had to
choose between the doll and me and one of us had to go, I would
prefer it was the doll.

“So, no flashes
of genius during the night?” I asked, hoping Libby or Tahinah had
received some divine inspiration that would save us both and allow
me to spend the day with Ruben. They just shook their heads.

“What on earth
did you do to your hair?”

“I just needed
a change and it’s a distraction,” I said. Libby just shook her
head.

“Well, I wish
we could find Celeste’s book. I know she would have recorded the
ritual there.” Tahinah said as she nodded in agreement. “Some
habits are hard to break.”

I still had no
idea where she would have hidden the book or why I had never seen
it. “I can look in the bus again,” I offered.

~~~~

The bus was a
mess. Splinters of wood impaled the walls, and large wads of hair
hung from the shattered timber frame of the narrow doorway that had
trapped the beast long enough for me to reach the house. Now a
gaping hole extended across the centre from one side of the bus to
the other.

The stench of
death still lingered in the air and the sour taste that rose in my
mouth was insignificant compared to the raw emotions so fresh in my
mind. I forced myself to push the memories away and focused on
finding the book. I struggled to keep it together. My heart thumped
in my chest and my mouth was as dry as an old piece of Egyptian
papyrus. I moved the mattress sideways as I had two nights
before.

Most of the
items stored in the bus were important to me, but no help in
finding a solution to the binding. Just trinkets we saved and
collected. I sifted through a pile of books, but other than a few
notebooks, most were recently published novels or maps.

The bus moved,
sinking slowly under the weight of something… My heart stopped
beating and a pain stabbed me in the chest. No, not again. I
thought to scream, but my dry, papery throat made no sound. As I
retreated toward the broken window, my eyes focused on the doorway
and there stood Phoenix. I swore and let out a gasp of hot air.

“Sorry, Psyche,
I didn’t think…”

I wanted to
scream at him for terrifying me, but I should have waited for him;
I shouldn’t have come here alone. When we arrived back at the
house, the women were busy, not researching, but cleansing and
protecting. Candles burned in the centre of the table. Lilly held a
large wad of smoking sage, while Emily was sprinkling salted water
over the floor and across the doorways. Trinity, with her fiery red
hair and pixie features, sat on the floor with her eyes closed,
ignoring the activity around her.

Yale and
Abigail arrived just as the last wisps of smoke dissolved into the
air. Abigail placed pine needles outside the doorway. “Looks as if
I’ve arrived in perfect time,” she said.

Libby owned
hundreds of books. Everything from large leather-bound monsters,
older than the combined ages of everyone in the room, to modern
paperbacks published within the last few years. I selected a couple
of modern paperbacks, thinking the language would be easier to
consume than the words in the old, musty tomes. Flicking randomly
through the first, then the second, I realised I had no idea what I
was looking for. I thought this would be simple. I wanted a book
titled ‘How to Bind and Unbind Your Daughter’s Magick for
Dummies’.

Butterfly sat
waiting to learn her fate. I felt her smile at me or at least I
imagined it. With all the secrets uncovered, she held the biggest
secret of them all. She didn’t really look much like me, but that
didn’t seem to matter. It was the intention of her creator that
connected us.

“What is this?”
I pointed to a symbol embroidered into the front of the doll.

“That’s your
name. Your mother used an ancient language to dedicate the
doll.”

The symbol was
simple, a few straight lines and angles with a line and a small
circle at either end, it didn’t seem that important, but it meant
that the doll represented me and the bindings were not only wrapped
around the doll, but also around me. The binding stopped the
magick, without any side effects.

I may have had
doubts about magick in general, but when I held the doll, my mind
cleared, and with clarity came honesty. I knew that the binding was
meant to protect me. That motivation felt true, and deep down, I
knew it was true. Besides, my flaky mother wouldn’t go to this much
trouble unless there was some truth she were trying to hide. To
bind, control, protect… above all else, I knew Mum loved me.

“We’re not
getting anywhere, are we?” I said. We had been reading for hours,
either too scared to stop, or just determined to find an answer
before the sun set. I found a book on ancient myths and lost myself
in the familiar world of gods and goddesses. Pepper had pushed the
books out of the way to snuggle in beside me to sleep. I pulled out
the ornate pillow that Mum and I sent Libby, laid back in front of
the fire, and ditched the research for a journey into
mythology.

I was
fascinated with the myths and continued to read while everyone else
took a break. There had been little discussion during the day and I
took this as a sign that we were facing an impossible
situation.

“I think we are
approaching this wrong.”

“Maybe… but
what do you suggest?”

“What are we
really looking for anyway?”

“I suspect that
Celeste found the spell here, or at least something that helped to
create the spell.”

“Oh Libby,
you’re just annoyed that you couldn’t sense it. You’re more
disappointed with yourself than anything else,” Abigail smiled as
she nudged Libby with her elbow, trying to lighten the mood.

“I told you she
wasn’t right. Her aura was all wrong but nobody listened,” Trinity
said, casting a glance my way. She had always seemed a little cold
and this explained why she was suspicious of me.

“Yes, yes, but
it could have been the magick. Psyche’s different for sure, so it
makes sense that her aura’s different.” Libby was trying to defend
me.

“You know it
makes sense, the magick had to be bound. She has no connection to
magick at all.”

“Hey, did you
all forget I’m here in the room? I can hear everything you’re
saying,” I suddenly interjected.

“Sorry, honey,”
said Libby.

I brought my
book of mythology and sat at the table with the women. “I’ve been
thinking. Mum only did this to protect me, not hurt me. Maybe she
knew something we didn’t.”

“Like
what?”

“Well, none of
you could sense the binding and the reality is that one of you
should have. Even Phoenix didn’t know that something was wrong. Mum
didn’t hide this only from you, Libby; she hid this from
everyone.”

“Yes, she did,”
Libby said as she sat a little straighter in her chair.

“Remember what
Volante said,” I continued and the hair prickled on my neck as I
spoke her name while the old wounds stabbed with pain. “She said
that I was of no use to her now; the magick was useless. I think
she knew something.”

“Maybe Celeste
knew you would have to face Volante one day. Celeste did have the
sight. You said this yourself, Libby.”

“She did when
she was young and it isn’t something that goes away,” Libby said,
as if this were common knowledge. But it was news to me; I didn’t
know Mum had visions.

“Libby, you
thought Celeste left to take Psyche away from the magick and give
her a normal life, but she brought her back, knowing what was
expected of her.”

“It’s a
mystery, that’s for sure. Why did she come home after all these
years? At the time, it seemed a sensible thing to do. But now, I
think you could be right, there is more to this than we first
realised.”

“Well, that’s
no mystery. At the time, we were running from the death and
disaster. Mum said this was the safest place she knew.” It was the
truth, there was no mystery here, Mum’s motivation was based purely
on her instinct to survive. “I think she was hiding me and she did
the only thing she could. If I had no access to the magick, then
neither did anyone else.”

“And it almost
killed you!”

“But it
didn’t,” I said, surprisingly calm.

“Libby, you
know Mum. Try and think like her for a minute.”

“I’m sorry,
Psyche. I used to know your mother, but not anymore.”

“She did this
when I was little, either just before we left or just after. You
knew her then.” Libby was the only one who could work this out; no
one knew Celeste better than Libby did, except me.

“I’m going to
leave you to work this out. I’ll be outside so I can’t hear you
talking about me.”

I took my book
of myths and went into the garden. I continued to read the story
about Demeter and Persephone, but honestly, I didn’t expect reading
myths to provide anything useful. It was purely a distraction.

 

Zeus called a gathering
of the gods and goddesses at a temple surrounded by gardens of
unimaginable beauty. He sent the daughters to the gardens to play
and pick fresh flowers. As the gods and goddesses entered, Hades,
Lord of the Underworld, stood on the steps of the temple and was
mesmerised by the beauty of one of the maidens. This maiden was
Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Beauty was her gift, but
on that day in the garden, her love of nature was reflected in her
eyes and enhanced her beauty even more.

Unable to tame his
obsession and driven by lust, Hades went to Zeus and begged for
Persephone’s hand in marriage. Zeus refused, knowing that Demeter
would never agree to her daughter spending life in the Underworld
as Hades’ bride. Secretly though, Zeus told Hades where Persephone
spent her days and that she liked to play in the meadow and pick
flowers.

Hades used this
information to abduct Persephone and took her to the Underworld
where he treated the maiden as a wife and kept her hidden. Zeus
stood by and watched the abduction. He heard his daughter’s screams
as Hades violated her, but he didn’t reveal any of this to
Demeter.

Demeter searched in
vain for her lost daughter and as the months passed, she grew more
depressed. Her loneliness grew and turned to anger and the land
began to wither. Eventually, her anger grew so strong that she
almost destroyed everything on earth until nothing grew. Finally,
when drought and famine covered the land, Zeus arranged for
Persephone’s rescue and for her to be returned to her mother. But
the law stated that she could only come home if she didn’t eat
anything while she was in the Underworld.

Unfortunately,
Persephone ate several pomegranate seeds in the Underworld and was
unable to return. Hades knew this and refused to negotiate with
Zeus. The reality was, the Furies controlled these matters and it
had nothing to do with Hades. Eventually, they agreed that
Persephone could spend part of the year with Demeter as the Maiden
of the Spring and part of the year with Hades as Queen of the
Underworld.

When Persephone
returned to her mother, the drought was broken and each year the
pattern repeats. The snow melts and spring brings fertility to the
earth and then Persephone returns to Hades, and the earth returns
to a less fertile time as we head into winter.

Several essays
followed the myth and its relevance to our lives. The lessons were
about a mother’s love and how there is nothing stronger or more
powerful, but it’s also about deception and trust. The lessons I
learnt from Demeter and Persephone was “keep your daughter safe,”
“protect her from her father” and “don’t leave her to wander alone
in the dark.”

Mist was
rolling in through the trees as the myth played in my mind. A spark
of an idea grew, a connection between the myth and the secret of
the binding and my gift. I could almost connect the characters in
the myth with the people in my life. If the witch was Hades and my
father was Zeus, then my mother becomes Demeter and I become
Persephone. Of course, this wasn’t my story, but if Mum knew that
Volante would lust after my gift just as Hades lusted after
Persephone’s beauty and if she saw my father’s betrayal, then that
would have forced her to do something.

Knowing the
future can be a scary thing, I guess. Mum could have invoked a
goddess when she bound my gift. If she saw the same connection
between this myth and our lives, perhaps she went to Demeter to ask
for help. She could have gone to her as a mother wanting to protect
her daughter. Hades lusted after Persephone, abducted her and then
violated her. Volante did the same to me, only it wasn’t my beauty,
it was my gift. With the gift bound, it wasn’t desirable or
accessible.

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