Her eyes pierce a gaze at me like daggers and I can tell she’s fuming mad. “I told you to bury these mongrels, and you’re prancing the property like you own the place.”
“I-I was trying to find a good spot to bury the bodies, Mother.”
Her eyes glow blue and I fear she’s going to throw me in with the livestock. Instead, she takes her hand putting it outward, and spreads her fingers. I can see a dark green almost black color flow to the corpses. Together, the dead pile rises, and she uses her magic to carry them all through the air, where they land in a nearby field.
“There,” she says, “I’ve done the hard part for you. There’s a shovel on the side of the house. Start digging.”
She disappears, but not before leaving her murder of crows behind to baby sit. She uses them as her eyes to see what her mortal body cannot. I glare at them all cawing, as I go to grab the garden tool.
Digging the giant hole takes all night and by the time I’m done the sun peeks in the horizon. I say a prayer of peace, and hope the crows—ravens whatever they are, aren’t lurking around and report back to my mother.
A cool breeze brushes across my skin making me shiver. I’m reminded of Geneviève. All she had in that shed was a dirty old cloak. Maybe I can find something for her in my room.
The smell of breakfast stirs my senses as I enter the house. Martha is in the kitchen.
“Good morning, Maura. I see your mother kept you out all night again.”
“Nothing new, I guess, just a different day.” I sit down and lay my head on the table.
“You should go to bed. Get some sleep.”
“Why? Mother will probably wake me anyway.”
“Actually, she’s leaving for the day. Said something about finding a key ingredient to a recipe. Only place to find this item is at The Lake of No Return.”
“But isn’t that up in the mountains where the—”
There’s a reason the lake was named, which has me wondering what she’s up to.
“Martha,” my mother calls.
I stiffen, worried that she will have me do some other chore for her.
Martha glares at me to shoo, and so I hide behind the pantry door. “In here Madame.”
The clicking of heels against the wood floor, warns me that Mother has entered the kitchen. “Have you seen Maura?”
“I think she went straight to bed?”
“No, she wasn’t in her room, I checked.”
Of course, she did.
“Possibly outside, still?”
“Perhaps, but the crows cannot find her, either. If she’s ran away, I’ll find her and skin that child alive.”
“Madame I don’t think she’s ran away. Where would she go?”
I hear a long silent pause, before Mother continues, “I’m off. I’ll be back later this evening. When she comes home, throw her into the cell with the rest of the livestock. She needs to learn a lesson or two about respect.”
I can tell she’s gone. Every fiber in my being loses the dread when she’s not around, and I can feel peace.
“It’s safe, you can come out now.” Martha pulls the door of the pantry open. “You heard your mother. She will be back tonight.”
“I get it, I know. Don’t worry, Martha, I promise to sleep and be down in the basement before Mother returns. I won’t let Mother take her anger out on you.”
“Oh, my dear, child, is that what you think? I only stick around because of you. As long as I’m alive, I won’t let that evil woman hurt a hair on your pretty head.”
Her words surprise and comfort me at the same time.
“Now, go on up, and get some sleep. You’re going to need your strength for later.”
“Martha?” I eye her suspiciously.
She smiles. “I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to leave, and I think now is the time.”
“You’re not making breakfast, are you?”
“Preposterous. What ever gave you that idea?” she gives a devilish grin.
“I knew it. You do, have a plan.” I clasp my hands.
“Shh, not so loud. The windows are open, and the crows still see.”
“Right, the crows. How will we avoid them?”
“You let me worry about that. However, you—”
“I know, sleep.” I grab a slice of bacon before climbing the stairs to my bedroom, but not before I hear Martha chant an incantation in the kitchen.