Flowers and Fire

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Not really a story yet just some basic ideas that I want to rewrite a little better later on. Since its a work in progress its not well written but it has a plot and someone might find the story-line interesting and enjoyable until its revised.

Science fiction/fantasy story.

It was alive. The long dirt roads, the tidy brick buildings, the fragile tented booths, the wooden carts. Those where merely its bones its body. The true life the blood was in the montage of fruits and vegetables, the squawking hens, the barking dogs chasing running children, the old women promising the hearts and heavens stars to those who bought their perfumes and shining trinkets, men haggling among themselves and some scolding swift handed urchins who proved slightly less swift then expected. This was a living town, this was market day. The only average day she could wander the intersecting passageways of the city streets. To stare in wonder at the spectacle of city life. Home was far from the risks and dangers of this life. Secluded and nestled in among the old trees, in a moss roofed cabin in the forest outside the city walls. It was quiet and peaceful there but so was being dead. The old corpse of a cabin was simply rotten in comparison to this vibrant vixen of a place. But it was also salt in the wound visiting here, knowing she would have to leave, and knowing she would eventually want to leave. There was no smiling street merchant to great her at his booth, and no laughing children begging her to play their silly games. At best there was obscurity, at worst much worse. Muffled whispers, hateful calling, and altercations if she overstayed her welcome. This was not her home and she was always a stranger in a strange land. But it was fun to pretend even if it was only for a short time. The sun seemed stalled in the center of the sky. Flies buzzed lazily around the fruit in the old wooden cart. The tail on the bay mule attached swatted at them absent mindedly. Cole was bored and getting frustrated. Uncle Chuck had sent him and his younger cousin Charlie to the market to unload the excess fruit from their farm, and unfortunately no one was interested except the flies. For days he’d been begging grandpa to let him go to town on market day. When he finally agreed he thought the old diehard had finally caved. But the crafty old coot had somehow managed to stop the barrage of begging, get his grandson to do some work, and teach him the value of patience. It was truly infuriating, here he was in town and bored out of his mind, watching an ass, and feeling rather the same. A pack of kids ran by startling the mule, Cole was about to shout at them to watch it when he came up with a better idea. Slyly pocketing a small piece of fruit. He shouted “Did you see that Charlie, that little brat just stole a piece of your dad’s fruit. Son of a bitch snagged it and took off, you watch the cart cousin, I’ll catch that little SOB and teach him what’s for.” He jumped to his feet. Charlie stared bewilderedly at him. Taking no time to let his plan be unraveled he took off in the same direction as the kids shouting back, “Don’t worry cuz, just don’t leave without me kay?” Looking back at the unamused face of his cousin he knew he had been figured out but also knew he’d gotten away with it. Wandering the winding back corridors of the city was a welcome change of pace. The make believe fruit thieves could be heard happily playing ahead. Until a sudden thud followed by shrill wailing rang out. Tiny sobbing echoed of the brick walls of the alley. “Dumb kid must of took a spill,” Coal muttered. Suddenly it stopped instantly. He picked up his pace and came around the corner stopping as quickly as the crying had. A little boy sat on the ground holding his knee, and crouched down next to him was a young woman. In her outstretched palm she held some shimmering object offering it to the child as she smiled gently down at him. Her long dark hair contrasted sharply against porcelain skin. As her soft brown eyes and perfect pink lips smiled kindly down at the child. The boy seemed entranced by the offering, as he quickly snatched it from her hand forgetting his scraped knee. There was nothing unusual about this moment of kindness but he somehow felt he was interrupting an intimate moment. Perhaps being surrounded by dim light in a dirty alley just made her appear so beautiful. Or maybe it was her white cloak. But the whole scene seemed angelic. He tried to slink back around the corner but tripped. The woman looked at him, her smile faded, looking down she pulled up her hood and ran. He’d half expected her to sprout wings and fly off. It was actually a relief that she hadn’t. Cole walked up to the little boy crouching down he saw the object was a small metal gilded spinning top. He looked down the alley but saw no trace of the strange woman. “Hey kid who was the lady who gave you the top,” He asked. The little boy smiled at him and said, “A nice lady.” Cole laughed, “I guess she was, wasn’t she.” In a dreamy haze he wandered around the city. His tired eyes scanned the crowds, but they failed to spot the white lady his subconscious was seeking. Before long the sun had nearly settled on the horizon so his well stretched legs returned to the fruit cart. The cart was empty and his cousin looked annoyed. “I almost left without you Cole. I sold all the fruit hours ago, we could have been home before dark you know?” Charlie vented. Sighing he asked, “Did the fruit bandit get what he had coming?” Drawing a total blank he looked at Charlie then smiled. He pulled the pocketed fruit from earlier out and threw it to his cousin. “Of course, I beat him silly, I’m a man of my word after all.” They both laughed as they got in the wagon and headed home. The snug old farm house of their grandparents sat cheerily on the hill. A few lights flickered warmly in the windows. The house was not unfamiliar he’d visited every winter of his childhood, but it had always been a vacation not home. His parents’ unexpected death had changed a lot of things in his life. They’d been killed my invading forces from another kingdom. Killed because of their faith. They failed to denounce their faith and worship of the Holy Goddess. This singular belief was grounds for execution. They had died for it, for something that might not even exist. They choose to lose their lives rather then lose their faith. By not abandoning their belief of the Goddess they choose to abandon him. With tears in his eyes and hate in his heart he had denounced all aspects of the Holy Goddess, and he’d meant ever word. Because if there really was a Goddess she’d failed to protect anyone that praised her that day. How could he love someone who let him lose his own loved ones. In his mind the only rational thing to believe was that there was no Goddess. If she was real there was certainly no reason to praise her. He honestly loved his grandparents but they were devote believers. And the death of his parents had somehow made them worship harder. It seemed like insanity. It didn’t set well that such devote worshippers of the Holy Goddess housed the only fallen worshipper in the area. His refusal to pray before meals or go with them to worship was a constant battle. The mention of the Holy Goddess didn’t bring the same warmth to their hearts these days. The old white washed door brought floods of painful memories. How many times had he walked through this door. Rushed into his grandmothers welcoming arms. Listened to his mother’s muffled voice greet her parents through that tight embrace. Felt pride in his father and grandfathers vigorous hand shake. Not anymore those were the last times. They were gone, he would never walk through this door with them again. They were cherished memories since there would be no more. He pushed open the door, even as a child it had never felt this heavy. His grandmother was banging pots and pans around in the kitchen. Her trade mark baking sounds. There was probably dinner saved for him somewhere in there, but he didn’t feel much like eating. Slowly he climbed the creaking stairs, slipped into his room, shut the door and went to bed. Hoping for sweet dreams of the past, or nothingness over more nightmares he slowly slid into sleep. A sweet smell infiltrated his dreams stirring him from slumber. It was a sickening stink, it was the flakey pastries his grandmother made only on these days. The chosen breakfast delight of those who were heading to the Holy Goddess’s temple. It meant the whole house was headed to the temple for worship. A whole day affair as usual. Over sleeping meant he was unable to make himself scarce this time so he would be roped into ridding along. They could force him to go to town but they couldn’t force him to go into the temple. And he would defiantly not be going in. Milling about outside with the rest of the town would at least appease his grandfather. He would just sneak off somewhere when everyone entered temple. As expected everyone that was physically capable and some who actually weren’t were in attendance. It was annoying, all these people convincing themselves that someone cared, that someone was protecting them. They were wrong. A small cluster of people attracted his attention. He only recognized the bakery owner and a gossipy woman who was a friend of his grandmother. The chattering old bitty was doing most of the talking. She ranted angrily, “I really need the Holy Goddess to purify me. I’ve had nothing but bad luck. I don’t know how you all feel but I’d swear its that girls fault. She’s been in town far too much for my liking lately. You all know exactly who I mean. All alone in the woods. Goddess in heaven! And who knows why! There’s talk she’s a witch and she comes into town to curse people! Wearing that silly white thing. Witchcraft, that’s how she stays young and beautiful. I’m not saying its true but she’s not right, not a proper lady that’s for sure. I don’t like her coming into the city at all. And she doesn’t believe in the Holy Goddess and that’s a fact. Have you ever seen her at temple? I haven’t. You’ll get cursed being around someone like that.” She gasped holding her hand to her heart. The baker shook his head and his mustache muttered, “She should just stay in that old shack in the woods, I’d feel much better if I never caught sight of her again!” The group all nodded in agreement. The first whistle blew meaning now was the time to sneak off or he’d risk being noticed when the second one sounded. Skirting the outside of the crowd he managed to duck into one of the outbuilding near the temple. The second and third Whistle sounded and the shuffling of eager worshippers grew quiet. When the stone doors of the temple clanged shut. The city was an eerie place during worship, like a ghost town, creepy and abandoned. This was when he felt most guilty about his lack of faith and his anger toward his dead parents. He wandered aimlessly. Until he reached the city limits. His grandfather’s farm was in the opposite direction outside of town but in the rural farming district and still under the cities protection. The last time he had seen the boundary gates was shortly after his parent’s death. The wide dirt road snaked off into the distance, dark forests bordered on each side. The desire to walk away and leave it all behind was overpowering for a moment. His long strides took him down the road but his mind knew he’d turn around eventually. After the first bend he stopped and looked back the unfamiliar view was deeply disturbing but oddly exhilarating. He noticed a small well-worn trail going into the woods. Drunk on his own feelings his feet took to the path eagerly. Surrounded by trees and the thick smell of the forest his excitement turned to nervousness. He was about to turn back when he saw a small plume of white smoke ahead. Pushing a few branches back he could just make out a small dilapidated cabin. Nervousness turned to fear. The door creaked opened and a young woman in a white cloak stepped out. Even from his distance he could see her dark eyes scanning the forest. He creeped closer to the cabin, it was the same girl he’d seen in the alley. She seemed to grow more nervous like she could rush into the cabin and slam the door shut any second. Swallowing hard he stepped into the open. She stared at him as asked. “Why are you here?” He was surprised that he was unable to formulate an answer, partially because he had no idea why he was here and he kind of looked like a creep. A series of mumbles escaped his mouth, which he promptly shut again. He was being stared at suspiciously, but he thought he noticed a glimmer of amusement and curiosity dance across her face. She fumbled with her cloak hiding her face she began to shut the door. Frantically he shouted “Wait!” She paused for a moment, clearly waiting for him to offer another actual word or an explanation maybe. Struggling through the quicksand in his head he blurted out, “I came to ask you something about the Holy Goddess!” Instantly he regretted the statement. But her door opened back up and she asked “Why?” He was recovering but wasn’t sure if it would be quick enough. He stumbled a moment then asked “I’m not at the temple right now don’t you think that’s unusual, it’s a sin right?” She looked at him and around the area as if there was an entire hidden army lying in ambush, poised to attack if she admitted to the sin and in lei her own guilt. Then answered “I guess?” He sighed in relief it may have just been one complete sentence but he was taking it as a win. His confidence swelled a little at the thought of not sounding like a complete moron. She came all the way outside the cabin, this time staring at him she asked “what’s your name?” Her face was mostly hidden in shadow but he could feel her eyes staring at him. A few awkward moments passed before he heard himself saying “Cole.” She seemed unsure but hesitantly asked: “Would you like to come in? Cole?” He felt a strange feeling wash over him as all the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. If a good excuse had floated into his head he would have refused, but at the risk of being turned into a frog by an angry forest witch he simply nodded. Standing in the cabin doorway he hesitated, this is exactly what all those children’s fables warned you not to do. With shouldered resolution he walked through the threshold. Sunlight filtered in through one small window illuminating a small table and a few chairs in the middle of the cabin, a small bed was pushed against the wall under the window, the other wall consisted of a fireplace, the only wall devoid of furniture was far from empty. It was lined with shelves and each shelf was packed with small shining trinkets and various tiny glass bottles. Obviously a collection of some sort, he hoped. “Please have a seat.” She said. She seated herself at the table motioning with her hand at an available chair. She was no longer wearing the white cloak. Her long hair spilled down her shoulders and her eyes shimmered strangely in the dim light. Nodding he felt the rushing blood of embarrassment color his face. What must she be thinking right now, he was looking at her home like it was some sort of freak show. She smiled for the first time, “You’ll have to forgive me I don’t get many visitors, well actually you’re the first visitor I’ve ever had inside,” she laughed. “I’m sure it must seem strange.” She added looking toward the wall of knick knacks as if they were thousands of miles away instead of a few feet. He wasn’t sure what she meant by that last statement exactly. Her eyes flitted back to him, “Didn’t you say you wanted to ask me something about the Holy Goddess?” She questioned. He felt like kicking himself for saying that before, the Holy Goddess was actually the last thing he wanted to talk about. But he didn’t want to look like a peeping tom and a liar so he rearranged his thoughts in preparation for the conversation. “I don’t mean to be blunt but do you believe in the Holy Goddess?” he decided to ask. She looked down at her hands for a few seconds before answering, “No, I don’t believe in her, I guess I never did, I never thought she was a goddess, and I never called her the Holy Goddess either.” He was shocked it was such blatant blasphemy, but it was so wonderful to hear someone say it out loud. “Is that why you don’t live in the city? I don’t believe there is a Goddess either, that’s why I’m not in the temple today. I think my family are the only ones who know, I hide it well I guess. They think I’ll snap out of it and come to my senses, but they’re wrong I don’t believe anymore, I just can’t.” He mumbled. They were both silent for a moment. She smiled and looked up at him. “I know what they say about me. I’m sure you’ve heard things too. That I’m cursed, a witch, a monster, a demon even. Maybe they’re right? Look at my life, I live alone in a shack in the woods, scaring grown men. Is it even a life? Is it a life you’d envy or want? Its better if you hide it trust me. If you don’t believe it won’t hurt to pretend, you’re better off if you go to temple and fake it. Pride is a foolish emotion, men seem to only worry about pride amongst each other, what good is being proud if your alone all the time? Being alone isn’t good for anyone.” she whispered staring down at her hands. He felt moved by the compassion of her words. She looked up and he locked eyes with her smiling he said, “Thank you, I think you might be right about some of that. You’re not what they say at all, in the words of a very wise cry baby, You’re a nice lady.” He tried not to notice the blush of red on her face after he finished. “Thank you.” Was all she said. He went home feeling a strange mix of emotions. That night he dreamt he was following a trail of bread crumbs that led him to a mossy cabin. Every time he got to the door he was afraid to open it and ran into the woods until he realized he was lost and had to follow the bread crumbs back to the door again. That morning he decided to take her advice and bowed his head at the Morning prayer. His grandparents were ecstatic. She was right pretending is better. With his waking life far improved it seemed his dreams suffered. The girl in the woods haunted his subconscious mind. His chores seemed to do themselves with his mind wandering so far from his tasks. Eventually not even sleep would come. He laid awake for hours his mind seemed intent to examine every detail of his interaction with the strange lady of the wood. Like a flash of lighting in the night the problem became clear, he understood what he needed to do. As the first light of dawn crept into the sky Cole was on a horse and heading toward the cabin. Grandfather was going to be furious Storm was his best work horse, and taking him without permission was grounds for a beating. But he couldn’t explain any of this to his grandpa in a way that made sense. Because none of it made sense, it was just what was right. Storm made good time and before long he was at the foot trail from before. The trail was decent enough for a sure footed horse to travel but storm halted as he urged him forward. He pushed forward and the horse seemed to grow frightened. Dismounting he tried to lead the foolish animal down the trail but it reared up refusing to step another hoof nearer. “What is your problem Storm,” he groaned. Feeling defeated he lead the struggling beast back toward town and just off the road tied him to a tree out of sight, hoping beyond hope no one would steal him. He walked the rest of the way on foot. Bravely he strutted up to the cabin and knocked, and waited. No one answered, he tried again, feeling desperate he opened the door but the small room was empty. His ego completely deflated he headed back down the path when he heard a woman’s voice behind him, “Cole?” He turned toward the voice and saw the girl exiting the woods on the opposite side of the clearing. His face instantly became red hot as his eyes made contact with her. Her hair was messy and slightly damp, it spilled in waves and curls down her shoulders and spiraled down her front. She was wrapped in a large towel and beads of shimmering water clung to her skin. It was painfully obvious that she had nothing underneath and that she was returning home following a bath. His cherry red face and gawking stare instantly registered with her. Looking down at herself her skin immediately flushed, as she shrieked, “Close your eyes, close your eyes, turn around, don’t look!” Immediately he complied, feeling as modified as she sounded. The clang of her door rang out in the quiet forest. He heard the door squeak open a few seconds later, “don’t leave, okay? but you can keep your eyes closed still.” She said. Minutes later the door opened again and he heard her say, “Okay you can look now.” He peeled open his eyes to see her staring at the ground but fully clothed and her long hair combed. He found himself gawking at her again though. “sorry”, she whispered softly. Feeling awkward again he tried to smooth the whole incident over but found his words trailing off into mumbling apologies. He was surprised by her laughter, “Oh man, was I always this awkward around people.” She chuckled. They both laughed more to break the tension then anything. She smiled at him “I was surprised to see you here again Cole, is there something you wanted?” she questioned. Shaking off his previous blunder he stared at her with the kind of conviction only a man with a moral burden can muster. Swallowing hard he said, “I was thinking about the advice you gave me, you said it isn’t good for anyone to be alone. You were right so I took your advice and things got better. Even though things were better I didn’t feel better, and I didn’t know why. But I realized it was because I took your advice but I never gave you anything in return. I understand advice is free to those who take it but those who give it freely had to pay for it. You gave it to me but you paid a price for it didn’t you? and it was a harsh price that no one could afford. You said pride was foolish, but a man who so easily takes from someone struggling is not a man I want to be. I took your advice, and used it so I can’t give it back, so I want to do my best, and repay you for your wise words and kindness. No one should be alone, its not good for anyone, but you’re alone aren’t you? So I decided I want to be your friend. Will you tell me your name? So I can be your friend” She looked at him her dark eyes were shimmering strangely again but this time they were heavy with tears. She seemed to regain her composure and the unusual flashing left her eyes she stared at him and said, “Thank you Cole, you’re a good man but its not a debt I can let you pay on. You have a kind heart but I can’t be your friend. Friendship is mutual its equal give and take. I would being taking too much if I allowed us to be friends. You know what the people in the city think of me. They hate me Cole. And they would hate you for any association with me. I wouldn’t wish my life on anyone, especially not someone as kind as you. Your offer is genuine, I’ll take that as payment, its more than enough. So I won’t be your friend Cole, but I will tell you my name. My name is Willow.” Cole looked down afraid she would see the tears in his own eyes. She was right he would be an outcast himself for having anything to do with her. But he didn’t care it wasn’t right, none of this was. She wasn’t evil or bad. She was different maybe but she was kind and didn’t deserve to live alone and hated in the forest. This wasn’t what he had planned at all, there had to be a solution. There must be a way to right this wrong. Suddenly it came to him. “What if I didn’t tell anyone I was your friend? What if I hid it and could keep it a secret?” he questioned. A troubled expression danced across her face. The silence seemed endless between them finally she spoke. “Could you keep it a secret, could you actually hide it? Can you promise to tell no one, if you can promise me that not a single person will know, then I can’t muster a decent argument against you Cole. Just because I can’t win an argument doesn’t mean I agree with your decision. If you leave here today and decide to never come back, I would understand Cole.” He nodded unsure of how things would play out, but sure that he would be back and surer then before that he was doing what was right. Cole visited Willow as often as possible over the summer. His grandfather had accidentally provided him the ideal cover story. Exclaiming that only one thing can make a boy act so crazy and that was a girl. It was too perfect of a statement, since it was unspecific it was technically true. His grandparents believed he was courting some lady so they were more then happy to let him leave. The more time he spent with Willow the more interesting she proved to be. She was always mysterious though, just feeding him enough information about herself to let him feel he was getting to know her but not enough that he knew everything about her. She was remarkably agile in the woods, almost inhumanly fast at times. She could disappear and pop up anywhere without him having a clue where she was, or where she’d gone. She loved teasing him and making him jump out of his skin in surprise was to funny to pass up. For someone living alone in the woods, she had a surprisingly good sense of humor and quick mind. She always bested him in arguments, and could turn a serious topic into playful joking as effortlessly as someone flipped a coin. Behind her joking and games there was always a seriousness, a elegant prideful way she carried herself, like someone of high class. He would see her staring and her eyes would shimmer in that most unusual manner. In these moments he couldn’t help but realize how truly beautiful she was. And as much as he tried to convince himself that they were only friends, he knew that deep down he was falling in love with her. Or maybe he had fallen in love the day that he’d laid eyes on her. Regardless of what might happen in the future between them, right now he was satisfied to simply be with her just as they were. Rain battered the old farmhouse swept up in angry winds it threw its self against the walls and fell defeated into the mud below. It had been raining for so long, the sun seemed nearly forgotten. The rain had kept Cole from visiting Willow and as foolish as it made him feel he was feeling the separation and it weighed heavy on his heart. He missed her bright eyes lighting up at the sight of him and her melodious voice saying his name. It was market day, but with the heavy rains it was unlikely to be a good turnout. His grandparents were going since many people in town had been falling ill lately and his grandmother had made a batch of her cure all soup and planned to distribute jars to a few sick friends in town. Cole planed to ride along and if the weather would break he could see Willow. When they got to town they were surprised to hear that the sickness had gotten worse. As his grandmother made her visits Cole and his grandfather waited outside in the buggy. The last stop was right in the midst of the market street, only a few booths were set up but there seemed to be a large crowd gathered still. Finally his curiosity got the best of him. “I’ll be right back granddad” he said as he motioned toward the crowd. He made his way toward the thong of onlookers. He could hear angry shouting as he closed the distance. “witch!” someone shouted the word made his heart drop. He pushed forward and saw a familiar figure stumbling around, she was speaking to anyone she neared but each person she approached shouted or shoved her away. As Cole pushed through the crowd he saw a younger man strike her across the face when she neared him. As she fell to the ground someone screamed, “she’s a witch!” another voiced yelled, “she’s come to town to bring more sickness, her curses aren’t enough! now she wants to kill us!” Willow laid in the mud drenched and unconscious. Overcome by rage Cole broke through the crowd, nearing her unconscious form he knelt down and scooped her off the ground into his arms. The angry mob gasped and parted in sheer shock as he headed back to the buggy. His grandfather sat in the front staring ahead, his grandmother was standing in front of the house starring. He heard his grandfather say “get in the car ma.” As his grandmother silently obeyed. Cole climbed into the back of the buggy and gently laid Willow down. Without a word the reins cracked and the buggy sped off toward the old farm. The buggy struggled through the mud and came to a stop in front of the house. Cole carried Willow inside. His grandmother seemed terrified but snapped at him, “take her into the sick room, now hurry yourself.” She waved her hand motioning toward the room before disappearing down a hallway. He laid her down on the bed. A moment later his grandmother shuffled into the room with a bowl of water and some linen. “She’s got the sickness Cole, so she’s burning up with fever I’d bet. If the fever don’t go down it’ll take her.” He brushed her hair out of her face, his grandmother was right she was burning up. As they washed the mud of her skin the bruises, scrapes, and gashes of the angry mob began to become visable. It was too much to see her like this. “Cole go in the other room I need to get her out of these wet clothes, aint nothing you can do right here anyway, go on now.” She pleaded. He left the room shutting the door behind him. His grandfather was sitting at the kitchen table smoking his pipe. He looked at his grandson, “horses are all put away, still raining.” He looked away from his grandson and added, “You shoulda never got involved with that. I don’t know what she is, but she isn’t human, son.” His emotions spilled over as he shouted, “Why the hell did you let me bring her here then! And I am so sick of this town and all its crap. You don’t know her like I do! No one is this town wants to know her. She’s wonderful and kind, and I’m sick of having to pretend I don’t know her! You know nothing about her, you’re just…” His grandfather’s fist slammed into the table. “Its you who doesn’t know boy! Maybe you know her, but you don’t know what she is. She’s not human and that’s enough for most anyone to balk at. I don’t know what she is but she doesn’t age! Normal people age, she looks the same laying in that room as she looked when I was a boy, and my father was a boy, and his father, and before that! People are supposed to get old and die, you die and join the Holy Goddess, when that doesn’t happen you have to wonder about that persons soul, son. I saw that look on your face today, it’s the same look I used to see on your mothers face, so I knew there was no point in trying to stop you. But it doesn’t mean I like this, Cole.” He sighed and continued smoking his pipe. How can that be true? His mind was a shambled mess. The girl he was falling in love with was sick, beaten, maybe dying, and possibly not human. He had no idea how he should be feeling besides lost. The oil lamp in the hall flickered casting strange shadows on the walls, the distorted outlines dancing as the flames light bounced off various angles of assorted furniture. Cole watched the shadow theater as he sat in the hall, he leaned back letting his head bump into the wall. Slight rhythmic breathing in the room next to him acknowledged the reality of things. Old books lay scattered next to him, each one contained a local story or legend about a strange woman in a white cloak, one book had a detailed illustration dated a hundred years prior it was the spitting image of Willow. The girl laying in a bed a few feet from him looked every bit the same age as him, but surrounding him was proof that she was at least a hundred maybe even older. How could someone not age. Maybe what everyone had said was true? Maybe she was a witch, a demon, not human? He felt he had known her so well, but maybe he hadn’t known her at all. It was unreal. But there it was in the books before him, in the room next to him. The fact that she was here might mean something. If he hadn’t known her she wouldn’t be. Was that enough? Maybe he didn’t know what she was exactly but he knew who she was. She was his friend she was kind, and funny, and smart, she was someone he cared deeply for. She had never lied to him, she may not have told him everything but she was real to him. And she was really sick and really hurt, and maybe she really needed him, and even if he didn’t understand everything about her he really needed her in his life. Pushing himself up he stood in the doorway the moon spread a blanket of light across the sleeping form in the bed before him. Crossing the room’s threshold he made his way to the window. The rain had finally stopped and the moon hung lonely in the dark sky. Did the moon look the same 100 years ago? The same face he had grown so fond of greeted his tired stare. He reached down and touched her porcelain skin, it was soft, and warm with fever still, but it was real. Her bright plump lips were parted slightly as she slept. Bending over, with only the moon as witness, he kissed her sleeping lips. These feelings were real, and no matter what happened that was enough. Two more days passed without Willow’s fever breaking or her waking up. On the third night Cole entered the room he sitting on the side of the bed he watched the clouds roll across the night sky. A faint voice rose from the bed next to him. “Cole why are you….where am I?” Her voice was faint but her eyes were closed. He reached out to feel her head and see if her fever had broken. His hand stopped halfway there. Her fingers were wrapped around his arm stopping him in midair. Without her eyes opening she questioned again, “Where am I Cole?” there was a strange urgency in her voice that startled him. His voice wavered slightly “At my grandparents house, you’ve been sick, its alright though.” He answered. She released his arm and said, “I have to go, I need to leave now!” Throwing off her blanket she pushed herself out of bed and attempted to stand. Confused and concerned he jumped up to try and stop her, “Willow you need to stay in bed! You can’t leave you’re ill. Your fever must not have broke you’re not thinking right calm down its okay my grandparent know, so just lay back down!” he shouted. She obviously had no plans to listen as she made her way toward the door. Rushing over the bed he beat her to the door blocking her escape. He noticed her eyes were closed still and she looked truly frightened. She breathed in deeply “Cole I’m leaving get out of my way, or I’ll make you move…please, please don’t make me.” She begged. Neither moved. Her eyes opened but the familiar deep brown eyes he’d always known were not there. The eyes that stared at him were not human, they were yellow like the eyes of a cat. He was startled and unnerved but his resolution held strong. She advanced and attempted to push through the door, she was stronger then he had expected. Wrapping his arms around her he tried to subdue her. “NO, let go, stop it!” she yelled. He felt her hands make contact with his chest as she pushed him. A few seconds later he has across the room and half way through the wall. Looking up he saw Willow with her arms out still. She turned her hands over stared at her palms and clenched her fingers. A panicked frightened look on her face. She took a step toward him but stopped. Puling her hands and arms in toward her she looked straight at him her yellow eyes full of tears “I didn’t mean to…Cole I wasn’t trying to…I’m sorry, oh god I’m so sorry.” She pleaded. He stared in disbelief at her “What are you?” he asked. She looked away before running out the bedroom door. She jumped over the stair rail landing on her feet below. Turning she saw who she assumed must be Cole’s grandfather. She ran toward the door and ran out into the night leaving it swinging wide open in the wind. She ran for all she was worth breathing in the cool night air through the darkness toward the forest. Cole had heard the thud below and the footsteps rushing up the stairs, but it was his grandfather who entered the room not Willow. “What the hell! Cole! Are you alright. Ma! Get in here quick!” his grandpa shouted. Reaching out he helped pull Cole out of what was left of the wall. “I told you she wasn’t no human son, aint nothing good gonna come from bringing her here.” He shook his tired old head as he shuffled back out the door. Seconds later his grandmother rushed in she looked at the empty bed, the hole in the wall, and her battered grandson and gasped covering her mouth. Willow made it to the forest she continued to run the trees whizzed past her their branches whipping at her wood busting and cracking as she smashed through. A familiar feeling inside her pulsated feircly. It throbbed screaming inside her head, rattling her bones overpowering her ability to think. She was losing control, no level of concentration could suppress it. Soon the terrain began to change this was the sought after seclusion of the mountains. Far from the city, far from Cole. She fell to the cold ground panting her whole body heaving. Then the pain began, like someone was ripping her body apart from the inside. She knew it would come, by now she knew exactly what it would feel like, but she could never prepare herself for the shear torment that awaited. She screamed in agony writhing kicking, and digging at the ground, nothing would help. Finally it stopped, she laid there breathing heavily. She’d been to this spot before. She crawled toward the pool of water she knew was just ahead and drank deeply. Standing up she marveled at how good she felt with her unbridled power coursing through her veins again. There was no constant concentration required to truly be herself. And this was her true form, this was her real body in all its glory and horror. All 50 some odd feet of her. She dwarfed any man or creature of this world. She struck fear and awe into the hearts of men. She was the origin of the Holy Goddess herself. Worshipped by early man, humans had loved in her name, and they had killed in her name, but regardless they had always feared her. She had grown tired of it but the idea had remained, someone so much larger then life that they must be outside that realm of life itself. A goddess, a holy being that must be worshipped, they feared the wraith of destruction she could bring and desired that power themselves. In many ways she did live outside the realm of life, in a physical sense and an emotional sense. She didn’t age so she didn’t feel the mortality of man yet she watched it time and time again. Stalled time is a double edged sword. Death would never cut her down but it was a dagger in her heart still. It left her alone physically and emotionally. Frozen in time while the whole world moved and changed around her. Knowing she would outlive everyone, a lifetime was only a blink of the eye to her. She could mascaraed as a normal girl but she couldn’t fool time. She could be feared as a giant or hated as a human. She decided it was better to be hated. A Goddess has love but it’s in the guise of fear, it’s only a perversion. True love was something she’d only seen between others but what she’d witnessed was truly amazing. It was wrong to participate in the degradation of love. But hate was always true, it was terrible and painful but real. Feeling something real even if it was horrible was better then feeling nothing, of being nothing, being hated at least made her feel alive. This was the first time she had ever felt anything besides hate when in human form. Cole was truly a remarkable person, or a maybe just a fool. It really didn’t matter now. She’d ruined everything. She’d lost concentration and control. She couldn’t hold the farce together, if she’d changed back there she’d have destroyed the house and killed everyone in it. If only he’d just let me go. I never meant to hurt him, I couldn’t control my strength, I only wanted to push him a little not throw him through a wall. So many people had stared that way, but it had never hurt so much. There was such hurt, such betrayal in his voice, “What are you?” If he saw me now, saw the real me he would know… a monster. Cole slipped in and out of her thoughts for months. Wandering around lonely barren mount sides was lonely and boring. It was time to find a new town to explore but she wanted to say good bye to this one, she’d stayed a long time with this little city, and it would be missed. Downsizing hurt more then expanding but she made it through the ordeal. She looked into the still water and concentrated her eyes were always the hardest thing to keep in check, they constantly wanted to turn back to yellow and never changed like her body did without an extra effort. Once they were the correct shade of brown she headed down the mountain. The old cabin was first on the goodbye list. At the door she let her hand rest on the weathered wood. She whispered “thank you for giving me a home” to the old shack. Once inside her eyes went to her collection. She took the time to look at every piece she had collected and treasured, remembering each day she had gotten each one, she smiled. Then she sat on the old bed it was as lumpy and uncomfortable as it had always been. A glimmer of light sparkled reflecting off something on the table. On the table was tiny glass bottle she had never seen, a small dried up flower stuck out the top a few stray petals lay on the table below. Tears filled her eyes she knew it was from Cole. There was no way to know if it was because he missed her or if it was a symbolic gesture of farewell, never meant to be seen by her. Either way it meant he had at least thought of her and that was something. She wrapped the small treasure in a piece of colored silk from the cabin and pocketed it. She wasn’t going to walk through town she would say her good bye from outside on the road. As she stood looking in a sickening smell hit her. She coughed and covered her nose. It was the smell of blood, human blood. Quietly she entered the city. No signs of life could be seen in the city, it was unnerving, and the smell of blood was stronger. Finally as she neared the temple she found the source a few bodies lay in the streets and a large army of foreign men were present. They were all armed many on horses. They were surrounding a large group of men, women, and children, it looked like every citizen had been gathered here. One man was reading a long declaration of some sort to the terrified people, she caught the words heathens and enemies of our God, punishable by death. She felt like the blood in her heart had turned cold. This was a death squad, invading forces making an example they wiped out whole cities slaughtering everyone. The man on horseback finished reading and motioned to his soldiers. The great stone doors on the temple were opened and they began to force the crowd inside. Willow managed to slip into the crowd and once everyone was inside the doors clanged shut. She had never been inside a Holy Temple, she marveled at the architecture and art inside. This was a temple dedicated to her or the idea of what she was supposed to represent, it was a strange feeling. A massive painting covered the ceiling it was a giant woman with her arms outstretched protecting a valley of tiny people, an army had darkened the sky with its arrows and the giants body was shielding the frightened people under attack. It was a sobering image. The temple had been silent until someone began to sing, apparently it was a hymn of some sort since more and more people joined in. Suddenly someone started shouting. “Idiots! You think some Goddess is going to save you! She isn’t real there is no Goddess, its just like before. We are all going to die here. She didn’t save my family my parents died because they believed in her! I’ll be damned if I’m going to die doing the same! I hate everything about her!” It was Cole. She’d didn’t know that he’d lost his family that way, that it was her fault, that he hated her. How many others had died, how many die each day in her name, how many will die her today because of her? Suddenly a shower of colored glass shards rained down on the crowd as a flaming bundle was thrown through the stained glass window above. More and more burning bundles followed. Men ran toward the bundles trying to beat the flames away, but it was a losing battle, the temple began to fill with thick choking smoke. “I won’t let this happen” she whispered to herself. She stepped toward a man beating a flaming bundle. She pushed him aside and picked up the flaming mass and threw it back out the window, and moved on to the next. By now people had noticed her each time the flames licked at her burning her skin she bled her real blood, a thick metallic silver that shimmered and dripped onto the floor and down her arm. The pain was real. Finally the last bundle was gone and the smoke began to recede. The eyes of every person in the temple were on her as she walked toward the stone doors. As she reached them she turned back and looked at the crowd. Suddenly Cole pushed his way through he walked toward her but stopped short. She walked to him and wrapped her arms around him hugging him tightly. She whispered in his ear “thank you” letting go she turned and walked to the massive stone doors. She put an arm on each door and letting lose her strength she pushed. Both doors flew off crushing a good part of the shocked army on the other side. She walked outside, “who’s in charge out here” She shouted. A large man riding a flashy horse rode forward, “I am the captain, why do you ask?” he growled. She looked at him her yellow eyes flashing with anger she spat back, “I’m the one that’s going to protect these people, since you’re the one who wants to kill them it seems we have a problem captain.” Clearly the flying doors and yellow eyes made him nervous but he looked at her a laughed. Dismounting from his horse he approached while unsheathing his sword. In the blink of an eye his sword’s tip was plunged into her stomach. She heard Cole scream and a few woman shrieked and gasped behind her. The captain laughed and asked “how were you going to protect them again?” Looking down at the sword and back up she glared at the cruel man. And began to walk toward him running his sword deeper into her body, she clenched her teeth at the pain as the sword pushed through her back. In shock the captain held his sword. When she was at the hilt she leaned in close and whispered, “The Holy Goddess is real and you just pissed her off big time.” He let go and backed up. Grabbing the swords grip she pulled it out of herself and sliced off his head. Looking at the rest of the army she smiled. Terrified horses and men fled. The wind began to blow as black clouds rolled in from out of nowhere. As she began to cut down anyone who raised a sword against her lightning fell from the sky striking down anyone willing to oppose her. Finally she was the only one left standing covered in blood she turned toward the people in the temple her yellow eyes shimmering in the flashing lightning. As she threw the sword down the clouds and wind dissipated. And every man woman and child fell on their knees before her, excluding one. Cole stood staring in disbelief at her. “I’m sorry Cole, but I’m the one you hate.” She apologized. He fell to his knees in shock not in praise. And when he looked up she was gone.


Submitted: February 10, 2014

© Copyright 2020 NeveRFloW. All rights reserved.

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