It happened a few months after she perished. Adeline had plunged us into a savage curse. People started dying, and a clock struck 3 times every time it happened. Nobody knew how it happened. The last 3 strikes I heard followed my mother’s shriek from downstairs. Then I heard a whoosh, and I screamed too before a dagger plunged into my stomach.
My eyes open slowly, but it feels as if someone is pushing them closed again. I don’t know where I am, but I have been put on a bed, covered by a scratchy blanket. I feel bandages tightly wrapped around me, so tight that I wonder what illness has penetrated me.
Then, everything comes back.
The red-hilted dagger.
For an unknown reason, tears rain down my face, but fall before they reach my chin. I try to push myself up, but I can’t. There is no strength in my arms. There is nobody else around me, but if I continue this feeble behavior, there is sure to be.
It feels like hours that I have lain in this bed, sobbing for no reason, until a nurse comes through the blandly colored door. She sees me awake and calls an unfamiliar name. A few nurses appear behind her. They walk towards me, and the first one I saw rushes close as soon as she spies my tears. She gently wipes them away and beckons to a dark corner. I am confused at why she gestures at a wall, but then two people I didn’t notice stride out.
They are carrying green notepads and black pens. Investigators. They waste not a moment and walk with care yet briskly in my direction. They wave at my face, the action intended for the nurse. Only when the weight rises from my face do I realize there has been something on it. She swipes it away before I can get a proper glance, though.
‘’What is your name?” The taller man’s harsh voice startles me, but I am not afraid.
‘’Saffron Marquess,” I reply, bold, but it comes out faint.
‘’Do you know why you are here?” The question arises from the slightly shorter man’s voice, which is extremely annoying.
‘’I am a victim of murder, but apparently a survivor.”
‘’Exactly. Do you have any idea of the identity of your murderer?” The tall one puts quotes with his fingers around the last word.
‘’No.” I am already irritated by these men. I am not some object that they can so tediously interrogate.
‘’Have you given someone a reason to harm you?”
‘’Yes, I have. I went up to someone and said, ‘Please kill me’,” I reply sarcastically. I have let my fury show. They look at each other as if they are the ones who should be vexed.
‘’Please answer our questions seriously, this is not a joke.”
I have been pushed to the limit.
‘’Look, I don’t remember anything about anyone that night, ok? All I am aware of is that someone tried to kill me, and I was unable to see them because it was pitch black. You are not getting anything out of me. Please stop wasting both our times.”
That should have gotten the message across. It looks like it did. They both nod at the nurses, pompously shake hands and leave, looking highly exasperated. The nurses give me a look as if I am some sort of mentally impaired patient. I glare back, defiant. They sigh.
As if on cue, the healer walks in. I know that is his profession because of what he wears. While the nurses wear blue shirts and pants, his outfit is completely green. He displays a kind smile, but there is something in his eyes I don’t recognize.
‘’Hello, Ms. Marquess. My name is Healer Cantor. Did the nurses not help you up? I’m terribly sorry. Here, allow me,” he speaks politely, his voice like silk. I let him assist me to sit up. He is so different from the investigators.
‘’So, you have been in a coma for about a week. It is quite a miracle you survived such a deep knife puncture. But then again, I suppose you are a strong young lady, aren’t you?”
I sit, frozen. I’m astounded. I have never met someone so... likable. I attempt a small smile, but in return, I receive a solemn look.
‘’Unfortunately, your mother was not so strong. By the time we had reached, your heart still beat, but hers had died.”
My tears threaten to return. My hand flies to my mouth, holding in a scream.
My mom is dead.
I can’t help it, the tears fall.
I want to yell, I want to shout myself sore.
I want to throw things, I want to hurt someone.
But I don’t.
‘’Was it the Clockworker?” I ask, and those few words use up all my energy. Healer Cantor nods, giving me a look of pity. My eyes close, unable to process this truth. He lets me fall onto the bed, glances at me as if he genuinely cares, and leaves.
I cry myself to sleep.