Delia Patton was the last of her Pattons, the last of at least seven generations of Nashville Pattons stretching back before the War. Her mother had this theory that sometimes the old lines just petered out, which was the kind of thing that made sense on the surface, but not if you thought about it too hard.
After all, who were all these people from, if not old families?
Delia was a student at Lipscomb University. Even so, she spent most nights tangled so close to her roommate that she fell asleep to the gentle rush of her roommate’s breath on her face.
She knew, for her roommate, this was just one impossible fling before she found a nice man and settled down and got married.
And she knew, for her, this made impossible the nice man and the marriage.
Once she knew that, she had this dream.
She dreamed she was in the house on Sigler Street. In real life, she had never been in it, but she knew the stories; they were family stories. She was opening a closet and rummaging through the clothes. In the pocket of a light flowered housecoat was a silver skeleton key.
The key fit the lock on the hope chest in the front bedroom.
And the chest was opened.
There, on the top of some old quilts, was a note. The note said, “You could make me tell you I loved you a million times, but I never meant it. Not once. You might kill me, but I will kill all of you.”
Delia woke with a start. Her heart was racing in her chest and her whole head was swimming. She had no reason to think what the note said was true. It was just a dream of an old family legend.
But she knew it was. Not how it was true, exactly, but she knew it was.
And that she couldn’t shake.
Years later, she did get married. Times change. Still, when they decided to have children, she insisted her wife be the biological mother, just in case it was a blood curse.