I vaguely remember bits and pieces of what happened when I got back to the Village. I was delirious and confused by then.
There was a scream. Some panicked. A few rushed towards me. People's murmurs picked up. A crowd was forming. They were curious. They gasped and wailed when they glimpsed our maimed bodies; the blood dripping from all places. They wanted to know what had happened.
I could not speak; could not begin to explain how we had ended up like this. All I knew was that I had to get Essie back home. I was holding on to her so tight they had to pry her away from my grasp. I was refusing to let go; refusing to acknowledge I had to let go. I went crazy when they finally took her away.
"Where are you taking her?" I think I blurted out inarticulately; eyes crazy, look haggard. "You can't... Give her back! She wants to go home! Give her back!"
"What happened?" "Is Ezra okay?" "So much blood..."
"Where do they come from?" "Has there been an attack?"
"Is that Charlie Moralie?" "Who is she holding?"
"Is that black blood?" "This is terrible!" "Where are you hurt?" "... Charlie..."
"How did this happen?" "Madame Moralie's kids..."
So many questions to which I could not bring myself to answer; questions that tormented me. The cacophony of their mutters made my head spin.
I may have spewed.
"Hex attacked us... I don't know if there are more..." I tried explaining.
My words sent a palpable tension throughout the crowd. I wanted to say more, but their faces were starting to blur in front of me; their words were becoming indistinct noise.
The one thing I am certain of, was seeing Gram, standing away from the crowd, hands clasped in front of her, and body taut and stern. Her lips were pursed in the way they always were when she disapproved.
I wanted to explain. I wanted to run towards her. I wanted her to hold me in her arms the way she never had. I wanted to cry against her chest, and have her tell me that Essie was going to be fine; that this was just one big mistake that could be fixed. That everything was okay. I was about to call out for her, when she turned around and left without a glance back.
I collapsed into arms, and lost consciousness then.
Gram never came to see me while I was being fixed. Essie was buried during that time, and I never got to say goodbye properly. Maybe Gram was trying to punish me for being the cause of her death. Maybe my presence at her funeral would have been offensive. I never found out.
He was the only one who came to see me at the Fixite. The only one who still wanted to speak to me by then.