James looked into my eyes, rolling up his sleeve to reveal his wrist.
A bizarre, disfigured scar was engraved just above it.
At first glance, it seemed like an elaborate tattoo, but…
“Every time I feel like I’m going crazy, I hurt myself here.”
When I observed closely, I found that it was a wound that had been cut countless times with a blade.
James spoke nonchalantly as if he were talking about the lunch menu.
“The pain helps me differentiate between reality and hallucination.
Of course, it won’t work for everyone.”
He looked at me and shrugged.
“Everyone has different ways to cope.”
When he finished speaking, he rolled his sleeves down again, but I couldn’t take my eyes off his arm.
It felt like the angry red scar on his white wrist had left a burning mark on my heart.
After licking my lips with nervousness, I finally opened my mouth.
“Can I ask you one last question”
At the same time, my intuition told me that it was time to open the Pandora’s box where all the forbidden memories lay.
“Of course, go ahead.”
“When your parents died…”
James waited for my question with a casual expression, but my chest was pounding and my stomach felt like it was somersaulting.
“…How old were you” I finished.
“…hmm, me At that time…”
He had previously revealed that he was twenty-nine, the same age as me.
Moriarty continued with a bright smile.
“I was seventeen.”
My eyes widened.
I felt dizzy, but I tried to be just as nonchalant as James.
We made small talk about some trivial topics while my head was pounding, and when I saw the chance, I immediately ran away.
I headed to the front door with quick steps, and ran under the garden tree that I saw as soon as I left the front door—
And there, I threw up everything I had eaten on the hard ground.
Everything was obvious now.
‘I was seventeen.’
That was the age of ‘young Emily’ in that bizarre memory that had returned after the regression.
That is to say.
“What is to be done about Moriarty, my Lady”
“Is it that hard to get it through your head Give it to Enoch…”
That memory was not an illusion or a hallucination.
It was utterly true and real.
* * *
I ran to the bathroom and rinsed my mouth.
After splashing my face with cold water, my gaze met with the Emily in the mirror.
I felt unfamiliar with myself.
My face was pale enough to look like I was going to collapse at any moment.
“I was seventeen.”
James’ voice rang through my ears.
My hands that were clutching the basin trembled.
Taking in a deep breath, I told myself to calm down.
‘Don’t remember, Emily.’
Something deep inside me whispered.
If James Moriarty’s way of surviving life was some sort of self-harm, I too had my own way.
‘Don’t remember, Emily.’ The voice repeated.
When my parents died.
When facing the gruesome truth about their deaths.
When Randolph, my dearest love, met an eerie death that I could not comprehend.
My psyche always told me to erase it from memory.
It was the only way I could survive reality without going crazy.
‘If I was braver, I would have dug into the truth and faced it.’
But I wasn’t.
I couldn’t do that.
I just hoped that the peace I was enjoying right now would last a little longer
“…Don’t remember it, Emily..”
I muttered to myself in the mirror.
The truth that had almost escaped the box was pushed back down the hill of oblivion.
* * *
After calming myself down, I adjusted my clothes and went out.
“Oh, my feet ache so much…”
“Sit down carefully, now.
You talked to Mr Stanton! You’ve always dreamed of him.”
Behind the stairs, I saw a few young girls hiding, taking off their shoes and rubbing their sore feet.
It must not have been too long since they debuted in the social world, but it was lovely and refreshing to see her cheeks blushing and her eyes fluttering.
‘How long has it been since I was carefree like that’
I looked back on my memories, but I didn’t find a single occasion when it had happened.
Since my parents were killed in a mysterious tragedy, my life had been far from ordinary.
At that moment, a tall man approached the group of girls and spoke to them.
“Jenny, if it’s alright with you…”
“Ah, Mr Stanton!!”
“Oh my!” The girls around her cooed.
The blushing couple who were obviously in love but pretended to be calm suddenly disappeared, hiding in a dark hallway.
They must be enjoying some secret conversations.
‘This is the Victorian-era party scene.’
I stare blankly at the scene, feeling like a spectator unsuited to this place.
Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice come from behind me.
“Oh, it’s Emily!”
The moment I turned around, I smiled brightly without realizing it.
Wrinkles around the eyes caused by frequent smiles, and warm brown eyes that radiated warmth and kindness.
Even though it had been years since we had met, she was still the same.
“Emily, it’s been so long.”
“I’m sorry, Aunt, I hadn’t been able to contact you for a while.”
Evie grabbed my hand with a happy face.
“I must apologise for the same thing, but you’re still so gorgeous, Emily.”
At that, I just smiled awkwardly.
Aunt Evie squeezed my hand and let go.
“Are you going to stay over tonight The room you’ve always stayed in has been cleaned up.”
“Alright, thank you, Aunt.”
As soon as I answered in the affirmative, Aunt Evie’s face brightened.
It was impossible to refuse the person who could almost be called my childhood benefactor.
And at the top of it all, Uncle Greg helped me greatly in the previous case.
I remembered a conversation we had just before leaving the Brichester mansion.
‘Was there really only Sir Bridle behind this”
Greg Lestrade slowly shook his head in response to the question I raised in a rather sharp tone.
‘Of course not, but we don’t know if the Brichester case is really related to the cult that calls itself the Church of Starry Wisdom.”
The problem was that there were no obvious charges that could be used to arrest Enoch Bowen, the leader of the Church.
‘There were countless unexplained things, but I couldn’t find any physical evidence.
It’s a widely held belief that Bowen was behind Sir Bridle, but there was again no proof.’
In the end, the police had no reason to arrest Enoch Bowen, so he still ran free.
After we had finished talking about the incident, the inspector invited me to a party hosted by his wife, Mrs Evie.
Accepting the invitation, I joked.
‘Is Mr Holmes coming here too Your advisor…’
I had been wanting to meet him ever since I remembered my previous life, but he was very unsociable so I couldn’t find a chance to do so.
‘Are you talking about Sherlock He always says that it would be harder to see him at her party than to see Nessie in Loch Ness.’
I was rather disappointed, but I didn’t show it.
Anyway, Aunt Evie and Uncle Greg cared for me just as much as Aunt Marilyn did.
“Thank you so much for inviting me, Aunt.”
When I sincerely told her those words, Aunt shook her head.
“There’s no need to be formal, dear.
Ah, right! Chris misses you a lot, so can we have breakfast together tomorrow”
Their only son, Chris Lestrade was famous for being smart from a young age.
It was said that he entered the prestigious Winchester University.
‘The last time we had seen each other, he was a little boy with a nosebleed.’
It made me nostalgic to realise that that child had graduated from college.
Aunt Evie, who had been telling me of her son’s achievements, soon moved to my love life.
“By the way, Emily, are you dating anyone these days”
“Ah, about that…”
I hesitated for a moment.
Aunt Evie had few but rather fatal flaws.
One of them was her interest in other people’s gossip, especially their love lives.
Aunt Evie, who had seen me hesitate, nodded and answered.
“Well, you have always been shy.
But Emily, you can’t do that these days.
When I was just a year younger than you…”
Finally, her long recollection began.
Oh, I’m losing my mind.
“If you’re alright with it, Richard Chesterton, who works for a bank in the City, lost his wife five years ago…”
…The Akashic Record was a compilation of records of the universe and mankind, but even that failed in comparison to Aunt Evie, who could remember every move of the neighbourhood by only relying on her memory.
“You’re not aware yet, but living on your own as a woman is not as easy as it might think…”
When I missed the chance to stop her, Mrs Evie’s words poured out like a flood.
I felt a headache coming, similar to the feeling of waking up in the middle of death.
But thankfully, an unexpected saviour appeared.
“Oh, Mrs Evie,” A woman spoke to Aunt.
She looked to be around my age, or perhaps a little younger.
Aunt Evie seemed to know her well.
“Ms Jane! Are you enjoying the party”
“Yes, thank you.
I wanted to inform you that Ms Iris was just now looking for you.”
Though she had a more modest attire than the other ladies, her face was tough and intelligent.
At Ms Jane’s words, Aunt Evie’s eyes widened as if she remembered something.
“Oh, how irresponsible of me! I left Ms Iris alone for too long.”
“Aunt, it’s alright to leave.”
When I smiled and said that I was fine, she left me with a genuinely apologetic expression.
“Emily, I’m really sorry.
Let’s talk tomorrow morning!”
…Tomorrow morning, I’ll have to find a way to avoid her.
I sighed a little as I saw Aunt Evie’s back recede and then spoke to the woman that stood beside me.
“Thank you for saving me from trouble.”
— — —
TL note: Jane, hmm… haven’t we heard this name before in classical literature