Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Weeping Rose Tree

He punished me with a curse, sealing me within this grove of oak and ash. He warned me I'd never leave him, and I'm afraid he's right. For centuries, I've waited for someone to free me. But the road leading past this wood is forgotten, overgrown and entangled with weeds and undergrowth. Even when storms unleash their wrath, this enchanted copse is spared. No matter how much I pray for its destruction.

He was well-versed in the black arts. He knew these trees were sacred. Told me if cut, vengeful souls would pursue the offender until his or her death. I later learned he'd buried his victims beneath the trunks. Said their corpses fed the trees.

Moments after he professed his undying love, he stabbed himself in the heart as I watched, unable to stop him. His blood spilled over the ground. His ghost forced me to bury his body in the grove and plant a weeping red rose tree over the corpse. Ever since then, roses always bloom. When the buds open, malicious eyes watch me.

I wish I had that dagger. I'd stab those eyes to see if they bleed.

But I'm afraid of what he might do from beyond the grave.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Death's Musician

I hear them drawing nearer, voices rising and falling. In my mind’s eye, I watch a human chain wind a serpentine path down the hill in this danse macabre. Nervous laughter gives way to raucous cheers as new recruits reach out a tentative hand to the last person in line.  

But I stand alone, commanded by the Angel of Death to play my lute and charm these new denizens of the underworld. The music calms the confused ones, those who died unexpectedly and now venture with trepidation toward their unknown fate.

It’s the screams of the angry or terrified ones that chill me, clawing icy fingernails along my spine. If I could, I’d cover my ears to shut out the cacophony of curses and wails. Instead, I’m forced to keep playing, never stopping until the last person upon the earth has passed away.

The first time I saw the contorted faces and pale, blood-stained cheeks of these tormented souls, I froze, unable to play a note. Offended at my perceived disobedience, the Angel of Death blinded me.  

No matter how much I beg, he will not kill me. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Little Sister

I hear my little sister crying upstairs. Ever since our kidnappers brought us to this house, with its austere stone walls and iron-barred windows, we have been separated.

I clutch the poppet my sister dropped in the entryway before our captors hustled her toward the upper floors. A bayonet drove me into a room at street-level.  I watched the door clang shut, the lock clicking in place.

A staircase leads to unknown rooms. The wooden steps probably creak from age. How many feet paraded up and down their levels? How many hands gripped the iron railing?

My kidnappers must have known about the staircase when they locked me in here. I can imagine them toasting each other with beers, laughing at me, while outside the bullets fly and our people become martyrs for the revolution.

I'm one of those victims. A year ago, a tank crushed my legs, crippling me. Those same soldiers raped my sister then blinded her with a bowie knife.

My kidnappers don’t know this doll is a bomb I will soon activate. My sister and I have agreed to die together. I hope she’ll see in heaven. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Calling

The wolf’s howl wafted on the night air through Red’s open tower window. Alone on her cot, she stared at the raftered ceiling as the lupine call penetrated every cell of her person. Fingers tingling, she clenched them against her sides, trying to fight back the desire stirring within her.

Grandmother locked her in this room to keep her safe. The doctor dismissed Red’s condition as hysteria, accompanied by profuse sweating, fever, and tremors of the hands. The strange urges abated during the waning or waxing moons. But when the moon swelled into its new or full phases, the symptoms worsened. Red would thrash about so hard on the stone floor, bruises appeared on her body the next day.

Once, delirious, she’d run naked into the garden. Unable to force open the heavy wrought iron gate or scale the high stone wall, Red had tried to crash through a privet. Instead, branches scraped her skin, drawing blood. When she’d wiped her index finger across a smear and tasted the life force, Grandmother had slapped her across the face. Staggering back, Red had stared at her, unable to understand why the old woman couldn’t accept what had happened.

Neither of them – Grandmother or the doctor – assumed the wolf bite Red incurred was anything but. The wound healed with only a faint scar as a reminder. But it was the inner wound no one saw.