Ashes of the Innocent

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sometimes, it's easier to forgive and forget.

Submitted: November 15, 2016

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Submitted: November 15, 2016

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With blood shot eyes and a tear stained face, Penelope Monroe found herself walking down the very shoreline she found herself walking down every night since that night she wished she could forget. Rain had drenched her from head to toe but yet, Penelope didn’t care that she was wet and cold, and sand was sticking to her feet with every step she took. Nothing could bother her as much as her mistake she made only a month ago.

As the storm boomed above head with claps of thunder and cracks of lightening, Penelope’s heart broke with every sound the storm made. The rain seemed to get heavier with every step bringing her closer to the where the waves met the golden grains of sand. Her arms were wrapped around her waist and her head was hung; strands of her dark brown hair clung to her face and neck, just like her clothes. Small choked sobs escaped her mouth as his face flashes through her mind.

Her mind liked to give her consistent reminders of what she had done; guilt eating away at her soul and taking it away even more every day. Penelope had lost everyone she had cared for in her life and it was always her fault. A curse casted upon her and everything she did to try and get rid of the curse ever worked. Her life was a disaster, falling apart at the seams. No matter how many times she had sowed it back together, someone would come along with a pair of sharp scissors and slash the stitches.

A month ago, Penelope thought she had finally rid of the curse and could finally live the life she had longed for but when she appeared in a dream, Penelope knew that it was only a matter of time before something happened. She ignored the warning for a few nights before she ended everything but he wouldn’t listen to her, he didn’t believe that something, or someone would do something to him. Penelope did and with every harsh word she spoke, every harsh move she made, he wouldn’t leave her and it was that god awful night that she found him.

The image of Vincent Tuck’s dead body flashed through her head and her scream was heard like it was only last night she had found him. His throat was slit, his hands sewed together just like his ankles and his bright blue eyes that Penelope always said reminded her of the sea were dead, soulless and his eyelids were sown to his eyebrows. Some of his skin had been cut off like someone had removed skin from a pig. Cut into his chest of an S and she knew exactly who it was. The one who had put the curse on her and the one who had engraved an S every time she killed that persons Penelope loved.

Penelope had seen enough dead bodies to last her the rest of her sad, falling apart life. And she knew what the outcome would be; to be free would the evil woman who had a vendetta against her. Tonight was the night she had known was coming long before it had come. For the last month, Penelope wished she could’ve turned back the hands of time and fix it all. Save Vincent’s life, save the other victims’ lives before that monster got a hold of them but Penelope knew, more than anyone did, that you cannot turn back the hands of time no matter how hard you wished or prayed for it to do so.

As Penelope came to the end of the beach, she continued on walking until she came to a bridge that crossed the rough salty water. She watched as waves crashed across the wooden surface, washing away any sand that might have sat on the bridge. She wished it was her life that the waves were washing away but not just yet. As she stood staring at the bridge, she saw the figure standing on it; their hair blowing in the wind and their feet being washed against by the water. Penelope knew who it was and she was going to face her.

With a careful step, Penelope stepped onto the bridge. Her sand covered bare feet slowly carried her across the bridge, the ocean water washing away the grains of sand every time the water met the bridge. Penelope’s arms had stayed wrapped around her waist; it was like Penelope was trying to hold herself together so that she wouldn’t fall apart even though she had done that many of times over the last one hundred and fifty-nine years. She was on her own and had to be the one to stitch herself back together.

The curse had made her immortal, for which she never wanted in the first place.

As each careful step brought her closer to the figure on the bridge, the storm let out loud claps of thunders and cracks of lightening that met mainland. It reminded Penelope of when the curse had been casted upon her. She had been alone at that stage, her mother and father had gone into town to fetch that week’s food supply and her two brothers were out working the grain fields to get family’s earning. Her father wasn’t able to work any longer after he had lost his arm. Penelope had stayed home instead of accompanying her parents on the hour trip. And it was then that the storm had rolled over quickly; soaking everything, thunder and lightning ringing out and the one who casted the curse on Penelope knocking her door down.

Penelope shook her head, not wanting to remember that day as it was the same day her parents had been robbed and murdered. She made her mind go blank and focused on the sound of the waves crashing into the bridge and wetting the bottom of her jeans. It was a sound that Penelope almost found comfort in over the years she had lived in the town but tonight, she knew that it was the night everything would come to an end and she couldn’t be happier, even with the pain in her heart that she didn’t bother to heal.

Tonight was the night that she would have the curse lifted and be able to die finally. Penelope had seen a lot, witnessed and grown use to a lot but there was only so long one could be alive without wishing for death to be knocking on their door. Penelope was going to be knocking on death’s door tonight and soon, she’d be reunited with her family, those she had loved and Vincent, the one who seemed to mean more to her than the rest. She knew that was why Vincent had the slow death, the painful death. Penelope hated that he had a long suffering before the Reaper came to collect him but there was nothing she could do but know that his case would go unsolved.

Penelope had reached the middle of the bridge were it had a slight look out. When the weather was good, the bridge, or boardwalk as some called it, was filled with people that enjoyed the sunlight, the little sprinkle of the salt water as it splashed against the bridge and smiles on their face. Penelope kept the image in mind as she came to a stop and looked up.

“Wonderful weather we’re having, wouldn’t you agree?” Her voice said and it was like a soft melody.

Penelope shook her head. “No,”

With cautious eyes, Penelope looked over at the woman standing next her. She wore a dark, long and hooded cloak that shadowed her face and Penelope was sure the bottom of it was soaking wet. The woman was taller than Penelope; she always had been and had a lot more power than Penelope had ever had. With not much else but a stare, Penelope turned away from her and looked out at the distance. The storm had made the sky darker, the thunder was louder and almost deafening, and more than three lightning bolts were seen at time. Penelope’s end was coming closer to her and she could almost taste the freedom.

Penelope took in a shaky breath before letting it out slowly. Her heart thumped inside of her chest, threatening to break free as fresh, hot tear filled her eyes and wanted to spill over. She blinked them back as she curled her hands into fist, digging her nails in a little to focus on the pain in her palms. The woman beside her let out a cheery sigh but Penelope didn’t look at her.

“What is it you want from me, Serine?” Penelope asked softly.

“I’ve already gotten what I want from you,” She said and it was all too cheery for Penelope. “One hundred and fifty-nine years of this, I think I’m done,”

“Why did you do this to me? You brought so much pain and heartache to my life, I cannot remember what happiness felt like,” Penelope said, her voice cracking slightly.

Penelope looked over at Serine as Serine turned and looked at her. She watched as Serine lifted her hands and her long, feminie fingers slide the cloak’s hood back. Penelope hadn’t seen Serine’s face in so long that she had forgotten what she looked like and she found herself bracing for it. She didn’t know if Serine had change, or aged, or even if she looked the same. As the hood fell back and rested against Serine’s shoulder blades, a waterfall of storm grey hair fell down with it and Penelope couldn’t help but compare it to the storm clouds above. Serine met Penelope’s eyes with a set of deep ocean blue eyes and once again, Penelope found herself comparing them to the ocean.

As she stared at Serine, she found herself remembering what she looked like all those years ago. When Penelope first met Serine, she had the most beautiful blonde hair that Penelope and her close friends envied to have and the most beautiful set of blue eyes that went along with her beautiful and flawless, sun-kissed skin. But now, Serine had changed. And she no longer had the flawless, sun-kissed skin. Serine’s skin was pale and looked frail, like if she had smiled, her smile would break her skin.

“As you can see, Penelope, I am not doing any good,” Serine said softly as she broke the silence. “I have become weak and frail, my last kill was meant to make me whole again but I think our time on this planet has come to an end which was to be expected, was it not?”

“That’s why you came after me all these years?” Penelope asked as she started to feel the anger wash out the sadness within her body. “You were using my happiness to get your own so you could stay young and beautiful but while doing so, you dragged me through the mud and drowned me in sorrow,”

“Yes,” Serine nodded. “It was a deal that shouldn’t have been made, I admit but you stole my happiness, Penelope,”

“How did I steal your happiness? I would never do such a thing to anyone!” Penelope shouted and she couldn’t help but shout at Serine for accusing her of such an awful thing.

“His name was Charles, do you remember him?” Serine asked.

Penelope frowned a little. Of course Penelope remembered Charles, he was the man that every father and mother wanted their daughter to marry. Penelope had been lucky enough to have a dance with the handsome man but it never went further than a dance. She knew that Charles’ heart laid with someone else and it was not Serine or Penelope, it was Serine’s sister, Alice. Charles and Penelope had spoken about it while they danced around the ballroom. He had told her that Alice was the one for him, the one who had stolen his heart with just one look but Alice was already a married woman and Charles had no choice but to let her go and he had no other choice but to move onto someone else that was close to her.

That someone was meant to be Serine and Penelope never had the heart to tell her otherwise.

“I was lucky enough to have a single dance with him,” Penelope said as she turned away from Serine and looked at the dark ocean. “He was a gentleman,”

“He was also the man I loved and the man who loved me and I was meant to dance with that night but he choose you,” Serine said but there was no anger in her voice, just sadness that Penelope knew all too well.

Penelope took in a deep breath and let it out slowly; she needed to tell Serine what Charles had told her that night. Serine had done all this trouble for a man who Penelope only danced with, a man who didn’t love her and a man who had died only three days later when he made travels back to his home. Penelope remembered that day like it was yesterday, not over a hundred years ago.

“He never loved you, Serine. He loved Alice but because she was married, he moved to someone who was close to her,” Penelope said quietly.

“And yet, he told me something different,” Serine stated and Penelope looked over at her. “Charles loved you and that is why he could not be with me,”

“He lied,” Penelope answered. “He lied to you because he didn’t want you to know that Alice was the woman who stole his heart with one stare. You believed a lie and dragged this vengeance out for over one hundred and fifty years. Please, just let this end. Let me go, I don’t want to be here anymore.”

It had shocked both Penelope and Serine on how calm Penelope had been, asking Serine to let it end and admitting to her that Penelope was done. Penelope’s anger had disappeared and she was filled, strangely, with forgiveness. Penelope could understand why Serine would be so hurt with such a lie that Charles had probably made believable. The anger she held towards Serine for all the years she had taken away those she loved had disappeared when the truth had been told. Now, all Penelope could hope for was that Serine would let her go so that she could move on from this life.

Serine turned and looked at Penelope, holding her gaze and Penelope could see the anger, the hurt and the sadness in her eyes. Without another word spoken, Penelope did the one thing she thought she would never do. She stepped forwards and wrapped her arms around the woman who single handily pulled her through long, hard years without a taste of happiness. Serine stiffened in her hold before relaxing and placing her arms around Penelope. They stood like that for a moment when Penelope felt the hot, wet tears fall onto her cold shoulder. Penelope felt a shift in the air and she knew that this was about to become her end. And she could feel the happiness.

“I’m sorry,” Serine said and Penelope felt the sharp pain in between her shoulder blades.

Penelope gasped as she held onto Serine. Warm blood ran down her back as Serine pulled the blade out and allowed it to drop to the bridge with a clatter. There was one thing that Serine never told Penelope and the reason why Serine never murdered Penelope for the lie she believed. When Penelope’s eyes went soulless so would Serine’s. To end Penelope was to end Serine and they both knew that the end was long overdue. As Penelope held onto Serine, feeling her heart slow and the blood rush down her back like a river, she could feel herself growing weaker and weaker. A smile drew to Penelope’s face; it was the end as she never thought it would be.

“I forgive you,” Penelope breathed as her arms slipped from Serine’s neck and her legs gave out.

Serine slowly laid Penelope down onto the bridge as her last few breathes were taken. As Penelope’s breathes shallowed, Serine had fallen to her knees. Her heart was slowly and she was growing tired. It was then that Serine laid next to Penelope, remembering the times when she had first met Penelope and she was nothing but kind and welcoming to Serine unlike her other friends who were took time to welcome her, when they were the closest of friends and allowing Penelope’s words to swim around her head.

It wasn’t long until Penelope’s last breath was taken and it was soon followed by Serine’s. Both of the girls turning to ashes for living such a long life. As the ashes laid onto the bridge, a gentle wave ran across the bridge, taking the ashes of the innocent and the ashes of the guilty along with it.

 

 

Word Count: 2,835


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