Richard instantly regretted even hinting to Rachel that anything unusual had occurred in her absence. She never let anything go. Now, he had to talk about it. Richard hesitated, struggling to find the words to convey things he still didn’t understand. What actually happened last night? Was it all real or part of some nightmare brought on by his migraine? When he awakened that morning, it really had felt like a dream. Richard was almost convinced. Then came the sudden recollection of the change which had come over Harriet at the nursing home. Unless he was losing his mind, that had been very real.
Then when he awoke in darkness to find her in his bedroom, Richard couldn’t see Harriet very well. Still, he instinctively knew the strange, husky accented voice belonged to the being who had possessed her at the nursing home. What had she called him? Reshard…was that just the way her accent made his name sound or was she actually calling him Reshard? If so, what did it mean? All he knew was the sound of it triggered a flood of so many images and sensations that it seemed to short circuit his brain. Then like receding flood waters, the memories were gone. He had awakened with only a residue of disjointed images. Rachel grabbed his arm, startling him back to the present.
“Well, don’t leave me hanging. What happened last night? Why are you all acting so weird?”
“What did mom tell you about me and Harriet’s adoption?”
“Huh? Now, I’m confused. What does that have to do with last night?”
“I ‘m not sure. All I know is that Harriet hasn’t been herself lately.”
“Yeah, so what? Can you blame her? Mama is dead. I think we’re all struggling to come to terms with the way she just suddenly died, right in front of our eyes.”
“No Rachel, that’s not when it started. Harriet was acting strange before mom died.”
“If you ask me, Harriet has always been a little high strung. You’ll have to be more specific than that, to convince me.”
“It’s hard to put my finger on it. Mostly just things Harriet has said that would never normally come out of her mouth. She’s normally so timid. Then, something happened yesterday…okay, I’m about to tell you something that will sound a little off the wall. But I swear to you that I’m not making it up. While we were at the nursing home, I looked over at Harriet and it was like someone else was occupying her body. The expression on her face, her posture…everything was all wrong. I confronted her and she started speaking with this strange accent. It happened again last night. Don’t look at me like that Rachel. See, I knew you wouldn’t believe me.”
“No, I’m looking at you funny because I think I’ve heard that accent. When that horrible rash had spread up my arm to my neck and started across my face…I don’t remember if I asked her what I should do or if she approached me about it. Anyway, she started talking about blood magic and I noticed that her voice sounded different. At the time, I was so distraught about my skin that it didn’t fully register. What kind of accent do you think it is?”
“I’m not sure. At first, I thought maybe she was experiencing some sort of psychotic break. You know, like those people you see on talk shows who say so many bad things happened to them as a child that it caused them to develop split personalities. Then, I was thinking about it again this morning and started wondering where she came from. I always assumed that she was born in the United States. Now, I’m not so sure. That got me thinking about where I came from. All this time, I was so sure that I knew. Now I realize that certainty was based on assumptions, not actual recollection or facts. Then last night, Harriet started calling me Reshard and all of these memories returned. It was like…she somehow unlocked a part of my subconscious that was previously inaccessible. I suggested to her that maybe she had a split personality due to past trauma. After last night, I’m thinking that something traumatic may have happened to me, that I wasn’t equipped to deal with, so my mind blocked it all out. Last night, Harriet was acting as though she knew me before I came here. But she wouldn’t elaborate. How could that be, unless we both came from the same place? If that’s the case, why can’t I remember anything about it?”