Hopes...dreams...future plans...all things I buried alongside Nate. I'll leave those ideas for other people. For those with their heads in the clouds. For those with a future. For those with a life. I stopped living mine. I crashed and burned. Watched it smile and wave as it walked away. I'm a corpse that breathes. I can admit that. There's no point in denying the obvious. I'm not even capable of the emotions I once had. There are no more tears to be cried.

I'd describe myself as empty, but it would be a lie. My loss didn't drain me. It filled me with pain. With regret. I'm left with a longing for something I can never have again. When my life was shattered I didn't even attempt to pick up the pieces. I threw myself on them and rolled around. Till there were so many cuts I stopped feeling anything. Knowing there was a better way to handle things does nothing for me. I would do the same thing again. In many ways, that's what I'm doing. Perpetuating a cycle of pain in order to try to feel something again. Some spark of life.

Death has become my greatest enemy and my closest friend. She's always with me. Silently looming within the room. Waiting to see what happens. Much in the same way I am. She took the man I loved in order to get close to me. Even now, I feel her hand coldly gripping my shoulder. Her slender fingers digging into my flesh. Both comforting and painful. Bittersweet, just the way she likes it. I pushed everyone away to build my relationship with her. Death is alluring.

If I'm being completely honest with myself, I pushed my family away long before death came into my life. It just helped me keep them away. I like to tell myself that I was close to them till I decided not to be when my husband died. It's a lie. I never wanted any part in the life that was planned out for me. Not once I realized the truth of the Bligh family legacy. The greed, the hatred,...the blood on our collective hands. I resisted many of their ideals, even as a small child. Part of me wanted to see their pride in me the way they did my siblings, but I'm not like them. I never was. Even my father was able to see that. It doesn't mean he didn't try. I'd be better off if he hadn't.

His idea to solve it was a little father/daughter bonding on my 16th birthday. I remember it so clearly. There I was in my green dress blowing out my candles in front of a room full of family. No friends. Just family. Except, my father and Nessa. I, of course, was saddened that they had abandoned me for my birthday. Even a bit jealous that he was spending time with her on the day my family considers you an adult. My mom did her best to keep my spirits up. Brushing hair away from my eyes with a warm smile on her face.

Mom: Chin up dear. I hope you made a wise choice with your wish.

Wise is not the word I would later use to describe my wish. I wished that my father would spend more time with me. It came true. Immediately. I should have been more careful with my wish. He walked into the room before I even answered my mother. A fresh cut on his forehead that he was wiping with a rag. My mother walked over to him and they talked for a second before she came back to me. She was still smiling, but the warmth of it had seemed to leave. I thought that was so odd at the time. She leaned down and spoke quietly in my ear.

Mom: Your father has a surprise for you now that you're a woman. Go with him. Make us proud.

What kind of gift could I get that would allow me to make them proud? A car was the only thing I could think of. I went over to him. He patted me on the shoulder before escorting me to the garage. I started to really think I might be getting a car for my birthday. I was filled with thoughts of the independance that a vehicle would bring. Thoughts that were trampled the second we walked through the door. There was no car. Just Nessa. She was standing over a large man with a face full of bruises and cuts. He was bound to a chair. I didn't understand what was happening. I was shocked at what I was seeing. This was not a gift. There was a gleam in Nessa's eyes. The same one that surfaced once in awhile as we grew up together. It was then I realized my feelings about her were not unfounded. There was something dangerous about her. Something wrong.

My father led me over to them. When we stopped, he turned to face me. Put his hands on my shoulders. Looked in my eyes much the same way any normal father would. He was even smiling. Something he rarely did. Something important was happening and for the life of me I couldn't understand what it was. I tried to ignore the bound man, but found myself looking over. My father's grip on my shoulders tightened. His tone was firm. What he was saying was absolute. There was a pride in his voice that was rarely reserved for me.

Dad: I've been waiting for this day for a long time. The day my oldest daughter becomes a woman. It's time Cassidy. Time for you to take your place among us. Are you ready?

Ready for what? I didn't know what he was talking about. That didn't stop me from nodding. I didn't want to disappoint him. My father always hated having to explain himself. He looked over at the man again.

Cassidy: Who is he? What are we doing here?

Mentioning the man caused Dad's brow to furrow. He looked over angrily at the guy bleeding in our garage before looked back to me. His expression now grim.

Dad: Our enemy. He wants to kill you. Kill all of us. Stopping people like him is the only way to protect your family.

Fear rose through my chest and choked off any words that might have come in response. I was frozen. I don't know if he recognized that, or if he just expected it, but it gave him no pause.

Dad: It's time you start doing your part to protect your family, Cassidy.. You're no longer a child.

My eyes went wide. It was the only part of me that moved at all. This couldn't be happening. I was in some kind of dream. All growing up I was told how blood is the most important thing. That you protected your family above all else. I thought it was about us taking care of each other. The revelation of how literal it all was devastated me. I'd been cultivated towards this my whole life. Indoctrinated. Brainwashed. Maybe that's why I had resisted a lot of things growing up. Either way, there I was. Being handed a gun by my father. Being expected to kill a man in front of him and my cousin. Like it was the most normal thing that could happen on a 16th birthday.

Dad: Protect your family.

Tears ran down from both my eyes, but without any sobbing. I was afraid to fully give into my feelings. The sounds of the world grew more distant. I could barely hear my father coaching me towards murder. I raised my arm and pointed the gun at the man. His eyes bulged out. Pleading with me to stop. This only brought more tears. My finger touched the trigger, but stood frozen. It was now that my father's voice broke through the wall of silence my mind had built.

Dad: Fulfill your destiny Cassidy. Protect your family. If this man lives he will kill your mother!

My hand shook. Picturing this helpless man getting free and killing my mother frightened me. I was petrified by the entire situation. Upset I was in it at all. Still, I hesitated. This only made my father increase in volume and intensity.

Dad: Do it now! Save your family!

My finger slowly started pulling the trigger back towards me, but stopped. I managed to choke out the only words that I could muster.

Cassidy: I..can't...I can't.

Dad: You must. It's him or us!

I took a deep breath. Focused on the man...and on trying to steady the gun. After a long moment of tense silence...I dropped my arm to my side and stared at the floor.

Cassidy: Please. No. I can't. I can't just...I can't.

My father sighed angrily. His frustation thick in his every breath. His disappointment heavy in his words.

Dad: You'll be the death of us all...

The deafening sound of a gunshot filled the garage. My heart jumped as I began sobbing uncontrollably on the floor. My father yelled in a direction that wasn't mine.

Dad: Nessa!

I looked up to see her putting a gun back into a shoulder holster. She wasn't even ruffled by what she had done. She just looked at my dad and spoke calmly in her light Irish accent.

Nessa: She wasn't gonna be doing it.

He still seemed unhappy that she did it. He wanted me to be the one. Yet, he didn't say anything more to her about it. It's like he accepted what she had determined. She stepped over to me. Her boots clacking against the concrete. We looked at each other for a moment in silence before she finally said anything.

Nessa: Is there any cake left?

I was dumbfounded by the question. That couldn't be what she just asked me after what she had done. I had no answer for her beyond an expression of shock. She shrugged at my lack of an answer and left the garage. My father bitterly spoke after her exit.

Dad: You're still a child. I can't believe my blood is in your veins. Out of my sight.

I cried my way out of the garage and went into the woods behind my house. I didn't want anyone to see me in the shape I was. That was the last time he and I talked that wasn't through my mother as a buffer. The next 3 months I found myself feeling completely alienated. Alone. I didn't feel like I was a part of my family at all. So, I got a job at a gym and left home. They still weren't out of my life. Regardless of their disappointment, I'm blood. There is no escaping them. No matter what I keep telling myself...there never was.