Mom always said, Carry on, carry on, my wayward daughter. Carry on through cloud and thunder. Carry the wind in your hand and carry the lightning in your eyes. Carry your heart on your sleeve and your soul on a song. Carry on, my wayward daughter, through fields of blood and bone, through fire and flame, and carry the whole world on your shoulders. Carry on, though your heart be broken, your soul grow silent, your eyes dim and your hands shaking. Though all is lost, carry on.
But don't carry me when I'm old, she said, I won't be old for long. Don't pity me when I'm old, for I won't be sad for long. Don't worry for me, for I won't be in danger for long.
And when I am gone, don't cry long, for I won't be gone long.
But don't look for me. Just carry on.
I wonder if she knew what I would become. Oh, she had ideas. Plans. All parents do, wether or not their children ever bother to fulfill them. It takes a lot of discipline, coercion, and peer pressure to get a kid to grow up exactly the way you want them to, and Mom was never very good at coercion. And all my peers were the kind of kids who accidentally got jello all over the walls and then pretended the room was the insides of a creature. We exercised our imaginations to a greater extent than parents in those days approved of. The first time I tried to summon something was when I was with my friends, and we had the circle drawn and everything. Mom rushed in and erased the line, sent the kids home, and gave me a stern lecture about being too hasty.
I imagine your parents gave you the old "[you'll understand when you're older[" all the time, right? Hey Mom, where do babies come from? Hey Mom, why can't I stay up late? Hey Dad, why isn't the world fair? And you grow up and you realize that half the time they were right, and half he time they were wrong, and what they were really doing was stalling for time.
Well, mine did. But most parents don't include summoning angels and demons on the list. My mother had to make it clear to me that children as young as me simply did not have the power or wisdom necessary to keep demons bound. I remember, she let me summon a demon on my own. She stood by as I desperately tried to make it obey me, all to no avail, and even as it reached out its long arms and tried to grab me and drag me to Hell. I couldn't even banish the thing until Mom stepped in.
She never did any summoning herself, and refused to answer why.
You always tell me I'm more peppy than most women you know. More forthright. Bold. Bitchy. However you call it. That's because I wasn't broken in by the boys. Mom finally let me summon demons, and as soon as I could, I started repaying the boys for whatever injuries they inflicted upon me or my friends My school had a fairly high casualty rate, and nobody could figure out why, because I instructed my minions to be discreet in their cruel retribution.
What? I was an angry teen girl summoning demons from hell. What else do you think I would have done? Have them make flower crowns for the boys? The flower crowns were for me.
Eventually, Mom noticed that I had a visible red-and-black aura about my person whenever I entered a dark room. She had also been hearing all the wailing from the other parents. And she'd seen the news crews in front of the school, the police officers wandering around. She put two and two together, and she took away my chalk and my books and grounded me. She even warded my room so demons couldn't get in. I had been looking forward to playing baseball with azazoth, but, no such luck. Mom told me that I had been extremely irresponsible and that she never should have let me summon anything. I told her she should have told me what her parameters were for proper behavior a long time ago, which she'd never done. She told me she could barely keep up with me, let alone get me to understand what things like empathy and mercy meant.
She showed me a photo of one of the boys. He was in a full-body cast. I didn't know him, nor anything he had done wrong, but Mom said he'd been hit when a bookshelf fell on him. The bookshelf was supposed to squash Mikey, the boy who had nearly driven Lainey to suicide. He had escaped. Here, another picture, of a boy with a fractured skull. That must have been when I told azazoth to go after Mikey with a baseball bat. The list of casualties was lengthy, and all because I'd been trying to get even with Mikey, forgetting all discretion.
azazoth had told me that Mikey served Hell well enough that he needed to be spared.
So, too, did my fight against him, for it was causing injury to the innocent without injuring Mikey or even making his sin clear to him. What was the use of my power, if it was only serving evil? What use, if the truly evil were beyond anything i could do? Why bother if Hell was just going to undercut me?
I didn't return to school for a few days.
That's because I defied curfew and opened a portal to hell in my room, and went to meet the Devil himself. Oh, it was a hot day in Hell. I made sure of that. Hell coulld not match my fury. Demons could not meet my eyes. They fled before me.
But the Devil, he held my gaze and said, Well met, girl. Well done. You have raised Hell at your school. You have done my work for me.
I protested, and said that I was just trying to protect my friends. The Devil said, no matter, for you have done evil. Like anyone your age, you wanted power without consequence, and had little idea of what you were getting into. You wanted to do evil without being an evil person, which is frankly impossible. Machiavelli knew. Well, knows. he's down here somewhere, i forget where. Machiavelli knows that an action can be absolutely necessary and yet still a great evil. And what were you doing that was necessary? Scarring a bunch of boys for life? Making the medical bills skyrocket for dozens of parents? Getting your revenge? I was watching you. You never tried to make your victims learn from their mistakes. You just wanted power. Well, that means you're on my side, girl.
He let me go on one condition: that I raise hell wherever I go, or he'd have my soul.
Why do you think I sing hymns all the damn time? This is how I keep my soul. I'm not going to let the Devil have it. Yet. I'm not yet ready to raise Hell. Once I stop singing, that's when it will be time to take cover.
Mom didn't speak to me much after that I returned. My fault, really. I wasn't around much after that. Not at school or at home. That's another story, which is involves the tale of how I met Mistress Omega. But this tale ends here, with the last thing my Mom said to me: Carry on. No matter what, carry on. Don't lay down and die. Keep going and die standing. Lose everyone and everything, but carry on.