Peter called me up and asked me if I'd like to have lunch with him. I felt uncomfortable saying yes, but I did. I wanted some questions answered. I wanted closure of some kind.
He picked me up and we went to some Chinese restaurant with a buffet. It was super empty inside, and he chose an especially empty corner, so we were able to talk without anyone to wonder how mentally unstable we were.
"The thing is," he said as he chewed on some chicken," is that... is that this is not normal. At all, actually. We already went over this, but what happened with Grey is just not an ordinary case... so I was very confused as to what I should do with you."
"I'm quite proud of my decision now, though. I think that you'll be okay."
I looked down at my food. My stomach rumbled but the food didn't seem appetizing at all.
"What's usual protocol... for these sort of things?"
"It depends on the situation. There's way too many variables for there to be some standard way to go about things. Especially when the Fears are involved. However, it's suggested... that we kill those who are possessed. That's definitely always an option. Except, of course, when there's a risk of infecting yourself or others with the fallout from a kill. See, some Dying Man pieces, when they released from a possession through a kill, leak like radiation into the surrounding environment. Usually, the landscape absorbs most of the piece, but sometimes an agent or civilians get possessed as well."
I had to say it.
"You call them Fears too. That's the most surprising thing to me."
He seemed genuinely uncomfortable now.
"Yes. That's what they are known as. You created them that way."
I felt my entire body tremble in disgust and panic.
"So it's true. I did it. I released them. Or something."
He shook his head.
"No, I doubt that. There is the possibility that you were used as a cog in the machine, but overall... I don't think any of this is your fault, Owen. So please don't feel as if it is. If anything, you're a victim. You don't deserve anything that you've suffered through. Besides, all you can do now... is to move forward."
He took a break from talking and sipped at his drink. I could feel him study me while I processed what he just said.
And then, for the first time, he smiled.
"The worst goddamn part of all this is that I see myself in you."
"..What do you mean?"
"I went through something like what you're going through-"
"You were possessed too?"
"I have been, but that's not what I'm referring to. When I was your age, I was abused too."
I didn't know what to say to that. My eyes wandered away.
"My stepfather. From around the age of six until the age of seventeen. He beat me."
"Was it just you?"
"No. Like you, I had two brothers and a sister with me the entire time."
"What happened in the end?"
The restaurant chatted away as my gaze drifted back down to my lap. I felt sick. I imagined myself leaving. I felt sick as I imagined seeing my brothers watch me go. I couldn't do that. Not ever.
"I got up, and left. One night, I told my stepfather that I had had enough. He dared me to go. I took up his challenge and walked straight out that door."
"My mom has told me to leave multiple times. But she always ends up forcing me to stay. Once she let me walk down the highway for half an hour only for her to come driving down it and forcing me back in her car."
"That's the cruelest thing I've heard."
Silence once again.
"Do your brothers resent you for it? For... leaving..."
"I don't know. I think so. And I have no idea what my sister thinks... I haven't seen her since."
"For her protection, honestly. I lead a dangerous life. I don't want anyone to get hurt because of me. I only keep in contact with my brothers because they lead the same life as I do."
"Don't you miss her though?"
"Of course I do. I miss her every day and always will."
I thought about leaving mom while Peter talked more about his life. I listened carefully. Twenty minutes passed by, and we left the restaurant. When we got into Peter's car, Peter looked at me.
"You know... it's not impossible. You can lead your own life. You don't have to be tangled down by your mother."
"I don't know. I can't just leave my siblings behind. I can't."
"At least promise me you'll think about it."
"I am. I already am."
He drove me home and dropped me off and I didn't want to go home yet so I walked down to the creek where I found the pocketwatch and looked out upon the water.