Currently under consideration for publication.
“We should go find your family before they come in here looking for you,” Dominic said. “Assuming you want me to go with you, that is.”
That was easier to answer. “If they see me with a strange guy, it might make things worse. Especially if they’re going to think someone took Naomi.”
“Good point.” He touched my arm. “Good luck, Matthew. It’ll be all right.”
He walked away toward the opposite door from the one that led out to the marketplace. It wasn’t until he was out of sight that I realized I hadn’t told him my name.
I headed back to the door I’d come in through. Just as I reached it, Mom burst in. “What happened? Where’s Naomi? What did you do?”
I froze, cold running through my blood. That wasn’t just Mom being hysterical. She was actually accusing me of doing something to Naomi. Not because she thought I had, but because she was trying to hide the truth too.
I shook my head, trying to clear that thought away. This was my mother. She wouldn’t hurt me or any of the kids. Maybe the dark thing had gotten into my brain the way it had Naomi’s, and that was why I couldn’t trust my own mother.
“I don’t know where Naomi is,” I said. At least that was the truth. “Do you remember anything that happened?”
“Of course I do! You were being disrespectful, and you chased her in here. Where is she?” She grabbed my shoulders and shook me. “What did you do? Tell me!”
“What is happening?” Dad came into the building and pulled Mom away from me. “Stop this. Matthew, where is your sister?”
“I don’t know.” I couldn’t breathe through the sludge of Mom’s anger. With effort, I remembered what Dominic had told me to say. “I—I lost sight of her. She just wasn’t here. I don’t know.”
“You’re lying!” Mom spat. “You caused this. You took her away from us. Something’s wrong with you! There always has been. Your father didn’t want to hear it, but I’ve always known. You brought this upon us!”
Just like before, Mom wasn’t the one speaking, even though it was her voice. Something was using her.
The dark thing. It had to be, even though I couldn’t see how. My mother was a Christian. God should have protected her.
God should have protected Naomi, too, but he hadn’t. Maybe he couldn’t fight the darkness either. Or maybe this was how things were meant to be.