At midnight, I was at the log, just like Avery had asked. I was wearing makeup, something I really never did because Grandmother thought I was too young for it. She said she didn’t want me growing up and having children as young as she did. I also wore my favorite nightgown, a blue one, that was once my mother’s. Only when I got to the log, I didn’t see Avery. And I didn’t feel alone. “Hello?” I called out.
A voice spoke quietly, so quietly I couldn’t make out what direction it was coming from. “Clementine, I’ve missed you.”
“Is that Avery?”
The trees were like tall ghosts. They were haunting at night. It didn’t seem like a fairytale with a happy ending, the way this place did in daytime. Everything here was sort of haunting. “Don’t make a sound, okay?”
“What’s going on?”
Avery stepped out from behind a tree. “I want you to stay quiet.”
I noticed the reflection of the moon in the knife he was holding. His feet didn’t make a sound on the leaves. His father must have trained him to walk quietly on their hunts. “What are you going to do with that?” I think I would have panicked in that moment, but I trusted him too much.
“Clem,” He pouted, “Shut up.”
And before I could speak, he walked behind me and put one hand on my waist, and the knife up to my throat. “Please don’t hurt me.” I could feel the tears swell in my eyes.
“Clementine, you hurt me. Why do you go around trying to handle things you know nothing about? You can’t keep hurting me!”
“I did the right thing,” I choked.
“If you don’t be quiet, I’m going to have to kill you. You’re going to get me caught.”
I screamed as loud as I could. He didn’t slit my throat, but he stabbed me in the stomach. I never could figure out why he just didn’t kill me. It was like he knew I would survive. He ran off in the night and something caught my body that wasn’t him. It was white and glowing, and its presence was warm and familiar. “Who’s there?” I asked, though I could feel myself losing consciousness. I turned and saw its face as I was losing my vision.
Tilda smiled down at me. If this had happened to anyone else, I don’t think they would have known that it was her, but she and I, we had this sort of way when we were together. Like we were kindred spirits, I could feel her.