Saturday 4 – Saturday 18 December 2010
As I mentioned at the beginning of part one, this story turned into something completely different from what I had intended. Aunt Claire had started off so much more malicious than what she ended up. But you have to wonder what old Claire is up to . . .
The wind rustled through the trees in the small backyard. For a moment, the noise startled Claire, and she thought it might be them, coming for their prize. She had fended them off for a long time, but now she was old and fast becoming frail. It would take more strength than she had to fight them again. She would need Ciara to help, but the woman had never been exposed to what she really was, or the extent of the powers that she had. Never the less, they would come, whether Claire and Ciara were prepared or not. It was inevitable.
Ciara watched the expression on her aunt’s face change as the wind took hold in the trees. She thought Claire looked terrified, for just a second. What, wondered Ciara, was there to be terrified of out here, in the most beautiful part of Ireland? She had travelled extensively around the world, and had found nowhere as beautiful as Ireland. Thousands of shades of green across the country; landscapes not seen anywhere else; and it was in this country that she felt at home. Whatever country Ciara had been in, she had always felt a pull back to her mother’s homeland. It was hard to explain, other than to say that she felt at home. It was as if the country wanted her there.
After many years of aimless wandering, she had given in and come back to the country she loved so much. She intended to stay for as long as she as allowed, contemplating at one point, applying for citizenship. There was nothing left for her anymore in Arizona; her mother had died years ago, her father absconded while she was a teenager. Not that she missed him, or the frequent beatings he dished out.
With the tea made, Claire placed dainty, Royal Albert bone china teacups on the table. She pushed one cup and saucer over to Ciara and left the other at her own place. Carefully turning the pot three times anti-clockwise, Claire then poured Ciara’s cup first. The amber liquid flowed in a smooth arc from the teapot to the cup. Ciara watched as the steam rose from the brew in her cup. She inhaled the slightly bitter scent of her aunt’s favourite brand of tea. Now she knew she was at home.
‘What brings you here, my love?’
Her aunt’s words drew Ciara’s attention away from the scent of the tea. How could she best explain to the old woman why she was back?
‘I’m not sure what to tell you, Aunt Claire. I guess I just needed to come home. This is the only place that I’ve ever felt like I am at home. I have nowhere else to go. I have no one else.’
The words were like music to Claire’s ears. Her young charge was ready. If she really felt this way, Ciara would be hard to defeat even in her weakest state. She smiled at Ciara and motioned for her to drink her tea.
‘Drink, my love, before it gets too cold.’ Claire raised her own cup to her lips and sipped the hot liquid. Ciara mirrored her aunt’s action.
They sat in silence, drinking their tea, Claire’s eyes rarely shifting from her niece. It might have made anyone else uncomfortable but Ciara simply smiled and held the old woman’s gaze.
A haze began to descend over Ciara. She felt unusually tired, and yawned, quickly covering her mouth with her right hand. Claire noticed her long fingers, Ciara’s hands very much like her mother’s. Within minutes, Claire knew Ciara would be fast asleep. The sedative she had slipped in Ciara’s cup as she poured the tea would make certain of that. She hated doing this to Ciara, but it would be the only way to protect the girl until she was aware of what she could do, and who she really was.
. . . To be continued . . .