Curse and Consequences
The sun spilled through my blinds and rudely woke me up before I was ready. I dove under the covers and hid my head from the offending light. "A bit photosensitive this morning, are we?"
I yelped and sat up, holding my blanket tight to my chest. "What the hell are you doing in here?!" I screamed at Azaraphel, throwing one of my pillows at his head as hard as I could.
He laughed and caught the pillow. "Don't be like that, I came with good news!"
"And how long were you in my room?"
He looked at the clock over my bed. "Uh, I'd say about thirty minutes? An hour?" He paused and smirked at me. "You know, you are cute when you snore." I threw the other pillow at him, which he dodged by stepping out of the doorway. "Get dressed and come to the library when you are ready. I'll be waiting," he called out, his annoying laughter following him down the hallway. I grumbled and crawled out of my bed, which was still missing the finials by the way, and made my way to the attached bathroom. I looked in the mirror, and didn't entirely like what I saw.
My brown eyes were puffy and red, which was no real surprise, but I also looked like I was in shock. Again, that was no real surprise, but I didn't like that it shown so clearly on my face. I was stuck in disbelief. I had bought into the idea that I released a demon, given it a piece of my soul, and had lost my memories from my teenage years. It was a lot to reconcile with myself over just one night of bad sleep.
I decided to take things one step at a time. I washed my face and brushed my teeth, and then untangled the rat’s nest that had formed in my hair. I pulled on a pair of jeans and a grey silk camisole. Because I was feeling rather pitiful with myself, I also did my makeup, and put on a pair of large orange hoop earrings with matching bracelets. When you don't feel good, look good. It helps.
Once I was dressed for bear, or demon, or whatever the saying was, I went down stairs, taking the demon journal with me. I opened the large French doors leading into the library and found myself even more annoyed than I had been that morning. I don't know if it was Azaraphel's presence or the fact that he was sitting at my grandfather's desk, in my grandfather's chair, going through my grandfather's books. I had been planning on doing just that, and I didn't really feel comfortable with a so-called demon doing it before I did. "What are you doing?" I asked, irritated.
"Come see. I want to show you this." He said pointing down to a page in front of him.
I stood my ground and crossed my arms. "No. I want you to tell me right now, what you think gives you the right to just waltz in here and go through my grandfather’s personal things."
He looked at me with a deer in the headlights look. "I'm sorry, but you did say I could look around. I just wanted to find some proof to show you that I'm not lying to you. It would make both of our existences easier."
I huffed. "Says you." I pulled out the slip of paper that said the words I'm sorry, and put it in front of him. "Did you write this?"
He looked at it, and shook his head. "No. Your grandfather must have." He directed me to the journal page once more, comparing it to the slip of paper in my hand. "See for yourself. Looks like your grandfather’s handwriting."
Reluctantly, I walked over and looked over his shoulder. It was oddly familiar. It felt like I had done the same thing a million times, but I knew that couldn't be the case. My grandfather had told me to never come in here. But that was the grandfather from my memories, not the one from the journals. Perhaps I had stood here, just like this, with my grandfather in a memory that I couldn't remember.
"Riesa, are you okay?" Azaraphel asked. He was looking up at me with a very concerned look. I shook my head because I was having a bit of trouble focusing.
"I'm okay, Red," I replied. "Just, déjà vu."
He cocked his head to the side. "Did you just call me 'Red'?"
I shrugged. "Yeah, sorry. It was my mental nickname for you before I learned you were a spawn of Satan."
He pushed back in his chair. "Woah, now. First, I hate that nickname. How would you like it if I called you 'Blondie'? Second, I am not a spawn of Satan. I'm a Demon. I am my own being, baby."
I stood there for a moment, shocked. "I hurt your feelings." It was odd how we had gone from me being the mad one, and him being the defensive one, to vice versa.
"Hell, yeah, you hurt my feelings," he replied. He turned to me and made a measurement of about an inch with his fingers. " I am about this close to being a Free Agent. You know what, never mind. Look at this," he redirected me back to the page, letting his ire die.
I took a moment to wonder what a free agent was. It sounded pretty self explanatory, but something about the way he said it gave me pause. I filed it away as something to ask later and followed his fingers, reading the entry that he had been pointing to. It was apparent that it was an entry from one of my grandfather's journals. The hand writing was just like the one on the note. The page itself was also similar to some of the writings in my last journal. There was a picture of a circle, comprised of eight other more elaborate circles on the outer edges. There were words in Latin scattered around the page, as well as notes from my grandfather. "What is this?" I asked, pointing at one of the notes.
"This, Riesa, is a spell to remove your family curse." Azaraphel answered. "It looks unfinished, though."
"What family curse?" I asked. Azaraphel flipped through the pages of the book to an earlier date from that year. He paused on the page when he had found what he was looking for.
"Read here," he said pointing to a particular paragraph.
I leaned forward, closer to the book, and a little too close to the demon. He oddly smelled like sandalwood. I guess he noticed how close we were as well, because he leaned away and pushed the book towards me. I read out loud. "'September 16. Sins of my past have come back to haunt me. The death of my wife was terrible enough, but now my son and his wife are dead as well. I am both overcome with remorse and relief at the same time. I did not wish death on my son, but neither would I have wished the guilt that I feel on him either. I need to resolve this curse, remove it in some way before it takes the life of my beloved granddaughter as well. My son was right to keep her from me, but this curse will not pass her by. I've resolved to teach her what I know of charms and spells, as well as spirituality, but I fear that it will not be enough to keep her safe from the evil forces out there'... what the hell is this?" I asked, looking up to Azaraphel.
"Apparently, your grandfather was no saint in his younger years. He doesn't come out right and spill the details of the curse anywhere, but he does mention it several times that I've seen so far. From what I can glean, your direct family tends to die earlier than most, caused by a generational curse placed on your family. Quite a while back, actually. I haven't seen anything about where the curse came from, or who was responsible, but there was mention of a demonic bond. I guess that explains why you summoned me seven years ago."
"What do you mean?" I asked, standing up straight.
"I mean that you might have thought that I was the demon behind your curse. Which I wasn't, by the way," He added pointedly, turning back to the original spell page. "See this seal here? It's for sealing away evil." He looked up at me. "But the spell on this page has been modified, for some reason. It doesn't just seal away evil."
I gave him the eye. "Enlighten me."
"This seal takes away the happiness of the one who invokes it, written as it is. It’s missing some pieces. Intentionally or not, you tried to seal away the family curse by sacrificing your joy for the eight years prior to this spell." He looked me in the eye and sighed. "Riesa, you don't remember being happy after the age of ten because you gave up those memories. Unfortunately, you sealed the wrong demon."
I huffed and walked around the desk, plopping down into one of the oversized chairs situated across the library. "So, that is the explanation behind all my déjà vu moments. And all the letters, journals, and pictures of things I don't remember." I let that sink in for a moment, covering my eyes up with the crook of my arm. "Then where did my other memories come from? The false ones?"
I heard him turning pages. "Now that, I'm not sure... oh wait, here is something..." He paused for a moment. "Ah, never mind." I heard the book close again.
An unsettling thought struck me. I looked up at Azaraphel. "Wait a moment. The seal didn't work. Does that mean that I lost my memories for no reason? My family is still cursed?"
He gave me a sympathetic look. "Well, yeah." He replied. "Though, technically it's just you. You are the last of your grandfather's line in the Grimshaw family. After you die, there won't be any more curse."
I didn't like the sound of that. "After I die? And how soon is that going to be?"
He shrugged. "Now that, I don't know. How old were you when your parents died?"
"I was ten. They died in a car crash," I replied.
"And what about your grandmother?"
I shrugged. "I dunno."
Azaraphel sat back and thought for a moment. "Well, that leaves it pretty open then."
I slouched back down into the chair. "So what am I going to do?"
He stood up, picking up the closed book as he did. He carried it over and put it back on a bookshelf that held numerous volumes of the same general size and color. They must have all been my grandfather's journals. "We will figure it out. It is here somewhere, I'm sure."
I looked at him. He was still wearing the same clothes that he had been wearing yesterday, though it did look a bit more disheveled. The creases weren't as crisp, and the dress shirt was now wrinkled from where it had once been tucked in. It made me wonder why a demon would suffer unruly clothing. I also wondered if he was really a demon. It still seemed bizarre but not as bizarre as some of the other things that seemed to ring true. And was he truly innocent of being the demon responsible for the curse? I wanted to believe him. I decidedly added him to the list of mysteries that I wanted to solve.
I had absolute proof that I had a different past than what I remembered. I touched the amulet around my neck again, and thought of the framed picture of my grandfather and me up on my dresser. I wanted those memories back. "Red, do you think it might be possible to get my memories back?"
He turned around to face me again, holding a new book in his hand. "Really, I hate that nickname. Can't you call me Azaraphel? It isn't that hard to say."
"It sounds weird. I tried, but it just sounds too weird. Don't you have a normal name that you use when associating with normal people?"
He sighed deeply at me. "Phil. You can call me Phil. Is that normal enough for you?"
"Phil," I tested the word. I chewed on it for a bit. I decided that I approved. "I can go with that. Now, what do you think about me getting back my memories?"
He looked into the volume in his hand and put it back selecting another. "Honestly, I think that now that the seal is broken, your memories should start returning to you slowly. Like the déjà vu episode you had earlier. Expect more." He snapped that book shut and put it back. "What we need here is the name of the demon who cursed your family. Generational curses usually have a particular demon that follows members of that family until the curse is fully enacted."" He paused and thought for a moment. "You wouldn't happen to know any demons, would you?"
I laughed depreciatively. "You mean besides you? No."
Phil opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell.
"Who could... Greg!" I exclaimed, jumping out of my seat. "I forgot he was coming today!"
Phil watched me hurry to the door. "Who is Greg?" he asked.
"He's my boyfriend," I shot back quickly. "Stay here, I'll be right back."