Star: Chapter 27- Are Bad Ones

she crept into his room, careful not to make a sound and almost whelped when she tripped over a bottle of Bailey’s. She held the dagger in her right hand as she moved to his bed. She climbed on top of it. She faintly remembered how he used to hold her at night when she couldn’t sleep, and he’d sing her songs that would sooth her mind. She put that out of her head now.

He was staring blankly at the ceiling and Star wrinkled her nose; he reeked of alcohol. She cradled on top of him, her knees on either side of him and she raised the dagger high above her head.

Then his eyes opened wider and focused on her.

“Am I…” he was saying, his words slurred, “Am I dreaming?” His eyes, they looked so sad.

So, pained.

“Yes,” she said, “you’re dreaming. Close your eyes and…close your eyes and sleep.”

He grumbled, saliva rolling down his mouth. “But,” he said slowly, “I’m…I’m scared.”

Star looked at him and something in her cracked. “Do you…Do you want me to sing you a song?” Star asked.

He nodded.

And Star sung a song.

It was a song of a traveller, going across mountains, across deserts to find a treasure, but he never found it. Yet, he was happy. It was a song she had heard sung in a deep baritone when she was five and the darkness of the night was too scary. It was a song she never knew the lyrics too and yet, she sung it with so much passion and pain. Like she herself was the traveller, and her father, he slowly lulled to sleep.

The dagger was still raised above her head but now her hands were shaking and she was crying. She didn’t know why, but she was crying and her hand went to her bare neck like it was searching for something.

“You liked that necklace,” a voice behind her said.

Star didn’t jump, she wasn’t scared. The voice was that familiar. It was the same voice that had told her she was beautiful when the boys had teased her for being fat in school. The same voice that her taught her how to tie her shoe laces.

You never forgot your mother’s voice.

“Mummy,” Star choked a sob. “it’s you.”

Star’s mother stepped forward and was beside her. She was bathed in a white ethereal light but otherwise she looked like she did in the car what seemed like years ago.

“I miss you,” Star said, lowering the dagger.

Her mother touched her face but her fingers slid through. “I miss you too,” she said.

“I can bring you back,” Star said quickly, “with this dagger. All I have to do is — ”

“Kill your father,” She completed, staring at him snoring on the bed.

Star raised the knife again. “I have to,” she said, her voice high. “I have to bring you back.”

Star’s mother just looked at her. “Do you know why I called you Star?” She said. “I was going through the hardest time of my life and then you came along and seeing you, suddenly, I could see a way out of the darkness, for you, for me, for us. You were my star, and you led me home.”

“Please,” Star begged, her nose runny, tears streaming from her eyes. “Please let me save you.”

“Maybe you were right,” she said suddenly, looking at him. “Maybe I should have left and started a new life, but I was scared, Star, I… really was. And I will carry that regret for all eternity. But I do not regret raising you as the strong young girl you are now. Your kindness is not a weakness, your positivity is not a burden.” She stroked his head. “He was hurt as a child, broken as a man. Do you want that as your fate? That darkness as your future?”

Star shook her head, sobbing.

“Break the cycle Star,” she said, her glow fading into the night. “It’s too late to save me, I died. But you can still save yourself.”

And then it was just her and her father in the room. And Star cried on the bed, the dagger by her side.

A blue flame appeared and toyed on top of her head and Star touched it and, in a moment, she was outside in the rain, the droplets hitting her head sharply.

Doreen stood there, unperturbed. She grabbed Star by the shoulders and hugged her and Star hugged back.

“I’m so sorry,” Doreen breathed into her hair. “I’m so sorry.”

Star was there for a few moments, crying into Doreen’s clothes. Then she softly pulled away.

“You knew I wouldn’t be able to do it.” Said Star.

Doreen smiled one of her sad smiles. “I had a hunch.”

“I saw her, my mother,” Star said.

An expression quickly crossed Doreen’s face but it was gone in a moment.

“The magic of the spell must have started working, waiting for you to kill your father — the catalyst.”

“I could’ve done it,” Star said, “I was right there.”

“And you would have tainted your soul forever,” Doreen said, slowly taking the dagger from Star’s hands and turning to walk away.

“You’re going to walk away?” Star said. “Just like that?”

“I have a coven to run,” Doreen said, “we’re thinking of even moving shop; The Underground is getting too crowded.”

“Can I ask you something?” said Star.

“Ask away,” Doreen answered waving her fingers.

“Whatever happened to that girl, the one in your story?”

Doreen smiled and started walking away but she stopped.

“I heard she became a witch,” she called, “to search for a way to help her sisters and do some little good along the way, like helping people avoid making the same mistakes they made all those years ago. I’m also leaving you a gift, or two.” In a blue flame she was gone. And Star was left there, on the street, smiling a sad smile.

Where Doreen had disappeared, there was a clumpy necklace in the shape of a star lying on the ground. A thought nudged at Star and she picked it and wore it, her memories coming back in a flood, and she cried.

“Thank you,” she whispered into the air.

And she could have sworn she heard a wispy, “You’re welcome,” but maybe that was just the wind.

She checked her hand and saw she was holding a small vial labelled, ‘Hope’. Instinctively, she knew what it did, she knew what would happen if she drank it. She also knew she didn’t need it.

Love was loss, love was death. But love was also the memories of the ones we’d lost. Love was a clumpy necklace.

The next morning, Star’s father would wake up in an empty house. He would discover later that her room was bare and her guitar was nowhere to be found. There was no trace of her, save a little glass container on her bed, with the letters on the body spelling ‘Hope’.

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Anthony Azekwoh is a Nigerian-based author and artist. He has written five books so far, and is now working on the sequel to his fourth book Ṣàngó, Oya.