Most 15 year old girls got to spend their weekends at the mall, shopping with their friends, going to the movies, checking out dudes, and the list of super fun things goes on.
But Marissa was not most girls. She was up at every morning at 0600 to workout with the rest of her family. Her father was a general in the US military and General Redman ran a tight ship.
Her entire life was scheduled. After PT, they ate breakfast as a family. Then her father retreated to his study to work on personal projects. Her mother, sister, and herself used this time for chores and leisure. Then her father would come down for lunch and they would go see a movie together as a family.
They went out for dinner at the same restaurant every Saturday night after the movie. A chain steakhouse adjacent to the theatre.
It was to the point were Marissa didn’t even bother trying to make friends anymore. Between her schedule and having to pick up and move every few years, her sister and mother became her best friends.
Marissa hated it. All she wanted was to be a normal girl. Go to a normal college. Meet a cute, nice, normal boy and do the things normal couples do. Why was this so much to ask for?
Her older sister and best friend would be leaving in just a few months. She had been accepted into West Point. The General was so proud. Marissa’s sister had always been his favorite daughter. There were so many times when she felt like she was an accident. An unnecessary wheel.
There was a time when all she wanted was to see a smile on her father’s face and know she was the reason it was there. But that feeling eventually turned into resentment. She hated the family rules and regulations. And she feared the consequences…
Every night she prayed for a change. Something had to give.
Marissa was sure they looked like the perfect American family when they pulled up to drop off her sister at college. A family of four auburn-haired, fair-skinned people, all of whom were attractive. She was used to the looks they got at this point. Everyone assumed they were the perfect family.
She had been dreading this day for ages. Her best friend was leaving her all alone.
Keeping her shit together took every drop of energy she had. After saying goodbye and giving her sister a hug, Marissa, along with her father and mother, got back in the car and headed home. It was a five hour journey and she was hoping she could make it home before she cried.
Crying was weakness. Her father hated weakness.
But she couldn’t help herself. Only twenty minutes into the ride home and the tears and the sobs exploded from her body. Marissa covered her face as best she could, hoping her parents wouldn’t notice.
In a move that surprised her, they said nothing. She took a quick peak and was shocked that they seemed perfectly calm in the front seat. They were even holding hands.
Maybe they’re just as sad to see her go…
Maybe they love her as much as I do…
Somehow, some way, this helped her. Her eyes dried on their own without her trying to force anything. She cleared her throat, took a deep breath, and calmed herself. The thought of a terrible life without her sister by her side was something she would have to push to the back of her mind.
Five hours later and they were home. Everyone got out of the car and headed inside. No one had said a word the entire trip home. Her mother and father were once again holding hands as they walked toward the house. Marissa followed them inside. Her father moved to head up the stairs to his study, but her mother held on.
“Please don’t. She’s not ready.”
“There is no way anyone could ever be ready for this.”
Marissa’s heart dropped into her belly and she felt like she was going to vomit.
Was she going to be beaten or something? What the hell was going on?
Her mother’s eyes dropped to the floor and she let go of her husband’s hand. The General turned and looked at Marissa. His eyes were sad. Like he had dreaded this moment his entire life.
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“Marissa. Come with me to the study.”
It was not a request. But his voice was different. Soft. With just a hint of shakiness to it.
Curious and afraid, she followed him into the study and shut the door behind her. There wasn’t much in the room. It was rather bland, like she imagined every military officer’s personal office would be.
Clean. Organized. Most of the furniture was old, antique, with the only modern piece being a laptop.
Aside from his office chair, there was an ancient leather chair in front of his desk. She took a seat, sinking into it, which felt like an eternity. It was stuffy in the office. She wasn’t sure if she was having legitimate trouble breathing from fear of what was about to happen or from the stuffiness of the room.
She stared at the ugly rug on the floor. Olive green, blood red, and brown. Although it occurred to her that it was probably originally bright green and red and gold. The smell of leather and cigar smoke were strong.
“You’re not in trouble, Marissa.”
Her father was staring out of the only window in the study. She wasn’t sure if he was watching the sunset or avoiding looking at her.
“I know…I know I haven’t always been the greatest dad to you. I know you think your sister is my favorite. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Marissa sat up straight in the chair. Why was he saying this to her?
“You have a destiny. And there is nothing your mother or I can really do about it. This is a birthright. Do you know what I’m talking about?”
He finally turned and looked at her.
“I was born under a red moon.”
The General nodded. “That’s right. And so was I. Did you know that?”
Marissa shook her head. “We’ve never really talked about this kind of stuff before. Is there some significance to the blood moon and our dark red hair and the reasons why we’re having this conversation?”
He smiled and sighed. “Yeah. Yeah there is. There has long been an interesting theory about our heritage.”
Her father moved to the bookshelf behind his desk and pulled off a large leather book from the shelf. He sat it down gently on her lap.
“Is this an assignment?”
He was always giving random assignments and homework to Marissa and her sister. She assumed this might be another one. Even though this conversation started a bit weird, she thought maybe it was just another routine task. Maybe he was testing her some how. The General squatted down beside her.
“No, Marissa. This is our history. It’s your destiny. And you need to be prepared for what’s to come.”
She opened the book and it creaked like a door with an old rusty hinge. The paper on the first page wasn’t paper at all. It was parchment, yellowed from extreme age and bent at the top and the bottom as if it has once been rolled up. The first piece of text at the top of the page was a date.
It was written in Roman numerals.
“Dad. What language is this?”
“Latin. Don’t worry. All of these works are translated into English. But you have to read every single word. Even the ones you don’t understand.”
“Because it’s the story of you ancestors. It’s the story of how a powerful God had a child with a human woman.”
“Was the child born under a blood moon?”
Her father leaned down and kissed his daughter gently on the forehead. “Yes he was. Now get to reading. You have to finish the complete story before your 16th birthday. That’s when you’ll receive your birthright.”
A fire suddenly ignited inside of her soul. She couldn’t explain it. But she was going to complete this assignment. Not because he asked, but because she wanted to know. It felt like this book was a mystery that needed to be solved. And she was going to be the detective that cracked the case.
“I’ll get started right away.”
He smiled at her. Big and broad. And with genuine pride.
Marissa immediately knew she was the reason he was smiling.
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