Part One: Astor the Immortal

...Astor

Try not to think about what you deserve…

My mother lifted the bloody sledgehammer over her shoulder as she said those words, eyes on me the whole time. I was young enough to believe that something divine would stop her. Something this ugly wasn’t possible, not even from her. She stood, sledgehammer barely weighing her down at all, and kept her wide, dilated eyes on my face.

“Try not to think about what you deserve. If you do, you’ll go crazy, Astor. We never get what we deserve in this life. So think about anything else, anything other than what you should have had, should have been. You’ll sleep better.” She patted my arm stiffly, smiled even more stiffly, and gave me one last deep sigh.

“Remember what I said in the park. We have to matter to someone, right? And who will that someone be for you, Astor?”

“You. Only you.”

“And you’re the one for me. Don’t deviate, Astor. Don’t you dare.”

The screams and the blood and everything that followed all feel less real than those words. My mother, full of quotes.

Try not to think about what you deserve…