Fiction On Odyssey: First Bout of Madness
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Fiction On Odyssey: First Bout of Madness

It was always in my life, I just didn't understand it then.

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Fiction On Odyssey: First Bout of Madness

It had always been on paper. There were a few people in my family tree that were called mad. It was usually a thing in dynasties, even if they weren't exactly royal, like mine. Nobody could really pinpoint where it started, since my line only went back to the 1700s (Who knows what they thought mad back then), there was a 50 year period of consanguinity a la European royalty (Not that close... The patriarch at the time was apparently convinced we were gods... And that every generation should be ginger), and last but not least, there were different kinds of madness. My kind is definitely distinctive from the first kind I ever remembered, and it wasn't even me.

I was still very young when my great grandmother, Lulu, still lived with us. Everything I'd heard about her that she was "charming," a "great lady," and a "powerful city figure." And you know what? I believed them. I'd think now that short old woman in the lilac robe and slippers with the dyed blonde hair that slowly but surely faded back to white was anything but those things. But I was a child back then, and I still believed in everything. From what I've been told about that old matriarch, she was all of that once, but her mind simply faded away. I kind of knew that, since I was told she was sick, even though she didn't look the regular kind of sick. In fact, I thought she was rather nice.

I remember being maybe 6 years old and playing around the mansion as usual. Lulu had stepped out from her salon where she'd kept her birdcages and giggled, like she always did when I skipped around. That day, she led me into the room, which still bore tweeting sounds and smelled like bird poop.

"I need a little help today feeding the little beasties, mishka," she'd said to me, smiling, "And since you're so happy today, you could help me sing to them too."

So we did. We were both terrible singers, but the birds didn't seem to mind. Once everyone was taken care of, she patted the seat next to her on the nearby ottoman. That always meant it was time for a "girl talk."

"So tell me, are there any boys you think are handsome?" she asked.

Being six, I replied, "Eww, boys have cooties!"

"What about girls?"

"Sure they're pretty, but I don't want to kiss one either."

She laughed, but all the sudden, her expression turned solemn.

"Of course, of course, you're still very young," she said, "But you need to know this."

I sat and stared in wonder. Old people usually said the best thing. She grabbed me by the shoulders, though I don't remember enough to hurt me.

"Promise me something. Only give yourself first to someone if you trust them. Love is only the half of it. Love can be fleeting, but trust locks you in. You know they won't leave you, even when you know a lot of people do. Because that's how people are. If you trust someone, and they trust you, you're forever. Understand? Promise me you'll wait for the one you trust more than anyone in the whole world."

At the time I had no idea what she said, but I knew she was very important, so I agreed. Now, looking back on it, I question what made her think that kind of subject was appropriate for a 6-year-old girl. Then again, she wasn't all the way there, and mainly said what she was thinking, no matter what it was and whether she made sense or not. That's how those "girl talks" went on for the next two years. She'd tell me stories, she'd teach me life lessons she'd make me promise to remember, and we'd entertain her pet birds. I'd thought it would go on for a while, and her being afraid of people leaving, and being giggly and nonsensical at the time was nothing.

Until it turned out, it wasn't.

It was the middle of the night, maybe a few weeks after I turned 8. I'd heard people crying, and running out in the hall. I was too scared to see what was going on, so I waited it out. Eventually, I woke up my big brother and convinced him to search the house with me. What we found was our mother near the front door in her nightgown and in tears.

"What's wrong," my brother asked.

"Y-Your babushka's sick," she stammered out.

"She was always sick," I said, "You and Daddy said so."

"She's a different sick," she managed, "B-but she should be fine. You and your sister go back to bed, all right?"

But she wasn't fine. At breakfast the next morning, Daddy told us that Lulu had died. It may have been an accident, but if people asked, we were supposed to say she had cancer. Lulu didn't want people to know she was her kind of sick, or mad, I should say. Knowing more now, maybe it was an accident, but it could have been on purpose too, but nobody really knew.

I remember the funeral being surreal. Our family was known for wearing bright colors all the time, but now we were in all black. Lulu was the only one who wasn't. She looked her best in that coffin, with her hair dyed her original color of strawberry blonde and donning her favorite tiara, and dressed in her favorite purple gown, clasping a bouquet of lilies.

On more than one occasion, I thought about going up and poking her. Maybe it would wake her, since it looked like she was just asleep. But I didn't. Even with my child logic, some part of me knew that wasn't going to work. I got my education set and her secret archives of science experiments out of her death, but it wasn't enough. I remember after the funeral I wrote down everything I could think of that she taught me, since maybe I'd understand it when I'm older. I also became afraid of madness, since in that case, it meant death. I'm not anymore, but maybe I was right. Mine was born of a different death, I don't feel like me anymore and all morality had gone for the sake of street justice.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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