Halfway though the first cut, Amelia had the worst feeling there had to be a better way to proceed with this night, other then hurting her family. She stopped before she had cut her niece too badly. Her mother and grandmother left their positions along the wall to come speak with her. Her niece looked as if she had done something wrong. Venezia, held out her hand to Amelia an took the knife. She was smiling, though others in the room were not as pleased.
“What is it dear, do you think her cut will not heal? Do you think there is another way to give you the gift we all wish for you? Your mother and I wondered if you would stop in the first cut, it seems Adeline won this one. Would you like to explain this to her?”
“What you feel for your family is amazing, but everyone in this room, has been through the event you are doing now. We all had our own apprehensions, but in the end, the reward is far more then you can possibly imagine. Look at Abelie, does she seem to be hurting to you?”
“No ma’am, but I felt it cut her, how can I feel what someone else is feeling? How!”
“You have always known you were special. in the next week or two, all your worries about this night will be put to rest. When your grandmother and I retake our positions, look into the eyes of the person you are cutting and you will know we all understand. Alright?”
Amelia retook the knife from her grandmother and when she and her mother had retaken their positions on the wall Abelie again held out her hand to Amelia. It would not be the hardest thing she would ever have to do, but at this moment, it seemed impossible. She considered what her mother had said about looking in their eyes. She placed the edge of the knife on her nieces hand, moved her eyes to the eyes across from her, and allowed the knife to cut into the hand. Her mother had not been mistaken, her niece made no sign of discomfort and when the cut was finished, it was time for her niece to help her understand a bit more. Using the opposite hand that had not been cut, Abelie tapped her forehead with her index finger and slid it down her face to her nose. All this while her head was tilted back. Amelia watched and noticed blood starting to pool in her nieces outstretched hand. As if cutting her family was not enough, she tilted her head back and when she had, her niece allowed three drops of her blood to drip onto Amelia’s forehead. It dripped down her brow and over her cheeks, but before it got too far, the small amount of blood started to harden, as blood outside the body always does. When she looked in front of her, she found the next woman in her family now standing in the exact same place as Abelie, holding out their hand in the same way. It took quite some time to go through everyone in the room, but one by one the women of the family all came to stand in front of Amelia and one by one they all allowed three drops of their blood to fall to her forehead. Over the course of the event, blood ran all the way down her face, and even dripped on to her body. Some fell as far as her bare breasts, but when all the women in the room had stood before her, another spring of water started to fall from the ceiling above where she now stood. It was not hot water, as she would have liked, but it was also not freezing cold either. Just cool enough to be refreshing and still wash off the remaining blood form her face and body. Before the shower was over, Amelia started feeling like she knew all the women in the room much better then she knew to be possible. Flashes of memories and events of long ago jumped through her mind. Her body jumped when another flash occurred. The shower of water stopped, and her mother came over to her holding a warm towel. Within moments she was once again dry and being handed a clean red robe. When she had been completely wrapped in the red robe the women of the room started to file out into the hall. Amelia wanted to go back to the first room to gather the clothing she had arrived in, but her aunt was standing in the archway only smiling, once again.
“You will not be getting those cloths back, I hope none of it was important to you. It has been discarded. It is now a part of your past and as this tradition continues, you need only to look within the present, and move to your future. Out with you now, follow the others. I will be right behind you.”
Amelia did not say anything. Everything else had been fine as long as she trusted her family. there was nothing of any importance in the clothing she had come in. She had not brought any jewelry and everything for school, had been left at school. She walked to the exit of the room and did not even look to see if there was more writing above the door. As far as she could tell, this had been the event she had been told about her whole life. It had been something she had never thought she would want to do, but it had not been terrible either. The robe she now wore was very warm, and long before she returned to the surface of the barn, she found herself sweating. More and more flashes were jumping through her head, and every time she tried to clear her mind, a flash would blind her temporarily. It did not take more then twice for her to realize this was still part of the ritual and trying to block it, would only cause her more pain. It had never taken her long to figure things out, so she simply accepted her future for whatever it held.
Once back on the surface she found the stone floor had been covered with tables, and the tables covered in food and drink. Every kind of food she loved was here. Strawberry pie, Stuffed lamb and breads from all over the world. If this was a sign of the end of the rite, then she was most happy for the giving. As she took her last step to the main floor once again, all the women opened their mouths and a single note was formed between them all. It rang through the barn, out across the field and into the cool nights air. As soon as it had started, it ended. Her mother, grandmother and distant relatives all came over to greet her formally and then the meal began. For hours and hours she sat, ate and drank. Taking time to speak with every woman who had come to this event for her. It finally made sense to her, all the discussions about this night. All the preparations her mother must have gone through to make this possible and her grandmother as well. Venezia was the oldest member in the group this night, but looking at her, someone would never guess just how old she truly was. All the things she had seen and experienced in her life and the gifts she now possessed. Amelia was stating to get tired when the last of the woman came over to speak with her. She had no idea what time it was, or how she was going to wake for classes in the morning. Lisa came over at long last and wrapped her arms around her niece.
“I am so proud of you, you did everything just right. I am glad you are an empath and can feel what others around you feel. It must be a burden, but all of us have them. Believe me, this night is only the first step of many you will take in your journey. Thank you so much for trusting me and coming to northern Kentucky for school.”
“I don’t know what to say aunt Lisa. This must have taken months of planing and to think all of it was done for me. How and why I may never truly understand, but thank you.”
Amelia did not think a simple thank you was even close to enough for everything that must have been done to make this night possible, but then again she was starting to understand why she had never been told. If her mother had told her when she was a child and asked about this night, that she would have to cut the women in her family and allow them to bleed on her forehead, she would have had nightmares for years to come, not to mention never wanting to actually go though with it. Now, though it being done she only wanted to finish her food, and be taken back to school so she could go to sleep. Since Lisa had brought her out her, wherever here was, it seemed that Lisa was going to be the one to take her back to school. She climbed into the fancy Maserati and considered everything she had just been through tonight. Lisa was in within moments and the engine roared to life. within moments they were back on the dirt road and heading back to the university. Somewhere between the middle of a field and her dormitory she passed out completely. When Lisa shook her waking her from the most intense dream of her life, she almost hit her head on the ceiling of the car. Her eyes opened and though she knew she was now awake, and where she was, she seemed to be completely unaware of what to do next. Lisa got out of the car, walked around to open the door and when Amelia still did not move to get out she leaned down to look her niece in the eyes.
“Listen to me very carefully. In the next few days many things are going to happen to you that you will not fully understand. If you need someone to speak with about this, come find me in my office. Please do not tell the other students about tonight, and do not speak to your mother or father over the phone. This is information this family has guarded for hundreds of years. We do not want it becoming public knowledge. If you wake late in the morning, I am sure your professors will understand. Even bright young students, like yourself get sick from time to time.”
Amelia sat and listened to her aunt. She felt as if the blood was only the beginning of something more powerful then she would probably believe, not that Lisa seemed to be interested or willing to tell her more. When she started about missing classes, Amelia knew that would never happen. She always woke with the first sound of her alarm. And, during her whole life she had never been late to school once. She was not about to start now. A deep breath and her aunt finished what she had been saying. Lisa held out her hand, which Amelia thankfully took and climbed out of the car. A few random students were out in the night and seemed to stair in disbelief at the beautiful Italian supercar. Amelia did not seem to pay them much mind, but after her aunt helped her out, she knew it was past time to find her bed. Looking to Lisa she tried to speak, but felt as if she had somehow forgotten what she wanted to say.
“Is there anything I need to know. Is it alright if I take a shower, or is there some reason I should not?”
“No dear, now you’re back on campus, you may return to your everyday life. Don’t over think this, and always remember fear is only in your mind. Good night love. I will see you in class tomorrow, or the next day. Sleep well.”
With that she stood long enough to make sure her niece would not fall going up the steps to her door and then climbed back into her car, started the engine and pulled away from the dorms. Amelia was completely out of sorts by the time she got her front door open and found her way to her room through the suit. None of her room mates were still awake, which was strange to her. They always stayed up till two or three in the morning. She did not bother with any hygiene issues. She removed the red robe, climbed into her bed curled in her blankets and just before she rolled over to find sweet darkness, she happened to glance at her alarm clock, 5:45. She knew instantly why Lisa had said those things about missing classes. She knew, after this night, there was no way she was going to be able to rise for classes in two hours. It was a hard thing for her to do, but she reached over to the clock, and simply turned off her alarm. She hopped, as she drifted off to sleep, that her aunt was right about her professors understanding her missing class. The last thing she remembered before sliding into complete darkness were the strange marking that seemed like it should have been writing, but not from any society she had ever studied. Thoughts turned to blackness and she gave up trying to fight it.
She woke to the sound of her three suit-mates making enough noise to wake he dead over in the next county. The dream she had just been in all but vanished as she sat upright in bed. Meghan, her room mate was sitting in her bed looking over notes from hr own classes. She seemed amazed when Amelia sat up and looked right at her. She started to laugh, and when she did, the other two girls in the suit came walking in. Amy and Kimberly stood in the doorway and stared at their suit mate in amazement shaking heir heads. Everyone tried to speak at once, but it was Meghan who got the first coherent sentence out.
“Do you know what time it is, little miss I never get up late or never miss classes? What time did you crawl in last night? We all stayed up till four thirty wondering where you were. We even called campus security right before we all went to bed, concerned that you may be dead. It would seem your aunt knew we may take action and had already told the police here, you were safe and would return when you were ready. What the hell girl!”
The others in the room all stated close to the same thing, and by the time Amelia had the chance to answer even the first question, she had many more to make up for.
“I don’t know what to tell you all, but my family all came to take me out for my birthday, and I simply have no idea what happened to the time. I think I came into bed around five thirty. I remember turning to look at my clock and turning off the alarm at five forty five. I knew there was no way I was going to make it to classes, and my aunt had told me not to worry about it. Kimberly, will you stop looking at me like that, I swear I did not go do anything you would not have done, well thats not saying much, you do everything!”
Amelia had indeed missed all of her classes for the day. Even the late ones in the afternoon. though she had been told not to worry about it, she felt terrible for standing up her professors. She would have to go speak to all of them and apologize for her absence. Her roomies were still looking at her as if she had grown horns during the night. She knew the story she had told them was far from the truth, but she also knew they would never question her. Th first night here a police officer had knocked on the door looking into a noise violation and without telling her new room mates had told the man, they were in fact, drinking alcohol and had gotten all of them into serious trouble. They knew from that night on, this young woman had no idea how to tell a lie and they teased her about it daily. The other girls seemed to buy everything they were told and after laughing a bit, they turned and returned to the living section of the place. Meghan, on the other hand, had come from a home where telling lies were an every day part of hr life. She was still looking at Amelia long after the other two had left. Amelia was trying to ignore her looks, but when she made to climb out of bed, Meghan made it clear how much she did not believe her story.
“Look, I know you have a strange family, but if you think I believe, for one minute, that you stayed out till almost six in the morning celebrating your birthday, you must think I am stupid. So, I get that you don’t want to tell all of us the truth, but come on. We have been pretty up front with each other in the last three weeks. What really happened last night? I saw Kevin in class today and he said when he was getting home from a party around the time you say you came home, he saw you getting out of a Maserati. Who in your family has the money for one of those? I mean, that car is like one hundred thousand dollars. Not exactly the kind of thing most people can afford now-a-days.”
Amelia sat in her bed and listened to Meghan speak. At first she was concerned that her room mate had seen right through her first story, but by the time she stopped talking she really was not that worried about it. This was not like her at all, she always tried to appease her room mate. The last words from Lisa last night kept ringing in her head. Fear is only in your mind. She looked at the situation and considered the outcome if Meghan did not believe her. In the end, when her roomie had stropped talking, she realized it did not matter if Meghan believed her or not. She had only known the woman for three weeks, an if she chose not to believe what she was told, that was her right. Amelia pulled back the covers and without giving the matter another thought, got up, walked over to her bath robe and walked out of the room to the bathroom. Thirty minutes later when she returned from her shower, Meghan was no longer in the room, and the total lack of questions gave her reason to smile at herself. All her life, she had worried what others had thought about her. What others would say if she did not live up to some predisposed idea of what they must want from her. Now, she took the simple phrase, fear is only in your mind, and realized the wold around you is not going to be the one responsible for you being miserable, you are. Before too long she knew what her first action was going to have to be. As she got dressed she had to think, did she want to walk off campus to get food, or would she be able to wait till to dining halls opened? By the time she had all her clothing on, she knew she was not going to wait any longer then she had too. She grabbed her purse, cell phone and keys and headed out the front door. On the way off campus, she wanted to call her mother and thank her again for last night. She pushed one in her favorites and the number dialed her home in Massachusetts. She was amazed and happy when her father answered the phone.
“Daddy, when did you get home? Last night, did mom come home about the same time? What do you mean she was there the whole night? You arrived home around five thirty and she was asleep in bed, are you sure? No, I must have misread the clock, thank you daddy. Yes, I will talk to you all tomorrow night. Bye.”
She continued to walk off campus in the hops of finding food soon, but the words from her father echoed in her mind. How had her mother gotten home in the same amount of time it had taken her to get back to campus? As she walked up the street, she could not get her head around this one. Before it started to upset her, she heard a filmier voice calling her name behind her.
“Amelia!, Hey are you even hearing me?”
She turned around to see Michael Dorn running up the sidewalk in her direction. this was not what she wanted to deal with today. He was a nice guy, but it was clear he had other desires in her, then she had in him. He had not taken it too well when she had tried to tell him honestly that she was not interested. He continue to text her phone and come by her dorm. Her roomies seemed he was the best catch on campus and allowed him to keep coming over. Even when she asked them to keep him out. He came running up the path from behind her. He looked like he was going to drop dead of exhaustion. so much for this one being in good shape. Amelia looked as if she were going to just kill him on the spot, but being a silly little boy, this look was a complete waste on him.
“Hey girl, where you off too?”
“Well, if you must know, I just woke up and needed food and I am not going to wait till the dining halls open for dinner.”
“Oh, that sounds good, where are we going?”
“Look, I know you seem to think you are some kind of gift to the world of women, but I really don’t like being around you, and need to have space to think today.”
“Thats nothing, I am use to people saying things like that, but like mama says, keep pushing forward and you will find your way!”
It was clear that plain speech was not going to make any kind of impact on the boy. Amelia stood there looking at him in disbelief. She could not believe she had just told him politely to fuck off, and he still would not give up his pursuit of her. While she stood there fuming, she noticed she had picked the scab off her right thumb, from her irritation. She had cut it a few days ago while shaving her legs. She knew it would not bleed much, but as soon as the blood came out, she felt something very odd building within her. She turned to walk on towards food, and became even more angry when Michael started walking behind her. All she wanted to do was turn around and knock him on the ground, but she was too polite for that. She could feel her right hand getting sticky from the blood off her thumb. Right as she thought about the blood, she also passed a thought of Michael hitting the edge of the sidewalk and twisting his ankle. The thought almost made her smile, that was till Michael started yelling!
“Shit, oh damn that hurt! What the hell…”
“What is wrong with you now? Are you really so desperate for attention you have to sit on the ground like a child and make noise? I don’t have all day. If I wanted to wait to eat, I would not be walking off campus, now get up baby!”
“You really are mean, you know that. I try to be friends with you, and you make fun of me. I twist my ankle and you treat me like a small stupid child. What is wrong with you, can’t you see I am in pain?”
“Wait, are you seriously telling me you just twisted your ankle now?”
“Yes stupid, why do you think I am on the ground?”
Without meaning too, she started smiling, and looked down at the blood drying in her right hand. The young man did not seem any more pleased when she started smiling, though he said nothing about it. Amelia wanted to cry to the Goddess, “thank you, but still had the feeling like this was too strange. First she thinks about Michael getting hurt, and then the next minute it is actually happening. She turned to go, and right as she took her first step, Michael started yelling at her.
“Where the fuck do you think your going? I am on the ground in pain an you are going to just leave me here? What is the matter with you? Are you seriously going to walk on and leave me like this? What did I do to deserve being treated like this?”
Listening to him plead with her almost made her feel bad for him, almost. Then a small surge of strength found her, in a way she had never felt before. She turn round and knelt down so she was looking him in the eyes an very firmly spoke to him.
“You ask what you have done to be treated like this, are you fucking kidding me? Look at you, I have been polite, asked you to give me space. I have told you to your face I am not interested and still you follow me around like a lost dog. You run up on me today an after I tell you up front I am not interested in being friends, you still think that is some kind of invitation to come with me for dinner! Seriously what in all the hells is fucking wrong with you! Try this on for something new, LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!”
And, with that, she stood up, turned around and walked towards a set of restaurants on the main strip. When he tried, yet again to gain her attention, she simply ignored him an kept walking. If he was still here on her way back, she might help him, but it was not a very good chance. At the light a car drove by and a girl from her sorority stuck her hand out the window and waved to her. Trying to be some kind of social, she waved back, an this seemed to be the reply the young lady was searching for. Amelia turned the corner and noticed across the street were a few small places to eat. A firehouse Subs and a City BBQ. She was not in the mood for a sub, but the idea of ribs did put a smile of her face. Walking towards the place, she found a sense of internal understanding growing within her. Opening the door, and being assaulted by the smell of good smoked food, helped her to forget the complete imbecile who was, most likely, still sitting on the ground crying. Her meal was some of the best food she had eaten since coming to NKU, not including her little feast last night, but all the same. As she was getting up to leave, her phone rang and she was luckily, in a better mood then before she had eaten. It was Kimberly yelling at her for being such a complete bitch and leaving poor Michael on the sidewalk to fend for himself.
“What kind of sick person are you, you think you can do this to such a nice guy and keep making friends on this campus? You and I are going to have a serious talk when you get bak to the dorm. I have callee campus police and they will be here when you get back, so I would suggest you get moving!”
This was not the after meal conversation she really wanted to be having. Her blood started to boil and when she hung up the phone, it rang again, this time it was campus police calling.
“Hello, yes, this is Amelia, how may I help you officer? Yes, I know Michael Dorn, what of it? Yes I left him on the sidewalk after he twisted his ankle. No, I don’t see how my personal life is any of your business. Yes sir, I will be happy to speak with you when I return from my dinner. No thank you, I prefer to walk.”
It would seem little Michael had convinced Kimberly and the police that she had knocked him down, caused him to hurt himself and then left him there. It would take her about twenty minutes to get back, and by that time, maybe she would be a bet more cool headed. On her way back to her dorm, she called her aunt Lisa and told her what had happened, including how she wanted him to twist his ankle, and then it happening. Most of the way back was spent telling Lisa how much she hated this boy and how he had refused to leave her alone. When she came into sight of her dorm, she could see two police cars off to one side and an EMS vehicle in front of her dorm.