MEMORIES AND MOONLIGHT
MUCH LATER, WHEN ALL was quiet inside the house, the moon snuck out from behind a cloud, shining brightly, its reflection sparkling off the water. Seaweed on the exposed rocks shimmered in its glow like a field of precious gems, dazzling to the naked eye. But Terri saw none of this.
She stood unaware on the sandy shore, the frigid seawater lapping at her bare feet. Unmindful of the cold, she wore only her sleep shirt and in her hand, she clenched the old bone knife that she had tucked away for safekeeping under her mattress. She and her twin had gone to bed shortly after returning home from the dance and she had fallen asleep easily. But sometime in the night, the knife had called to her and now, in a half-conscious state, she stood alone in the moonlight.
Slowly, with unseeing eyes, she moved the pointed edge of the knife toward the palm of her hand and, without hesitation, slashed savagely down with it. The blade cut deeply into her flesh, moving as if through softened butter. Blood welled up from the wound, dripping down her arm to the wet sand and rocks below. As it soaked into the ground, her mind was brought to a strange sense of wakefulness, visions of long ago rising up before her eyes.
She and her twin sitting on their beds in the L-shaped room at the house on Mateguas - Sophie playing with three cornhusk dolls while she saw herself pantomiming with an old bone knife.
As these memories resurfaced, she began to shiver violently. One after another they came back, skipping across the edge of her barely conscious mind. She saw herself as a little girl hunkered down in the L-shaped room's closet, discovering the hidden panel in the wall that held the ancient box. Reliving this moment, she almost smiled, but then the scene changed to her mother's ravaged face and bruised wrists and she felt her knees go weak as she sunk down to the sandy shore. Again, the memory faded and another took its place - this time it was of her father holding them close, saying over and over again that he would never leave them. She wanted to call to him and ask him why? Why had he broken his promise when another memory flashed vividly into her mind.
They were in the woods, she and Sophie, and her father was telling them to run - to run as fast as they could home to their mother.
Tears began to stream down her cheeks as a hideous image rose up before her now blind eyes and she remembered how she and her sister were held captive in the woods. The creature that had lured them there was female - tall and muscular, its naked body covered with damp, rotting moss. Snakes writhed between its thighs and a strong odor of decay emanated from its very pores. She wanted to cry out for help but, in an instant, the creature was gone and, again, she heard her father's gentle voice, urging her to run and telling her that he loved her.
As hard as she tried, she could not keep any one memory static in her mind for long. As soon as she began to focus, the scene changed and now ... now they were running through the woods, home to their mother, but unreasonably, they stopped on the path and turned back, not wanting to leave their father alone with that monster.
Seeing now through the eyes of her younger self, Terri's body began to jerk as if consumed by a seizure. So vivid, the memory seemed more real than the beach she now knelt on. Her eyes widened in horror when saw the creature, that unclean thing, open its mouth and somehow absorb him ... her beloved father ... stealing him away from her.
Unable to control the violent movement of her body, she let out a plaintive moan as the worst memory of all played at the corners of her mind, building to a crescendo of fear and pain. It was the sound of her father screaming.
Involuntarily, she cried out, her scream echoing his. At the same moment, her fear was so intense that she could not help herself; her bladder let go and warm urine ran down her thighs to mix with the cold seawater that was soaking her sleep shirt. Then her mind went blank.
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