She is different, and this puts a sign on her back. They say she is a witch. Say they see her late at night in the woods where no innocent woman belongs. I say, maybe she just likes the woods, but I don’t say it loud. I don’t want that target on my back.
They say she can see in the dark like a night animal. They say she can read minds, speak curses. Some say she controls the weather. The floods. When a child is stillborn, they look to her, but they don’t look too directly. That would be inviting the dark arts. That would be plain stupid.
She’s beautiful in a way that is hard to look at. Her eyes are icy and grey. You can feel her stare like a burn on your skin. She will send her familiars if you aren’t careful. This is one of many reasons that everyone in town knows better than to taunt a raven.
They would kill her if they had the guts. They don’t. Instead, they will chip away at her with rumors and sideways glances. They will blame her for the crops that fail. They will claim she is responsible for the wandering eyes of men. They will pin their personal disasters to her, and they will feel better for doing it. It’s handy to have a scapegoat. It makes things easier. Kids misbehaving? Couldn’t be that they’re punk-asses. Must be witchcraft.
Her blood will cease flowing eventually, and they will take things that belonged to her. Hair clips and journals and bolts of fabric. They will consider these things to have power. And they will be right. Everything has power if you give it power.
Even a witch.
Oh I love this. I'm a big paranormal fan.ReplyDelete
This is perfect. You've managed to make us creeped out by the other people and feel sorry for the woman without knowing anything directly about her. I love it.ReplyDelete
You waver a little on your conviction as to whether ‘she’ is a witch or not, but at the end you redefine the truth of the matter. Everyone can have power over us if we give it to them. It’s cool how you’ve written this, asking the questions and then giving us one of the answers at the end. Nice one, as ever, Dan.Delete
Samantha stood on the roof of the oppressive red-brick building, one foot teetering halfway off the edge of the lip that separated solid concrete from open air. She could just walk off the ledge. Like her mom made her do when she was afraid of the deep end of the pool. She couldn't even dive or cannonball into it. She had to walk calmly and purposely over the edge and into the watery grave. That was the last time Samantha had remembered being afraid. Her mother's insistence in stamping that out of her had killed something inside her. She didn't know exactly what had died, but it felt like the part of her that was supposed to speak up and tell her that there was danger on the other side of the action she wanted to pursue was what had died. Maybe she knew after all, but what would she call that? It wasn't her conscience, was it? She knew what was right and what was wrong. She did. It was just that her definitions didn't always line up with everyone else's.ReplyDelete
Anyways, no matter what she called it, Samantha was pretty sure that voice that told her she shouldn't contemplate walking off the roof of her personal hell, also known as high school, should be speaking up right about then. Nothing. Silence. It seemed like a legit way to miss a few months of torture. Then again, she had just been suspended. Bullying, please. She hadn't been bullying anyone. That stupid bitch she'd confronted had. Michelle. Poor, fat, frumpy, quiet Michelle was being pushed around by Keely, the superstar of the world. Or at least the school, which was the world until they graduated and fled this shitshow. Or died...
She wouldn't die. Not if she jumped from here. It would just hurt a lot. The idiots down there were scared of her. She hadn't even had to get physical with Keely. She'd just said some nonsense words and waved her hands around, feeding into the rumors. A witch, ha! Her? She wasn't even spiritual. She wore a lot of black, but that was all the whisperers had on her. No Wickanism. No pentagrams. No beheaded chickens. She didn't dance naked in the graveyard in the light of the pale, full moon. She was angry, she was not quiet about it, and she wore black. Man, it was amazing what haters could do with those few, damning facts.
Ignoring the screams in the very back of her head, Samantha took a full step off the ledge. She stayed level with the edge of the roof, feeling a firm in her footing as she would on a sidewalk. The other food pushed off the edge of the ledge and she stayed right where she was. Two more steps and she was fully away from the building and still right where she wasn't supposed to be.
What the fuck? Samantha looked from her floating feet to the woman who cleared her throat back on the roof.
"Hello, there, Samantha," the blonde older lady said. She sounded calm and her smile showed pride...in Samantha? How could that be? "I see that I didn't get to you in time. Still, this is the first time you've consciously used your powers, isn't it?"
"Powers?" Samantha whispered. It was all she could manage at the moment. "What are you talking about?"
"Come to me, my dear, and I will be happy to explain," the woman said. "I know a great place to get lunch just around the corner,"
"Oh....okay," Samantha said. She gulped, swallowed down the confusing emotions bubbling up in her, and walked back through open air back to the roof.
"Let's start at the beginning," the woman said, once Samantha was down on the main part of the roof. "I am Sadie. You are Samantha. Now that we have that established, let's go get your things."
"Um, uh, okay," Samantha said. She was suddenly dying for a glass of water. Her throat felt like a desert. If it hadn't, she'd be asking so many questions that they might trip over each other.
"You have a lot of natural ability for a novice," Sadie said, smiling that smile at her again. "You are going to be so much fun to train."
You’re so very good at writing the inner thoughts of the main character here, building up the back story and highlighting their motives and emotions but also keeping the reader engaged. You give us snapshots of their history and lead us to where the action begins so well. I’m a little puzzled at how she manages to manifest her powers without doing it consciously, but I guess that could easily be put down to her own subliminal self-preservation taking over and utilising her special abilities. It’s an excellent read and I’d love to read more. Well done, Erin.Delete
“We can be whatever I choose,” she said. “I’m a goddess - I can do anything I like.” She dug her nails into her cheeks and drew her flesh back like curtains, exposing bloodied, raw sinews and the glistening bones of her skull. Her tongue flicked like a sly, black worm hidden in the dark cave of her mouth. But her eyes were still as they had always been, orbs of pure magenta, ringed by obsidian.ReplyDelete
I lay on my back, her captive audience. Most of my hands had already sloughed away; the short stumps of my fingers that remained were almost useless. I had retained sufficient strength to hold nothing heavier than a cigarette. It pleased her to watch me smoking; this last small pleasure I had the sole concession on her part. I had no sense of the time that passed here, my experience marked only by the spent cigarettes that littered my cell.
Marta was the name she gave me when we met, her high Slavic cheekbones enough to make me believe that part of what she’d told me. I hadn’t mentioned that I was married – I made a habit of keeping such subtleties in reserve, revealing them later only when and if my relationships progressed.
But whatever happened to me after this, it would be a long time before I sought anyone again.
“You’re quiet,” Marta said, turning my head back to face her. Her breath smelled of sun-baked carrion, either the meat she’d eaten or her body itself. She wore a patch over her left eye, but the other still swivelled in the harness of muscles holding it in place, her gaze boring directly through me as though she'd believe nothing I said.
“I’m tired,” I whined, grizzling like a child. “You wanted me to be afraid? I’m afraid. I’m so far past being afraid that I’ve become numb. I know you’re only keeping me alive now, so you can continue experimenting on me. A million and one more ways a body can persist and still avoid death.”
My body trembled, and another loop of my bowel slid out, spilling onto the pile of organs she’d already removed. I felt a warmth spreading across my thighs as another gout of blood seeped between my legs. The paralysis rose above my knees, and the light through the window began to fade.
“Maybe you want to smoke. Something a little stronger than your usual cigarette.”
She clicked her fingers, and a cigar appeared, already lit, its end glowing. She pressed her hand down into my groin and then pushed, the smell of my smouldering flesh joining the stench of raw offal.
I folded into a foetal ball, electric flames overcoming my lethargy. She would keep me conscious for the rest of this day until I ceased being an amusement then she’d leave. And I would be rudely woken the next day, and she’d continue, picking me apart until I finally became unrecognisable.
She was a goddess; that was the truth. In her virtual world, anything she could imagine would become real. Even time could be warped and looped back on itself, cause and effect becoming a plaything she could easily manipulate. And what she was doing to my physical body, I couldn’t guess, but I doubted I’d wake up tomorrow, thinking this had only been a dream.
I'm stunned. I didn't know anything this graphic and grotesque could strike me as beautiful. I love it.ReplyDelete