There used to be a family on our street, the Roses. I used to be friends with their daughter, Cynthia. Until she went missing.
It was June, maybe early July, about a year ago. Now, the Roses weren't a "usual" family, and everyone knew it. Rumors spread that the mother was a witch, the father was a demon, and poor Cynthia was pure evil. From actually knowing the family, there was nothing bad about them. They were actually Catholics, very kind and well-mannered. But no one else bothered to get close enough to the family to know that. The rumors kept spreading.
I hung out with Cynthia earlier that day. We were both fifteen and happy as ever. But something seemed to be bugging her. When asked, she simply replied, "I keep hearing singing," and we left it at that. The town we lived in wasn't very large, but it was bustling. We had both simply assumed it was from the streets. Since today was actually Cynthia's birthday, we decided to go into town and get ice cream: Chocolate chip cookie dough for me, lemon sorbet for her. We had fun, and even went on a small shopping trip. Towards the end of the day, something seemed to be tugging at Cynthia's resolve. She became quiet, and I even began to notice she kept glancing around her. We went home, and eventually, things settled down and became calm until around nine. I got a call from a very distressed Cynthia.
"Bee, I'm-I'm scared. Today's my sixteenth birthday – dammit I knew this was coming, I have since I was ten! God I don't want to..."
"Cynthia, what's going on?"
"There's... there's a tradition in my family. The firstborn is spirited away on their sixteenth birthday by the very first Rose, Emilia. They are said to have been brought great wealth and joy. But they aren't "spirited away", Bee, they're sacrificed! They're sacrificed, so Emilia won't come for the rest of the family. She's here... the singing was her warning bells... don't let her take me."
The last line was said so evenly and seriously. I was terrified. I grabbed my mother's car keys and drove madly to Cynthia's home. Upon entering her driveway, it was evident something huge was going on. There were five cars parked outside her home, all of them different companies, models, and colors. She could have been just having a birthday party to the uninformed brain. I tried the door, unlocked. I flew up the stairs to her room, which I found was empty. A mortifying scream tore through the air, and I rushed towards the basement. That door was locked, so it took me a few tries to knock it open. Now I know why we were never allowed in there.
Cynthia was tied down to a stone table, her family hiding on the wall behind her. Hovering above her was a girl, about sixteen. Her hair was long and silver. Her eyes were a deep emerald. If she hadn't been so terrifying, she would have been beautiful. In Cynthia's scramble to escape, she finally took notice of me in the doorway. She was drenched in sweat, crying. Why the hell would her parents let this happen?
"Bianca! Help me!" Cynthia screamed, and the figure looked up to me. Her face was pale, and she was very calm in demeanor. But then a smile spread across her lips, making her features look grim and ghastly. All I wanted to do was slink away, get the hell out of there. But I knew I couldn't just leave her there. I tried to run towards her, but her mother and father came to my sides and stopped me. I felt their icy grip on my arms as I struggled to escape. I saw her mother was crying.
I was disgusted.
Voices sounded around me, her family.
"You can't stop her."
"This is how we survive."
"We don't want to do this."
"We have to."
"Emilia won't rest until she gets her revenge."
The last words came from Cynthia's father. I spat in his face, growling with rage. I elbowed her parents and freed myself, landing at the edges on the table. I turned back only for a moment to lash out a few words of despise, "How could you do this? Let your own daughter get killed? You're her parents, her life should be worth both of yours, but it's obvious you couldn't care less!"
They looked hurt, and sad. I felt subdued, and turned back to untie the rope at her hands. But now, Emilia was standing in front of me, looking as calm as ever. She placed a hand on my forehead, and I could feel memories file into my brain, ones of pain. I could see Emilia's last moment on this earth, spent in pure terror.
Emilia was dressed in Victorian clothes, her hair tied up in an elegant bun. She was walking with a handsome young man into a park, and from the kisses on her lips I could tell it was her boyfriend, or maybe even fiancé. In the next moment, a sack was being thrown over her head and she was being carried, screaming. And in the next, she was tied to a tree, wood being thrown into a pile below her. Her pain was heavy, watching as her parents threw torches onto the ground. Chants of "witch" sounded behind and around her, and the fire began licking up her legs. God, the pain was awful as it climbed up her, or rather, my body. It engulfed my head, charring the flesh and bone. When the blackness started and the pain finally stopped, all I could feel was rage. Unending rage.
As the memory faded out, I collapsed to the ground, panting. I couldn't breathe, and my vision was blurred from tears. I heard her wind-chimed voice, sound in my head, as I tried to sit up.
"Do you see my pain now?" Her lips didn't even move. "Do you see my reason?"
I did. I really did. But it didn't give her a right to take away their lives. I watched futilely as Emilia turned back to Cynthia, who by now was trying to stay awake from exhaustion. Emilia placed a kiss on her forehead before grabbing Cynthia's hand, and just like that, she was gone. The table was empty. I was so sad. I'd lost her. I failed her. The next day, a police report was filed, saying someone had broken in last night, taken Cynthia in her sleep. A search party formed. A vigil was held. After a few months, everyone had stopped caring. After all, the Roses were demon spawns, or so they say. It's May now, the next year.
Today was my sixteenth birthday.
I heard the singing.
My name was Bianca Miller.
If you are of my family name, watch your firstborn.