Chapter 1 : The Cave
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I met Tom when I was barely old enough to tie my shoes. He had been brought to the orphanage around the same time as I was. He grew up strange, you know? He was always off by himself, muttering under his breath. Strange things happened when he didn’t get his way, and we all grew up to fear him. He just didn’t fit in with the other kids.
I mean, I wasn’t really one to talk. The other kids didn’t like me much, either. I was scrawny and had stringy blonde hair. It was obvious why I was shunned by the other children. Together as outcasts, Tom and I grew to be playmates. I couldn’t call our relationship friendship- he was far too selfish for that- but we had an understanding.
Whenever something bad were to happen, such as the incident with Billy Stubbs rabbit, Tom always had some way of warning me so that I could stay out of trouble. I guess, looking back, it made me a guilty party, but when I was that young, I was thankful for any reason to stay away from trouble.
I should have known that Tom was special; he certainly was convinced of it. He had no proof, though, until that man showed up at our door. To this day, I cannot tell you who he is- Tom never told me- or where he had come from, but all I know is that he took my Tom away.
I was only ten when the man showed up at the front door. It was Susie’s day for “door duty”, but I was in the kitchen, trying to find my mittens. As soon as she opened the door, my curiosity was aroused. I had never seen a man like him before; he looked nothing like the landlords or tax collectors who often frequented the door. In fact, he looked remarkably like the wizards in our picture books.
He wore a strangely colored waistcoat, and his auburn hair and beard were longer than I had ever seen. I let out a small giggle from my place by the kitchen doorway, and he caught my eye. His smile was kind and seemed to fill my entire being with happiness. I wished that he had come to take me away. Maybe he was in search of a child like myself- a new daughter.
But he was taken to Mrs. Cole’s office and then to Tom’s room. When the mysterious man had left, I knocked cautiously on Tom’s bedroom door. “What?” he said harshly through the door.
“It’s Prissy,” I called, hoping that he would let me in.
“All right,” was all that he said in reply, but I knew that it granted me permission to join him.
When I entered the room, I found him standing by the window, watching the mysterious man leave. He looked paler than usual, and a cold sweat had broken out on his face. A jubilant expression was covering his features, and the effect was almost gruesome. “What did that man want, Tom?” I asked.
“He’s taking me away,” he said, turning to face me. In a sudden movement, he grabbed my shoulders and shook me. “I told you I was special. This man proves it.”
“Where’s he taking you, Tom?” I whimpered, afraid of his rough touch.
“It’s not your business,” he said disdainfully.
My disappointment must’ve shown on my face, because Tom’s demeanor immediately changed. “You know that if I would tell anybody, I’d tell you,” he purred. “But it’s just not worth anybody here.”
“Not even me?”
“Not even you.”
From that year on, Tom was whisked away every September to his secret school. He returned in the summer full of life and a greater disdain for the orphanage and its inhabitants. I waited for him eagerly each year. The other children still resented me because of my strange relationship with Tom. It didn’t matter that I had grown into a beautiful young girl- I was still different.
The only one who had noticed my change was Tom. He would stroke my long, blonde hair and compliment my beauty almost as if I were a priceless jewel. He took everything from me- my life, my love, my kisses, my virginity. I gave it all willingly, but he was not someone who would be refused.
It seemed that his first day back was always the day of the vacation to the coast. It was meant to be a place for picnicking and light-hearted fun, but Tom and I would always retreat to a dark cave near the clashing waters. Here, we would sit together in the darkness. He would allow me to pour my soul out to him, listening carefully as I recounted my woes of the orphanage.
I knew that he cared nothing for my problems, but I could not help but to tell him everything. In a sixteen-year old girl’s mind, there is nothing better than a handsome, intriguing boy who will listen. I always waited at the end for some detail about his life, but it never came.
He never wanted to give me any piece of myself. Tom preferred to take. He would look into my eyes and, although I saw no love there, my heartbeat would quicken. His hands would slide across my body, making me shiver with anticipation and a slight twinge of fear. The first time he took me on the hard, craggy stone was the summer of my fourteenth year. We were too young, and I knew it, but I never had the power to deny him.
Since then, he had continued to use me like a favorite toy. It wasn’t love that kept him coming back to me; it was more of a sense of possession. He liked the way that I gave myself freely to him, and he liked that he knew what to do with my body. It seemed as though fireworks shot off inside the cave every time we made love, and I had to shake my head to make the bright lights disappear. There was something unbelievably magical about it. I fell in love with him near those turbulent waters, and I didn’t mind giving myself to him.
Only once did he let something slip about himself. He mentioned how he was growing in power. That summer, we were sixteen. I knew that it was true; I had sensed a new, dark strength around him since he had come home. He talked of the future that he would bring the world and to his people.
When I asked him what people he meant, he replied harshly, “Not your kind.”
I was taken aback, and he reached out a cold hand to touch my cheek. “Your kind will be eliminated, I’m afraid,” he said calmly. “Eliminated or enslaved. They aren’t good for anything else.”
“What kind, Tom?” I asked quietly, afraid of the force that was radiating off of him.
“Not Tom,” he snapped. “Call me ‘my Lord.’ It’s what my new followers call me.”
“My Lord, what kind do you mean?”
“Those who aren’t special, my dear,” he said, continuing to caress my skin. “They are stupid and cannot be left to muck up the world anymore. The elite group, those who truly have power, will finally be allowed to rule.” He saw the fear in my eyes and let out a cold, high-pitched laugh. “Perhaps I will spare you,” he purred. “You’ve been such a good little pet.”
Unable to hear anymore, I pressed my lips against his, and he returned the kiss hungrily. It was the last time his ‘special’ people were discussed, yet I felt his evil power grow every day.
I continued to love him, even as darkness seemed to control his soul. He returned only once more after that summer, to say goodbye, I suppose. It was brief and painful for me, while he seemed glad to be leaving the orphanage forever. He declared that he doubted that we ever see each other again, but that he wished me better than the rest of my kind.
It’s painful even now. I touch the rock wall, noticing that the cave is now blocked off. Our memories are locked inside, as they have been locked inside my mind. I know that Tom is dead now, somewhere. I can sense it. I think that it is for the best, really. He was a madman, and I knew it. As much as I loved his strange and haunting being, he was selfish and dangerous.
Leaning near the entrance, I can see an inscription that was carved a long time ago. Prissy and Tom, it reads with a heart crudely drawn around it. I pick up a nearby stone and scrape it between the two names until they are separated.
It may have been a mistake to come to this cave and to allow the memories to flood back, but at least I have escaped with one thing I did not have before.
A newly-healed heart.