The Chance

By: Subhashini Alaganandham

Are second chances real or just a phrase widely spread to cultivate the will to survive another day despite all the darkness that has ever happened before? Nobody is to be found in attempts to amend or revise the past as they either choose to get over with it or tug themselves to the consequences. Past is in past. When something has happened, it will happen as it’s obeying the Murphy’s Law; we regret if it is inauspicious or capture memories if it is the other way round. Yet, many wonder if only they are blessed with super powers that can turn the clock about including me.

It was a night when the arrival of the new moon bred pure meaning to the sky. A breeze picked up at the garden in the backyard, rustling the dried leaves as the trees danced to the rhythm. A swift wind took place leaving the moment empty as the other movements settled down to be stationary, followed by echoes of thunder striking the black, wide sky. The fully developed fetus me inside my mother was all ready to set foot to the ground. Commotion built up across the huge stone mansion. The mid wives brought hot water and soft towels to my mother’s chamber.

My mother was gently placed on the comfortable, queen sized bed when she knew she was ready. In fact, my dad spent hours doing nothing but paced along the hallway back and forth exposing no sense of patience while the midwives were assisting the delivery. Obviously he was expecting a son to be his heir to an enormous amount of land and money that could be controlled by the son when he is no more. Finally, the big moment was there, I arrived. I turned out to be right opposite of what my dad desired the most to hold, a girl. Yet, he accepted as I was with many excitements on the face. Suddenly, the huge mansion grew gloomy and grey leaving pin drop silence. The hearts in the mansion rushed harder heightening the blood pressure. Confusion haunted the place as my mother struggled to survive her moments on the death bed.

My mother’s death left trails of misery and sorrow. It was heartbreaking to know that I was the reason she’s in the coffin while the world passed her by. Fate stole her from me and every ounce of happiness I’ve ever known and all she yet to receive. Dull mornings and sad evenings became my company and sanctuary of mine since. Sometimes staring at my mother’s garden would make me feel her presence as I imagine her singing a lullaby to me, slowly caressing my brown locks. Hearing the stories of how idyllic she was when she planted those bright red roses and how graceful she was when she watered the flowers. Being there brought a sense of comfort and warmth in this morbid mansion I called home. Out of the blue, I felt a gush of wind. The trees swayed, carrying the cooling scent of the wild flowers through the emptiness of her chamber. The room door has been sealed since I was eight as my father was displeased by the amount of time I spent mourning a dead woman in there.

To him, my whispers and tears were unsightly. He has since moved on to Mrs. Elizabeth, or who she once referred to before she bewitched my father, turning him against me, his only daughter or as he called me, the blood child who killed her mother. He was once very fond of me. He instructed our maids and butlers to be very meticulous around me, by that he meant was to make sure no harm was on my way. Nowadays, even if I were to disappear, he would not bat an eye. In fact, he would be overjoyed with delightment and amusement; he would throw a party for the town.

On the morning of a cold, enchanting winter, I noticed the mansion was missing all the human occupants. It was dead hollow with no trace of a single soul. Then it occurred to me, it was a Sunday that the occupants went to the church for their prayers. I was lingering in silence when the door of my mother’s room caught my eyes. It felt as though the room was calling out for me. I slowly paced my steps towards the huge wooden door with rose engraved on it. With thoughts flooding my mind, I found myself on the doorstep. When I was caressing the magnificent carving, I noticed there was a tiny slot, naked from the eye.

As curious as I was, without hesitation, I pulled the slot with much effort till a small chip of my nail broke. I found a key which I assumed to be the key that my mother once hidden. I placed my hand gently as though not to awaken or startled anyone. I slowly placed the key into the hole and tuned it. My guess was the hole was filled with rust as I can’t seem to fully turn it. Anger started building up in me as I was frustrated. The frustration metamorphosed into sheer violent attempt of breaking into the room. I was overwhelmed with surprise as I witnessed myself turning the door handle with such force. To my absolute astonishment, the door became unlocked.

Though I have spent eternity here, I was always marveled by the soothingness presented by this room. The room with its antique furniture that my mother used to love brought a sense of comfort to me. I felt like I was finally home. When I was a toddler, out of respect, I would not dare to touch her stuff. Deep inside I was afraid that the trace of her once being there will be diminished by my unwanted presence and mostly, I was consumed by fear that I would end up breaking an unreplaceable nostalgic item.

My attention was caught by a sweet scent. A rather flowery scent which I followed through the room. Amid all the dust, this smell was rather enchanting and I soon saw the source. It was the beautiful garden my mother had set up. I was mesmerized and awed by how such a view was obscured for ages. The chipping of birds, the swaying trees, the never stopping motion of the marble dove fountain that acted as the center piece of the garden was all in sight including a wooden bookshelf in the right corner of my eyes.

The bookshelf that was always present but also always hiding in sight. The dusty old books of the detective novels that she once loved, the photo album that she often referred back when she had her nostalgic days and also a black book. An unidentified black book of unknown origin. The book itself looked ancient with its rubbery texture worn out, the once grand red ribbon I presumed to have lost its beauty, the writing on the front page has faded out but all luck was on my side as the writing on the inside is still intact. I would not have to be Sherlock Holmes to know that the black book in my possession is my late mother’s journal. As I flipped through the front pages, I found myself live-encountering all the good old times my mother spent when she first got married to my dad. Her winded, cursive writing and the comprehensive words she plugged in for the descriptions reminded of how unlucky I am for losing her.

Hours passed as I indulged myself in the past life of my mother. On the contrary, her life was suddenly bounded by a witch whom I now recognize as the to-be-wife of my dad. my mother described her as the most dreadfully outrageous person she has ever stumbled upon in her whole life. My mother found out her frightful witchy crafts she has been practicing on naïve, blameless souls. That night, the worst night occurred. My mother wanted to reveal the real Eliz to the King because magic had been forbidden there for centuries as it could bring no bliss but terror to the people. Knowing my mother’s move, the witch, Eliz cursed my mother’s death when she gives birth to her first child and disappeared in no time. My mother was 28 weeks pregnant by then. My mother kept it as the biggest secret of her life, completely ready to accept the fact that she was just given a life sentence and enjoyed every last moments with me inside.

For years I have lived in ignorance. Unaware of the sacrifice my beloved mother made for the town’s people. While she should have been praised as their savior, her legacy remains as the poor woman who died in childbirth. I was bewildered by the sudden knowledge of witchcraft practice exists in this solemn town in the northwest Scotland. To my absolute horror the practice is raining down in my own mansion by a woman in my presence. Never in my wildest dream would I ever fathom that soon to be the lady of the mansion would have magic and sorcery running in her blood. I snapped back out of my deviating thought when I heard sound of human interaction approaching. It came to be that the occupants of the mansion have returned. I was in a state of shock that with instinct pouring down on me, I grabbed the journal and made a run for it. Though I was in a hurry to eliminate any trace of my existence in the room, I had a quick thought of shutting the door as soft as I can. Also I would like to keep this forevermore secret as a secret between us mother and daughter. The fewer people who have knowledge about it, the more freely I could move to instigate my own witch hunting. This would be my continuation of my mother’s legacy.

Millions of strategies and tactics queued up covering every nerve in my brain to rip the rotten heart out of the woman who was the sole factor of the death of my mother with whom I never had a second to spend with. I pulled myself together as the time has arrived to take my vengeance. Spending some lonesome, grim hours brought out the courage and strength that I never knew I had it in me. Every cell in my body is focused in bringing honor to my late mother and eternal hell for the witch who bewitched this whole town, masking her true colors with acts of purity though she is the immoral of all being.

While I was calculating my moves, my maid brought me an envelope, beautifully designed with golden cursive writing that reveals the motivation behind it. It was none other than an invitation letter to the condemned wedding of a man I once called my father and the witch. It clearly wrote Julian Redmayne weds Elizabeth Lockwood. My blood boiled at the thought of her replacing the throne of my mom. The letter indicates that the pair are getting united in wedlock in the garden of the mansion on this coming Sunday. As in to rub salt into my wounds, the venue of the ceremony was my personal nirvana, my mother’s garden, the Garden of Eden.

As distraught as I am, this wedlock gave me a proposition on how to eliminate the witch for once and for all. I descended to the kitchen to get refreshments when I overheard the maids talking about the witch’s wedding dress. Apparently according to them, the dress was elegant and long with embroidery garnished all over it. Good to see my father’s fortune being burned on a dress. A wild thought occurred in me, what if I burn the dress? More better, together with her? I smirked at the thought as flame of vengeance shall consume her soon.

Days flew by the wind as the invitation hit every door in town including the kingdom which made my plan to expose her nature even better. Clocks ticked by, and day and night rose and fell to the fateful Sunday morning. The mansion was busy with people arranging for this wedding. I could see the fatigue in their eyes. Poor things must have lost a lot of sleep. Unfortunately, their deprivation of sleep was for nothing as soon there will be no bride to be celebrated. I remember my father ordered me to be presentable to the townspeople. So I dressed in a blue satin dress with delicate rose design. I made ways to the garden with much poise and elegance fitting for a Lord’s daughter. I already had knowledge that the altar was going to be decorated with candles and my simple plan was about tripping of the candle onto her dress. Even if I had got caught, I could pretend that it was unintentional and merely an accident. If everything goes smoothly, it simply means I got rid of a pest in my home.

As I was dwelling in my thoughts of criminal act, my ears were bombarded with chatters and approaching sounds of a marching parade. This marked the arrival of the king. As his highness took upon the grandest placement in the wedlock, this symbolized the exchange of vows will be only minutes away. I made way to the altar in the name of accompanying my father and soon to be mother. I made sure I was positioned closely to a candle that will act as my weapon.

The Priest began praying and reciting the bible. Once my father have said his vows and promise to look after this lady in sickness and health, it was her turn to exchange but the only thing came out of her mouth was an endless scream as her eyes were filled with horror as her grand wedding dress caught on flame. The spectators were in shock of the sight, many unable to move due to fear. Seeing that she might die in agony, the witch used her sorcery to put out the flame. The power she kept hidden to succeed was unleashed in front of 300 people including the King himself. She has incriminated herself as a witch, the foe of the kingdom.

The King ordered the guard to arrest the witch. While she struggled to escape from them, she was no match for a fleet of 10 heavily armed soldiers. The king branded her as an anomaly and sentenced her to burn in the stake, a common punishment for those whom practiced witchcraft in the 17th century. Today I rose to the beautiful Scotland with its sunshine raining down on me. A few months had passed since then. My father is revealed to be compelled with the witch’s spell binding. Soon after she passed on, he recovered and returned to his normal state as a loving father. The mansion never looked brighter. This is my home. Although my mother will never be a part of the living world, she is living in me.