You may have known my father, but that doesn’t mean you know me. After he disappeared, his relevance ceased in the minds of all of those who might have remembered, might have cared. The police back in Ireland searched for him for another six months, but under the onslaught of the other concerns wrought upon them by his interference, they reduced his name to footnotes in legal pads while searching for others who had vanished into the dark. And that list was long, punctuated by people much more important than my father.

But no one was more important than my father, and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that without him, without the sacrifice he made, none of us would have survived.

He disappeared—it is not entirely accurate to say that he died, because what happened to him was not death, not exactly—and so did we, equally forgotten and left alone to live our lives back in Delaware, Ohio, back where it all began for my parents. For a time, my mother expected the police to call. I could see her eyeballing the phone a lot, wringing her hands and worrying her nails, but they never bothered us again.

We tried to get on with it, to live our lives as if nothing unnatural had happened. It was easier for me. I’d been unborn, or newly planted in my mother’s womb when the worst of it went down, and wouldn’t realize for another few years that being in utero hadn’t protected me from its repercussions. My mother, on the other hand, had to live with the memories and the loss of my father. At least until the sickness erased those breadcrumbs like a wet cloth over the surface of a table.

All of this I learned from my mother, who once upon a time remembered, but now remembers nothing. The few fractured memories she does struggle to retain only serve to aggravate her further, to worsen the fear that she is gradually slipping away on the tide, slowly going under. She is, and I can’t save her.

And I know intimately the extent of her suffering, because I can see it on her face, in her eyes, and if I touch her, I can see into her mind, see what remains of those memories, broken glass filmed in slow motion as they prepare to shatter further and turn to dust.

This is my gift. This is my curse.

My name is Cassandra Quinn. You can call me Cass. I took my father’s last name because it’s important for me to have as much of him as I can hold in case my own mind begins to go. And given the things I have discovered and the horrors I have seen in my search for answers, this is entirely likely.

So just in case I forget to remember, I’m going to tell you what happened to me.