I turned to Mama. This time, she let me, as the scry rippled and clarified to pure, clear water. The stick was clean of my blood, and as I looked at my palm, I could see a drying line across it. It intersected my life line; there would be a scar.
I looked to Mama, stricken.
“Mama… that was Ethan. My Ethan. Why would he run my Mama off the road? I don’t understand.”
She still held my arm, soothing as she looked away. “Son, that probably wasn’t Ethan any longer. Not by that point.”
“And that wasn’t Lucy? That was her. That was them. He’s still wearing the bracelet I made our freshman year in high school!” I turned away, stifling my anger against a clenched fist.
“What?” She finally let go of my hand.
I licked the drying cut on my palm. “I made them leather bracelets, like this one.” I showed the red leather on my other wrist. It had been repaired several times, with string, yarn, and twine. Finally I had used wire to keep the damn thing on, but now, even that was rusting.
“Them? You made one for all three of you? A trinity of bracelets?” Mama’s eyes closed and she sighed. “Son, you are more powerful than you know.”
“By calling the power of your own soul, you connected the three of you, as a trinity. But the connection is not as strong as it once was. The longer you leave something, the harder it is to fix it. I didn’t see the woman wearing one.”
“Yeah, when they left to get married she threw it at me. She told me my fantasies of the three of us were stupid. She didn’t want to remember me.” She had watched as Ethan stood there with his bracelet in his hand, waiting for him to throw it at me too, but he had shoved it in his pocket and walked out.
“He might still feel something for you. We might have a chance to find him, or them. But hopefully we’ll find Anya either way.” Mama walked to the front door as she spoke, and I followed, hanging on her words. “We don’t have all the same skills as others, son. Fathers can call across the universe for other Fathers or tale-tellers. I have to resort to old fashioned calls.” She chuckled and reached for a tattered old rope, pulled it three times, twice short and one long pull. “Soon the investigators will arrive. You’ll meet more of our family, of your family.”
I sensed someone behind me. When I turned to see, Jeb was across the room. His eyes caught mine as he smiled, still looking through his paperwork. He whispered one word that I read off his lips more than heard. The word was “soon.”
I looked to the faded red bracelet around my own wrist, fumbling with it, caressing it. Then I flipped my wrist over to tear at it, to try to remove it. But the wire caught – it was hard work, and I struggled. I didn’t want it any more. Ethan and his bitch had run my Mama off the road and into what they’d meant for a fiery death. I had no doubt it was intentional.
I knew Lucy too well.
The bracelet suddenly felt like a snake around my wrist, throbbing, compressing. I didn’t want it any more.
Then Mama placed her hand over it, calming my struggling fingers. “No, son. Not yet, anyway. I know it hurts – I know you feel his betrayal. But we need you to keep the connection with him, at least. He might not be too far gone.”
I tried to stop my eyes from flooding. How do I have a man waiting for me, wanting me, whispering “soon” to me, when I’m struggling with the fact that the man I cherished for half of my life might be trying to kill my mother? How can I want to be rid of him if I still kept the reminder of him on my wrist? How could he want to be rid of me if he did the same?
“Please, I don’t want this on me anymore.” My eyes narrowed down into slits of pain. “Please, I don’t think I can do this, Mama. This is all too new, too soon. I can’t believe this. I’m in a terrible dream, I’m certain of it. Please, please, let me wake up.”
My voice caught on a sob. I knew it was no dream. And Mama confirmed it with her next words.
“It’s not a dream. It’s real life, son. Now we know that we need to find this Ethan and Lucy, though if I’m right, they’re no longer using those names. They have Woken Up, my child… and they’ve Woken on the wrong side.”