Bryn’s Tale – Part One
I was nine when my parents were murdered.
We lived in a small cottage in the English woods. My father worked at a hardware store in town and my mother spent her days with me, exploring the forest and teaching. She taught me math and sloping cursive. She taught me to read palms and how to lay out and interpret her old deck of tarot cards. She taught me balance and the cyclical way of nature.
My father would always say I was her mini version. Same straight dark hair, same blue eyes. I didn’t have many friends, but I didn’t care. I had my parents. We cooked with vegetables grown from the garden and we talked and laughed all night. That was life- as cheerful and magical as the rays of sun falling through the leaves onto the forest floor.
But one night at the end of winter, my mother went stiff at the dinner table. Her eyes went wide for a few moments and she couldn’t seem to hear me. She was still, her pale blue eyes staring over my head.
“They’re coming, John.” she seized my father’s hand.
“How long do we have?” he asked in a hard voice, one that didn’t belong to the gentle carpenter who liked to make tables with little leaves carved into the legs.
My mother’s eyes filled with tears and she turned to me. A brand new sense of profound fear gripped me as she picked me up and ran to their bedroom.
I caught a glimpse of my father in my own room tearing my drawings and pictures off the walls. He was stripping my bed of the purple blankets and in a rush he was gone.
My mother set me down by the closet and I sat, silent and shaking, watching her scramble. I’d never seen my parents so panicked, so serious. She separated her hangers and a small door I’d never seen appeared on the back wall behind them.
“Come here, sweetie.” My mother held out her hands to me, but I didn’t move.
I had one of those feelings, the ones she’d always told me to trust. It gnawed at my belly and my hands shake. My vision pulsed as if my heart was beating in my eyes.
“Bryn, please, love. You have to come here now.” She nearly sobbed, tears slipping over her nose.
Still, I sat. She was going to open that little door and put me inside. She would close it and I’d never see her again. I was trusting my feeling now and I wasn’t going to let it happen. But she captured me around the waist and brought me kicking and screaming to the closet. She opened the little door and forced me inside. Before I could open my mouth to scream again, she placed a cold finger on my lips and I fell silent. I tried to yell again, to shout, to cry, but my voice was gone, stolen from me.
“Sweetheart, I need you to listen to mummy. This bag has everything you’ll need,” she dropped a canvas bag in my lap and I pawed silently at her hands. She continued anyway. “I need you to stay in here, no matter what you hear, until things are quiet for a long time. Then you can come out and open the bag, okay? Promise me you’ll do that.” She demanded, silent hot tears falling down my face. “Promise!” I jumped when she shouted, but nodded and she leaned in to kiss me.
“Mummy and daddy love you so much. Remember how special you are. Trust your instincts and-”
“Felicity!” My father called, terror in his voice.
“I love you. I love you,” my mother chanted and kissed my hands before she shut the door and I was swallowed by blackness.
Just moments later I heard a furious banging on our front door. The voices screaming, glass shattering. I clutched the bag in my fists. My mouth was gaping, a scream frozen inside. The voices grew louder.
“Don’t make this harder on yourselves,” a deep voice warned calmly. “Where is your child?”
“We have no child.” my father said stiffly.
The dialogue grew softer as the strangers moved through my house. My knees were curled into my chest. There was a crescendo of overlapping shouts and two small pops. Then silence. I jammed myself into the corner of my confine until the bones in my shoulders ached.
“Such a waste,” the calm strange voice sighed. “Find the girl and clean up.”
Footsteps approached the closet many times. I even heard the doors slide open, but no one found me. I waited until the footsteps had long since shuffled out. Silence crushed me for what felt like the entire night. I had promised my mother to stay, to wait.
I pushed the door open when I felt sleep tugging at me. The bag and I tumbled out and started to make our way through the house. Everything was overturned: dressers, side tables, mattresses. My room was unrecognizable so I walked past it. I didn’t bother calling out for them. I knew they were gone and there were no more tears in my body to expel.
When I reached the kitchen there was blood splattered on the refrigerator, on the yellow walls and pooled on the floor. I’d stepped in it before I realized it was there. My stomach turned. My parents were gone. They were at dinner with me eating sweet potatoes and laughing about one of my father’s customers. Then they were gone.
I backed up out of the house, the blood spatters staining themselves onto my memory forever. I ran through the woods, the contents of the bag bouncing against my hip. I ran until the blood had dried and caked on my bare feet, until my lungs felt like they were being pierced by my ribs and I collapsed in the bramble. My voice had found its way back to me and I howled like a wolf until my throat was raw. Eventually I must have slipped into bitter dreams, the first of many many nightmares…
next: Bryn’s Tale – Part Two
more by NOELLE CURRIE
photograph by Dave Robinson