They searched the world together for years, my parents. They never found what they were looking for, but they’d found each other.
Finally, my mum went back with him to New York and they married. Again. (They were first married in a half-buried temple somewhere in India, but he wanted to make it official.) But deep down he was devastated about the broken roads and sank into a depression. He was haunted and had become convinced there was a world beyond this one. One where magic wasn’t just parlour tricks and weak glamours. One that was calling to him. I was born in 1992 and it wasn’t long after that he left to search for something and didn’t come back for nearly two years. My mum and I were taken care of financially, but aside from the few times he came home, longing and listless, she was a single mother.
The last time he came back, before my mum died, something had happened and he begged her to bring me and come with him. He said he’d found “the little red house.” The one from her dreams. We’d be safe there. Happy. But she refused. She said he would never be still, content. He would always be searching for something.
He tried to take me away that day. He almost carried me out of the flat, but my mum, using some object my father collected a long time ago, cast a dark magic on him, wounding him. He lost part of himself that day, and so did she, all to keep me. Her health began to fade. In a year or so she was gone.
I did travel with him once in the end, to Ireland, to Aunt Monica, when my mum passed. But he left me there and I never saw him again.
Then my father worked with the other six to cast the spell on me. To protect me from his own madness, or maybe the truth. Then he built the new road with pieces of the old, in case I ever came looking for it. Should I ever grow up and see past what was cast on me.
The last memories in the book were murky. Disjointed. He tried over and over to get back to the red house but he was pursued by something. I couldn’t see the house or his pursuers, only that he realised the only place in the world he would be safe was at the center of “the eighteen gates.” Central Park. He seldom left, and quickly returned when he did.
He was trying to do something. Find the truth. But he was being hunted. And the pursuit, the confinement, combined with whatever my mother did to protect me, drove him mad.
That was it. The story was over.
Colby and I sat there in thick silence. He held my hand. We watched the clouds, people passing…
After a few minutes I asked what happens now? What’s the next step? He shook his head and told me this was the end of the path. This was the truth I’d been seeking.
I couldn’t believe it. There had to be more. Something hopeful. Something… magic. It couldn’t end like this, in tears, and heartache. My parents devastated by this search, only to lead me to a dead end.
Colby said he’d also searched most of his life for the truth. And in that search he found his calling as a firefighter, and his beautiful wife, and their sons. He said sometimes it’s what you find on the path, not at the end of it, that matters.
But I didn’t find anything. I asked about the doors, the knocking… He said many have heard it in their lives at one point or another, but he thinks it’s an echo of whatever used to be at the end of the roads. Part of a spell that no longer works. It’s nothing now.
I was openly crying in the park at this point. Colby had tears in his eyes too. He said he would ease my pain, if he could. He would stay my heart, but he said my heart was already well-guarded.
Guarded and cold and lost.
I had to go. He told me I could always call him if I needed anything. But I was so done with all of it. The path. The madness. I needed real. Tangible. Touchable.
I needed Cole.
I was on the next train out of Montreal. I got back to New York and didn’t even stop at the brownstone. No more path except the one that led to Hoboken, which is where I’ve been for days. I refuse to let my life slip by because of myths and spells and lost books and journals.
And writing that is when it hit me. Just now. I left the journal in the park in Montreal. Maybe partly on purpose. I don’t know.
I want real. I want a life. And love. I want what my parents could never have because they never left that broken road.
For my own sake, and for the memories of Sullivan and Aisling Green, I’m done with The Monarch Papers.