Rebecca opened her eyes to find herself in a familiar room. At first, she was convinced it had to be a nightmare. This scene had invaded her dreams more than a few times over the last decade. However, the memory of meeting Bailey and the note they had given her attested to the fact that this was all too real.
She wanted to sink into the bed and jump out of it all at once. The room looked very much like it had when she had last been here, when she was preparing to become the Elder’s vessel. It was quiet and clean, as though the place had been kept ready for her return. There were no restraints, so she was able to sit up. That’s when she discovered her clothes were gone, replaced with a simple white shift. Her first and only goal was to get out before anyone could arrive. Halfway to the door, however, the sound of the handle turning sent her diving back under the sheets. The person who came through shut the door immediately and walked over the bed before sitting at the foot.
She knew the voice better than her own. Peeking out from the covers, she saw Marie staring at her.
“Rebecca? Are you okay?”
“Marie? What is going on?”
“You’re home. Finally. I’m so relieved to see you again.”
“Don’t worry about that right now. I’m just glad you’re back. I don’t know why you left.”
“Peter . . . He . . .”
“Peter is gone. As soon as we found out that he had threatened you, he was expelled from the community. If only we could have found you sooner and cleared all of this up. You didn’t need to be alone for so long.”
Rebecca looked at Marie with uncertainty. Had it all been a mistake? “So when Peter came to take me . . .”
“We didn’t send him. We didn’t know where you were. Or where he was. Now that you’re back with us, we can protect you from him.”
Marie sighed. “Phillip’s betrayal couldn’t be ignored. We don’t know why he frightened you into leaving. He remains, unspeaking and disgraced. Rest assured, he also poses no threat to you.”
“But . . .”
“I know you have many questions. A lot of time has passed. Still, you are back and safe. I thought this room might make you feel a little more comfortable.” Marie stood and walked closer to her before bending down to embrace her tightly. Rebecca froze at her touch, but the other seemed not to notice. “I have missed you. Get some rest. We’ll talk again tomorrow.”
Before she could respond, Marie turned and walked out of the room. Except it wasn’t Marie. No matter how much time had passed, Rebecca didn’t think she could ever forget the Elder’s touch.