Brink by Leslie O’Dell

The girl pushed the door carefully until it opened slowly along with a creepy creak. There was a smell of mold and old wood in the air. The furniture were still there, full of spiders and dust, forgotten. She wanted to explore the abandoned house in her neighborhood since she was a child. She had heard many scary stories about it and she was always afraid to do so. But today she made the decision, jumped over the high fence when it started getting darker and now she was standing already inside the big living room of the old mansion. She moved towards the big sofa that was in front of the imposing library. She pulled the sheet which it was covered with and a cloud of dust was lifted in the air. The furniture was still impressive. She run her hand through the deep red velvet fabric, the carved gilt wood armchair and then she sat on it.

So long you were hidden under this sheet, yet you remain so beautiful, she said with melancholy.

She looked across at the library. So many books on the shelves. Closed for years, left to be rotten. Who knows how long has it been since the last time human hands touched them, turned their pages and enjoyed whatever was hidden inside of them, thought the girl. Maybe they hide truly magical stories with stunning and admirable characters in wonderful worlds far away. Yet no one is aware of it anymore because this treasure has been forgotten for years, no one looked for it, no one remembers its existence. She felt sorrow but at the same time intimacy inside that room with the forgotten items.

A creak on the wooden floor interrupted her thoughts. The girl turned to the door and she saw before her eyes a woman dressed in black. She was truly dark in the girl’s eyes. Black long dress with long embroidered sleeves, long black hair, black eyes, black stare.

Don’t be afraid, said the woman as she came closer with a steady pace and stood in front of the library. You don’t have to end up like these books you know, she continued and turned to look the girl right in the eyes as if she read her mind a few seconds ago. Or like this sofa, she said smiling.

I… I don’t understand, mumbled the girl.

Oh sweetie, of course you do.

The woman sat on the armchair next to the library in the way a queen would sat on her throne. Her face, though dark, was very familiar to the girl. She was sure she had seen this woman before.

I know what you are afraid of, the woman said with certainty. I know what you desire, what you hate, I know what is in your heart and what in your mind. Hell, I know more about you than you yourself do! she ended laughing loudly.

She arose from the armchair and came close to the girl as if she was going to share a great secret with her.

And I know what will destroy you, she whispered.

The girl got scared. She froze and couldn’t speak a word. What a strange woman! So scary! But what was even scarier was the fact that deep down inside her, the girl felt that the woman was telling the truth. She knew indeed. She knew everything.

What do you want? she managed to ask finally.

But isn’t it obvious? I want to help you of course. I want to save you before you end up a dusted book forgotten on a shelf.

How can you help me?

I can advise you. Every time that you doubt about something, that you worry and feel afraid. When your thoughts are overwhelming and you can’t control them and think straight. Then I can be there for you. All you have to do is trust me. No one sees me but you. I swear that to you. Let your fear free and that is when I will know and I will come to you. But do not betray me. You must not tell about me to anyone. If you do, they will get in our way and I won’t be able to help you anymore.

Who will get in our way?

Everyone. Especially people that love you. They will try to protect you from me. But you see, I mean no harm to you. They don’t understand it but I know. You feel it, don’t you? And because I know, I can help you more than they will ever do. They have no idea how it feels like. How it is like to be you, locked up in there, she said and pointed towards the girl’s heart.

And why would you help me?

Because you have something that I want, she answered with a dark smile.

I have nothing of value. I am a simple girl, I own nothing.

But you do have something of the greatest value in this world… and the next one.

The girl looked at the woman puzzled.

Your soul. I want your soul.

The girl remained speechless staring at the woman. Her soul? What could she possibly mean? How exactly could a human being negotiate over the soul of another human? Unless…

What are you? she dared to ask finally.

It’s hard to answer this question, she said and stood up. You cannot define me. You see me but I am not here. You hear me but I make no sound. Even if I explained it to you, you would not understand fully what I am. But you know me, isn’t it? You know my face?

Yes, your face is known to me. But I cannot recall where and when I have met you before.

The woman approached and caressed the girl’s cheek with tender. Her touch was cold but soft and familiar. Although surprising, the girl felt bewitched and attracted to the woman’s cold and dark aura. She was pulling her in the same way gravity kept her on the ground. The woman smiled craftily and walked away, towards the door.

Think about the things I told you. And don’t be afraid about your soul. I won’t harm it. I told you already I mean no harm to you. I just want to keep it. As company. It gets quite lonely sometimes in this world. I’ll keep your soul and I will take good care of it. After all, maybe it is something that you also want. Why would you leave your soul alone and not give it to me? Trust me, lone souls don’t last for long here.

The girl was still confused. What world was this woman talking about? She was afraid to answer. Her soul could be indeed her most valuable possession. But for some reason all her fears were settling every time the black dressed woman was speaking.

Before she got out of the door the woman turned back and looked at the girl.

Before I go I’ll tell you how you know my face. Maybe it will help you decide. You see my face every day in your mirror. And I know you so well because I live with you for years. And for years yet to come. I am you. Or I should say I was you. And you will become me. Now choose wisely, she said and disappeared.




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