Three Questions (Part 2)

Despite my success, my mother was still the target of my father’s anger. Every trip outside the house was scrutinised, every phone call monitored. On the rare occasions that he left the house, my father would often sneak back into our home quietly, trying to catch my mother in some act I didn’t yet understand. I know now that she stayed because she believed it was best for me. She couldn’t take me away until I knew fully how to use my power, and she couldn’t leave me alone with him.


I was eleven the night that I heard my parents’ arguing stop.

My father’s unintelligible shouting, my mother’s muffled pleas, and then a crash. I stayed still and quiet in my room, as my mother had taught me. I heard my father breaking things, screaming, crying. I heard the door slam as he left. I stayed still well into the next day, waiting for my mother to come get me as she always did. But it was my father he woke me. He dragged me down the hall, passing their closed bedroom door, into the ceremony room. He sat me in the chair, and I stayed still and quiet.

I watched him rub the ingredients on the floor, around a bloodied scrap of fabric. I watched him draw the circles in the air, muttering, slowly standing up to draw the spirit of my mother up with him. He stood further back, this time. Even though a spirit cannot leave the circle once drawn, he looked wary. My mother’s spirit stared at him, unmoving. He stared back, then snorted, averting his gaze. He looked at me, a child no doubt terrified, and I saw his strength renewed. With vile, he asked the first question.

“Did you ever cheat on me?”

“Once. I kissed a man in a nightclub about two months after you and I started dating. We never spoke, we only danced together once and I let him kiss me, then I left”

My mother’s voice, devoid of emotion, did not sound like her. My father, pacing and clearly not expecting the answer, paused for the longest minute I had ever experienced.

“Why did you have to go and make me think you cheated on me?”

“I didn’t. There was nothing I could ever say that would convince you that I hadn’t. Denial made you think I was lying, silence made you think I was guilty and jokes about it made you believe I was admitting to it. There was nothing I could do to fix what is broken inside you”

He paused again, pacing more. I could see tears on his face. I remember I tried not to look at my mother, but couldn’t help it. She stood, watching my father.

“What… What do I have to do, to go where you went? To go to heaven”

For the first, time, I heard a spirit pause.

“I don’t know entirely what you are capable of doing, despite knowing you as well as I did. You would need to repent what you have done to me, and to our child. Truly acknowledge your wrongdoings without hope of reward. I don’t know if you are capable of it”

She faded immediately, and I am glad she did not look towards me. The coldness in her final answer destroyed what passion my father had left. He fell to his knees, weeping. I watched the door, waiting for my mother to unlock it so that I could leave.


I never saw my mother’s body. I was locked in my room for the next two days. I wept in the dark and thought of the questions I could never ask my mother now that she had already been summoned.


My father began to ingratiate himself into the community, starting by enrolling me in school. I never told anyone what happened. Even when I started socialising outside the house, I hardly spoke.

He began doing charity work. He stopped performing ceremonies for money. He went to therapy, for God’s sake. He spoke to me at length about how sorry he was, and how hard it must be for me to see him every day. He told me that he would do more good outside of prison than he would inside, which is why it was ok to not turn himself into the police. I never spoke to him again.

When I turned 18, I left. The last words I ever spoke to father were a promise that the next time I saw him, it would be the last. He laughed at what he thought was an idle, teenage-hormonal threat


To everyone, including himself no doubt, he was the perfect member of the community. When he finally died, he was remembered fondly and his funeral was an exaltation of his life. He was the widow with the errant child, who threw himself into charity, church and friendships. He was the model citizen and the best man anyone delivering a eulogy had ever known.

But I knew he could never be good enough to see my mother again. After the funeral, I went to my childhood home. The place where my childhood died. It was well-kept and clean. It was my inheritance, because that was what was right and expected. A father leaving his estate to his only child, despite them refusing to see or speak to him, well that just reeks of the moral high ground.

My father had kept his bedroom as it was when I lived there. It was a memorial to my mother, covered in photographs and trinkets of hers. The sagging furniture had clearly never been replaced. Living with his guilt every night as he slept was part of his penance, apparently. Or maybe he made his peace and remembered the woman he murdered fondly.

The ceremony room had been converted to a storage space, but by memory I located and cleared the small area where the circle had been.


I placed my father’s wedding ring, which I’d taken from his body at the funeral, into the centre of the circle. I rubbed the circle with the necessary ingredients. I drew the symbols in the air, pulling them up with me as I stood. I watched my father’s spirit rise up with me, and I stared into his eyes and dispassionately as he stared into mine. After all these years, I had no anger left, just questions and a desire to extract whatever suffering was left from him.

“Where is my mother’s body?”

“It is buried under the shed, in the yard. I filled in the floor with concrete afterwards”

I nodded. I would make sure she got the burial she deserved.

My father’s spirit stared at me, with a look of what I would guess was boredom and disdain. He was impatient to return to whatever ending he had found.

The next question was the most important.

“What is it like, being here?”

“It is at once a pain beyond measure and it is nothing to me.  I have felt sensations beyond measure, seen sights beyond perception, and heard music that exists within the silence of my new home.”

He paused, waiting for some response from me. Spirits could speak outside the required answers, but rarely felt the need to. Better to get it over with, most either waited for the next question or asked for the process to be sped up. Ever the showman, my father continued.

“I bet I know why you summoned me. You need to know if I made it to heaven, and if I’ve seen your mother. Well, go ahead and ask. You can know and finally find what peace you can in this world. Trust me, it won’t matter once you’re done here!”

He smiled, in a way that did not reach his eyes.

“No.”

The smile stopped.

“I have no more questions for you”

He began screaming then, begging and pleading to be released. My father’s training had taught me how to ignore that sort of thing, and as I closed the door on the screaming spirit, I smiled.

It was the last time I ever saw my father. And whether it condemns me to hell or not, I will never see him ever again.


 

This was originally supposed to be a 200-500 word story. I started writing at 10:30pm, but by 12:30am I had written 2,600 words. It is very much a first draft, and if you have any feedback for improvement I would appreciate it.

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