Ebony Rhodes gazed morosely out of the window of her fresh, newly built house. She had been able to afford it due to the large sum of money left to her in her brothers will. Her life was exactly where she wanted it to be: living in the lap of luxury, not doing any sort of work to earn that privilege, away from the world, her family, and, best of all, in one of the most beautiful homes in Sunset Valley.
Yet, she was discontented. It was as if, through the entire selfish passage that was her life, there was an unknown limit to the level of her self-fulfillment; a bowl which was slowly being filled, and now, finally, that bowl was bursting at its saturation point. It could hold no more, and so, Ebony couldnt, either.
She had gotten everything that she had ever wanted and now, she was unsatisfied
.She was unable to be selfish anymore; she was incapable of thinking only for her benefit any longer.
She moaned in frustration. What was this? Couldnt she finally relish in this, her greatest triumph? Yet, there was this feeling, this itching, nagging feeling that there was more to this world than meeting and fulfilling her own desires. She still had some unfinished business left to do. She still mourned for Ay, and she knew that the only family she had left was her niece, Andromeda.
She turned away from the window. Recently, her past deeds kept coming back to haunt her; her estrangement from her niece, her ill treatment of her, the way she failed to recognize and meet her needs as Ay would want her to do. Guilt, yes, guilt was haunting Ebony Rhodes, and it was a long time coming, but, her heart and aging were finally catching up to her.
Shes the last remnant of Ays line, Ebony muttered to herself
. I cant just let her struggle on her own. Were united in this, our greatest grief.
Many a days, Ebony would take to drinking to sooth her frayed nerves and her new found conscience, and it worked
For a few hours, for a night, maybe. But then, the feeling would return, stronger than ever before.
She sighed as she poured herself a Merlot. She knew she couldnt delay the feeling forever. Its time to make amends and set things straight, she said as she drained the glass in one gulp.
Saturday afternoon found Andromeda busy cooking for her afternoon lunch. Warren promised that he would drop by, and though he was never late, he would sometimes arrive earlier than expected. Spaghetti and noodles was the affair of the day, and though Warren ate very little, she delighted in doing lunch with him whenever possible.
She was thrilled with the remodeling and renovations on her house; all the designs were requested and planned by her with her interior decorator.
Sunset Valley was a small town, and both Warren and Andromeda had decided that they preferred the seclusion of her home to the open and public bistros and restaurants scattered around town, where the neighbours eyes were focused more on everything and everyone around them rather than their soups.
She was drawn from her chain of thought as the doorbell rang. Warren had come earlier than expected, she thought. Little did she know that it was not Warren, but an unexpected guest
Ebony stood waiting in wonder on the Rhodes newly decorated porch. The house had changed so much since she last visited. It was obvious that Dromy looked to begin anew and forget the past and everything associated with it as much as possible. She wondered if she, too was part of that past, and shoe too had been long forgotten- jut as she had once wanted to be.
Suddenly, it was as if something broke inside her as she rang the doorbell for the first time. One sentence emanated from the depths of her consciousness, and it rang aloud, in a voice that was deep, resounding and alien to her. One of them was here, was all that it said, all that she heard. Her fingers drew inwards, her face was set in a grimace, she felt sick to her very stomach, and bile burned in her throat. She felt as if she might be sick. The entire process lasted for just about a minute, and suddenly, it was as if nothing had even happened. She was perfectly fine again.
The weather. Or too much wine. Or Im just losing my sanity. Yes, that would explain it. Why else would I even be doing this?, she muttered to herself. Before she could reflect on any of this further, the door opened and there stood her niece.
Andromedas smile froze on her face and her jaw dropped. She couldnt believe it. She couldnt begin to understand why Ebony would come and approach her now. Was it a favor she needed? Or simply more money?
Her expression of shock quickly turned to one of dislike and then anger. How could she even think of showing up here again? she thought. Just as my life is on the mend, just as I find happiness again, she returns to take it all away. She will never be satisfied till I join my sister and my father in their eternal rest.
What do you want? Havent you done enough?, she greeted her aunt rudely. Ebony sighed. Niece, that is no way to greet your aunt. Ive come to talk. May I come in? Andromeda hesitated, then resigned. Yes, you may. For him. Ebony nodded, understanding what she meant.
As she crossed the threshold, Ebony once again felt the sickening lurch and this time, she gasped and bent over, trying to control herself. Andromeda turned and glanced at her? Sick?, she asked unsympathetically. No, Im fine, its nothing, Ebony choked. She righted herself and walked onwards.
Andromeda guided them to the nearest bedroom, and then rounded on her aunt. What brought you all the way here to speak with me, then? Ebony closed the door, though the house was empty and no one could hear her.
Ive come to make amends. No, let me speak, said Ebony as Dromy opened her mouth to argue, Andromeda, weve both suffered our own losses, in our own ways. Its almost been seven months, since Ays and Wisterias deaths, but we both still do struggle a lot.
'Weve made mistakes in the past, you and I, both. Weve fought, weve argued, but, at the end of the day, were the only family to each other we both have left, and Ive come
to apologize, however hard that may seem to believe. I loved my brother, and he loved you and me, both. We dont have to keep bickering like stable cats on heat. We can try to work together towards repairing this relationship.
We both have a lot to do, if thats the case. I dont think its ever too late to try and to forge new beginnings. I havent come to beg, niece. If it is your wish, we can reconcile ourselves, for Ays as well as for our own sakes. We both need our family, and we have each other. Lets not ruin it for the both of us.
Andromedas first reaction was shock, then quiet contemplation. She couldnt believe that her aunt, the cold, hard; Ebony Rhodes was coming up to make an apology and actually wished for a reconciliation. This was most unlike her, she thought. Maybe she really had been affected by his death, maybe she truly did love him, and was truly missing him. Most of all, Andromeda felt sorry for her. She was all alone, too, and was in almost the same situation as she was.
Andromeda found herself smiling warmly back. If Ebony wanted peace between them, she didnt have to push her away. It was the right thing to do, and holding on to old memories and past grievances would never lead to a happy life. I believe your right, Ebony. It is time we settled things. Lets bury the hatchet and lets forge a new life for ourselves, a happier one.
Ebony found herself smiling back, and then slowly, tentatively, she held out her arms for Dromy. They hugged carefully, as if the spell would be broken easily. Things warmed between the two of them after that, and then they both sat down to talk. The hours slipped by, as aunt and niece talked, laughed and enjoyed each others company.
When Ebony finally realized what time it was, she hurriedly excused herself and went to the door. Andromeda was there to show her out. Take care of yourself, Ebony. Call if you need anything. I shall, my dear. And if you require assistance, you know where to reach me.
They smiled, as Ebony opened the door to leave. Suddenly, the sick feeling that had plagued her as she entered the house hit her again and she lurched forward, almost temporarily blinded by the mass of roiling feelings coursing through her.
She felt a hand touch her and withdraw immediately, she wondered if whoever it was could also feel the shock that pulsed through her.She finally gained control of herself and looked up; and the look of concern on the face quickly turned to one of deepest malice and hatred.
She could feel her own features contort to mirror his, and then, they both strived to veil the hatred that was so obviously written on both their faces. Andromedas smile faltered, as she too noticed something that was clearly wrong with the picture. Yet she smiled, and made her introductions.
Ebony, this is a friend of mine, Warren Ravenheart. Hes new to town. Warren, this is my aunt, Ebony Rhodes.
Charmed, said Warren quietly. Pleased to meet you, said Ebony just as shortly. I must take leave of you; I have to be
elsewhere. With that, Ebony quickly departed.
Andromeda stared after her, wondering what on earth had taken place between them that could cause such instant dislike between the pair. She smiled at Warren, and they went into the house.
The moment Ebony walked off the property, she felt completely fine. She took a deep, shuddering breath, and shivered, but not due to the cold. Something was very, very wrong there, she said to herself, I dont understand it.
How could I feel so
powerfully against someone I met for the first time today? Theres something here that just doesnt fit. What makes me feel so ill when Im in that house? Somethings not right, and Im going to figure out what. With that, Ebony turned and walked back to the safety of her home.
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