“Give yourself to me, Gemma, and you will never be alone again. You'll be worshiped. Adored. Loved. But you must give yourself to me- a willing sacrifice.'
Tears slip down my face. 'Yes,' I murmur.
Gemma, don't listen,' Circe says hoarsely, and for a moment, I don't see Eugenia; I see only the tree, the blood pumping beneath its pale skin, the bodies of the dead hanging from it like chimes.
I gasp, and Eugenia is before me again. 'Yes, this is what you want, Gemma. Try as you might, you cannot kill this part of yourself. The solitude of the self taht waits just under the stairs of your soul. Always there, no matter how much you've tried to get rid of it. I understand. I do. Stay with me and never be lonely again.'
Don't listen... to that... bitch,' Circe croaks, and the vines tighten around her neck.
No, you're wrong,' I say to Eugenia as if coming out of a long sleep. 'You couldn't kill this part of yourself. And you couldn't accept it, either.'
I'm sure I don't know what you mean.' she says, sounding uncertain for the first time.
That's why they were able to take you. They found your fear.'
And what, pray, was it?'
Your pride. You couldn't believe you might have some of the same qualities as the creatures themselves.'
I am not like them. I am their hope. I sustain them.'
No. You tell yourself that. That's why CIrce told me to search my dark corners. So I wouldn't be caught off guard.'
Circe laughts, a splintered cackle that finds a way under my skin.
And what about you, Gemma?' Eugenia purrs. 'Have you "searched" yourself, as you say?'
I've done things I'm not proud of. I've made mistakes,' I say, my voice growing stronger, my fingers feeling for the dagger again. 'But I've done good, too.'
And yet, you're alone. All that trying and still you stand apart, watching from the other side of the grass. Afraid to have what you truly want because what if it's not enough after all? What if you get it and you still feel alone and apart? So much better to wrap yourself in the longing. The yearning. The restlessness. Poor Gemma. She doesn't quite fit, does she? Poor Gemma- all alone.
It's as if she's delivered a blow to my heart. My hand falters. 'I-I...'
Gemma, you're not alone,' Circe gasps, and my hand touches metal.
No. I'm not. I'm like everyone else in this stupid, bloody, amazing world. I'm flawed. Impossibly so. But hopeful. I'm still me.' I've got it now. Sure and strong in my grip. 'I see through you. I see the truth.”
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