First: A Thing That Makes No Sense
“Inga! What did you do?” Iveta snarled, slamming the front door behind her.
“Nothing!” Inga protested immediately, entering the foyer from the kitchen.
“Don’t lie! Out with it!” Iveta kicked her shoes off, flung her coat on the rack and tossed her bag towards a chair. The shoes bounced violently against the wall, the rack tottered back and forth on its tripod before it found its balance again and her bag missed.
“It’s just money.” Inga changed track, trying to placate Iveta.
“Just money!” Iveta’s furious face suddenly crumpled, near tears, and her butt hit the floor with a muffled thump.
“Iveta!” Inga was on her knees, hands hovering ineffectually by Iveta’s shoulders.
“Just money?” Iveta croaked. “You can barely make the rent most months. Where did you even get it?” Her eyes went wide. “Tell me you didn’t borrow it!” her breath whistled harsh through her lungs.
“No, no, no. Nothing like that. Calm down.” Inga’s hands finally went to work, stroking Iveta’s hair and gripping her shoulder tightly.
“Where did you get the money?”
“Just a little investment, just a little peek.”
“You can’t have. You said you couldn’t do things like that for yourself.”
“It wasn’t for myself, not really. I adore your mother more than my own. And I love you, Iveta. I couldn’t bear your suffering anymore.”
Iveta did start crying then. Inga held her tight, cooing meaningless sympathies into her hair.
“The doctors,” she choked out, “The doctors said she’s responding to the new treatment. Her- her white blood cell count and- and everything else, all her numbers are improving. They told me not to get my hopes up, but everything is starting to look good. She’s finally getting better.”
“I’m glad. I’m so glad.” Inga crooned and pressed kisses to Iveta’s temple.
Iveta, once she had managed to control herself, declared; “Today has been the best day of my life.”
“I thought the day we met was the best of your life.” Inga pretended to pout.
Iveta laughed. “Look,” she held up her hand. The diamond ring flashed in the morning light. “Toms proposed to me today!”
The First Half of the Second of Three Defining Moments in Inga’s Life
“Inga, I swear to God!” Iveta propped her fists on her hips, glaring.
“What?” Inga snapped back. She didn’t look at Iveta. Couldn’t. She watched Raivo’s back as he walked away instead.
“I thought it was going well!” Iveta throws her arms up, sun glinting off her wedding ring.
“The sex was good.”
“I meant all of it! You know, the relationship as a whole?”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“It means it wasn’t working out as well as you thought it was.”
Iveta pursed her lips and stalked away. “I need a drink. You’re buying.”
Inga followed obediently.
They tucked themselves in the dark corner of a bar at just past noon, chasing shots of black balsam with Irish beer. It was nearly one when they came back to the subject of Raivo.
“Raivo wouldn’t have dumped you over nothing.”
“I meant it- nothing happened. We had sex. We went on dates. I met his parents.”
“And that’s nothing?”
“Yeah,” Inga sighed and took another shot. “Nothing.”
Iveta huffed. “Then it was a good, stable relationship. So he dumped you.”
“In front of your best friend.”
“The day of your one year anniversary.”
“What the fuck do you want me to say?”
“Anything!” Iveta snapped. “Anything that explains this!”
Inga fiddled with her empty shot glass, teeth grit hard. Iveta threw her arms up and went back to her beer.
Inga whispered, “He didn’t know I invited you.”
Iveta stared at her, mouth opening and closing wordlessly.
“Shut up,” Inga hissed. She got up to get four more shots. Three were for herself.
“You invited me on… But you said you were doing a breakfast thing! That he was fine with me joining you in the afternoon!”
“I said I thought he wouldn’t mind. I was wrong.”
“Did you even ask him?”
Iveta took a shot.
“Why didn’t you tell him you were going to invite me?” Iveta’s eyes were burning. “No, don’t answer that. I’m too drunk to keep questioning you. Tell me what the fuck the matter is. Out with it!”
“I invited you because I’d rather spend time with you than with him. I didn’t tell him because I was hoping it would piss him off enough for him to walk away. I didn’t want to be the one to end things with him.” Inga took a shot so she wouldn’t have to look at Iveta. It was almost all out now.
“And how does that make sense? You’d rather spend time with your best friend than with your fucking boyfriend?”
“No. I’d rather spend time with you over anyone else.”
Iveta sat, staring at Inga, the wheels in her brain churning and making sense of all the things Inga had done and not done; the suspicions she had ignored now too close to being proved right to push aside. Inga waited for it, stomach icy and filled with pinpricks.
“Say it.” Iveta’s voice was low and hard. “Say it to me.”
Inga set her beer glass down and looked Iveta in the eye.
“I love you.” She said.
“I don’t love you.” Iveta said.
“You fucking idiot.”
A Brief Aside: Prophecy via Sheep’s Organs
Inga’s grandmother was a fortune teller. Not the fakes that you find in circuses or on street corners with crystal balls and rigged decks of cards.
She knew the true ways of haruspicy; could gut a sheep and know how your illness would progress by the shape of its liver, whether your husband was cheating by the crisscross of its intestines and the outcome of financial investments by the pattern of its blood splatter. She could eat its eyeballs and see your deepest desires, she could wrap its tongue around her own and tell you how to obtain them.
When each of her children and grandchildren were born she fed the child’s placenta to a lambkin. When it was grown she would gut it and read the fortune.
When Inga was old enough to understand, Grandmother told her the only things she needed to know-
Her death would be painful.
Her love would never bloom.
And she would never give birth to a living child.
Her grandmother had looked at her thoughtfully after all that, muttered under her breath for a moment, then shrugged and said, “You can try to guard against the stony-eyed man, but it really won’t do you much good. I’m afraid that’s that.” She patted her cheek and walked away.
A Moment; At the Time Horrific, but Later- Hilarious
“This isn’t what it looks like.” Inga’s eyes are wide.
“Really? Really?” Iveta’s eyes are wider. “So you didn’t kill that sheep?”
Inga looks down at the corpse of the sheep splayed out on the tarp at her feet and the blood splatter that went up to her elbows and the dripping knife in her hand.
“Okay, so it’s exactly what it looks like.”
“Why are you killing sheep?! In the middle of the night?! Behind my apartment?!”
“For your protection?” Inga tries for honesty.
Iveta throws her hands up and walks away.
“I’ll explain in the morning!” Inga shouts.
Iveta doesn’t answer and Inga takes that as tacit agreement. She’ll bring bagels; offerings of food always make Iveta slightly less angry. She goes back to cutting out the heart.
The First of Three Defining Moments in Inga’s life
When Inga is sixteen she loses two and half feet of her small intestine because some idiot thought it was okay to stab someone when they refused to give over their purse upon demand.
Before she blacked out Inga was witness to the most beautiful right hook slamming into her attacker’s face.
When she regained consciousness, Inga knew the woman who had thrown that punch was going to be the love of her life.
“Ozola jaunkundze, there’s someone here to see you.”
“I said I didn’t want anyone to - Oh.”
“You look like shit. Understandably.”
“It’s you. You’re the one who punched that fucker.”
“Yeah. I’m Iveta. Iveta Jansone.”
“Inga Ozola. It’s- it’s nice to meet you. Where did you learn to hit like that?”
“I had a boyfriend who was too entitled, you know? I wanted to be the one to make him fuck off, so I took classes.”
“And you couldn’t just tell the police?”
“Well, he punched me first so it was only fair. I wasn’t going to kick him out without making him suffer a little.”
Inga had never laughed so hard in her life, she hardly cared that she popped half her stitches.
The Thing about Inga and Iveta
It was always unrequited.
On Loving Iveta While it was Just the Two of Them
It was easy.
It was so fucking easy being with Iveta. She was older, twenty-one years to her sixteen, but Inga had been half raised by her grandmother who had no real concept of what a modern childhood should look like. And Inga was fearless- she was in love.
It didn’t matter that Iveta was straight and went through men like water. Inga loved her. She loved her.
She loved the way Iveta laughed, nose wrinkled and eyes glinting in delight. She loved the way Iveta mocked the outfits of women passing on the street, always in their earshot. She loved that Iveta couldn’t stand wasabi but ate jalapeños like they were candy. She loved that Iveta wore the same pair of jeans and shirts and sweaters and sweatshirts over and over, washing them so often they eventually just fell apart. She loved that Iveta smoked when she was ‘feeling Hollywood’ and drank just because the liquor was there.
She loved that Iveta had worked at the same secondhand goods store since she was thirteen; first because her father had walked out on them and more money never hurt and then because she came to adore old things and the stories they had and the people who sold them a little wistfully and the people who bought them with awe in their eyes. She loved the way Iveta tried to write poetry and never managed to make the meter stick but she still went to parks and read them aloud and demanded applause from the audience because she had tried and that was more than most could say.
She loved how Iveta welcomed her so easily. Glossed over the weird details of her life- that Inga was homeschooled, that she was raised half on a farm and half in the city, that she knew intimately the anatomy of sheep, that she worshiped Laima, Kapu māte and Saule. Iveta took in stride that Inga’s ancestors were burned at the stake in the seventeenth century and that the women of her family were always trained by mother and grandmother in the old ways, that they called themselves raganas- witches.
She loved how Iveta didn’t even blink when she explained that she didn’t have a father because her mother never let a man touch her unless it was when trying to conceive, just as her mother had done before her, and her mother before her, back on into the days long before the Pope sent Crusaders to the Baltics and raganas became hunted.
Inga loved how Iveta never seemed to care that she let herself into the older woman’s apartment though she didn’t have a key. Loved that Iveta was never surprised when she walked out on her latest fuck and Inga was standing across the street with a flask of something hard on offer. Loved that she never fussed at how Inga always showed up just as her shift ended to walk her home, often staying for hours. Or intruded when she was out with other friends and sneered at and insulted them. Or invited herself over to lunch with Iveta’s mother and shamelessly pried for stories about her childhood.
She loved that when she gave Iveta her birthday present without ever having been told when it was, Iveta had merely smiled and said, “Don’t go through my purse again,” and handed Inga back the GPS chip she had sewn into the hem at the bottom.
Inga was in love with Iveta.
It scarcely mattered if Iveta loved Inga back.
She never went through Iveta’s purse again.
Instead, she bulk purchased the same GPS chip and stitched it into the lining of all Iveta’s coats and inserted them into the soles of all her shoes.
Right and left.
A Pleasant Event of the Past
“Here.” Inga leaned out of Iveta’s kitchen to smile at her. “How was work?”
“No, your cold was awful.”
“Not nearly. Come here. I made you eggs. And I got the good Riga black.”
Iveta shed her light coat and kicked off her shoes. “You are a god send.”
“All I ask is a monument raised in my honor. Made of pure gold.”
“Sorry, all we’ve got is amber.”
“Ugh. Well if it was good enough for my ancestors, it’s good enough for me. I’ll look good made all of amber.”
“Hell yeah, girl.” Iveta took a shot of the black balsam. “Give me another.”
“Too much is bad for you.” Exaggerated scolding.
“But it’s medicinal!” Mock outrage.
“Not if you’re drunk it’s not.”
“Wow.” Iveta propped her chin on the heel of her hand, watching Inga with amused eyes as she served her a late dinner.
“You must want to talk about something important if you don’t want me drunk for it.”
Inga pursed her lips and finished dishing up the food she had made for Iveta. She settled across the table and propped her chin on her hand to mirror her friend. “I need to move out.” She declared.
“Does this mean you’re going to get a job?”
“I have a job.”
“Telling fortunes with tarot cards hardly counts.”
“Hey, it brings in the money.”
“I hear a ‘but’ at the end of that declaration.”
“But,” Inga conceded, “Not enough to afford a place on my own.”
“Are you asking to move in with me?”
“I’m ask you if you want to find our own place. Maybe something closer to your mother, if you’d like.”
Iveta considered this. “At the very least, you’d have a reason to stop breaking and entering all the time.”
“My wrist is starting to develop carpal tunnel from all the times I’ve had to pick your lock.” Inga agreed.
Iveta snorted and picked up her fork. “You find the places at the right price and I’ll come look. Don’t take forever about it.”
Inga beamed wide and settled in to watch Iveta eat.
Thoughts Inga Had While Standing on a Dark Corner in the Rain with Binoculars Trained on Iveta and Toms’ One-Year-Dating Anniversary Dinner
He makes her smile.
He makes her laugh.
He takes care of her.
He can fuck her rough, just how she likes it.
He’s determined to know everything about her.
He wants to build a life with her, not just use her to help build his life.
He looks at her like she’s the most important thing in the world.
He loves her almost as much as I do.
Fuck. She’s knows I’m here.
No, don’t tell him I’m here.
They are both looking right at me.
This is not a dark enough corner.
What you gonna do about the stalking Toms? Huh?
Really? You’re gonna write me a note on a napkin? You think that will make me go away? Try harder.
Stop standing in the rain and come in to eat something – I &T
Don’t mind if I do.
The More Important of the Two Women Responsible for Inga’s Upbringing
Vita Ozola gave birth to Lilija Ozola who gave birth to Inga Ozola.
Vita Ozola did not love her children. She had had seven of them. The first, third, fourth and seventh- being boys- she left in baskets outside a church or an orphanage depending on which one was closer at the time.
She did not love her children because she was incapable of it- her own mother had bartered her feelings away to a faery for wealth enough to buy a farm, and animals enough to sustain their trade- both secular and magical. Had she been able to, Vita always thought she might have been angry about it. In the meantime, she came from a long line of raganas and if nothing else her mother had raised her to do her duty. So she flipped a few tarot card and found the right men to sleep with to give her daughters.
If, occasionally, she indulged the temptations of the flesh and had sons, well- her mother had died before her eldest child’s birth and there was no one left to scold her. Her own sisters had long since learned that Vita was the head of the house, no matter that she had been born the youngest. And by the time her three daughters were grown, they all had been caught by hunters and burned or moved away to safer places, where fewer superstitions meant they could live quietly.
Of her daughters, the eldest Lilija was the most interesting and it had nothing whatsoever to do with herself and everything to do with the daughter she was going to have.
When Vita read the liver of the sheep she had raised to tell Lilija’s fortune she considered, very seriously, just killing her eldest. It wasn’t often that she read a person’s fortune and for the most part got predictions about what their offspring would do instead. And the doing, in this case, was vicious and bloody and would end in the deaths of many.
But, well, Vita was a mother and mothers were supposed to love their children above all else – or so her own mother had told her often enough. Perhaps when her grandchild was born there would be a way to turn the fortune. No sense in panicking a full forty years before the massacre was due to take place.
It was a fun story to tell among Iveta’s friends; how Inga, usually apathetic to Iveta’s various fucks, took six months to warm up to Toms, all the while playing the part of the shrewish, protective best friend. It’s how they all knew the relationship was serious! – is the going punchline. When they talk about it Inga smiles widely and says – she was only standoffish so long because she had to finish Toms’ background check.
Then they laugh heartily.
Inga is never actually joking.
For six months she hunted through Toms past; starting with the apartment his parents had been living in when he was born, through all his years at school, every reprimand for childish pranks and bad grade and good grade and who his friends were at the time and where they were now. Still on through to college and the first woman he’d ever had sex with, finding them and procuring blood test from clinics that screened for venereal diseases and bribing lab techs for paternity test of any child his former lovers had had within a reasonable age group that just might possibly, at a stretch, be Toms’. She looked through his mail and followed him to his bank and bugged his phone to find out how is finances were doing, and then left the phone bugged so she always knew what he was up too, later adding a GPS component to ensure she could always find him and, therefore, Iveta.
After some thought she tagged all his coats and shoes as well.
She got his medical history and that of his parents to ensure there were no inheritable diseases. She carefully interviewed everyone who had interacted with him in a meaningful way and would remember him; close teachers, friends who had strayed out of contact, old girlfriends, and even a tutor a year above him who had helped him pass math one summer. She conducted brief checks on all his friend and family to ensure everything was above board.
It took six months to ensure Toms was an acceptable partner for Iveta.
After it was all done, six months after they got serious and one year after they had started having casual sex, Inga compiled all her reports neatly. She deposited the massive stack on the kitchen table one morning before Iveta’s breakfast plate.
It took Iveta three hours to go through.
Once she was done, Iveta asked why Inga had gone to the trouble.
“It was no trouble.” Inga replied.
Iveta smiled, hugged Inga tightly and thanked her. “It’s a relief to know he’s exactly as he appears to be.”
“Glad I could help.”
The Important Parts of the Fates of Vita and Lilija Ozola
Lilija: Her first born daughter would be the cause of death and misery for hundreds.
She would take her own life because of a man.
She would never know suffering.
Her inability to suffer would cause the suffering of others.
On Loving Iveta While she was Married
Still pretty easy.
Inga did have a lot of trouble making the rent. So when Iveta moved out to live with her husband, Inga moved in with Iveta’s mother.
Not very long after she moved in, Inga cajoled a nurse living down the street to teach her enough to help Iveta’s mother administer her medications and see to her care and comfort. When Iveta tried to thank her, Inga brushed it off- it was her pleasure; and the free rent wasn’t half bad.
I didn’t matter that Iveta had a husband and wanted to have children and was busy with work and paying for her mother’s hospital bills and trying to start a new chapter in her life.
Inga had known that Iveta and Toms would get married. She hadn’t even needed to gut a sheep to know for sure. The three years leading up to the proposal had been spent diligently acquainting Toms to her peculiarities so that when they did get married he wouldn’t complain that Inga was in their kitchen making breakfast for the three of them the morning after their wedding night.
It had been easy to convince Iveta and her mother to live near each other that Inga might always be close to Iveta.
Inga loved her. There was no other place for her except at Iveta’s side.
The Second Half of the Second of Three Defining Moments in Inga’s Life
Inga remembers it in snapshots like this:
- Inga and Iveta parted poorly that day after Raivo walked away.
- They met that night at their usual pub to talk about it.
- Raivo found them there and asked Inga to speak with him outside.
- Pupils dilated, Raivo talked for a long time.
- She doesn’t remember what he wanted.
- Iveta told the waiter she was going to step out and look for her friend, who was taking too long.
- Iveta got stabbed by a mugger and did not lose two and half feet of small intestines.
- She died three hours later on the operating table.
- Inga realized far too late she had been taken in by the stony-eyed man her grandmother had warned her about years ago.
Inga’s Life: A Special Production
It wasn’t normal in any sense of the word.
She was an only child, and had only been born because her grandmother had forced her mother to find a man to conceive with. Besides that, Lilija rarely left the farm where she had been raised. Inga’s mother lived in constant fear of the man who would cause her to end her life.
As a result, it was Vita who primarily raised Inga. And Vita was a poor caretaker as she could not care. When her own children had been growing up, they had had a few aunts and each other to fulfill those needs that all children had; to be loved, to be listened to, to be looked after and told that they are wonderful just as they are. To have someone to talk to when they are feeling sad or upset or angry. To have someone to validate their feelings and affections and likes and dislikes.
By the time Inga was born the farm house had only her grandmother, her mother and herself.
She spent her time between learning haruspicy and going to market to flip tarot cards for customers to earn a little extra. She did lessons out of books and sent in marked up tests to prove she was learning her math and science and reading.
She gutted her first sheep when she was eight.
When she was twelve her grandmother told her the fate she had been born with.
When she was sixteen she met Iveta and everything changed.
When she was twenty-two her Grandmother died of a heart attack and left all her books to Inga.
When she was twenty-five the debt her mother had been accruing at the farm overcame her abilities and the debt collector – a man – hounded her until death was the only way out.
When she was twenty-six Iveta died.
The Third of Three Defining Moments in Inga’s Life
The curved skinning knife was sharp against her throat.
Inga pressed it carefully to her right carotid artery. She could feel her very pulse bumping her flesh against the chilly edge, slicing through the first microscopic layers of her skin. She took a deep breath, whispered a prayer to Kapu māte the Grave Mother, and opened her eyes to look for the last time upon the sun.
Her eye caught on the title of a book. Her Grandmother’s. The Cyrillic script danced in her vision.
Life After Death? It asked her.
She put down the knife. Took up the book.
Her heart trembled. It didn’t have to be over.
She didn’t have to let Iveta go. Not yet.
In Which Inga Discovers That Second Chances are Hard as Fuck
Necromancy was hard.
Not just because it was difficult to get all the pieces together to make the whole, to tap the powers and summon the spirits and animate flesh. It was hard on a person. Touching what the living should never touch was corrosive on a soul still attached to its original body.
Or maybe she was just doing it wrong.
Her Grandmother had been an excellent practitioner of what she did, but Inga suspected she hadn’t been very good at much else. She’d had nothing but failures following her Grandmother’s texts.
She was leaving corpses with babes in the bellies all over Riga and had nothing to show for it. She had even used men’s bodies a few times, just to see if it would make a difference.
She had to keep returning Iveta’s soul to the tiny silver bird cage with a magic circle scratch into the bottom. Every time she did, she whispered apologies to it.
Soon, she would promise. Soon.
Answering the Question of ‘Why?’
Why? Toms asked her once, when he found out what she was doing. Why?
Love. It was the only answer Inga had.
She never loved you, was Toms’ angry response.
That doesn’t matter, Inga replied. I love her. She is everything. I want her back.
How could you love someone who didn’t love you in return?
I loved my grandmother. I loved my mother. They didn’t love me. Isn’t that how it works?
Inga’s First Time Meeting Stiles
Inga knew she was fucked as soon as Toms stopped returning her calls. A hastily gutted squirrel – an excellent substitute for sheep – showed her hunters were after her. She needed to go to ground. She brought the bird cage holding Iveta’s precious soul to the second hand shop where she had worked all her life and sold it to them. Even if it was sold to someone else, the store kept a record, she could always find it later.
Next she closed up shop. Iveta’s mother had declined in the face of her daughter’s sudden death. She was practically a vegetable by that point. She called a sibling of Iveta’s and extracted a promise that she would look in on her own damn mother. She took down all the tarps that had been in the basement, protecting walls and floors from blood splatter and formaldehyde. She pitched all her tools for opening bodies and putting in babies. She was going to destroy her notes next, the ones she had written based on her grandmother’s texts, but by then there was a black SUV rolling slowly down the street, failing to look casual.
It was a long night and a good chase, but it didn’t end in freedom for Inga. The hunters and their twink magician caught up, caged her and shipped her off to the Bone Sisterhood.
The twink was a foreigner and didn’t speak a word of Latvian, though he did speak enough Russian and Old Novgorod to get by. Eventually he managed to introduce himself to her and ask what she thought she was doing.
Inga – heart sick and tired from running over cobble stones all night – answered honestly;
“Bringing back the love of my life.”
Stilinski didn’t look at her with pity, or anger, or unwanted sympathy. He just nodded in understanding and in broken phrases explained where she was going.
Her respect for him in that moment was immeasurable.
The Gullible Acolyte
No, really. What the fuck was the criteria for accepting new initiates? Must be a raging idiot?
The Sisterhood knew their shit for real. Necromancy was their bitch.
Three years with their most basic texts courtesy of one very persuadable young woman and Inga had a whole new line of ideas for bringing Iveta back.
She could have kissed that Stilinski bastard for sending her here.
After she was vouched for and questioned and proved herself sane and reasonable, Inga breathed the free air and then vanished.
She had a bird cage to find and theories to test.
Preferably in another country. Or on a different continent all together.
A Second Chance: The US Edition
She hadn’t been allowed to have things in her cell in the Bone convent so she had no way of bringing her notes without giving herself away on the spot. Eventually her cell would be cleaned to make it ready for whoever came in after her and all her research would be discovered.
So she needed to get out as fast as she could. The silver bird cage she traced to a little town near the Russian boarder. A little breaking and entering secured it back in her care unharmed.
Iveta was still anchored within. Inga pressed the cage to her chest as tightly as she could. It thrummed in recognition. She felt an echo of warmth.
In the United States of America –land of the free, now including herself – Inga went to work.
She picked her hosts randomly, but carefully; a succubus living on the streets as a homeless beggar; a siren separated from her sisters; a striga who was young and reckless.
One by one she found suitable hosts, tried the implantation, and watched the child grow with hope in her heart, only to lose it all when mother and child died.
She tried different methods; some she left alone, others she kidnapped to keep with her and watch the infant version of Iveta take shape over a matter of hours.
All of them were abominations.
She carefully called back Iveta’s soul to the cage and started over and over and over again.
Inga carried an index card on her person at all times. On it were three lines of text. They were the words of foresight her Grandmother had spoken to her years ago.
On quiet nights between her labors to bring Iveta into the world, Inga sits and stares at her prophesy:
My death will be painful.
My love will never bloom.
I will never give birth to a living child.
Inga can feel the threads of fate tightening around her neck.
There is a suspicion in her mind of how everything will end. And there is a part of her that knows she is marching to her death.
She can’t help but laughing at the growing knowledge that her whole life has likely just been one long suicide mission.
She gets it tattooed in German on either palm of her hand, right on top of the life lines.
The artist asks her why German when she’s, you know, Latvian.
Inga sighs happily, and touches the bird cage that hangs from a chain around her neck.
“Everything sounds like a curse in German. It’s amazingly satisfying to say.”
“That’s… kind of insane,” the artist offers as politely as possible.
“I’m getting ‘suicide mission’ tattooed on my hands. Do I seem sane to you?”
She keeps going. More and more and more women fail to bring about the results she wants.
There are a group of people following her, clumsily tracking her across the country as she targets as many different kinds of species as she can.
More women die by her hand than anyone ever finds out.
Each life weighs on her.
It’s becoming harder to justify it when Iveta screams in pain with each double death she endures.
She’s tired. She wants to rest.
She sleeps with a knife cradled in her hand, the tip pressed to the skin over her heart.
The Final Stretch
It’s the twink magician. She’d never forget how his aura felt.
The female werewolf must have been one of his.
Inga closes her eyes and holds the cage close to herself. Iveta trembles. They could be separated again.
No more, Inga promises. Not again.
She pulls the index card out of her pocket and reads it with new eyes, the decision made.
Grandmother was right, as usual. You never really know how prophesy will turn out until you get there.
That’s All She Wrote
In a haze of blood and pain and euphoria, Inga dies.
Iveta is right there with her. Inga smiles just before she goes – or at least she tries to. Never mind what Stilinski is saying, it doesn’t matter. Inga has what she’s always wanted; Iveta, all to herself. They are bound now, soul to soul. They will never be separated again.
Iveta smiles at Inga, lying on top of her. The black creature that is her final body entering its death throes.
“You know,” Iveta said quietly, eyes full of warmth, “If you wanted me, you could have just asked. I’m sure Toms wouldn’t have minded sharing, occasionally.”
Inga snorted. “That would have defeated the purpose.” She stood, pulling Iveta up with her.
“I guess,” Iveta said easily. “Will you be okay? When Toms joins us?”
“If he joins us,” Inga answered, “He may fall in love with someone else, and make an afterlife with them.”
“Oh,” Iveta frowns sadly.
“Cheer up,” Inga bumped Iveta’s shoulder with her own. “You’ll always have me.”
“Yes,” Iveta smiled widely, “I will won’t I?”
I am the caretaker. I care for my mother. I care for my siblings. I care for myself. I care for the store and its owner. I care for our customers. I care for the things we buy and clean and sell. I take care of everything.
But not Inga.
I thought I was going to, after the hospital when I first met her. But she didn’t let me. She takes care of me. She knows who I’m fucking and my menstrual cycle and my work schedule and what I like to eat and what I don’t like to eat and where I shop and my favorite treats and who I like to spend time with and who I don’t and how my mother is doing and all my siblings and everything to do with me and mine and she helps me get what I want.
I love Toms. He would have given me the life I wanted- settled, neat, and full of children and normal things.
I knew it wouldn’t matter what I did, she’d always be there. I could have used her as much as I wanted and she’d always offer more. And I did. I used everything she gave. And she was mine.
I’m selfish. So that’s why I put up with her.
I was her everything, and I enjoyed being worshiped.