Everything happened so fast that it didn’t even feel like I had control of my body. By the time I realized what was going on, things had gone too far.
I had gone to the bathroom to get away from the suffocating atmosphere of the living room, just wanting a little time to breathe. As I was washing my hands I splashed some water on my face. When I looked up I saw Cynder standing behind me in the mirror.
“Have you considered that little deal we made?” he asked. “Remember, if you kill your father with your own hands I will release Beth’s soul, and you don’t have to worry about anything any longer.”
I turned to him, narrowing my eyes. “And what about me? Do I lose my soul in the process?”
“I’m not going to take it for myself if that’s what you’re asking.”
“I don’t want to become a murderer,” I growled.
“Oh, I think you’ll change your mind.” He leaned forward, his eyes locked with mine, and he whispered, “She’s with him right now in his office. I was there yesterday when they met. I can guarantee you he’s going to try something with her, and he can get away with it too, if no one does anything about it.”
My eyes grew wide and I took a step back. “He wouldn’t…”
“You know he would. He’s done it before, why wouldn’t he do it again?”
“Just a child? Also his own daughter, whether he acknowledges it or not? Both are true but that isn’t going to stop him. You know this for a fact.”
I grit my teeth and glared at the demon before me. He leaned back and turned away from me, making my path to the door clear. I ran forward and opened it, but hesitated and glanced back at him before I left. “Why are you doing this? Do you want to destroy my soul?”
“Hardly,” he muttered, crossing his arms. “I’m doing this to help Beth. If you don’t do something, I will, but I’ll let you take the first crack at it.”
I narrowed my eyes then left him behind, going down the stairs as quickly and quietly as I could. I crept to the kitchen without anyone noticing and found a large, sharp knife. I weighed it in my hand for a moment and nodded in satisfaction. When I turned around Cecil was standing in front of me.
“Just what do you think you’re about to do?” he said. His voice was unnervingly low and he had a hard look on his face. I almost felt like stopping what I was about to do. Almost.
“I’m saving Beth,” I said. “From both my father and from Cynder.”
“I won’t allow you to do harm to him,” he said.
“Will you allow him to harm Beth, then?” I shot back. I realized I was talking a little too loudly and that Mom and the Shepherds could probably hear me from the living room.
“I can’t really interfere, I’m afraid.”
“Then get out of my way.” I shoved past him and it felt like trying to shove a brick wall out of the way, but I managed and left the kitchen, hurrying to the office. I heard a strangled cry from inside and stiffened.
Despite the fact that I couldn’t hear or see anything going on in there, somehow I knew exactly what was happening. I gripped the knob and slowly cracked the door open just enough to see inside. I saw my father leaning over Beth in a threatening manner, and there were tears in her eyes. Then he saw me.
“Hannah, what the hell are you doing in here?”
That’s when I lost control. I was moving forward so fast that it seemed like I had reached him in just one step. I lifted the knife in my hand, ready to stab it into his heart. The bastard. How could he do such a vile thing?
My hand slipped and instead of plunging the knife into his heart I only managed to slash him in the shoulder. He screamed. His scream pulled me out of my rage and I took a step away from him, holding the bloody knife in my hand. My hand was covered in his blood and it felt sickeningly warm.
My father lifted his hand as if to strike me but then Cecil was standing between us, grasping my father’s wrist. It dawned on me at that moment exactly what I had just done. I shook from head to toe and dropped the knife to the floor before turning and fleeing from the office. I ran upstairs to my room and slammed the door shut, then I opened my window and climbed out onto the roof.
I had to get away from there as fast as possible. I had just stabbed my father after all. There was no way I could get away with that. Either I’d be arrested for assault and possibly even for attempted murder, or my father would punish me which would be far, far worse than anything the legal system would have in store for me. I had to get away, that’s all there was to it.
I jumped from my roof and landed on the ground in a crouch, hissing a bit at the ache in my legs from the impact, but it wasn’t a long enough jump to injure me. I got up and started running and I didn’t stop for anything. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t really care either. Right at that moment anywhere was better than home.
I’m not sure how I eventually ended up on this rooftop. My memory from between my house and here is all a blank. But I’m here and that’s all that matters. Strange, was the school building actually unlocked or did I in my desperation find a way to break in? It doesn’t really matter I suppose.
Of course it would all come back to here. This is where I first met Cecil after all. Where I nearly died the first time. It seems appropriate.
“Hannah, what are you doing?”
I don’t even turn when I hear his voice. I just clench my eyes shut and breathe in and out, keeping my balance. “I really messed everything up,” I say. “This is what I get for trying to help.”
“Hannah, get away from the edge, right now.”
“Why? You could just save me even if I fall. That’s what happened first time, remember?”
“Hannah, just think about this for a minute.”
I open my eyes and for a split second I see how high up I am. I feel a little dizzy then turn around and look at him. “I have thought about this, Cecil. I’ve thought long and hard and there’s no point for any of this. You really are terrible at your job.”
“Hannah!” He steps toward me, reaching his hand out to me. I see his wings stretched out behind him and realize what was so strange about them from before.
“Cecil, your wings.”
He stops and lowers his arm. “My… what about them?”
“They look gray as ashes.”
I fall backwards off the ledge. I expect to see him run to the ledge to grab me but he doesn’t. I’m left to stare at the sky as I fall with no one to watch. So that’s it, then, is it? I’m so useless even my guardian angel won’t save me.