I glance out of the window in my apartment, judging how long it is until that party further in town. I must be growing more impatient as I grow older - it's still sunny outside. I slink off into the living room and lie down on the sofa, closing my eyes.
"Ashley!" I turn around to see my little sister waving at me. I'm about fifteen, maybe sixteen. My hair is nearly to my shoulders and falls around my face as I walk over to her. "You missed church!" she cries, disappointed in me. I thought it was older siblings that were supposed to dish out the disapproving lectures.
"Sorry, Claire," I murmur, taking her hand. The eleven year old clings to my hand, still berating me.
"You need to go see Father Robert, Ashley, and ask him to forgive you for not being there!" she squeals, trying to pull me back to the small church.
"Father Robert can piss off," I grumble, but she ignores me, still tugging me over.
"Oh! He's doing confession. You can go apologise and gain forgiveness in confession!" she pushes me through the doors and when I don't move, she keeps pushing, until I'm outside of the confession booth. I cuss under my breath and she slaps my arm firmly. Seriously? Being disciplined by a child?
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. My last confession was two weeks ago," I mumble. Here's the thing about confession: you're s'posed to actually mean what you're apologising for. I don't. I never have. Father Robert absolves me anyway and I scurry out of the church. Claire is waiting nearby. She grins.
"Why aren't you with Momma?" I ask as she clings to me again.
"Sewing with Momma's boring. What's your penance?" I swear sometimes, she's more religious than the whole family put together.
"To say an extra prayer before I go to bed tonight," I shrug. Nothing big. I've had worse. I push my hair out of my face and look around. I could've sworn I felt eyes on me, just then. Huh. Maybe it's God. "C'mon. You're s'posed to be with Momma."
I shift a little on my sofa. There's only so long I think about my past before I get bored or agitated. Tilting my head, I can't see the window from here. But I'm not bothered enough to get up and check. I just lie there and watch my memories like my life is a tape on fast forward.
I'm seventeen and Father Robert is murdered. The whole town is up in arms. Every man totes a shot gun or pistol of some kind and the kids wield big sticks, practice sparring at any opportunity that presents itself. Me? I'm packing an unreliable pistol that's as likely to kill you as it is your opponent.
I'm eighteen and marrying Lille. She's the most sought after girl in town. Most guys my age would do a lot to have her. Pops keeps telling me how goddamn lucky I am. Her sandy curls trail down the back of her simple white dress and her shimmering, pale green eyes look up at me as the new priest tells me I can kiss the bride. Pops is right, y'know.
I'm nineteen and I'm walking in on Lille and my best friend, James. Remember that pistol? I got it fixed. It kills the right people now.
At twenty, already a widowed man and not even suspected for Lille's murder, I'm busy trying to calm my horse down. James, y'see, was never the guy I thought he was. Sure, I shot them both. Only one died. James says I should join him. James is the one spooking my horse. I swear loudly at him, earning a few glares from the women hanging around watching us.
"Just get off the goddamn horse and come with me," his voice is so commanding, I nearly find myself obeying him. When I shake my head to clear it, and let my horse bolt across to the ranch, he shouts after me.
And then he's in front of me. It never fails to freak me out when he does that. I might know what he is, but that doesn't make it any easier to accept.
"C'mon, Ash, we've always been good friends. I was your best man!"
"The fact you could bear to stand beside me in a church still confounds me. Go away and stop spooking my horse." He pulls me off it and I strike out uselessly. The horse rears.
I sit up and amble over to the window again. Honestly, I should find myself a pastime that doesn't involve thinking about my past. It puts me in a very vindictive mood.
Time to get changed for that party, I suppose.