The necklace had come out from underneath Rose’s shirt. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My hand went protectively to the snakes hissing wildly around my head as I recoiled. I instinctively knew it was one of mine. I could feel it. My mind raced, trying to put the pieces together.
Rose stared up at me from her prone position on the floor and followed my gaze. Venom dripped from her words as she said, “That’s right. You have no power over me, and you never will. It’s protected—charmed against you, as it has been with every generation. You can’t touch it.”
In shock and flustered, my Gorgon retreated, leaving me in human form. Since it wasn’t doing me any good anyway, I didn’t fight it. I watched as Rose climbed to her feet. She stood, ready to fight, with her hands down by her sides, fingers splayed. I took a few steps back, grabbing the first thing I could, a paperweight. It was small, but I could throw it if I needed to.
Rose took a moment to close her eyes and mutter something under her breath. I knew she was readying a spell, but instead of unleashing it, she opened her eyes, asking, “Do you have all the pieces yet?”
I held up my free hand. “Wait. Just wait!” I yelled, my mind frantically trying to remember the past.
Trapped in my Gorgon form, I wandered, forever searching for a peace I knew I’d never find. Most of the time, I tried to avoid people. Sometimes, though, the helplessness overcame me, and I just didn’t care. It was during one of those periods I found my way into a small village.
The screams cried out into the night as I made my way through, gathering all the food I could find. It had been days, maybe longer, since I had something to eat. I hardly noticed the villagers’ feeble attempts to fight, sparing them a quick glance before continuing my search.
Finished with my scavenging, I was ready to move on, to find somewhere to lay low and hide. Ignoring the statues, I headed back the way I had come. An attack came from behind, forcing me to the ground. I spun, jumping up and throwing off my attacker. He tried to grab my arm with one hand. With the other, he swiped out with a knife, catching one of my snakes and severing its head.
Wild with pain and anger, I lashed out, throwing myself on the man, scratching and punching. Even after he was stone, I kept hitting him. Tears poured down my cheeks, and sobs shook my body. All the desperation I had been feeling poured out with my tears until I had nothing left. My knuckles were torn and bloody when I finally crawled off my attacker.
I left behind the anguished cries from the remaining villagers as I made my way into the mountain pass. The screams echoed in my head for days afterward.
My eyes widened, realization settling in. “That was so long ago. How is this possible?” I whispered.
Anger flashing over her face, she spat out, “Hoping there wasn’t anyone who still remembers what a horrible goddess you are?”
“But I didn’t…I don’t understand.” Confusion had me stumbling over my words.
“Every child in my line grew up hearing the stories. Our parents warned us, if we didn’t do our chores, Medusa would come to take our souls.” The look she shot me was full of hate. “We never thought we’d get the chance for vengeance, but still, we prepared.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off the snakehead and swallowed hard, my mouth suddenly dry. “H-how do you…” My voice trailed off.
Rose gave me a derisive look. “It’s been passed down through the generations for a very long time.” She slowly circled me as she spoke.
I briefly thought about teleporting home, but I knew this wasn’t a problem I could ignore. I sighed, still at a loss for words. Finally, I said, “What do you want from me?” Weariness laced my words.
Frustration was evident on Rose’s face as she continued to circle me, forcing me into an open space in the store. “I’m supposed to kill you.”
The air felt heavy, weighed down somehow, and I knew it was because of the magic. It was so thick it practically dripped from the walls. I gripped the paperweight so hard my fingers were starting to hurt, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw it, just as I couldn’t leave. I deserved this. Whatever the reason, while trapped in my Gorgon form, I was responsible for my actions. I refused to blame someone else. The paperweight slipped from my fingers with a dull thud while I stood, silently meeting Rose’s gaze, unshed tears blurring my vision.
She stared back for a long moment. With a scream of rage, she let loose the spell she had readied. The blast blew the roof and walls apart, sending fragments falling around us like rain, but we were unharmed. “I’m not a killer,” Rose admitted. “I just can’t do it.”
We stood in the middle of the destroyed store, staring at each other. Because it was a magical blast, there was no fire. Sirens and car alarms filled the silence. Unable to help myself, I took a step toward her. “I am so sorry. More than you could ever know.” I started to reach out to her but stopped myself, bringing my hand back down to my side. “Let it go,” I begged softly.
Instead of answering, Rose flung her hand out, sending a bolt of electricity into me. “I may not be able to kill you, but I can’t let it go either.” After that admission, she immediately sent another shock slamming into me.
I fought to keep my feet underneath me and stumbled backward. “What the hell?!” I looked around the remains of the antique shop, searching for a weapon. I hated that I needed one. I grabbed the first thing I could get my hand on and threw it at her. I gripped another piece of splintered wood and raised it, then paused. “How long do you want to keep this up?”
Rose raised her arms, standing bathed in the moonlight streaming through the hole in the roof, and began chanting an incantation. Her eyes were lit with an inner fire, glowing an eerie blue. When she spoke, her voice was deep with power. “Leave now. Leave while you still can. But don’t for one second think I’ve forgotten. I’ll make damn sure you never forget.” With her final words, she flung her arms down, sending another shockwave through the already destroyed shop.
I gasped as the impact forced my breath from me and I flew through the air. I watched as if in slow motion as the snow caught the lights from the arriving emergency vehicles. I landed with a thud, ignoring the people rushing around me. Groaning, I slowly climbed to my feet. My entire body hurt, and I was thankful for my accelerated healing. I wouldn’t feel like I’d been hit by a truck for too long.
I limped down the street, not quite ready to teleport home yet. The night’s events were swirling in my head, and I was having trouble coming to terms with it. I had so many things I regretted, but I’d thought it was all left in the past. Apparently, I was wrong. I couldn’t help but wonder what else I had been wrong about.
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