by Nia Markos
Elements by Nia Markos – Chapter Five
I woke up with a start, almost falling out of the chair I was sleeping in. Bright sunlight was filtering through the window. The events of the previous day rushed back to me. I swung my legs to the floor and stood stretching my aching muscles. A nagging feeling I was dreaming something important followed me into the bathroom where I stared at my reflection. How can I look rested on the little sleep I was able to get? Deciding to take a shower, I turned the water on to warm. I stripped off the wrinkled clothes I slept in and stepped into the bath. The feel of the hot spray soothed the remaining kinks from my body. I quickly washed my hair, turned the water off after rinsing and wrapped myself in the large bath towel that hung from a peg on the wall. Having no other clothes with me, I dressed in the same clothes from the day before. Towel drying my hair, I combed it out, leaving it damp.
Bracing myself for what lay outside the room, I walked to the door hesitantly, listening for any sounds from the other side. I cracked the door open slowly, stuck my head out, scanning the hallway. Seeing no one I stepped outside my room. From somewhere below, I could hear voices. Following the sounds, I made my way down the stairs, stopping at the last step as the voices became recognizable. My mother had arrived. She was in the living room with Rider. I approached the doorway soundlessly.
“It wasn’t time.” She was saying. “I wanted so much for her to have a normal life.”
“You should have prepared her, Thalia. Her life was almost lost yesterday.” The angry voice of Rider answered her back.
“I know that, Rider. Don’t think I haven’t been second guessing myself since she took off. Don’t assume that you care more for her than I do.” My mom’s voice broke.
Why would Rider care about me? Their conversation came to a stop when they saw me standing in the doorway. My mom looked from Rider to me and back again. She had a guarded look in her eye. Rider took a step towards me, but my mom’s hand touched his arm, holding him back. Walking towards me, she stopped in front of me, taking my face in her hands studying me. Pulling me into her arms, she hugged me as I felt a deep sigh escape her lips. My arms wrapped around her holding her tight. It felt like she did not want to let me go. Looking over her shoulder at Rider, he was looking at us with tears in his eyes.
I reluctantly pulled myself out of her arms sensing I was not going to like what they had to say. My mom took my hand, pulling me further into the room as Rider stepped out of our way. He seemed about to say something before he glanced at my mom, who shook her head at him. Rider lowered his head and walked to stand in front of the patio doors giving us space. Mom sat on one of the couches, her head indicating she wanted me to sit next to her.
“How are you?” She asked me, as I sat down beside her.
“What’s going on, Mom? Why are we here and who are these people?” I asked, instead of answering her question.
For a second, I thought she might not answer me. She looked at Rider, who simply stood waiting to see what she would say.
“Mom, answer me. What is going on?”
“I have much to tell you. It may not all make sense, but hear me out first. I’ll answer all your questions after. How much do you remember from before you were ten?” Her question surprised me.
“Ten.” I looked at her perplexed. “Not much. Only it was the first time we moved.”
“Yes, it was. There was a reason we moved and continued moving. It was to keep you safe.”
I tried to get up, but her hand reached out, forcing me to sit back down. She wanted to discuss this now. When I asked her questions before, she avoided giving me answers. Why was this important now?
“Listen to me. Please. When you were ten, there was an incident at your school. There was an explosion similar to what happened yesterday. Your dad and I tried to get to you, but you had vanished. We searched for you everywhere, but no one had seen you.”
“Wait.” I interrupted her. “My dad? You told me my dad left when I was three.”
“He didn’t. Let me finish. As we searched for you, your father felt you were still alive. He followed your essence to the basement of the school where he found you hiding under a desk. The room was completely destroyed, but you were safe under all the rubble. We took you out with no one seeing you. Everyone thought you died along with all the other children. We let them think that. As soon as we could, we moved away. Your father, to protect us, stayed away from us. We blocked your memories of your father, replacing them with new ones, ones where you believed you never knew him. So we moved on with our lives. I tried to do the best I could to keep you safe. Now we have no choice. They’ve found out you’re still alive and they will be coming back to finish what they started. It is time for you to know who you are, where you come from.”
As she finished speaking, she looked at Rider again. He approached us, and then knelt in front of me. Taking my hands in his he looked at me with a slight smile on his face. I could feel what they were going to say. I did not know if I was ready for it.
“Alexa.” Rider said looking into my eyes. “I’m your father.”
I looked at my mom and saw her acknowledgment. Looking back at Rider, his expression willing me to believe him, I pulled my hands away from his. Rising from the couch, I bolted from the room. I ran as I heard my mom telling him to give me time. Not knowing where to go to get away from them, I ran to the front door, pulling it open. My feet continued to carry me outside, making for the trees surrounding the house. I kept running until I was out of breath. Stopping, I let myself fall to the ground as tears ran down my face. My whole life was a lie. My dad was alive, but a stranger to me. My mom was someone I did not know. How could they do this to me? What would my memories of him have been? Were they happy?I felt violated. I wanted all the memories back. Every single memory they stole from me.
Lying down on the soft grass surrounded by the trees, I thought back to what she told me. The explosion yesterday was because of me. I thought of all the people who may have lost their lives. The children from my old school died because of me. Was I responsible for all those deaths? If I had known, would I have been able to stop it from happening? Why was I being protected, and from what? Nothing made sense. I stayed there as my tears dried, not ready to go back. The sun rose high in the sky as I tried to make sense of things. Slowly sounds entered my senses. The clanging of metal reached my ears. I lifted my head trying to make out where the noise was coming from. I stood, walking quietly towards the sound. The soft grass under my feet muffled my approach to a clearing.
In the center of a field two men were fighting. I could hear them teasing, laughing with each other as they made moves and counter moves. Their bare chests shone with sweat as they used gleaming swords to strike at each other. I sat down near the clearing watching the flow of their movements. The man facing me was tall and fluid in his attempts to disarm the other. Long blond hair tied at his nape had come loose. Wet tendrils lashed at his eyes as he moved to avoid a jab from his rival. He let out a laugh as he avoided another parry from the other man. His height and build could easily outmatch his opponent, but the other man was quicker on his feet.
As they flipped around I saw that the other man was Aidan. Without his being aware of me, I was able to freely look at him for the first time. His strong arms easily fended off the strikes sent his way. Like a dancer he glided through his moves. Low hugging jeans lay loosely below his ripped abs, riding low beneath his waist. The material stretched across his muscled thighs as they flexed. Sweat dripped down his broad-shouldered back. He was easily the better of the two at swordplay. I caught my breath when in one flick of his wrist he disarmed the man, sending the sword flying high into the air. It landed, sticking into the earth in front of me, as they both stopped, noticing me sitting there. They stood glistening in the sun staring at me, their expressions shocked. Aidan was the first to speak.
“Hi Alexa, how did you get here?” He looked surprised to see me.
Trying to find my words, I could only stare back at him. He walked casually towards me, each step accentuating the way his leg muscles filled his jeans. My throat went dry as I watched him approach. My eyes landed on his naked chest taking in his incredibly taut stomach. I cleared my throat, forcing my eyes back to his. His penetrating gaze searched my face, as a bewildered expression came over his face. Standing up, I faced both of them not understanding why they were looking at me strangely.
“I didn’t mean to interrupt you. I heard the sound of the swords and followed it here.” I stammered.
“Really?” The other man said. “That’s incredible.”
Aidan was looking at me with disbelief. Not knowing what was causing their reaction, I stepped back thinking I should head back to the house. When I turned around, all I saw was a thick blanket of white fog surrounding me. The forest had vanished. I turned back to look at Aidan and the other man. Aidan came closer to me, putting his hand on my shoulder.
“Don’t be scared. I’ll get you back.”
“Where am I?” I asked confused, not liking the effect his hand touching me was causing.
“Come, let’s go back. Elron, thank-you for the practice.” He said to the other man.
Aidan put his hand on my lower back, gently pushing me forward. He led me through the smoky cloud, the forest materialized in front of us out of nowhere. Guiding me through the dense woods, we reached the path leading to the house. I turned to thank him, but my words caught in my throat. His green eyes flashed at me with an intense emotion I could not name. A slow smile pulled on the corner of his lips. One of his eyebrows rose as I stared at him. He seemed to lean towards me, the distance between us becoming smaller. For some reason, his action brought out instant anger in me. I was astounded at his ego. He was good looking. So what! I was not interested. Taking a step back, I mumbled a quick thank-you and took off in a run back to the house. His laugh followed me all the way back.