The truth had made itself known. And the truth was: she was being honest. When I forced my way into her mind, I could sense the words spoken aloud and the words spoken within. The commingled voices were at least in agreement on two points. The first, a raw disgust at her mind’s eye being peeled open. Forced to watch her inner secrets wrest from their neat corners. The second, smaller and timid, was a voice of fear. Not of me, but of herself. Of what had happened. What she could not now remember.
What became clearer in my own mind was the realization that this hex user had been controlled. She had been manipulated. Turned into a surrogate of the Issacary. An object of their destruction. The small voice had a depleting sadness to it.
I’m sorry. It whispered.
She had the feeling of having done wrong but not the memory. And now after being thrown away in the woods along the side of a roadway – like so much other trash – she was being left with the guilt. A victim who now had her mind violated twice.
My own guilt and pity began to fill the spaces where her words and memories could not now recall. Amongst the swirling dirt and muck, new puddles began to form. I reached over to comfort but stopped short of making contact. My own violations making me the intruder. And as she cried I knew the Issacary had taken another person. I knew they had defiled and destroyed again.
I wanted to apologize. I wanted to tell her why I had to steal from her memories. I wanted to detail every point of my rationalization, which I still do believe. But I hadn’t the strength. I may never find it.
Instead, I pulled her to her feet. Out of the mud, I helped to balance her. She was standing but still needed a hand for support, which I was ready to provide.
“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you for stopping me.”
Praise I did not deserve. I hadn’t stopped her. I had made the decision to resuscitate her. A decision made because I wanted to use her. To wring from her the names of her Issacary associates.
She could detect the distance I felt from her gratitude, and added an addendum: “stopping me from dying.”
To know I had so wantonly been deciding whether or not to save her was more than I could endure. Rather than vocalize this, I shed a tear in mutual commiseration.