June 11, 2010

Artwork by April Slaughter

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Chapter 24 - Perspectives

To my loves,

I beg of you to forgive me my sins against you, for I know that I will never be able to forgive myself.

As I was in life, so I am in death.

In my death I have gone and lost you forever.

                                                                      Elizabeth

From The Journals of Iona Dearing:

 

1 May 1923 Tuesday

Today I attend the wedding of my dearest love and friend Elizabeth who is marrying an idiot by the name of Lamont Hughes. But perhaps I judge him too harshly; after all it's Lizzie who is marrying the clod.

 She says I cannot understand her situation. She pleaded with me to lie for her.

I love her. So of course I will uphold her story that she was married to my brother Lyle. That Anna and Meline are his daughters, that I am her sister by law and also that her last name is Dearing.

 I love her as I should were I her sister. How can I not? It is the only love I am
allowed.

 As for the fact that Lyle and my father died more than a year before the twins were born? I suppose we just won't talk about that. Stupid Liz.

 I know that I must deny my heart but it seems so cruel that she must deny hers also. Perhaps this is God's punishment for our wickedness.

 I must go now, so as not to be late.

Iona

P.S. Who would pick to marry on a Tuesday?

 

6 July 1923 Friday

 Lizzie's pregnant. I'm trying to be happy for her but I'm doing a terrible job of it. Mother thinks it's for the best. I can't say that I agree. The very thought of her lying down with that man makes my stomach turn.

I don't know exactly what happened during the time that Lizzie was away - when she had the girls - and she doesn't like to talk about it. But I truly wish things had worked out with her and him. I know such a thing is impossible, but what about Anna and Meli?

 

10 February 1924 Sunday

 It takes nine months to brew a baby, and that idiot Lizzie married had the nerve to suggest that the baby wasn't his. The poor little thing was born yesterday afternoon, a little girl - much to the idiot's disappointment. Lizzie named her Emily. God was gracious enough to give her Lizzie's good looks.

 

22 October 1924 Wednesday

 I've often wondered if he visits. Never making his presence known of course, but always watching. Mother says he does. She said that he came to be with her mother when she died and that she suspects him to be there when she dies.

 Lizzie came around yesterday to ask if I'd seen or heard from him, she was all in a panic, said she saw him at her house. She still won't tell me why she's so terrified of him, though I can guess with all the death that followed in his wake. But I know he'd never hurt her, or the girls.

 

16 November 1924 Sunday

 I've often wondered if there were others out there. Surely our angel couldn't be the only one. But I don't think anyone could have predicted that one would move in next door to Lizzie. Mother thinks I'm crazy to even think such a thing but I know he is. And I don't think it's a coincidence either.

He stopped by to introduce himself while I was visiting yesterday afternoon. Lizzie was busy with the baby and the idiot couldn't be bothered to answer his own door.

I knew the moment I shook his hand. He was wearing a ring with a blue stone. A sapphire, polished, not cut. Just the same as my necklace, with peacock feathers etched on the side. When I told him I'd seen one like it before, he told me it was something he'd found on at an antique store in Europe. Then, he took it off! It wasn't there when I introduced him to Lizzie!

He says his name is John Cross.

 

18 January 1925 Sunday

 So much has happened, I barely know where to start. Lizzie's husband died. He slipped on some ice and broke his neck. His funeral was last Tuesday. No one cried, not even Emily. Of course, I suppose she's too young to understand these things, but Lamont Hughes was not a nice man. Lizzie claims he had never hit her with a closed hand but the man sure did like to slap a lot.

Mr. Cross has been around to the house every day since Lizzie got the news, and he attended the funeral as well. I know he's one of them, one of the immortals. With everything that I am I know it. And I think Lizzie knows it too.

She's different around him now than when they first met. It started a couple of weeks after he moved in when she took him a plate of food after Thanksgiving dinner. The next time I saw him the ring was back on his finger and he hasn't taken it off since.

But it's not the ring. It's the way she lets the girls around be him - Lizzie never lets anyone around the twins who doesn't know - which is only Lizzie, myself and Mother. I'm not even sure Lamont ever spent more than five minutes in the same room as them.

But it's different with John. He speaks to them, spends time with them, holds their hands, picks them up and he's always teaching, always explaining things to them.

 Mother thinks I should just stay out of it. But that doesn't make me any less curious.

 

22 August 1925 Saturday

 I'm 24 years old today. According to mother I'm practically a spinster! Her gift to me was a lengthy lecture about finding a man I could tolerate, getting married and having children.

Lizzie gave me a jar of peach preserves, which I plan to consume in its entirety - alone in my room - before I go to bed this evening! It seems the most spinsterly thing to do!

 

15 September 1925 Tuesday

 My mother was trying to play matchmaker and set me up on a blind date. The bore's name was Martin Schroeder and that was the most interesting thing about him.

 

28 November 1925 Saturday

 Lizzie and the girls, accompanied by John, came to the house for Thanksgiving dinner. Lizzie says there is nothing between them other than his kindness to the twins but I don't believe her.

Mother invited Martin and his entire boring family as well. His sister seemed a nice enough girl, but it was hard to know for sure as Mrs. Schroeder was constantly shushing her all throughout dinner. And she's not even a child! She's twenty!

As for Mr. and Mrs. Schroeder they're even more dull than Martin! Mrs. Schroeder invited me to have tea with her and her non-talking daughter next Wednesday. Mother accepted the invitation for me. I hope they don't have the same expectations for a daughter-in-law as they do of their daughter. Not that I would even consider marrying someone as dull as Martin Schroeder.

 

25 December 1925 Friday

 Lizzie told me today that her and John are engaged. Nothing between them indeed! It's for the girls, she said. They need a father, she said. And then she finally confirmed what I had suspected all along. John Cross is an immortal. Not even his real name she told me, but said she couldn't tell me what his real name was. Much the same with our angel I suppose. I knew him as Dain, but mother told me that her Grandmother knew him as Daniel. Who knows? His real name used to be listed, but it's been removed from the journals completely over the years. Unless his name is Angel.

 

12 February 1926 Friday

 Lizzie and John got married today at the courthouse. It was a very small wedding, just how Lizzie wanted it. The girls looked beautiful and were on their best behavior, even little Emily.

 

18 February 1926 Thursday

 I awoke late last night to find Lizzie standing at my bedside. I asked her what was the matter, but she didn't say a word, she just crawled in bed with me, wrapped her arms around me and cried for the longest time. Eventually she told me that she feared she had made a terrible mistake. I thought at first that she was talking about her marriage to John. But she told me that wasn't it, that John was wonderful. And that while their marriage was not one of the heart they were married just the same and she missed the touch of a husband and so...

 I knew what she meant.

 It's different with immortals, she told me. And not just because they have had hundreds of years to practice she said.

 And it was this that made her realize that she had made a mistake in sending him away. I don't really know what she meant but she wouldn't speak any more about it. She told me that because of Anna and Meli she was now bound by the same laws that immortals are bound by and that secrecy was only one of them.

 

8 December 1932 Thursday.

Nothing good ever happens on a Tuesday. Mother died this last Tuesday, sometime during the night. She died, and he didn't come. He wasn't there for her. Mother told me he was there when my grandmother died, but she was sick for months beforehand, Mother just didn't wake up. Her funeral is scheduled for Friday.

Lizzie has been such a comfort to me these past couple of days. I don't know what I would have done without her.

 

17 June 1935 Sunday

 John is going away. It was an order directly from the immortal, all immortals answer to. He's not sure why, or even where he's going or for how long he will be gone. I asked him if he might give a message to my Angel and he told me that while he knew of him, in all their years their paths rarely crossed as their governorships covered vastly different areas. 

To make things worse, Lizzie has been feeling ill lately. I worry for her, and for the girls. I told her that I could come and stay with them and look out for her, but she insists it isn't necessary, that she has the girls to help her.

 

7 July 1935 Saturday

 I went to visit Lizzie and the girls today, but no one was home and the house was locked up tight. Has she gone? Has she left me? Why didn't she say anything?

 

11 July 1935 Wednesday

Tragedy has struck. There was a fire last night and Lizzie's house burnt entirely to the ground. The fire chief says he can't be sure if anyone was inside. He said the fire burned so hot, it melted the cast iron tub in the bathroom. He said he'd only ever seen one other fire burn that hot and it was the one that took down Sheriff Whittaker's place.

 

19 July 1935 Thursday

I received a note from Lizzie two days ago. I was so thrilled. I just knew that she was still alive. But I was wrong. It was, as the fire suggested, a suicide note. It says: To my loves, I beg you to forgive me my sins against you, for I know that I will never be able to forgive myself. As I was in life, so I am in death. In my death I have gone and lost you forever. Elizabeth.

I have never felt such misery, such heartache, such pain.  And what of the girls what had happened to them? I didn't know. Then earlier this evening they arrived, dirty and hungry at my back door. I fed them, they washed up, and then I fed them some more.

Meline put Emily to bed while Anna explained about her mother's change and subsequent insanity, and how they had left her two weeks earlier and had been living on the streets. I showed Anna, and later Meline the note.

The twins woke me early the next morning and told me that they thought it was best if they left, that their own kind would look after them, but asked if I would care for Emily. As if she were my own, I told them.

It felt wrong to let them leave, but despite my unique circumstances it is clear that I know very little of their world.
 

 

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