Chapter 15

Irene

I stand beside my mother inside of a gated off area in the cemetery. We stand in silence, reading over each name. Each Sinclair daughter has a stone beside their mother's. Finally, Lilly's body rests beside those of her family. Elenore Rosen's plot was moved here too. Her tombstone used to stand alone in a corner of the cemetery. My mother and I though had it moved; no hero deserves to be alone.

Ever since that night of chaos and truth, my house has been so much calmer. Voices no longer linger, nightmares no longer follow my sleep. Shadows are now simply shadows.

I think that everyone is moving on.

My mother and I stored all of the Sinclairs' things in a hand-carved trunk in the living room. They will now be remembered instead of hidden. Every item is preserved except for the necklace that I wear every day. Some memories must be kept closest to the heart, even if the memories are borrowed.

"When I was five," my mother speaks softly, "I drew a picture of a family. One with a mother and three little girls."

I furrow my eyebrows; my mother grew up with one brother.

"I would tell my father that there was no daddy because he scared me," she continues, "and I told him that I was the mommy. 'No no' he'd say, 'you're Annie sweetie, the baby.' I would always just shake my head and tell him no. That I was the mommy, Isabella."

I gasp at the name but she speaks again before I can ask.

"I grew up quiet and afraid of men and of the dark. I had countless memories that didn't make sense. When I met your father though and became pregnant with your sister, I was elated. I felt that, for some reason, I would be reunited with something I felt I had always been missing. I imagined a little blonde girl who drank cocoa and played with porcelain dolls."

I swipe at a tear. She is describing my big sister, but not my sister from this life.

"When Emma wasn't like that, I grew angry and depressed. It was hopeless, longing for a person who didn't exist. But to me, somehow, she did. And then," she smiles and brushes a hand over my cheek, "then I had you. A rule follower. A little girl with brown tresses of hair and eyes just like I remembered. When you dreamt one night of an owl and sang the song I was born knowing, I knew it was you."

She kneels and places a rose onto the grass before one of the graves. "You used to be my Lilly," she says, a tear rolling down.

I've never before seen my mother cry.

"If you knew," I say, "why didn't you tell me?"

"It was awful, I know," she says, standing and looking me in the eyes, "all of the things I ignored. The calls in the night for a mother with a name that wasn't mine but a name that I remembered all the same. I just thought that if I kept your old life from you I could prevent it from ever happening again. I did everything to bury your past life, to raise you safe and away from any darkness."

She pauses and holds me close, "I lost you once baby, I couldn't lose you again."

I breathe in my mother's scent: roses and lilies, just like every memory I have ever had of her. It explains so much: why my mother loved but resented my sister, why she always kept the attic locked and kept me out of the dark. Why once, when we were both half asleep, she told Lilly goodnight instead of me.

"Our souls found each other for a reason," I whisper, "we're not going anywhere now."

And we sit in the cemetery beside graves that hold the shells of bodies that used to be ours. We speak of memories from both lives. We come to understand each other as the sun goes down and hold hands as the moon comes up, protecting each other from the darkness.

An owl calls from far beyond the cemetery gates and we make a promise to each other to never be silent again.

Somewhere within all of us is a piece of the souls of those left behind. We cannot hide them nor keep them quiet for even the owl speaks when he knows that something is alive.