As she sat there over the craggy boulder, she wondered at the possibility of life without her which went on in its convectional way. In front of her sight was a cramped yellow hut where we had spent a promising time of our vacations five years ago. However, it now seemed to have shrunken with despair, no wonder it appeared even more confined and small. She turned her face towards me and beamed radiantly. I knew her appearances were only limited to my vision, for whenever I told my family about it, I was frowned upon and my experiences were tagged as hallucinations.
As I return her smile with a blank expression, a guilt arouses in my heart. A guilt that has always haunted me since her death. The day of her death still remains vivid in my memory. The day Elena had taken me to the edge of the forest, this very forest where I stand today, only to show me the deep valleys that surrounded it. I was six then and she was two years my elder. We had stood there all day, admiring the wonders of the narrow ravines that flowed away everything, leaving nothing behind.
It was already dark when we had decided to return, I was feeling extremely hungry and so with impatient steps I skipped forward until I realized that Elena was not following. I turned around to witness a lady in a black hood pushing Elena towards the edge. Her hands were tightly pressed over her lips as to stop her from shouting and before I could run towards them she had already thrown Elena into the frightening valley of death. I remember I had shouted and the lady had rushed away in horror. I never saw her face nor did I desired to but I remember cursing her in all the childish curses I had known. All night I sat at the boundary of the woods, weeping and occasionally peeking at the gorges, only to check if Elena had somehow survived the murderous flow of the rivers. I recall being woken up by mom only at dawn who had come up to check on us. For many days the forest workers kept on looking for Elena. But she never returned, she was verily lost to the ferociousness of the forest.
“Lexie, are you not coming in to eat?”. Mom is shouting at the top of her voice and It has woken me up from the profound thought. I can no more see Elena sitting on the boulder and so I return in, with a heavy heart.
“Mom, I saw Elena again. She was sitting at the boulder outside”. Silence spreads through the dining hall as sorrow surrounds dad’s eyes and mom glares at me in absolute fury. She always rejects the truth in my stories, such that at times It is as if she has already overcome the loss of her daughter. But that could not be the case, I assure myself. Elena was after all her eldest daughter.
I even remember telling her about the lady in the black hood but she totally disregarded it, declaring that the woman must me the forest witch that took away children she loved. As a child back then I had questioned mom about the possibility of her taking me soon and she had stared back at me in extreme nervousness. She couldn’t answer me and I fear if she would ever be able to.
While my parents prepare for a walk, I plan to stay home in a perpetual hope to perceive Elena’s glimpse again. Unexpectedly, the moment they step out, a deafening cry is heard apparently from the store and I rush up the stairs in panic towards the room. I push open the door only to witness an awaiting surprise. All the wedding albums lay unfolded over the floor and a red ink is sprayed through all the photos. A frustration encircles me as I look at the spoiled wedding photos which mom had already declared as lost and so I had never seen them before but a mere look at the albums portrayed that the pictures had purposefully been ruined as if to hide a mystery in them.
As I go through them I find a picture which is evidently less damaged than the others. The photo depicts mom in her wedding dress besides dad who is holding a baby in his arms. As I cautiously look at that photo, my eyes widen in alarm. The baby is Elena herself and the fact that she was present at the wedding clearly displayed mom as her foster mother. A dramatic shriek comes out of my mouth as I come face to face with the ugly truth. While I sit there, struggling to accept the reality, I see her again but there is something unusual about her expression. She is crying today.
“Why are you crying Elena”, I run towards her and she disappears into the darkness of the store room. Behind me, I hear mom entering.
“Lexie are you alright, I just came home and you were shouting, are you…”. She stops midway, she has already seen the picture in my hand.
“Mom, I promise I saw Elena.” She comes a little closer and smirks unpleasantly.
“And she was crying. Right?”. It takes me some time to realize and accept the dread of something so ugly said in a jiffy.
“You do see her, don’t you? Then why do you always doubt me when I tell you about her”. Tears rapidly roll down my cheeks as I draw an unexpected comparison between mom and the forest witch. It is not long before I totally unveil the mystery behind Elena’s death and hence I cover my mouth in horror as I shout helplessly
“Oh! So the forest witch is not a myth after all. Only the person who created it can know her the best. I will make sure dad hears about it, Mom and you should know that I hate you”.
I dash out into the stairway while mom follows me. She is only trying to justify her crime yet this time I won’t hear any of her stories. And so as I move down the stairs carelessly running towards dad, my foot slips and I find myself tumbling over the leftover steps. Dad sprints towards me to wipe up the blood that is furiously shooting out of my head and mom takes me up in her arms. “Sorry” she is telling me while they cry for me the way I had cried for Elena. A last helpless look on mother’s face informs me that she has already received her punishment. Blood drips through my head and my brain becomes void but with ultimate courage I open up to speak.
“you are a murderer, mom. You killed her.”
The last words come out almost as a whisper and the world turns blank before I see the pretty face of Elena again. I hope that the next time when mother visits this hut again, she will surely see me sitting next to Elena and I will give her the best of my smile, telling her that all these years I had loved her and I could have loved her more only if she had not hated my sister, my Elena.