Chapter 19 of 21. If you haven’t read the earlier chapters, please read them first. You can find them here: The Willow, a serialized novel.
Their cars pulled into the motel parking lot, one after the other. Beth and Elizabeth arrived with James and Nicholas in a red ‘98 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. They watched as the silver 2010 Mazda 3 pulled in ahead of them. They didn’t know that Sam and Sarah were in the other car, and they hadn’t all met before, but they could feel that the Mazda was part of their group. Everything was moving like clockwork now.
As they both pulled into parking spaces in front of room 110, the motel door opened and a haggard looking Martha appeared with two frightened children poking their heads out from behind her.
The occupants of the two cars looked at one another knowing that their lives were about to change forever. They could all feel the impending adventure and weren’t sure if they should be nervous or excited; if they should fear for their lives or rejoice that the world was bringing them together.
When James’ and Sam’s eyes met, they recognized each other instantly. They had both driven the last legs of their journey, but their weariness faded as they jumped from their vehicles and raced to embrace each other.
“My brother!” said James.
“It’s been fifty years,” said Sam.
“We’re just old fellas now,” James said as he took in the wrinkles on Sam’s face.
“Just old fellas,” answered Sam.
“Fifty years?” asked Daisy as she came out from behind her mother. “Then how do you recognize each other now?”
“When you go through what we went through together,” started Sam.
“Then you never forget,” finished James.
As everyone got out of their cars, they took in each other’s faces for the first time.
“Daisy!” said Beth, her face lighting up as she drew closer to her.
“Yes?” Daisy asked.
“Daisy!” repeated Beth. Elizabeth stared at Daisy while hiding just behind Beth’s shoulder.
“Yes?” asked Daisy.
“It seems we have a lot to discuss,” said Beth as she eyed Daisy and noticed the similarities between the way Daisy held herself and the way Marcus used to stand. Looking at the others she said, “Let us all go inside.”
There was not enough furniture inside of the motel room, so they moved everything against the walls and sat in a circle on the floor.
“So,” started Beth as she looked at everyone’s nervous faces one at a time. “You each know at least part of the story from your own perspective. Even though I’ve never met most of you before, I have heard all of your stories.”
“From who?” asked Sam as he fidgeted in his seat. He was not used to sitting on the floor.
“From Willow,” said Beth.
“Willow?” asked Sam.
“Some of you used to know her as Willa, and some knew her as the girl trapped in the cabin. I knew her as my friend; someone who would appear out of thin air and tell me stories.”
“That’s not possible,” said Brett.
“This is a true story,” said Daisy as she patted her older brother’s knee. “This is a true story.”
“We all have spent lifetimes together,” said Beth. “And Willow has been with us through many births. She has always guided us along the way. But this birth she pointed to as being a battle between good and evil. She always said that the story was still unwritten.
“When she took her present birth, she was born aware of her mission, but she needed all of us to play our parts. She waited until her disciples joined her in the daycare. Those disciples were James and Sam, who are here now, as well as Andrew, Caroline and Eliana.”
When they heard the name Eliana, James and Sam’s eyes met and exchanged their grief.
“So one day, Willow realized that men who wanted to hide her from the world, were on their way to take her. These men belonged to an organization called the Guardians, led by a divinely inspired but misguided man named Matthew and one that helped to keep him in the dark named Benjamin. Knowing that their time together was coming to an end, Willow gathered her disciples in a circle and gave them all a gift. She gave them all a nudge on the path towards having the sight. Although it wasn’t strong in any of them, they would learn to use it in their own way.”
“Except Eliana,” started Sam.
“Yes, Eliana was killed in the struggle,” said Beth. “Eliana was killed trying to defend Willow. But when they were older, Andrew and Caroline would get married and have a son. That son was Nicholas, who sits among us.”
“And I am Eliana,” said Nicholas.
“What?” asked Sam. “What do you mean you are Eliana?”
“The soul that was born as Eliana,” said Nicholas, “was reborn as me.”
“Well now that’s just pure crazy,” said Sam.
“It’s true,” said James. “He remembers. He can remember living as Eliana, as if it was his own life. He can see the men coming for Willow. He can remember looking through the window and seeing them running for the house to capture her.”
Sam stared at James in amazement. “That’s crazy,” he repeated.
“It’s not crazy,” said Daisy. “I also remember.”
“You remember what, Daisy,” asked Martha.
“I remember when Willow was first captured,” said Daisy.
“What are you talking about?” asked Martha, stunned again by her daughter’s confidence.
“Yeah, so,” said Beth, “I was getting there. This woman sitting next to me is Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth was staring at Daisy. She hadn’t been able to stop looking at Daisy since understanding who she was.
“Elizabeth’s husband was a man named Marcus. When Marcus was a young boy, he was wandering through the forest and came upon the secret cabin where the Guardians were bringing Willow. He saw them drag Willow into the cabin. But Matthew had also seen the boy and sent his men to find and watch where he went. When he returned home, Marcus told the police about the cabin, but the Guardians’ organization ran deep into all levels of government around the world. They paid the police to cover it up. It wouldn’t have mattered though. They would never have found the cabin. Only someone with the sight can find the cabin.”
“That’s why I found the cabin?” asked Daisy, “Because I have the sight?”
“Exactly,” said Beth. “Marcus died before ever learning how to use his gift. But now he’s been reborn again, as Daisy, so he can lead us back to the cabin.”
“Wait a second,” said Martha, “Daisy is not going back to that cabin.”
“Of course she is,” said Beth. “She was born for that purpose. And not only is she going there, but so are you.”
“Me,” asked Martha.
“Both your father and Elizabeth’s father were members of the Guardians.”
“What?” said Elizabeth and Martha in chorus.
“What in the hell are you talking about?” asked Elizabeth. She hadn’t realized that there was still more to the story than what Beth had already revealed to her.
“Well you see that girl sitting over their next to Sam with nothing to say?” Beth and Sarah exchanged smiles. “Her father’s name is Dave. Dave, along with Elizabeth’s father, Russell and Martha’s father Travis all worked with the Guardians. But a few years after they captured Willow, there was a division among them. Some followed Benjamin and they sought to free Willow, and some followed Matthew and they wanted to keep her locked up forever. One day there was a war between the two factions and the only member on Benjamin’s side that survived was Dave. On Matthew’s side there were three survivors, Russell, Travis and their new leader Gabriel. Dave caved and joined the other three.
“Part of the job of the Guardians was to watch over all of you and make sure that you didn’t have the sight and that you never involved yourself with what happened to Willow. As Travis has a diabolical mind, he sought to arrange marriages between, Russell’s daughter, Elizabeth, and Marcus, and his own daughter Martha, with Sam. He tried this as a way to watch over them more closely.”
“Unbelievable,” said Martha as she looked at Sam. “It all makes sense now.”
“So your mother was in on it then,” said Sam.
“Her mother never understood why she was doing it,” said Beth, “but she did what her husband told her to do.”
“So what’s the deal then?” asked Sam. “What are we going to do now?”
“Sarah, Brett and Elizabeth are innocent in all of this, and will stay here,” said Beth. “If anything happens to us then Elizabeth can look after Brett and Sarah. The rest of us are going to find Willow.”
“If I am innocent then Martha is also innocent,” said Elizabeth.
“Martha won’t allow Daisy to go back to the cabin without her,” said Beth. “Besides that, her father is treacherous and yours is a pussycat in comparison. If anyone is going to stop him, it is she.”
“But what about my dad?” asked Sarah.
“If your dad is still alive,” said Beth, “then he will be at the cabin with the rest of the Guardians.”
“Still alive?” asked Sarah.
“Well, he is the one who led you and Sam this far,” answered Beth, coldly. “I’m not sure that they would let him live after that. But if he is alive, we will try our best to keep him that way and bring him back with us.”
“Why would we have to try and keep him alive?” asked James.
“And why am I looking after the children?” asked Elizabeth. “Why wouldn’t you all be coming back?”
“They’ve got guns,” answered Sam.
“Exactly,” said Beth, “Of course, they have guns.”
I’ll see you next Friday for chapter 20.
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