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Deliverance

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She’s in her grandmothers old house, the one her dad was raised in. The one he used to complain about being too old and moldy to live in and insisted his mother get a new place. Lola hated this house. It reminded her too much of her past, and a ghostly reminder of how much her grandmother disliked her.

The living room is empty but she can hear a faint humming coming from down the hall. She does not want to go. She wants to stay planted where she is. But she has no control over her legs. She wants to reach out and grab onto the walls frame to stop herself, but she has no control over her arms. She's not in control. She's helpless.

Her legs move and she's walking towards the humming.  The wooden floorboards beneath her creek and groan, warn out, ready to cave in at any moment. The hall smells musty and old. There's cracks in the wall and broken picture frames, the glass splayed along the floor, crunching underneath her feet as she walks. Getting closer and closer to the humming. It sounding like a loud stereo inside of her head. When she gets to the door she calls out faintly;

"Nana?" Her voice is shaky. She swallows hard as she repeats the call, "Nana?" Her grandmother doesn't say anything. Just keeps humming. Louder now. It making her ears ring.

She pushes open the door, it creaks and swings open much harder than she pushed. It hits the wall behind it with a bang and she jumps. Her heart pounding out of her chest. She looks around the room and there she is; her grandmother sitting in her old rocking chair in the corner, her eyes straight ahead as she hums to herself. She doesn't look Lola's way. Even when the young girl comes to kneel in front of her. Her eyes are somewhere else.

"Nana?" She doesn't respond. Lola can feel tears brimming at her eyes and she repeats the calls out to her grandmother, but to no avail. Until the girl lets out a sob and her grandmothers head snaps to hers. Her eyes boring into her and her expression choleric.

"You will bring nothing but death to this family." Her grandma's voice is laced with poison and anger. "You will know nothing but suffering, you will bring it everywhere you go. Everyone around you will fall into your pit of darkness until there is nothing left." She scowls. "You will come to Hemlock Grove to die."

Lola cries out begging her grandmother to please stop, to please be quiet. But she keeps repeating the words, louder and louder, until the poor girl can do nothing but scream. But even her screams don't stop the booming words. Until she stands from where she's knelt, her hands coming to cover her ears as she quickly backs away from her, only to have her back collide with something solid.

She freezes and turns around slowly to see a boy of whom she has never seen before. A stranger. She stares at him, tears flooding down her face. His green eyes glare into her hers.

"You will die." Grandma speaks. "And he will help."

And before she girl can comprehend anything, the boy grabs her wrist, his grip tight enough to break her bones. Lola cries out and pleads for him to let her go, trying to pull her arm from his grasps but not budging not even a little bit. The boy watches her struggle. Stares at her.

She stops. She can't get out of his grasps. And so she cries and cries and soon it turns into screams as she watches the boys mouth expand. Opening as if he were a snake. His teeth sharp and covered in red. She can't move. She is frozen. And as he sinks his teeth into her throat, her screams turn into gurgled noises. Blood pooling from her mouth and falling all around them.

"This is your fate. Your destiny. To die." Are the lasts words she hears before she snaps awake.

She is drenched in sweat and her throat is dry. She feels as if she cannot breathe. Her hand comes to her throat, checking her skin; still smooth, a little sweaty, but no bite marks. No blood spewing from it.

It was just a dream.

A horrible dream.

"Are you okay, sweetie?" She looks to the left of her to see her mom, still driving. They were still driving. She was still in the passenger side. She must of just dozed off. "You were making all sorts of noises in your sleep." Her mom frowns, looking to her daughter with worry and then back at the road. "Was it a bad dream?"

"Ye–yes." She stutters. She reaches for the bottle of water in the cup holder, downing the whole thing. "Just a bad dream." She whispers. "A nightmare."

Her mom reaches out to pat her leg. "I'm sorry honey."

"I'm okay." Her breathing is finally slowing down. Her heart is still racing but not as bad as before. She's okay. "I'm okay." She repeats. Taking slow breaths to ground herself.

"You haven't had nightmares in a while." Her mom makes note, her face etched with concern. "You used to have them all of the time when you were a little girl. Your dad and I would get woken up out of a dead sleep to you screaming. And I mean screaming. It was like a blood curdling scream." She can tell the memory saddens her mom as she watches her tell it. "We couldn't calm you down either. Couldn't even wake you up. You would just thrash around and all we could do was rub your head, tell you that it's okay, it's alright, that nothing was hurting you, that it was only a dream." She swallows the lump in her throat. "And you'd finally calm down. It was horrible. The last nightmare you had was before we left Hemlock and after we moved they went away." Her mom sighs. "Thank goodness."

Lola does not remember the nightmares she had as a young child. Her mom made sure of her forgetting. Putting her into many therapy sessions that made the nightmare memories disappear to the farthest parts of her brain. And Lola was glad. She did not want to remember them. She did not want to experience them again. Her nightmares were all too real. All too haunting.

The words her grandmother had spoken to her in them still played in her head; you will bring nothing but death to this family, you will know nothing but suffering. You will die in Hemlock Grove.

It gave her the chills. It made her want to breakdown into a ball and cry. Something she was too used to doing.

And words she was too used to hearing.

Her grandmother had always said those things to her. Her mother said the day she was born her grandma would not even hold her. And if it was not for her father and how much her grandmother loved her son, she would of pushed them all away with out a bat of her eye. But she kept them around for her sons sake, but kept her distance from Lola.

Her grandmother did not take an interest in the young girl until she was two. She would pick the girl up and take her down the hall to her private room; a room few people had seen, or she had let see inside of. Lola remembers seeing candles lit all over the place, cards splayed out on a table with funny pictures on them, and rocks of all different sizes and colors. The room smelt like sage and lavender and it burnt her nose just to breathe in the air.

Her grandmother sat her down on one of the tables, in the middle of what looked to be a circle of salt. She would splash water on her face as she mumbled in Spanish. A mantra of words she would say for five minutes straight until she would bow her head to pray, taking the toddlers her hands into hers. She would do this everyday that Lola would come visit her. Her mother questioning her dad about it, only for him to tell her that was how their culture would bless their children. But Lola would always hear her dad yelling at her grandmother to stop and leave the child alone. And in fear of losing her son, she did so.

And once Lola hit three and was able to comprehend a lot more, that's when the stories began. Stories of Cuban urban legends and bad luck and witches and most of all; the story of how Lola was going to die.

Her grandmother never told her how she was going to die down the actual event itself. But more of the causes of her own death; suffering, betrayal, her soul being bad. That kind of stuff. And when Lola turned four she had already heard it all and then some. She was going to live a suffering life, and whomever was around was going to live the same life. She brought nothing but suffering and death in her wake. And one day she would die, young and by the hands of her own self. She would cause her own death. She was born to die. Her grandmother would tell her. Set her on her lap and drive it into the young girls head until she was in tears and running back to her parents.

And they would do their best to reassure the young girl that Nana was only joking. That the tales she told were just folk ones and old magic that did not exist. But at night she would hear her parents argue and scream at each other about what her grandmother was doing. Her mom wanted to leave Hemlock Grove since the day they had Lola, but her father refused. Wanting to stay close to his mother and being in the town he grew up in meant a lot for his own child to do the same. So her mother made the sacrifice of staying in this dead end town for the man she loved. But made sure to keep Lola away from her grandmother as much as possible, as well as herself.

Her grandmother did not like Leah Delores. From the moment she had laid eyes on the girl she let her distaste known. She had yelled at her son until she was blue in the face to stay away from that girl. Telling him she would bring nothing but sorrow into his life. Comparing the woman to a ciguapa; a woman in Cuban urban legends who would lure men into the woods to kill them. The title alone scared Leah to death and she had ended things between the two before it got any farther. But when Lola's dad showed up at her door with flowers and crying and vowing his love to her as he got down on one knee and proposed right then and there, she couldn't help but say yes and ignore all the hurtful things that were being thrown her way by his mother.

And so they got married and soon after came Lola. Her grandmother scolding her father for having a child with such a woman and that one day they would come to regret it. And when Lola's dad died the girl swore she saw regret in her mother's eyes when she would look at her.

The day of her fathers funeral her grandmother came up to her, tears in her eyes and screaming to the little girl that this was her fault. That she did this. That it should of been her. And as Lola's mother fell into a depression she had wished it had been her instead of her father; he had died in a car accident. An accident that Lola was a part of. He had just picked up the little girl from school and they were on their way home when a car hit them head on. Lola was thrown from the car and left with a long scar across her hip bone. While her father died instantly. And every time the girl would stare at herself in the mirror, her hands coming to brush against the five inch scar that plagued her with guilt and mourning every time she saw it, she wished it had been her who had been taken that day. If she was meant to die horribly and soon, why couldn't she have then?

And after her mom got a little better, they had packed up and moved out of state. Far away from Hemlock Grove and far away from any reminder of Lola's father and her grandmother. But her mom was still not okay. Bouncing from relationship to relationship and taking up a slight drinking problem, Lola suffered as a child. Taking care of her drunken mother and having to learn adult things at a child's age.

But when her mom accidentally became pregnant, she cleaned herself up. She took one look at the little girl she had been misusing and chalked herself up as being just as bad as her grandmother, and she refused to be like that. She refused to let that old woman win. She was a good mother, a loving one, she loved her child, her children, and she was going to prove that. She was a good woman. And so after the twins were born, Nadine and Emily, she had changed her ways and became the mother Lola had remembered her to be when her dad was still alive. But she could always see that hint of guilt and sorrow in her mother's eyes as she looked at her children. Especially when she looked at Nadine. She had been born with down syndrome. Something her mother blamed herself for; she had drank heavily for three months of her pregnancy, not knowing she was in fact pregnant, and she blamed herself for that. Thinking that if she had only not let herself fall apart and get so bad that her beautiful child would not have to suffer the consequences.

But Nadine did not suffer. She was the smartest girl out of the three siblings and the wittiest. She brought nothing but sunshine and laughs wherever she went and did not let her disabilities get in her way. Lola loved her sisters. But she held a soft spot for Nadine and how brave and bright she was. She had wished she could be even an ounce like the amazing girl.

Emily was different. She was like their mother; a bit uptight and having a wanting to get stuff done and done right and there was not time for breaks because if you took a break that would leave less time to get whatever needed to be done done. But despite her hard work ethic, she was very outgoing and shy. All three girls being complete opposites of the other which left their mother going crazy half of the time.

But they were a family. A happy family for the most part. And growing up, after the mess of Hemlock Grove, her father, her grandmother, and her moms down fall, Lola had a good childhood. All of the siblings did. They lived in a rural town in New York where the summers were short and winters were longer, but the girls always seemed to love any weather and had many friends, along with great memories. And the horrid things her grandmother had said to her had stopped haunting her at night; until freshman year.

Lola had been staying at her best friends house and the house had caught on fire. Her friend and her parents had died in the fire, but the firefighters were able to save Lola. To their bewilderment, the fire had seemed to miss the sleeping girl completely. So much so that the girl was found curled up in a ball on the floor, a clear, untouched by fire, ring around her. As if the fire had went ablaze around her and she was in a safe bubble. And when the story got out of what the firefighters had seen, people began to blame the little girl for starting the fire and that she should have died; thus bringing back the guilt and horrible words her grandmother had said to her back then.

So they moved again, this time to Ohio and everything seemed to be better again. Until Leah got a call from a hospital in Hemlock Grove, years later, saying that her ex husbands mom was very ill. And because of some old promise she made to Lola's dad, they packed up and headed back to Hemlock.

Which is why they were on the road now.

The drive had felt like forever and Lola supposed that's why she fell asleep, her sisters both asleep in the back seat being proof of the theory. But why she had a nightmare of her grandmother or the guy with the green eyes, who she did not know, she had no clue. And she wanted to push it far from her mind as possible; a trick Lola learnt to do as she got older, forcing herself to forget or run away from things instead of letting them eat away at her or facing them. A trick the girl would come to regret doing eventually.

 

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The new house was not anything as great as their old one. Their old one had a big yard and space between neighbors. This one was the opposite. Small yard and right next to the neighbors, almost on top of them. But it was all they could afford right now, their mom quitting her old job and having to find a new one here in Hemlock. So the girls did not complain, at least not to their mothers face.

But Lola was sure her mom knew their true opinions on the house, which is why she let the three of them choose whatever rooms they wanted first. Leaving her with the smallest room, but she didn't seem to mind. As long as the girls were happy. Nadine and Emily got the biggest room, seeing as how they had to share one. Lola getting the second biggest and a good view of their sorry for an excuse backyard.

But at least they had a home and did not have to stay in Lola's grandmothers. And for that Lola was more than thankful for the house they had.

"Can you girls help me unpack the stuff for the kitchen?" Leah asked as she carried a large box into the kitchen area. All three girls sat on the couch in front of a floor fan trying to cool down.

"Mom, it's like one hundred degrees out," Nadine complained. "Do we have to unpack everything today?"

"Yes."

"If you wait to unpack later you're not going to want to do it then either." Emily pipped up as she stood from the couch, no sign of complaint or resistance showing from her.

"Kiss-ass." Nadine whispered to Lola making the two laugh softly.

"What was that?" Their mother put her hands on her hips in the 'you better listen to me now' stance.

"Diney and I were just saying how we would love to go explore." Lola derailed, not wanting her sister to be reprimanded. She stood from the couch, "and it is really hot mom, and school starts in what? A couple of weeks? Shouldn't we at least explore the town a little bit so we can get a feel of everything?" Lola tries to reason with her mother. "And plus, this stuff will be here when we get back. It always seems to gather more and more even after we have unpacked what we think is everything. It's endless. And we have worked so hard already, by law I think we deserve a break."

"By law, huh?" Her mother tries to hide her amused smile. "You would think by law you'd have to help your mother unpack."

"That's not a law!" Nadine adds in matter-of-factly.

"Yes, thank you sweetie, I know." They all laugh. Leah stares at the three girls in debating and finally lets out a deflated sigh, "fine! Go explore! But when you get back, I'm taking a long hot bath while you guys finish the unpacking, deal?"

"Deal!" Nadine shouts as she jumps from the couch and heads towards the front door.

"You know, when your sister goes to college you're not going to have someone to help you weasel your way out of responsibilities!" Leah shouts out after her. She sighs, "please watch them, don't go too far-"

"And don't talk to strangers and don't do drugs!" Lola finishes for her mother sarcastically, "I know mom. We will be fine." She gives her mom a quick kiss on the cheek before she joins the other two girls by the door. "Love you!"

"Love you too! Behave!" Their mother calls out to them as they walk out of the front door.

Lola does not remember much of Hemlock Grove. Sure, she was born here and lived here until she was four, but she still could not remember anything remarkable or worth remembering about the place. It was a small town, there usually wasn't much to remember about them. She does however remember her mom complaining about the town a lot, other than just because her crazy grandmother lived here. She never seemed to like the town.

The three explored the downtown area, coming across a few grocery stores and hardware stores. Emily complaining about them not having a library near the house, but was relieved when they finally walked past one.

"What's that big building?" Nadine pointed at the sky. Lola not exactly sure as to where she was pointing at exactly, until she followed her finger to the big glass tower that seemed to over tower the rest of town.

"That's probably the most important building here," Emily concluded. "It's the biggest and most city like thing here, so it has to be important."

Lola stared at it, it was more city, or fancy than the rest of the town seemed to be. Godfrey; she read the name placed atop the building. Godfrey. She repeated. The name felt weird in her mouth, but also as if it held a bit of familiarity. But she had never heard the name before.

"We should of ate something before we left." Nadine frowns. "I'm hungry."

"You're always hungry." Emily picks.

"I have an addiction for food! It's better than having other bad addictions!" Nadine scowls.

Lola smiles at her sisters argument. If they weren't fighting all of the time she swore it meant the world had stopped spinning. She was feeling hungry herself though. They had drove all afternoon and night and did not get a chance to eat breakfast this morning as they unpacked most of their stuff, the moving truck already waiting for them when they pulled into their drive way.

"Let's find something to eat before Nadine heals over in hunger." Lola intertwined her arms with her sisters, Emily on her right and Nadine on her left, as they walk down the street looking for something that sounded tasty.

It being a short search when Nadine spotted the words Ice Cream Shop on one of the storefronts. Lola debated on if her mother would approve of them having ice cream way before dinner, but it was hot and ice cream was always good on warm days, in her book at least. So she decided why not and the three walked in to the cool shop.

"Ooooh, chocolate marshmallow!" Nadine exclaimed with excitement. "Ooh, and they have butterscotch!"

"Do you have to read off every one?" Emily complained.

"As a matter of fact, I do!" Nadine gave her a pointed grin, in which Emily stuck her nose up to.

Lola laughed, shaking her head at the pair. She looked up to the list of flavors, her eyes skimming over them until one stood out; strawberry banana. That sounded good to her! And so she stood in line, listening to her sisters debate over sprinkles or no sprinkles as her eyes wandered the little shop.

It was cute. It had an old timely home feel to it. It was definitely a family owned business, that was quite obvious. And probably why it felt so homey. They also sold sodas and baked good items and it smelt so heavenly in there; like freshly baked cookies. Lola loved it and decided that this would be her go to spot if she was craving something sweet.

There was not a lot of people in the little shop. Something that surprised her, since it was incredibly hot out. She figured kids would be lining up at the door begging their parents for ice cream cones and sundaes. But, besides her and her siblings, there were four other people in there; an older couple, and the man who was in front of them giving the clerk his order, and one other person. A boy. Lola couldn't see his face, his back turned to her and gaze staring out towards the window. He looked to have a vanilla ice cream cone in his hand that was melting and melting fast, but he did not seem to care.

Once the man in front had received his ice cream he left the shop and the girls moved up and gave the clerk their orders, and soon they were each handed their cones.

"I'm going to go get some napkins." Lola told her sisters as she turned and walked towards the other side of the shop, her vision focused on her ice cream and making sure it wasn't melting, her shoulder colliding with something hard causing the girl to spew a dozen sorry's and feel ridiculous for not paying attention, looking up to continue her apologies; when she froze in her place.

It was him. The boy from her dream. Looking down at her, a scowl on his face, his green eyes just as intense as they were in her dream.

Lola felt as if she could not breathe. Her heart pounding hard enough in her chest that she could hear it in her ears. Everything else was white noise. She felt her ice cream cone fall from her hands and to the floor. For sure ruining not only the floor but her shoes. But she was stuck. Stuck staring at this boy. Their eyes never breaking a part. He was real. The boy from her dreams was real and he was here, staring her right in the eyes. This had to be a dream. She had to still be dreaming. She thought.

But once she felt someone grip her arm, pulling her towards the shops door, the hot air hitting her once she was out, she knew she wasn't dreaming.

"Are you okay?" Emily cupped her cheeks with her hands, frantic written all over her face. "Lol! Earth to Lola!"

Lola couldn't speak, she opened her mouth but nothing came out. All she could do was shake her head. Her whole body shaking. She felt hot tears running down her face. She was crying, when did she start crying? She hadn't noticed.

"Maybe it's the heat messing with her." Emily sighed. "We should head home now."

Nadine frowned and nodded in agreement. Emily taking Lola's hand as they started on route back home. Lola tried to speak, but still nothing. But before leaving the buildings front she turned her head to look into the little shop windows, only to see the boy was still staring at her. His scowl and intense gaze still there.

She wanted to stop. She did not know why, but she wanted to. To stay and talk to him, ask him if this was some kind of joke. Ask him who he was.

But the voice inside of her head, her grandmothers voice from her dream; you will die and he will help. Stopped her from turning around and going back, keeping her walking and not giving a single glance back.