As soon as I took a sip, I realized it was poison.
Oh, the irony was too sweet. Literally; the tea, still swirling within its delicate cup, tasted like pure sugar. While its flavor was welcoming, I knew its true intentions were far more sinister. Even before I swallowed, nothing could be done. I will, without a doubt, die within the hour. I know. Of course I know.
People romanticize death, say that your life flashes before your eyes and you recall the happiest moments, the worst, your loved ones, and so forth. But only one memory grabbed my attention and mentally ripped me away from where I sat, face to face with my murderer. It was the introduction to my life, so to speak, me as a disgustingly joyful and innocent child. With chubby cheeks and curled brown hair, I skipped around the garden.
The orchard was my family’s treasure. Our massive wealth was mostly devoted to its upkeep. Imported trees lined the stone walls, and the paths wove through vegetation that grew with wild beauty. My parents were constantly searching the world for new plants to add to the collection, so the garden was a forest of limitless color and diverse shapes.
My father, a man with a remarkable handlebar mustache, was gesturing around him. “Cecily,” he told me, “You know the orchard is magnificent. How it is a place of great beauty.”
I nodded. The garden was more home to me than our mansion itself, and I couldn’t bear to be away for long.
“But,” my father continued, “It can be deadly as well. We have here dozens of poisonous plants, that could kill a person with a single bite of a petal.”
My eyes widened, but I wasn’t afraid. These plants were my friends; if they were to hurt someone, it wouldn’t be me.
My mother called me over to where she stood beside a patch of flowers. “Look here.” She pointed to the plant that would spell my demise in twenty year’s time. The flowers were a rather grotesque shade of pink and purple, looking like the flesh of a monster. “These are night hazies. As a flower, they are harmless. But when you grind the petals, and filter the substance, you end up with a liquid that could kill you with a single drop. They say it tastes as sweet as honey. So, be careful, my dear.”
They were both dead before I reached my seventeenth year.
My uncle Henry murdered my family and my way of life. He was a bitter man, rather fond of the drink. Instead of asking my parents for help, Henry spent his days dispising them for their success. One day, he couldn’t take it any longer. Perhaps he was drunk. It doesn’t matter, not really. Humans are all the same.
I only survived because I was in the garden. There I sat, sketching the plants. I was a young woman then, clothed in a gown of midnight. Still I was optimistic. Then I heard my parents scream. The sound pierced through my ears and my body and into my heart like a dagger. Part of me died too, that day. Another a person may have run to help, but I was intelligent. I knew I couldn’t do anything, knew the moment the terrified cries fell silent. So I hid and watched Uncle Henry search for me. He knew that I would inherit my parents’ wealth unless he got to me, too. He knew, and I knew. But he couldn’t find me, and soon left on a desperate search.
I didn’t waste much time. By following my mother’s instructions, I transformed a handful of night hazies into poison. Then I followed my uncle. Unsurprisingly, he soom wandered into a bar. A few seconds after my uncle disappeared into the pub, I followed. I hid until he turned his back. At the first opportunity, I glided over to wear he sat and poured the poison into his drink. Before he took a sip, I was gone. Once outside, I watched through the window until he collapsed. Then I fled.
Life held no meaning anymore, and I finally knew human cruelty. Revenge had been so easy that I didn’t know what to do with my time. I started frequenting the dark parts of town, where evil is tangible. That’s where I found my true calling. Whispers lead me to people too cowardice to murder for themselves. For them, I used my talents to dispose of enemies and inconveniences.
So here I find myself, betrayed by my own weapon. I look across the table at the woman who just killed me. She is pretty, angelic with blond curls and blue eyes. A mission had brought me here. Someone wanted this girl killed, and I was here now to study. Some invented story of mutual acquaintances had lead to this tea invitation. I was going to learn her patterns, to find the perfect time to efficiently complete my job. But she wasn’t so caution. Instead, this woman had killed me at the first opportunity.
“I’m going to die,” I stated.
She smiled, tilted her head to the side. “I thought you’d be more upset.”
And I wasn’t, really. It was a fitting way to go after all I’d done. “Why did you do it?”
“Well,” she leaned back, “I know who are. People have been catching on to your work, dear Cecily. We’ve been watching for a while now, and plotting. This is the end result.”
The woman looked into my eyes. “You’re a disgusting person, Cecily. You know that?”
“Say what you will, but you just killed a human being. That’s how I got started, too, you know. Are you really so much better than me?”
Unfortunately, I died before knowing her response.