Coming of age is never easy, but for Ember Mae Roberts and her twin sister, Lorrie Beth, it may boil down to a matter of life or death. Growing up in the mountains of West Virginia in the 1950’s presents unique challenges for any child, but for talented young Ember Mae, it means bearing the burdens of an adult, as she quickly learns her expected role is that of her sister’s keeper.
When a schoolyard bully sets his brutal sights on a fragile Lorrie Beth, Ember Mae jumps to her defense. Terror abounds at every turn as the tormenting escalates. What begins as a normal rite of passage for children since the beginning of time ends in a final tragic confrontation that leaves Lorrie Beth shattered. Both sisters make a pact to keep a deadly secret in order to heal, but Lorrie Beth has always been weak. Ember Mae fears she’ll crack under the strain and bring their world crashing down around them. What Ember Mae doesn’t realize is that she and Lorrie Beth aren’t the only ones keeping a secret. There are other secrets waiting to spill out, secrets so vile that when the full force of their evil is unleashed, it’s anybody’s guess who will survive.
I keep thinking if I can make it through one more night, I’ll be okay. If it’s true that going too long without sleep can kill a person, I’d best not be making any plans for my golden years. The hardest part is the roar in my head. Sometimes it even blots out the light, so I have the sense of a night train thundering off its track into a gaping abyss.
If I get caught with this stash of speed I snuck out of the nurses’ station, I’ll be in a world of trouble, but I’ll risk it to stay awake. It’s the dreams I have to keep at bay. Anything has to be better than the dreams.
Sharon, my counselor, says I’m going to have to confront them sooner or later if I expect to heal. How convenient it must be to have the distance to say that. She hasn’t heard those pitiful cries or seen the splattered wall. She hasn’t been swallowed up in that whirling vortex of black and red heat or awakened in a clammy sweat, her breath hitching in and out of her lungs in ragged tatters. Maybe if she had, she wouldn’t be so quick with her crappy advice to “face your past.”
Just one of my dreams might make Miss Sharon sing a different tune, but I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Sometimes I like to imagine Reese enduring my dreams, unceasingly, until time’s end. Even such a hell as that couldn’t be called “justice” in his case. Perhaps nothing could.
The dreams and the memories are my existence now, and they haunt me with the tenacity of ghosts tethered to this world, seeking to tie up loose ends before moving on. I’m the only one left who can tell our story and, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I have the need to do that. Maybe, for Lorrie Beth’s sake, the tale has to be told.
I wish I could tell it to Momma, hold both sides of her face between my hands and scream out all the hurt, force her to hear me. I doubt she would listen, even then. I’m certain Daddy would listen, looking me squarely in the eye, holding my hands, stroking the backs of them with his rough thumbs.
It’s funny, in a way, how Daddy would be the only person who’d truly listen, since he’s the one person on the planet who’d least deserve to know this evil. When push comes to shove, I suppose the truth has to be told for me. Maybe then the dreams will let up, and I can decide if enough shards of my life remain to piece Ember Mae Roberts back together. If not, the dark knowledge I hold inside could kill me.
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight