Are you ready for the first ‘reading’ of The Witch of Luna Hill? Are you sitting comfortably? Fresh drink in hand?
Mmmm’kay, we’ll begin…
Merian let her hair down and shook it with a sigh. Her roots were aching. She quickly glanced over at Aia and her long dark blonde and straight hair. She’d braided it loosely in the back, leaving loose strands of hair falling down by the sides of her face.
“How come you don’t remember anything from over a year ago?” she asked Aia.
Aia shrugged. Merian narrowed her eyes. “You don’t know? No, of course you wouldn’t remember. That’s so obvious.”
Aia didn’t say anything as Merian rambled on. She wished she could stop, but words just kept falling out of her mouth like vomit. “Doesn’t your family know what happened? Did you fall ill or was it an accident? And you’ve remembered nothing at all for an entire year? You don’t remember anyone?”
Merian finally stopped when Aia looked up with an annoyed glance. She sighed and leaned back in her seat, folding her arms in front of her chest.
“I was found in a lake, dead, and was then resuscitated,” she said as if she’d told the story many times before. “No one knew me. I don’t know who my family is. Obviously, my real name isn’t Aia; it’s just the name I was given because I don’t remember what it really is. No one has ever claimed they knew me, so they could help me figure out my identity. I live with the widow of the man who found me and saved me. And I work in the forest, stacking wood, and sometimes I deliver logs for the villagers, especially for winter.”
Merian gawked at her. “You were dead?”
“In a lake? Did you drown?”
Aia just stared at her like she was dumb or something. Merian clicked her tongue. “Well, you could have been killed and then thrown into the lake later is what I mean.”
“I was stabbed, actually,” Aia remarked dryly.
“Really?” Merian leaned over the table.
Aia didn’t move. She just followed Merian with her eyes. “But that isn’t what killed me,” she said.
“The drowning did.” Merian nodded. She was so intrigued that she couldn’t stop smiling. This was so incredibly exciting, and she’d thought nothing exciting ever happened up here in Northland. “Where were you stabbed?” she asked.
Aia pointed towards her left shoulder with her chin.
“Can I see the scar?”
Was that too morbid? Oh, no, the look on Aia’s face gave it all away; the look of surprise that would soon turn into that of disgust. Merian knew the look all too well. She sat back in her chair and awaited the awkward silence that always followed.
But the look of disgust never came. Instead, Aia just shrugged. “If you want,” she then said and pulled down the blouse over her shoulder. Between the left shoulder and the torso, right next to the armpit was a jagged scar, almost four inches long. It must have nearly severed her arm off.
Merian gasped in awe. “Someone really wanted to get rid of you. Could you imagine what would happen if the killer knew you were still alive?” She looked up in Aia’s brown eyes. They were staring back at her with a spooky calmness.
“I think up scenarios every day,” Aia revealed in a dead tone. “I imagine what I would do to defend myself, and I see weapons in everything. In every scenario he still defeats me, though.”
“How come? They are your thoughts. You can make yourself win in your own thoughts.”
Aia shook her head. Her sudden sadness sent shivers down Merian’s spine. “I may not remember who he is, but deep down I know that I can’t beat him.”
It made Merian fall silent, and they both sat a while staring at the table.
Outside, the rain seemed to be dying down. For a split second, Merian contemplated commenting on the weather, but quickly decided that that was just stupid. She really ought to be saying something to comfort Aia seeing as it was Merian who’d ripped up the wound. Maybe she could teach her to fight with a sword? Lyder had taught Merian. He’d said she was a natural. “That or you’re fucking insane,” he’d said. The memory made Merian smile. That was before the war broke out, before they were torn apart, and before he turned into an arsehole.