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It's really upsetting that, on your wedding day, your own family doesn't attend. Instead of radiating with joy, I sat through countless hours looking at the church's door. Hoping that my mother would walk through, tears streaming down her face, as she watched her daughter marry the man of her dreams. I had no such luck.
The wedding and reception ended before anyone else walked through that door. I shouldn't have been at all surprised. My parents and sister had always treated me differently (if you can say they treated me at all.) I was like an eye sore to them. They avoided me at all costs; providing only food, clothes, and shelter to a growing child who only wanted love. Even with the recollection of my childhood, I still loved them all hopelessly.
Unfortunately, my father isn't around to ignore me anymore, and my mother and sister have been estranged for years. Funny how karma works everything out, right?
"Are you okay?" Michael asked, caressing my back as I stare off into space.
I snap out of reality, turning to witness the worrisome expression on his face.
"I'm fine. I was just thinking about mom and Liza," I said, faking a smile.
Michael immediately saw through my charade.
"I know it was important for them to be there for you, Sada... but you can't let their absence get you down. If it were up to me, I would've handcuffed them and drug them there so that not one tear would fall from your eyes," he said, shining the smile that always seemed to cheer me up.
I laughed, though I could feel water trailing down my face. Michael was right. I shouldn't have been upset. They have always been absent when their presence counted. So why was I upset over something I expected?
"Thank you, babe," I said, hugging him.
His grip tightened around me.
"This is what I'm here for. Don't thank me," he said, kissing my forehead.
Once we parted, my tears evaporated and I resumed making dinner. Michael took his place by my side, slicing and dicing tomatoes to put into the salad. Just as I loaded the steak onto the miniature grill, the doorbell rang throughout the house. Michael turned to me, wiping his hands as he prepared to answer the door.
"Who could that be at this time of night?" he questioned, beginning his journey towards the now back to back knocking at the door.
I turned back to the steak, watching as they sizzled upon the grill, the juices causing smoke to rise as it dripped onto the burning surface. Behind me, I could hear the door creak open.
"Sada!" Michael called, startling me.
I turned swiftly, my eyes widening as I looked upon the woman I had longed to see all day: my mother.
"Can we talk?" she asked, gazing at me with apologetic eyes.
I was hesitant to respond. Why did she want to talk now? After all these years... .
"Sada, I think you two need to talk," Michael said, walking towards me.
I crossed my arms as he ended his stride before me, the lingering thought of the intent of my mother's visit devouring my sanity.
"Look, you have to get some answers, Sada. I know it's a little too early for apologies, but regardless of whether this is an act or genuine, you need the closure," he whispered, pushing my hair back.
I nodded, acknowledging that he was right. I needed this talk with her. Even if this was another luring of the desperate daughter attempt, I wanted to hear her out. I needed to.
"Fine," I said, walking towards my mother now comfortably seated on our couch.
She stood up as I approached, her eyes locked on mine. The atmosphere seemed to thicken as I stood inches away from her, my mind racing with shock and nervousness.
"Well," I said.
She looked down at her hands.
"I know I've been a bad mother to you, Sada. I know that... but I want to make it up to you," she said, pushing a medium sized box my way.
I shook my head, rejecting the gift.
"If you've come to this realization after twenty-five years, why didn't you attempt to come to my wedding?" I questioned, a mixture of sadness and anger bonding within me.
She swallowed hard, one single tear streaking down her cheek.
"I- I didn't want to ruin that special moment for you. I've been absent in your life your whole life... I didn't expect you to want me there with people that hold value within your life," she said, lowly.
Though I was angry, wanting to question her further about why she never showed me affection, I felt bad for having such thoughts. It was clear she was sorry. What kind of monster would deny their crying mother acceptance?
"I'm sorry," I said, looking away.
She rested her hand on my shoulder, shaking her head as she did so.
"No, I'm sorry. You've grown into a wonderful woman without any guidance from me. You're strong and, though your father isn't here with us to concur, he would have been proud of you, Sada," she said, a weak smile invading her saddened face.
I couldn't help but smile back before accepting a hug. All I've ever wanted was even a hint of love from my parents.
"Thank you, mom," I said, realizing it was the first time I ever called her that.
She seemed to notice because our embrace tightened.
"I have something for you," she said, escaping our hug.
I stared down at the box with ever looming curiosity.
"What is it?" I asked, glancing back and forth between her face and the box.
"Open it," she said, handing me the gift.
This time, I accepted it, untying the ribbon that stretched over the box before opening it.
"You can't be serious," I said, flabbergasted by the gift inside.
It was the necklace my mother wore religiously. The necklace I wanted to wear when I was a small child, gazing at my mother as she readied herself in the vanity.
"Since your father passed, I see no real reason in keeping it. It's within our family tradition to pass it down to our daughters on their wedding day, so it's the perfect time for you to wear it as I did," she said, caressing my arm.
I smiled hard, forcing another embrace.
"Thank you so much," I said, staring down at the gorgeous necklace, now mine.
"You're welcome," she said, pulling away, "let me put it on you."
I eagerly turned around, waiting as she lifted my hair and placed the cold jewelry against my collarbone. Once I heard the clasp lock, I turned around, observing my mother's face as she stared intently upon the necklace.
"You look beautiful," she said, wiping away her tears.
I looked down shyly, a permanent smile on my face.
"Well, I've got to go now, Sada. I have to hurry on to late night bingo," she said, grabbing her purse from the sofa.
"You can't stay a little later?" I questioned, not willing to allow her to leave.
She paused, smirking.
"How about I swing by tomorrow? I don't want to intrude on your alone time too much," she said, pointing at Michael as he plated the steak.
"Okay, tomorrow is fine," I said, cheerfully.
She nodded her head before opening the door to the entryway.
"Congratulations on the marriage, Sada. I wish I could've been there," she said, turning to face me as the rays from the moonlight illuminated her face.
"I wish you could've too," I said, standing in the doorway as she walked off towards her car.
Once she pulled off, the headlights of her car evaporating in the distance, I went back inside before closing the door.
"That went well I'm guessing," Michael said, hugging me from behind.
"Yeah, I could tell it was genuine," I said, turning to face Michael.
He immediately noticed the necklace, tracing his finger along the intricate design pattern.
"She gave this to you? It's beautiful," he said, observing it.
I smiled, resting my hand on the ruby and diamond encrusted piece.
"I've always dreamed of wearing this, but my mother never took it off," I said, laughing.
Michael picked me up, carrying me over to the dinner table that was saturated in candles and roses. The lights were dimmed down, and, as we approached the table, a hint of soft jazz played in the background.
"Michael," I whispered as he lowered me to the ground.
He seemed to gleam as he pulled out my chair.
"Sada," he said, waiting for me to sit.
I sat down, my eyes closing as he pushed the chair closer to the table.
"I'm so happy," I said, my eyes opening just as Michael sat across from me.
"You deserve to be. This is our wedding night. Nothing will ever upset you again without going through me first, Sada," he said, sternly.
And with those last words spoken, we ate our food and danced in the dying light before ending our night in bed.
"Wake up," Michael whispered into my ear.
I opened my eyes groggily before yawning quietly. Through the white curtains, I could see that the sun was barely risen. The grayish light dispensing from the dawning sun made me cringe, as I had never been a morning person.
"Why did you wake me up?" I asked, a hint of annoyance in my voice.
"There's someone here for you," he said, looking out of our opened bedroom door.
In the doorway stood Liza.
"Hi, Sada. Long time no see," she said.
I lifted from bed, rubbing my eyes to make sure I was seeing the sister I had always wanted to bond with.
"Liza, why- why are you here?" I questioned, pushing my wild hair from my face.
She seemed to frown, a look of desperation tainting her face.
"Jason and I split up. He kicked me to the curb, and mom never answers my phone calls anymore after the whole situation with Jason. So, in short, I'm homeless," she said.
Michael looked down at me, wrapping his arm around my shoulders.
"She can stay with us, but only if you want her to," Michael said, whispering quietly enough for Liza not to hear.
I nodded, smiling at his acceptance towards my needs. The need to have a family.
"You can stay with us. We have a guest room down the hall with its own private bathroom," I said, eagerly.
Liza grinned, a weight seemingly lifted from her shoulders.
"Thank you, Sada. And I forgot to say congratulations. My little sister married... I never thought it'd happen," she said.
Though her last sentence turned me off, I let it go in hopes there was no bad intent hidden amongst her words.
"Thanks, Liza," I responded back.
Michael got out of bed once more and gestured for Liza to follow him.
"I'll show you to your room," he said, walking out into the hallway.
Liza lingered just a bit longer, nodding before following Michael, who called after her.
Because my sleep was officially ruined and the sun was now resting along the horizon, I got out of bed and walked through the orange glow capturing my bedroom. I grabbed a casual outfit from my wardrobe before heading towards the bathroom to shower. While I stood in the steam filled room, I began to realize how naive I was being. First, my mother apologizes. Now, my sister shows up out of the blue because she's homeless. Quickly, suspicion surged through me. Were they playing me for a fool?
"Sada!" I heard Michael call.
Because at the time I was wasting water, my showering overlapped by thoughts, I hurried out of the shower and wrapped a towel around my body.
"What is it?" I asked, exiting the bathroom, steam rushing out of it as I did so.
Michael stared at me for a minute, his thoughts corrupting his mission.
"Uh, yeah... I forgot about the honeymoon in a few days. We aren't going to cancel that for anything because you and I need time away. So what do you want to do about Liza?" he questioned.
The honeymoon to Tahiti was one I very much looked forward to, but I couldn't just leave Liza alone. Especially not in our house.
"I'll have to talk to mom. Maybe I should go over there now. I'm sure if she were to see Liza over here she would feel as if we set her up. I'll go talk to her," I said, hurrying back into the bathroom.
"Good," Michael said, laying back down in bed.
Quickly, I dressed, throwing my hair into a ponytail before rushing out of the bathroom.
"Be careful out there, babe. It looks like a storms coming," he said, kissing me as I leaned down over him.
"I will," I said, walking out into the hallway.
After closing the door behind me, I walked past Liza's room. It was empty.
"Liza?" I called out, walking at a quickened pace.
"Yeah," I heard from behind me.
I turned to see Liza leaning against the doorway to her room, her eyes fixated on me.
"God, you scared me," I said, gasping.
She seemed upset.
"I see she gave you that necklace," she said, glancing at it.
"Yeah, yesterday," I said, proudly.
Liza looked away, the darkness under her eyes becoming apparent at the angle at which she turned.
"Are you okay?" I questioned, approaching her slowly.
She glanced up suddenly, her eyes burning a hole into mine.
"Jason," she mumbled.
I caressed her lifeless, brown hair, noticing the bald spots hidden within her tresses. Around her neck was bruising, dark purple circles with a magenta core.
"Don't," she said, pulling away from me as she cried.
I stepped back, my eyes swelling with tears of anger. Even though her and I were never close, she didn't deserve to get beaten. Especially not by someone who she loved.
"I'm calling the cops," I said, pulling out my cellphone from my jean's pocket.
She lunged for the phone, causing it to drop to the floor.
"That will only make it worse!" she shouted.
I stood there silent, my mind racing with what I should do. I couldn't just leave her alone after finding out what I just had. She needed someone to protect her. She needed someone to watch over her. She needed help.
"We will talk about this when I get back, Liza. I don't care if you refuse me now, but we will discuss this. I promise you that," I said, stepping away from her.
She nodded, wiping her tears away.
"Fine," she said, slowly disappearing into her room.
I stood there for a few seconds more, collecting my calm before heading out of the house.
On my way to my mother's house, a storm began to brew quickly within the sky. Once I turned into her driveway, the gray in the sky had upgraded to an unsettling blackness. Quickly, I exited the car and rushed under the porch's cover as rain began to pour down relentlessly. I knocked on the door, the sound of crackling thunder overhead alarming me. Impatiently, I lifted the welcome mat and retrieved the key under it. Though the odds of getting struck by lightning are null, the paranoia was enough to cause a heart attack. So I unlocked the door and stepped inside, a feeling of security creeping up my spine as I did so.
As usual, the smell of food permeated throughout the house. Even though I was never attended to emotionally by my parents, my mother's delicious cooking was always there, awaiting my consumption after a long day of school.
"Mom, it's me, Sada!" I called out, walking towards the kitchen.
Mr. Wiggles greeted me, purring as he cuddled against my leg.
"Hey," I said, kneeling down to pet him as he began calling for my attention.
After petting him to satisfaction, I lifted myself back up and continued on.
"Mom!" I called, turning the last corner before the kitchen.
Inside the room, the pot on the stove top overflowed. Immediately, I rushed over to it, turning off the gas.
"Mom, why aren't you watching the food? The house could've burned down," I called out, walking out of the kitchen and towards her bedroom.
Down the hall, I glanced at the family portraits hanging from the walls. In all of them, everyone smiled happily as if life was perfect. Well, it was for everyone but the small girl on the left... her smile was forced.
"Mom?" I called, opening the closed master bedroom's door.
Sitting in front of her tv was mom. I approached her, a smile overwhelming my face as I did. But, that smile quickly faded as I stood in front of her, the bulging eyes I did not recognize greeting me. The light from the tv behind me passed through her chest, a gaping hole making its presence known.
"No!" I screamed.
I continued to stare at her, my body shaking with terror as I noticed the look on her face. Her mouth was wide open and her eyes were fixated on the ceiling.
I stepped away from her body, screaming in horror as I shuffled for my cellphone, forgetting Liza had knocked it out of my hand and onto the floor of my home. Mr. Wiggles sat in the doorway to the room, meowing as I ran past him. The security I once felt was completely diminished. My eyes darted into every open door of the house, preparing to get grabbed by the person who murdered my mother so viciously.
But, I wasn't grabbed. I made it out of the house and into the aggressive storm outside. With rain drowning out my eyesight, I struggled to unlock my car. When I did, I plopped down into the seat, a feeling of relief washing over me as I drove away from the scene. As I drove through the pounding rain, paranoia set in. Liza. Liza did this. She shows up out of the blue and the next day my mother is dead. This was no coincidence. No, she did this.
Once I got home, I stormed into the house, my body soaked from head to toe in water.
"Liza! I know what you did, bitch!" I yelled, rushing towards her bedroom.
"I didn't do anything," she mumbled from behind me.
I turned towards her, wrath exuding from every inch of my body.
"You killed her! It was you or it was your pathetic fucking excuse for a husband!" I shouted, walking towards her with the intent to harm her.
She stood still, watching as I approached her.
"He's dead. Don't you get it?" she questioned, her facial expression darkening.
I stopped in my tracks, confusion rushing over me.
"Give me that necklace!" she said, running towards me, abruptly.
She grabbed the necklace, snapping the clasp as she pulled it off. Laughter escaped her, as she attempted to place it around her neck.
"Mom didn't give this to you because she loved you. She gave it to you because you were the last option," she said, laughing hysterically.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
She stared at me with cold eyes, the helplessness and desperation she once exuded, nowhere to be found.
"Jason and I eloped. I didn't tell her because I was in love and dumb. Once I saw what that... thing does... I knew I shouldn't have done that," she said, caressing the necklace.
I shook my head, stepping away from her.
"She loved me," I said, weakly.
Liza smiled, that look she used to give me as a child reflecting on her bruised face. A look of pity.
"You've always been naive, Sada. It's a shame this has to happen to you, but I can't keep running from it," she said, walking towards the exit.
I watched on, my eyes filling with tears as I fell to the floor, weeping. Behind me, I could hear the door crack open.
"Sada, what's going on?" Michael asked, kneeling down beside me.
I couldn't speak. All I could do is watch Liza walk away. Michael followed my gaze and stood up, abruptly.
"What did you do!" he yelled, causing Liza to turn around quickly.
Suddenly, something crawled down the ceiling, grabbing ahold of Liza. She struggled for a while, screaming and shouting as it beat her intensely. The black figure then pierced through her chest, ripping out her heart in one swift movement. There, on the ground, Liza laid lifeless, her mouth wide open and eyes staring up at the ceiling.
"What the fu-" Michael said, turning towards me.
Immediately, the thing seemed to fly towards Michael, a deepened scream escaping its protruding mouth. In the blink of an eye, Michael had that same hole in his chest. But, his eyes... they were fixated on mine as he laid lifeless inches away from me.
Sobbing, I shook in horror as the thing approached me, my mind immediately preparing for death.
"I won't hurt you," it said, the smell of rot burning away at my nose hairs.
It caressed my face, its boney fingers scratching my skin as my body convulsed.
"Oh," it said, staring at me with sunken eyes, "I'll be back for you."
With one last gesture, it shot down into the floor, vanishing. I looked down once I knew it was gone, recalling where it had placed its bony fingers... .
Lifting my shirt, I stared down at the scrape left behind by the creature. There, on my stomach, was a long scratch... .
Written by GreyOwl