What the- Who on Earth visits at this time? In this weather? I’ll be right back. Don’t bother trying to escape, I’ve spelled the house.
I can see her face through the window before I reach the bottom of the stairs. My heart thuds. I’m not prepared for this moment – not as prepared as I should be.
I take a deep breath in, and open the door. Her timing couldn’t be- Better? Worse? I suppose it depends on whose perspective we’re talking about.
“So, you’re back.” I nearly choke on my words. I wasn’t sure when she came before, but seeing her again now- There was no one else it could be.
Sosostra nods. “Can I come in?”
I want to say no, shake my head, but I can’t. I nod, and step aside. She might be the key I need. One way or another, she’s the reason my family has gone through so much. She’s not leaving without answering some questions.
“Why are you here?” It can’t be coincidence.
The look behind her eyes confirms my suspicion. “I know what you’re about to do.” Of course she knows. If my visions are accurate – and they are – she has been watching my family since this mess began. Of course she’s been watching me, too.
I swallow. Her face is impossible to read, but there’s something behind her eyes – something genuine. If she doesn’t approve, she hides it well. “You can’t stop me.”
“I wasn’t going to. I want to help you.”
A laugh escapes my lips. “Help me? If it wasn’t for you, I’d-”
“I know. There’s nothing you can say to me that I haven’t said to myself.” Her voice is calm, but she can’t hide the slight sliver of pain beneath it. “I want to atone, if you’d let me.”
A weak sense of hope fills me. Did she mean- If she was my sacrifice, the people upstairs could-
I’ve been through too much to allow hope to flood through me so easily. It takes more than one promise these days. “How?”
“Don’t sacrifice them. Sacrifice me. It’s me Geraldine wants, not them, and it’s my fault this happened.”
I can’t argue with that. “I-” I don’t know what to say. Sacrificing her would be perfect. There’s only a small chance that the spell won’t work, but with her as the sacrifice it can’t fail. The people upstairs are a good match for what Geraldine demands. Sosostra is the only perfect one, besides me.
“Hear out an old fool?” I nod. “All of you have lived through terrible things. I was there when my baby, my Hope, became a whore and her baby was taken away from her. I was there when that baby was raped and abused by her own father, and I was there when she killed him. I was there when she gave birth to Ella, and I was by her side when she died. I watched Ella commit terrible crimes, and I was there when Ashton believed he had solved the curse, and failed. I was there when your mother found his body, when she became depressed, and when she turned to drugs. The curse has stopped me from interfering in their lives, but it has allowed me in yours. Seeing your mother raise you with love was the only beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life. I’m doomed to watch all of you grow up, suffer and die. I don’t want to see the cycle repeated again. I don’t know why the curse has allowed me in your life, if only briefly, but if you let me I would make this right.”
I frown. “It’s a little too late for that.”
She nods, her eyes focused on her feet. “You are right. But I would save your child from the same fate.” Her eyes meet mine, and for a brief moment they seem to glisten in the light. “Please.”
I’ve wondered many times what I’d say to her, given the chance. Now that she is finally here, in my small living room, I can’t bring myself to be sympathetic. But she has a point. For my baby, I can compromise.
Sosostra looks at me with sad eyes. She looks defeated, and broken beyond recognition. Whoever she used to be before all this started is long dead.
“Please?” The pain in her voice nearly breaks me, but I have to be strong. For my child.
I nod. If Sosostra offers herself as the sacrifice I need, I won’t deny her dying wish.
Today is the day the curse ends.